There are great expectations in Cape Town, South Africa as the count down to the 2010 World Cup enters its home stretch with the draws that will be conducted tonight at the magnificent â€˜Draw Hallâ€™ the hosts have erected to showcase the event to a global football audience.
Certainly this is the moment of truth for the 32 nations that have booked their places to vie for honor when the world soccer showpiece begins in June.
The top contenders and the pretenders will take their places and expect that they have an easy draw in the respective group pairing that they might find themselves in the real drama in 2010. Also the legion of soccer fans around the world are eager to find out who they are playing and which venues they will throng to support their teams.
Nigerians are not exempted from this excitement as the Super Eagles saved the best for the last and qualified for SA 2010 with an Obafemi Martins-inspired win in Nairobi. An advance party of the Nigeria Football Federation led by Taiwo Ogunjobi left for South Africa since November 27. Eagles coach Shuaibu Amodu joined the group only on Wednesday.
â€œWe are hopeful for a favourable draw. The NFF is going to ensure that the Eagles are well prepared not just for the Nations Cup, but also for the World Cup,â€ Ogunjobi stated before departure.
Apart from Nigeria, other African nations that easily booked their ticket or survived the qualification battle of wits are also expectant of a favourable draw and ultimately a good run in South Africa.
They include Cote dâ€™Ivoire whose Didier Drogba has promised a showdown with the rest of the world as he believes that an African nation can win the World cup. Ghanaâ€™s Black Stars that have been tipped to go far in South Africa following their impressive showing in the qualifiers are looking forward to a good run, Cameroonâ€™s Indomitable Lions urged on by Samuel Etoâ€™o are demanding for more respect, Algeria making a comeback since 1986 are out to justify their qualification at the expense of Egypt, while hosts South AfricaÂ are desperate to improve on their Confederation Cup showing.
However, the pressure will be on top managers such as Fabio Capello desirous to make an impact with England, Dunga of Brazil who is ready to prove that his Confed Cup win last June was not a fluke, Spain are also looking to drop their nearly-men toga after succumbing to never say die USA at the Confed Cup. Outsiders like France who booked aÂ place thanks to Thiery Henryâ€™s â€˜hand of Godâ€™ and Argentina whose coach, Diego Maradona was a beneficiary of a hand of God goal at the Mexico 1986 World Cup are hoping to cause some upset.
Algeria, England, Korea DPR, Serbia
Argentina, France, Korea Republic, Slovakia
Australia, Germany, Mexico, Slovenia
Brazil, Ghana, Netherlands, South Africa
Cameroon, Greece, New Zealand, Spain
Chile, Honduras, Nigeria, Switzerland
CÃ´te d’Ivoire, Italy, Paraguay, Uruguay
Denmark, Japan, Portugal, USA