Today, the whole world will be transported to the land of the Matryoshka dolls, and the entire globe will vibrate at the start of the biggest planetary sport event … Yes today, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will start in Russia, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great event. This will be one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent. Zabivaka, the mascot’s name means “the one who scores” in Russian, and we are looking forward to great goals and top scorers. This month, legends will be made, new talents discovered, and dreams will take off.
Five African teams will grace the tournament: Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia. We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond. Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.
The Pharaohs of Egypt are among Africa’s best teams, being 7th time African Cup of Nations champions. This year, the big star is Mohamed Salah who, with his Premier League Golden Boot award and more prowess, has become a legend in his home country. Egypt is in a relatively easy group with the home team Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. Their goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, at 45 is also the oldest player at the World cup this year, and has been a favorite to watch during all the African Cup of Nations, in par due to his charisma, discipline, and sheer determination.
Morocco’s Lions of the Atlas are in group B with Spain, Portugal, and Iran. The group looks tough with Spain and Portugal, but we do wish them the very best. This is their first participation in 20 years, Medhi Benatia and his teammates do hope to have a great world cup.
Tunisia’s Eagles of Carthage are in group G with England, Belgium, and Panama. This is a tough group. They are led by Wahbi Khazri, and although they have lost their top player Youssef Msakni to injury, they do hope for a good world cup.
The Lions of the Teranga of Senegal are led by Cheikhou Kouyaté are also a big team. They are in a relatively easy group, group H, with Poland, Japan, and Colombia. Their young coach, Aliou Cissé, has put a big emphasis on focus and determination. So we do hope to see them in the second round.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are led by their captain John Obi Mikel. At the last world cup, in Brazil in 2014, Nigeria was also in the same group as Argentina. The other teams in group D are Croatia and Iceland. With good discipline, the super Eagles should be able to advance in the competition as well.
Throughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have been often disappointed. I might once again be disappointed. However, this is a planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. To make for a fun event with great home support, we hope that the host team, Russia, makes it to the second round. For the world cup winner, Germany, the previous winner has as strong squad, as well as a pool of great talents, and they will be eyeing their 5th world cup. We hope the Mannschaft is very well-oiled, because there are 31 good teams to contend with! Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!