World Cup teams Ghana, Switzerland fit in warmup friendly

GENEVA (AP) — World Cup teams Ghana and Switzerland are taking advantage of their late start at the tournament in Qatar to play each other in a warmup friendly in the United Arab Emirates.

The Swiss soccer federation said Monday the game will be played in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 17 — one week before the teams play their opening group games at the World Cup. The tournament starts Nov. 20 but Switzerland opens on Nov. 24 in Group G against Cameroon, a west African team like Ghana. The group also includes Brazil and Serbia.

Ghana is in Group H and also starts Nov. 24 against Portugal. Ghana also plays South Korea and Uruguay.

With most European clubs playing domestic league games until the Nov. 12-13 weekend, many World Cup players will join their national team squads just one week before the tournament. World Cup rules do not let teams play friendlies less than five days before their first game.

World Cup teams usually have more time to prepare but this tournament is being squeezed into the domestic seasons in November and December to avoid Qatar’s searing desert heat in June and July.

The World Cup had been set to start Nov. 21 but organizers decided this month to move up host Qatar’s opening game against Ecuador by one day.

Serbia’s soccer federation said last week its team will play a friendly in Bahrain on Nov. 18 before traveling to nearby Qatar.

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