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Who is the referee for Portugal vs Ghana in the World Cup 2022 group first game?

Group H gets underway today as Portugal and Ghana’s Black Stars open their campaign at Stadium 974 in central Doha.

USA's referee Ismail Elfath

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Ghana’s Black Stars get their respective World Cup campaigns underway this evening with a Group H clash at Stadium 974 in Doha.

The sides last met at the 2014 Brazil World Cup with the Europeans running out 2-1 winners on the day. South Korea and Uruguay complete Group H.

 Stadium 974
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Stadium 974 Matthew Ashton - AMAGetty

No CR7 distractions for Portugal

Portugal manager Fernando Santos was adamant that his Seleção Portuguesa would not be distracted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation with Manchester United that has seen the Madeira born striker and the English side sever ties in an acrimonious split.

“This is something that has not even been discussed,” Santos told reporters. “This conversation has not come up at any moment, not even from him.”

Black Stars focused affirms Ayew

Ronaldo’s situation even became a major talking point at the Ghana pre-game press conference with Black Stars captain Andre Ayew anxious to focus on his own team without concentrating on Portugal’s internal issues.

“It is not our problem what is happening within the Portuguese team,” the 32-year-old told reporters on Wednesday. “They are all great professionals playing at top teams and they will be ready for the World Cup, whatever else is happening.”

Ayew and his brother Jordan are the only survivors from the Ghana side that lost 2-1 to Portugal in their final group stage clash in 2014, when Ronaldo scored the winner 10 minutes from fulltime.

“The two teams have changed a lot since then. It is a different game, when we played them in 2014 we had to win by two goals to advance,” Ayew said adding “we just need to be ready. I don’t feel anyone is stressed or has anxiety before the game.”

Ghana's coach Otto Addo (L) and player Andre Ayew
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Ghana's coach Otto Addo (L) and player Andre AyewKHALED DESOUKIAFP

How and where to watch and follow Thursday’s games

POR-GHA: match official

Originally born in Casablanca (Morocco), Ismail Elfath moved to the United States at the age of eighteen. The 40-year-old has been overssing games in MLS since 2012 and has been a FIFA listed official since 2016.

In October this year, Elfath was named 2022 MLS Referee of the Year, with the accolade being the second time (in only three years) he’s earned this recognition during his career.

Referee Ismail Elfath of USA
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Referee Ismail Elfath of USA ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULATGetty

The US referee will today who has officiated at the likes of the FIFA Club World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup and Tokyo Olympics will be assisted by Kyle Atkins, Corey Parker with the fourth official set to be France’s Stéphanie Frappart