The Draw is here. After much anticipation, the world is about to find out how teams will face off in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
With many pundits and bookmakers brainstorming about the possibilities, there are certainly some significant questions that pop up in our minds just hours before the draw.
Teams like Chile, Italy and Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands will be watching the World Cup on television as they failed to qualify for the World Showpiece event.
Many can’t wait as some are hoping that the draw will put them in a favourable group to qualify for the knockout stages. As we hope for a balanced draw amidst certain issues, there are some questions to address with regards to our World Cup expectations.
Here are they are:
The Group of Death
The most difficult group or the group that houses some of the toughest teams is usually referred to as the ‘Group of Death’. Now, which teams will form the much awaited group? Will it be Spain, Belgium or the usual favourite Brazil?
Some sect of Pundits as regards to some rumours are saying that the Group of Death may possibly comprise of defending champions Germany, South American side Uruguay, Denmark and the Africa giants, the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
This could put the bookmakers in a serious mental strain for sure as all the teams will have to battle as best they can to qualify for the knockout stages.
The Pot Permutations
This is one of the talking points at the moment as many believe that it can be manipulated for financial reasons – generating revenue by getting the best teams to meet each other. Imagine Belgium squaring up against Spain in the group stage of Russia 2018 World Cup.
This will be highly anticipated leaving the other two potential sides in the group needing a miracle to make it into the knockout stages.
Some interesting clashes could come out from Spain and England who are both in Pot 2, meaning they could square off against any of the teams in Pot 1.
The possibilities are endless but controversy is just around the corner too due to the criteria FIFA chooses to do its rankings. The problems stem from the poor level of understanding of many about the allocation of points to national sides by World Football Governing Body FIFA.
The Africa hopeful
The region regarded as the dark houses in World Football is once again on the grand stage via Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria.
Football Great Pele once predicted that an African nation would win the World Cup by 2000. This has not happened yet as African representatives are yet to advance beyond the quarter-finals in football’s biggest arena.
The poor Grand Stage performances by African teams has been rooted in administrative issues, match-bonus controversies and player indiscipline.
The likes of Cameroonian Roger Milla, however, show just the tip of the iceberg about what Africa can do, while the likes of Jay-Jay (the Nigerian midfield maestro) hint that winning the championship is just a matter of time. Now, we cast our eyes on Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco for not conceding a goal throughout the qualifying series.
Which region stands the best chance of winning it?
This usual suspects are Europe and South America who have made it a tradition to dominate the the top spots when it comes to football.
However with (CAF) Africa Football developing and with the exploits of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, you’d be wrong to dismiss Africa too.
Asia and other zones could provide an upset or two as South Korea demonstrated when brushing Italy aside en route to the Semi Final in the 2002 World Cup.
But with Germany, Argentina and Brazil the usual favorites, it is hard to believe others will go all the way as we stay glued to our chair in anticipation of the World Cup draw.
The draw starts at 3 pm GMT today.