THE excitement in anticipation of the Fifa 2018 World Cup final draw in Russia will come to an end today.
The draw will be held in Moscow and the end of the proceedings all the participating teams will know their opponents.
Draw conductor Gary Lineker will be supported by Maria Komandnaya for the final draw, while the World Cup’s top goal-scorer, Miroslav Klose, will bring the trophy up on the podium.
Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are the African countries in the draw and five will be pitted against competing sides from around the world.
Fifa has shared the remarks of three of world football’s biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, about their feelings ahead of the big tournament.
Ronaldo said he was relaxed “because, although some teams are stronger than others, all the groups will be balanced”.
He added: “I’m calm because I know that, when the time comes, the team will be ready. No matter who we’re drawn against and no matter what, we have to win.”
Messi said he would be following the draw before confessing that he was already imagining who Argentina’s potential opponents might be.
Neymar was in relaxed mood: “I believe we’re ready to take on anyone.”
But the Brazilian admitted that this draw would not be just another day and that he already had plans for the draw.
He said: “We’ll put some popcorn in the microwave, and call family and friends. Everyone will have a keen eye on the TV.”
Reuters reports that Senegal became only the second African country to progress to the quarterfinal round of a World Cup when they reached the quarters in South Korea and Japan.
They failed to build on that success, however, and missed out at the events in Germany, South Africa and Brazil.
An unbeaten run through a controversy-laden group has earned Senegal their place in Russia with what could be another imposing generation of players led by talisman Sadio Mane, centre back Kalidou Koulibaly and industrious captain Cheikhou Kouyate.
Strengthened in recent years by the defection of former French youth internationals such as Mbaye Niang and Moussa Sow, and with exciting prospects like Balde Keita and Opa Nguette coming through, Senegal now boast a squad of depth, with vigorous competition for places.
They also have a coach with World Cup experience, as Aliou Cisse captained the team in 2002.