ViNoTEKA 46 owner Daniel Pedisich on Sunday decorates his Huntington restaurant...

ViNoTEKA 46 owner Daniel Pedisich on Sunday decorates his Huntington restaurant with Croatian flags in preparation for the World Cup. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Long Island sports fans have one more thing to look forward to this holiday season — the World Cup.

The quadrennial tournament returned Sunday in Qatar, where the host country played and lost to Ecuador with more matches to follow in the next four weeks, including the United States' first game Monday against Wales.

The World Cup is traditionally held in the summer months but is taking place in November and December because of excessive heat in Qatar. Thirty-two teams will compete for the championship and the final is on Dec. 18.

Shawn Brown of Jericho cheered when Ecuador won the kickoff game Sunday.

“It's really unfortunate that Qatar is hosting these matches,” said Brown, citing the Gulf country’s poor record on human rights and reported abuse of migrant workers. “But I love the sport.”

Brown, North Hempstead’s commissioner of public safety, said he plans to watch the games at home with his family, particular those involving the U.S. and Brazil. His wife, Sonia, emigrated from Brazil and his children, Eva, 13, and Ethan, 16, are soccer fans, too.

“It's fun watching some players’ reactions if they miss a goal or something,” said Eva, an eighth-grader at Jericho Middle School. Also, “I like the excitement in the crowd.”

For Shawn Brown, the beauty of the sport lies in the suspense.

“You never know who's going to win,” he said. “That's what's very exciting about it, because even [when it’s] the best teams playing the worst teams, you don't know. There's always that unexpected element in the game that can surprise us.”

Daniel Pedisich, a Huntington restaurant owner of Croatian descent, is excited to see where the team from southeastern Europe can go this time. The father of two still remembers the excitement of watching Croatia make it all the way to the final four years ago.

“Hopefully that happens again,” said Pedisich, who put up Croatian flags Sunday afternoon at ViNoTEKA 46 on Gerard Street, where there will be viewing parties on days when the U.S. and Croatia are playing, including a 5 a.m. match between Croatia and Morocco on Wednesday.

On the menu for the predawn game watchers: bagels and beer.

The viewing schedule at ViNoTEKA also includes high-interest games between France and Denmark at 11 a.m. on Saturday and between Spain and Germany at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Here are some other places where Long Island fans can go watch the games with a crowd:

Village Idiot Pub Lake Grove: 2811 Middle Country Rd., Lake Grove

The pub will host watch parties for the three opening U.S. games: against Wales at 2 p.m. on Monday, versus England on Friday and against Iran the following Tuesday.

Secatogue Brewing Company: 375 Union Blvd., West Islip

“My favorite part about soccer is that it's a good excuse to get people together,” said Mike Schafer, who works at Secatogue and helps run the Long Island chapter of American Outlaws, a soccer supporters group. Schafer said there will be viewing parties at Secatogue for U.S. games.

Plattduetsche Park: 1132 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square

A watch party schedule can be found at parkrestaurant.com. The restaurant is offering a breakfast menu for 8 a.m. games and a lunch menu for 11 a.m. and later games.

Stereo Garden: 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue

The venue is hosting watch parties at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday with free admission and beer specials.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the outcome of the 2018 World Cup Final.

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