By John Egbokhan

Nigerian fans are in for a swell time today as pay TV network, StarTimes has concluded plans to show today’s 2018 FIFA World Cup draw live to the homes of its subscribers.

Elegbede

The long wait is almost over for 32 teams bidding for glory at next summer’s football showpiece event as the World Cup draw holds today at the State Kremlin Palace, with Eagles fans waiting  with rapt attention to know the three teams their darling team will battle in the group stage of the biggest sporting competition set to hold next year in Russia.

And to satisfy its customers, StarTimes has promised to deliver all the moments and drama of the draw from the concert hall of  the State Kremlin Palace, with a capacity of 6,000.

Speaking yesterday to Sports Vanguard, Brands and Marketing Director  of StarTimes, Qasim Elegbede, said the firm in its quest to continuously  fulfil its commitment to deliver a fine mix of sporting events  to its subscribers,  acquired the right, which permits it to show the draw live as well as the behind the scenes happenings from the draw venue.

While noting that the World Cup draw at any particular year it happens is the biggest event of the year,  Elegbede said that ‘’today’s World Cup draw officially kicks off the beginning of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as it will determine which teams will be playing against each other and how nations prepare for the event, vis-a-vis selecting camp sites and who to play in friendlies.

‘’At StarTimes, we are extremely delighted to inform our subscribers that we have the rights to show the 2018 FIFA World Cup draw live and for fans of the Super Eagles, we assure them that they are in a for a treat  as we show the event live from Russia’’, added Elegbede

While wishing Eagles the luck of the draw, Elegbede said StarTimes has lined up a lot of activities to make Nigerian fans have the best World Cup experience.

‘’We have a total package of the World Cup on StarTimes. We have lined up a lot of  unique activities for fans during this World Cup period, starting with the World Cup draw. We plan to take Nigerian fans to Russia to watch the World Cup live. The fans are going to be subscribers of StarTimes.  StarTimes is the place to be for all the juicy details of the World Cup’’, said Elegbede.

He further hinted that StarTimes is the only pay TV network in Nigeria that will be showing the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup  in Abu Dhabi, pointing out that “fans will have the opportunity to watch Ronaldo, Ramos, Bale, Benzema and a host of other stars from other continental champions battle for the competition designed for the continental champions. We are the only ones with the rights to show the games and it is a testimony of our strength in depth in sports broadcasting.

‘’We are not going to go half way. That is we have signed a long-term deal with FIFA to show all their events and tournaments. And we are happy that we are delivering to Nigerians the best quality of sports content at the most affordable price because we are a customer-friendly operator’’.

On what kind of opponents he will like the Eagles to draw, the StarTimes director said, ‘’honestly, it is better to have the luck of the draw on  Eagles side because that will keep them fresher and fitter for the whole hog. A draw with the likes of Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria is my ideal group because we are sure of at least a second round ticket and from there, we can only hope for the best’’. Eagles head into the World Cup draw as the first team from Africa to qualify for Russia 2018 and boasting a rich blend of experienced and emerging and enterprising talents. Not a few pundits are tipping the Coach Gernot-tinkered side to  soar high at the tournament, a view shared by Elegbede, who rates Nigeria and Senegal as the two teams with the most probability to do Africa proud at the tournament.

‘’Nigeria and Senegal are the two African teams with the highest chance of doing well at the World Cup in Russia. I am excited with the talents in the Eagles side. The players are young, daring, without fear, enterprising and have the can-do-spirit, needed to do wonders in Russia.

‘’Senegal are the most complete team in terms of talents at their disposal. They have top quality players playing in top leagues of Europe and the only thing they need is to keep a calm head. Nigeria and Senegal have the ability to go as far as they can get.

‘’Granted that we have a good team but it is a little bit too early to start dreaming big and making bold predictions. The World Cup is a long journey of seven matches to win the trophy and because we defeated Argentina in a friendly match does not mean we will defeat every team that come our way in Russia”, added Elegbede.

‘’To get to the peak of our potentials, we must not allow the issue of bonus distract our players. I am not particularly impressed with the discordant tunes over bonus by the players and the NFF.

We should learn from the past and avoid any banana peel that may cause our slip in Russia,”

The 4-2 defeat of two-time world champions, Argentina in a friendly last month has seen many fans tipping Eagles as one of the teams to beat at the World Cup but Elegbede, warned that such a one-off performance was not enough to get Eagles such top ratings, Elegbede said.

‘’Issues concerning bonuses should never be brought to the front-burner during this period. You rarely hear of such with top traditional teams like England, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil and that is why you see them doing well. Our last experience in Brazil was not particularly pleasing and we should by all means try to avoid a repeat of that sour episode at Russia 2018’’.

He commended Coach Rohr for bringing  a new lease of life to the Super Eagles but urged him not to rest on his oars as the World Cup journey is only about to begin when the World Cup draw Is made today.

‘’Rohr has done well with the team. We have a crop of players who are playing good football. The strength of the team is in the blend of the experienced hands with the young and promising talents. What I particularly like about the team is that the young ones are not scared of going on the offensive. The combination of Leon Balogun and Trost-Ekong in Eagles central defence is great and the defensive work of the young Shehu Abdullahi gives me hope. Our attack is bursting with talents, that I just feel that going forward that Eagles can just surprise and get the job done, which will be a dream come true for us all’’, added Elegbede.

 

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