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World Cup: Who will be the new kings of the world after 28 days of action?

A view of the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. [Xinhua]

The long wait is over! And so, it’s here. The World Cup, is finally with us.

After what seemed like eternity, it is finally here...No offence, but this is neither your usual village football tournament nor does it come next to those ping-pong matches in the name of Kenyan Premier League ties. No. This is a big deal. This is the real deal. This is it.

With a viewership of close to 5 billion viewers, this is the most watched sporting event in the universe, no doubt; The World Cup. Like none other.

This is where hundreds of fans throng the streets, frequents their favourite bars while holding flags of the teams they hold dear as the banter goes on; on who is the best of them all– Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe or Kane...

To all football enthusiasts, lovers of nothing but awesome tiki-taka moves, marvels of crisp passes that open up forests of legs lined up in defence, fans of Brazil, England, France, Germany et al, it’s your time, it’s our time. It’s our moment to partake and keep those memories with us, forever.

“Yes, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I have my Brazil and Cameroon jerseys ready. I wish them all the best in this tournament,” said Edwin ‘King Tubbs’ Muyera, a reggae DJ with King Lion Sounds.

In Qatar and all around the world, some dreams will come true, while at worst, ingenuity possibly pulverized with little mercy. Qatar played Ecuador yesterday in the opening match, but the real deal begins today at 4pm when England’s Three Lions go hunting for that elusive title against Iran, a country not famed for football prowess, but literature, music, dance, architecture, painting and calligraphy.

And by the time Senegal come face-to-face with The Netherlands at 7pm, it will be down to real business.

On the final day on December 18, it will indeed be a new dawn with the crowning of new World Cup winners, just like Bunny Wailer in his ‘Here in Jamaica’ song says, ...”There shall be singing, dancing and rejoicing with the dawn of the rising sun...” The sun will rise to some, and set for others.

Euph Ubaga, a die-hard football fan can’t wait for her sun to rise.

“This tournament gives us yet another chance to witness diverse cultures. World Cup is always an important tournament. I’m rooting for my Germany side to lift the title,” said an elated Ubaga.

Enjoying the top spot in world ranking and boasting the best and most well-rounded squad with a more flowing style of football, Brazil and not my beloved England, are clear favourites in the 32-team extravaganza.

But when you rope in the likes of Argentina, who are spearheaded by none other than the mercurial Lionel Messi, France and Spain, then you are certainly assured of a befitting confrontation.

The unpredictability of this quadrennial tournament arouses untold excitement. Eight countries have been crowned champions of world’s most prestigious football tournament in its previous 21 editions.

Apart from taking pleasure in the stupendous matches, where display of great footballing skills will be at steady supply, it will also be that moment when fans and other not so knowledgeable ones wear all sorts of team jerseys, original or ‘made in River Road’ type as they proclaim undying love for their ‘teams’. Consummate elegance will no doubt be at play.

Also, be prepared to answer those annoying questions from your better halves, whose lack of football knowledge is second to none.

Yes, working hours will not be all smooth for the next 28 days; that is guaranteed. What with some matches beginning as early as 1pm!

For others, it will be that chance to guzzle contents of the brown bottle, wine, shots of whiskey, water, or whatever makes them smile at everything as they squint on the tiny, large or wall-mouted television sets.

Some relationships will be strained, others will be initiated. Some will fall in love. To others, intimacy will fade away with every final whistle.

Staggering home after those late night kick-offs at ungodly hours will for sure prove a delicate balance to many. With this kind of football, everything else stops. Everything. It’s a matter of life and death, you know.

For the betting family, it’s a chance to gamble big time.

So, before the final match, on December 18, we will have incessant flow of team news, previews, reviews, build-ups, bar-talks, falling-out, nitpicking, assertions, anecdotes, aspirations and fond memories.

In the meantime, pop that champagne, toast to that team, player you adore. Drink to their victory or mourn their loss. Whichever way, just enjoy. It’s that moment of merry making.

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