In terms of making the Round of 16, Tite’s Brazil are pretty much home and dry. One of three teams to have won both of the first two games in the opening round, Brazil sit top on six points and will remain there unless they lose to Cameroon today and Switzerland knock them off on goal difference – which is nigh on impossible.
A number of Brazil players remain on the casualty list – Neymar is recovering from an ankle injury but should be available for the knockout stage. Defenders Alex Sandro and Danilo will sit out the Cameroon game although encouragingly, both trained on Thursday. Tite is expected to field a changed side for the final match.
Match officials designations @FIFAWorldCup – Group G – 2 December 2022, Lusail Stadium
Referee: Ismail ELFATH 🇺🇸
AR 1: Kyle ATKINS 🇺🇸
AR 2: Corey PARKER 🇺🇸
4th: Ma NING 🇨🇳
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) November 30, 2022
From Casablanca to Austin, Texas
Making sure the game runs smoothly at Lusail stadium will be Moroccan-born American referee Ismail Elfath. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, he emigrated to the United States as a teenager through the Diversity Visa Program. He continued his studies in engineering at the University of Texas and eventually gained American citizenship which allowed him to carve out a career in refereeing.
He made his MLS debut on 20 May 2012 overseeing the Week 11 game between Montreal and New York Red Bulls – the first of eight appearances that year. The following season he was chosen to officiate the MLS Cup quarter final between New England and Kansas City.
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He became a FIFA-listed match official in 2016 and took charge of his first international game in January 2017 – a friendly between Bermuda and Canada. That same year he was included in the team of match officials for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica.
In August 2016, Elfath was selected to referee the third-tier game between New York Red Bulls II and Orlando City B – the first professional match in which an on-field Video Assistant Referee review took place, during the system’s initial test period. Four years later, he was named MLS Referee of the Year.
He was called up by FIFA for the 2019 Club World Cup, and was designated for the semi-final between Flamengo and Al-Hilal.
9 out of 10 referees would have shown Alidu Seidu a second yellow card for that attempted headbutt on Joao Felix. Referee Ismail Elfath instead understood how big the stage was and spoke to the defender. Yes, the penalty was controversial but I don’t think Elfath was against us. pic.twitter.com/11yPKOUyzr
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) November 25, 2022
This is his second appearance at Qatar 2022. He oversaw the opening Group H game between Portugal and Ghana, handing out six bookings – two of them for mass confrontation. He was also criticised for a controversial penalty decision but on the whole, Elfath is a ref who likes to keep the game flowing without too many interruptions. Outside of football, the 40-year-old has worked as a project manager and IT consultant.
This evening, he will be supported by line assistants Kyle Atkins and Corey Parker alongside fourth official Ning Ma.