Saudi Arabia‘s sports boss Turki al-Sheikh has already caused one World Cup storm with his $3.5million capture of Egypt‘s top sportscaster.

Now the outspoken sports minister is hoping his unfancied nation can cause another upset by beating host nation Russia in the opening game on Thursday.

Al-Sheikh interrupted Wednesday’s training session at the Luzhniki Stadium to give a pep talk to head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and his players.  

Saudi Arabia's sports boss Turki al-Sheikh interrupted Wednesday's training session

Saudi Arabia's sports boss Turki al-Sheikh interrupted Wednesday's training session

Saudi Arabia’s sports boss Turki al-Sheikh interrupted Wednesday’s training session

Outspoken sports minister delivered pep talk to head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and his players

Outspoken sports minister delivered pep talk to head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and his players

Outspoken sports minister delivered pep talk to head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and his players

The game is seen a must-win both nations if they are to have any realistic chances of qualifying for the knockout stages. 

Russia are ranked 70th in the world and Saudi Arabia just above them in 64th, with Uruguay and Egypt the other two teams in Group A.

The meeting between Saudi Arabia and Egypt will have added spice as Egyptians are livid at the country’s star TV host Amr Adib for transferring to a Saudi network.

Saudi Arabia take on host nation Russia in the opening game of the World Cup on Thursday

Saudi Arabia take on host nation Russia in the opening game of the World Cup on Thursday

Saudi Arabia take on host nation Russia in the opening game of the World Cup on Thursday

Al-Sheikh added fuel to the fire with a video clip of him boasting about hiring Adib for the Saudi MBC Network. 

‘This is the most expensive broadcaster in the Middle East, an Arab Larry King,’ the minister jokes in the clip. 

Adib will reportedly earn $3m a year plus another $500,000 for his share of advertising revenues.

Saudi Arabia held a training session at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday

Saudi Arabia held a training session at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday

Saudi Arabia held a training session at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday

WORLD CUP OPENING GAMES

1930 France 4-1 Mexico, USA 3-0 Belgium

1934 All eight first-round games kicked off at the same time

1938 Switzerland 1-1 Germany

1950 Brazil 4-0 Mexico

1954 Brazil 5-0 Mexico, Yugoslavia 1-0 France, Uruguay 2-0 Czechoslovakia, Austria 1-0 Scotland

1958 Eight first-round games kicked off at the same time

1962 Uruguay 2-1 Colombia, Chile 3-1 Switzerland, Brazil 2-0 Mexico , Argentina 1-0 Bulgaria

1966 England 0-0 Uruguay 

1970 Mexico 0-0 Soviet Union

1974 Brazil 0-0 Yugoslavia

1978 West Germany 0-0 Poland

1982 Argentina 0-1 Belgium

1986 Italy 1-1 Bulgaria

1990 Argentina 0-1 Cameroon

1994 Germany 1-0 Bolivia

1998 Brazil 2-1 Scotland

2002 France 0-1 Senegal

2006 Germany 4-2 Costa Rica

2010 South Africa 1-1 Mexico

2014 Brazil 3-1 Croatia

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