Which teams will be in action and at what times in the FIFA World Cup on Friday?
Wales vs Iran
After earning a crucial point in their opening World Cup match against the United States, Wales returns to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Friday knowing that a win over Iran would put it in a strong position to reach the knockouts.
Wales drew 1-1 with the United States on Monday in their first World Cup game for 64 years after captain Gareth Bale rescued the team with a late penalty.
The Welsh are tied for second place with the United States in Group B on one point, with England leading the group with three points after thrashing bottom-placed Iran 6-2 in the opening match.
Wales’ draw was a result of a change of tactics by coach Rob Page at halftime as he introduced target man Kieffer Moore, who changed the game and brought them back into the contest after they trailed in the first half.
“Lessons have been learned,” Page said. “It was important we didn’t lose the game.
“We have strength in depth. I can look over my shoulder to the bench and we’ve got players who can come on and have a real impact on games.”
Wales will face a challenge against Iran, whose Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz will expect a turnaround from his players after they limped through a heavy defeat.
Qatar vs Senegal
World Cup host Qatar knows it must not let nerves get the better of it again on Friday as it faces African champions Senegal needing to take something from its second Group A encounter or face an early exit from the tournament.
The home team froze under the weight of expectation and quickly went behind in Sunday’s opener, losing 2-0 to Ecuador and being deserted by their own fans, who emptied the stadium in droves in the second half.
“Our nerves betrayed us,” said coach Felix Sanchez. “We were unable to string together four passes in a row. Also, many defensive gaps. The team was not balanced and that hurt us a lot.”
Defeat at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium would ensure the Asian champion Qatar become only the second World Cup hosts to fail to get past the first round after South Africa in 2010.
Senegal let slip a positive start by conceding two late goals against the Netherlands in their group opener on Monday, with World Goalkeeper of the Year Edouard Mendy partly to blame.
But while he is likely to keep his place, changes to the starting line-up will be forced on coach Aliou Cisse after midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate was forced from the field with a thigh muscle tear and defender Abdou Diallo with a thigh strain.
There is also likely to be a switch up front where Senegal could start with an extra attacker in Bamba Dieng.
Netherlands vs Ecuador
Ecuador or the Netherlands will take a huge step towards the second round of the World Cup if either can force a victory in Friday’s Group A clash at the Khalifa International Stadium after both sides won their openers in Qatar.
But while Ecuador has set its target of advancing to the round of 16, as it did in Germany in 2006, the Dutch will be looking for a vastly improved performance to back up coach Louis van Gaal’s assertion that they can go on and win the World Cup.
The Netherlands was far from their efficient best in beating African champion Senegal 2-0 in their opening group game on Monday.
Van Gaal was pleased with the three points, and vindication of his surprise decision to hand goalkeeper Andries Noppert an international debut, but did criticise the manner of the victory, as did captain Virgil van Dijk. “We won but we also know that we can and must do better,” the skipper said.
“Going forward we sometimes tried to force things, and we too often left ourselves exposed to Senegal’s counter-attacks. That is an area in which we will need to improve because it is an art that our next opponents, Ecuador, are very good at.
“But I am optimistic because I feel we are going to get better,” Van Dijk added.
Ecuador is confident that Enner Valencia, who got both goals in their 2-0 win over hosts Qatar on Sunday, will be fit to play despite some concerns over a knee sprain.
England vs USA
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough, so the saying goes, and the young guns of England and the United States added credence to that theory with eye-catching performances in their opening games at the World Cup this week.
On Friday the two nations meet in Al Khor where England’s Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka will try to match the levels they reached in a 6-2 victory over Iran which put Gareth Southgate’s side in command of Group B.
England is yet to beat the United States in World Cup meetings, suffering an unthinkable loss in 1950 that was regarded at the time as a national humiliation and playing out a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2010.
But the team will be oozing confidence after an emphatic return to form in their opening rout of Iran after a six-match winless streak, a game in which 19-year-old midfielder Bellingham scored the opener and 21-year-old Saka struck twice.
November 24 recap:
Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon - REPORT
Uruguay 0-0 South Korea - REPORT
Portugal 3-2 Ghana - REPORT
Brazil 2-0 Serbia - REPORT