World Cup News 14.6.2018 10:02 am

Excitement builds as the world’s best footballers descend on Russia

A make-up artist paints the Russian flag on the face of a visitor at the official shop of the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow, on June 10, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Maxim ZMEYEV

A make-up artist paints the Russian flag on the face of a visitor at the official shop of the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow, on June 10, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Maxim ZMEYEV

With the kick-off to Russia 2018 just hours away, the excitement is palpable as the world waits with bated breath.

Before the action commences at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, charity footballer, Robbie Williams, better known for his years spent at the top of pop charts while entertain millions glued to their TV screens during the opening ceremony.

Russian soprano Aida Garifullina joins Williams and Brazil’s two-time World Cup champion Ronaldo during the pre-match festivities which serve as a starter to the month-long main event.

The fitness of Mohamed Salah has captivated not only Egyptian fans but those around Africa as the Liverpool star battles his way to take his place in the event after a standout season in England. Salah’s Egypt have become many of the continent’s adopted team with only five African nations represented at the global showpiece.

Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco make up the African contingent but there is further interest beyond the borders with France being heavily connected to Africa. As many 14 of the 23-man squad having their roots in the European powerhouse who have been installed as one of the tournament’s pre-favourites.

France ensured their drama played out well before the first ball was kicked, unlike Spain who rocked the football world by sacking Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament. The new Real Madrid coach was unceremoniously shown the exit after reportedly failing to give the Spanish federation sufficient notice.

Former national team defender Fernando Hierro has been brought in but will need to restore balance to his squad before figuring a way past Portugal in their first group fixture.

The ferocious pace of the World Cup will soon leave the opening ceremony and even the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia as a distant memory. The pace can, however, prove disastrous should a team lose their first game.

Recovering from an early upset has proven difficult, more difficult than the already insurmountable task of defeating every foe before you in the search of world domination.

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