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(Pocket-lint) - The World Cup 2022 has officially kicked off with hosts Qatar being tonked by Ecuador - the first time a host nation has lost the opening match. However, although it's one of the weirdest, most controversial tournaments yet, there's still plenty to get excited about with more than a month of football action to come.

And, what better way to get into the spirit of it than helping your team perform well in a small, fun game that anyone can play on a mobile phone?

Google has created an in-browser penalty shoot-out mini game to celebrate the World Cup, which you can not only play to pass the time, but support your home nation (or adopted qualified team) in the process. Here's how.


How to play the Google Mini Cup game on your phone or tablet

Available for mobile phones and tablets only (you need a touchscreen to swipe), Google's Mini Cup game is played in a browser and tasked you with scoring consecutive penalties until you miss one. To make it harder, the goalkeeper gets faster after each goal.

But, not only do you try to rack up the best total and beat your own high score each time, as you get to play World Cup matches due to kick off for real, your score is added to a worldwide total for your chosen team. That adds up until the final whistle of the real match to give your team points. You can then see the overall standings for all nations.

Here's how to take part.

Open your mobile browser (Chrome, Safari, etc), head to Google and type "World Cup" into the search bar.

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A spinning ball icon will appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen, along with the search results. Tap on it.

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You'll now see a list of fortncoming matches. Hit "Play" on one and you'll be offered the option to play for one of the two teams.

Choose your team.

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A goal will appear in the top half of the screen, with a ball at the bottom. You just need to swipe the ball in a direction towards the goal, while attempting to avoid the keeper.

If you miss the goal or the keeper saves it, it's game over. Remember: the goalkeeper gets faster with each shot, so it gets tricky as the game progresses.

Your score adds up to the global total for your chosen team.

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It's all great fun and you can play as often as you like or for whichever team you want. Enjoy.

Writing by Rik Henderson.
Sections Google Games