Uzbekistan ref to signal WC kick-off

9 June 2010

Uzbekistan finished bottom of their World Cup qualifying group, but the country will have the honour of supplying the referee for the opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup at Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg on Friday.

Ravshan Irmatov, who has been an international referee since 2003, will take charge of the match. He is the the only Uzbek referee to have officiated in the finals of the World Cup to date.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) named Irmatov its Referee of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

He was also selected to referee the final of the Fifa Club World Cup in 2008 between Liga de Quito and Manchester United, which the Red Devils won 1-0.

Irmatov has appeared at the Fifa under-17 World Cup three times previously (2003, 2007 and 2009) and once at the Fifa under-20 World Cup.

His record in the top Asian tournaments includes a debut in the AFC Champions League in 2003 and in 2007, where he officiated at the finals of the tournament held in Japan, which is one of his most notable achievements to date.

Irmatov was also selected for the AFC Asian Cup in 2004 and directed eight Asian preliminary matches for the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa.

Rafael Ilyasov from Uzbekistan and Bahadyr Kochkorov from Kyrgyzstan will be the assistant referees for the South Africa versus Mexico World Cup opener. The fourth official will be Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh from Malaysia.

Kick-off is at 16:00. The contest will be preceded by the official opening ceremony.

On Thursday night, the 2010 Fifa World Cup opening concert takes place at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Source: BuaNews