Let the greatest show on the planet begin
It is the most-watched, best-attended sports event in the world. Almost half of the world’s population live patiently through the long cycle of decisions of host country, qualifying, disappointment and ecstasy, for one summer month every four years when the planet revolves around an inflatable ball, 70 centimetres in circumference. The 2018 Fifa World Cup will be played in Russia from 14 June to 15 July, 2018. Bafana Bafana will not be there. But millions of South Africans will watch every match, choose their secondary teams to support an experience the thrill of the highest possible level the beautiful game can be played. This thanks to DStv which will broadcast all 64 matches, and SABC TV which will televise 44 games live. Over 3.2 billion people in the world watched the 2014 World Cup tournament on television; one billion watched the final.
There have already been shocks and heartbreak leading up to Russia 2018. Italy, Holland and Chile did not qualify. Iran, Panama and Iceland did. Many South Africans have chosen to support one of the African countries in the finals. Nigeria is the overwhelming favourite, being the only sub-Saharan African team to qualify they are our nearest “neighbour”. South Africans with ancestral roots in Europe will be supporting their teams. Portugal and England will no doubt have an army of local fans each. The tournament will kick-off with hosts Russia facing Saudi Arabia at the Luhzniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday 14 June. A further 47 matches will take place in the eight groups of four teams each. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout stage. This will consist of a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final which will take place at the 81 000-capacity Luhzniki stadium on Sunday 15 July. There will also be the match no one cares about – the third/fourth place play-off – on 14 July at St Petersburg Stadium. The favourites to raise the FIFA World Cup Trophy are Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, Argentina and France. Spain, Denmark and a young England side will believe the are in with a chance. Tunisa and Senegal are Africa’s two best bets. The miracle of live satellite television gives every South African a pitch-side seat for the World Cup 2018 tournament. Russia might be 15 000 kilometres away but the 2018 FIFA World Cup in in your living room. It’s going to be a month a soccer sensation – enjoy every moment.
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