Every once in four years, the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world takes place, i.e. the FIFA World Cup. However, this years edition is unique and more exciting than ever before for many reasons. It's the first time a World Cup is being held in the beautiful yet politically marred and war-torn continent of Africa. How I envy those who will be boarding flights to watch the matches among thousands of fans across the world in one of Africa's most developed countries in what is expected to be an electrifying and once in a lifetime experience.
Football fanatics like me who have been following the ongoing world cup friendlies would agree with the fact that as of now there's probably not a "favorite" to win the cup. Surely you have Capello's England who go into every World Cup with high hopes of bringing the Cup back "home" but are undone either by "women" who prove to be a major distraction or by a great man named "Diego Maradona" who can defy the rules of football and score with his hand.
Talking of the great man, he will be making his return to football's grandest stage not as a player but as the national coach of one of the most talented teams in this years edition, Argentina, which boasts of household names like Messi, Tevez and Maradona's son-in-law Sergio Aguero. With such abundance of talent and one of the greatest players ever to guide them one must expect Argentina to win this World Cup convincingly, but lets not forget they are only on their way to South Africa thanks to a late winner by one of Maradona's freak selections a 36 year old striker.
Moving on to freak selections, Brazilian World Cup winning captain and current coach who I believe is out not to take the current team to World Cup glory and then there are arch-rivals France whose national coach is trying even harder to make his team look unconvincing. That said and done, focus on the coaches will be at par with the players slogging it out on the pitch with the only exception of the "The Special One" Jose Mourinho.
As for a personal favorite, mine would be Spain, which by far have the most balanced team going into this tournament, but considering the fact that they have been labelled bigger chokers than England, don't be too surprised by an early exit.
Of course, how can we ignore the mighty Germans with whom I just won the world cup in FIFA 2010. But let's get back to reality, with a fragile defence, a midfield relying on the hopes of one man and an extremely talented attacking line up which have been warming the bench for their respective clubs most of last season, all we can do is pray that they get their game together for 7 games. Same goes for the Portuguese who can't find a way to score against teams that are unheard of and are ranked worse than India.
Keeping in mind how the so-called "push-overs" have been fairing in their pre-friendlies and how the favorites have all intentions to disappoint, for once we can hope for a balanced world cup with many surprises and 64 interesting and breath-taking matches. Atleast that's what someone who's paying SD$70 (approx. Rs. 2400) to watch the matches would be praying for. And that's what a country like South Africa would fittingly deserve because honestly speaking, 4 years ago how many of us thought that South Africa would be ready to play hosts to the worlds finest sports stars?
And as June 11th slowly nears, its high time we get ready. Beer, Chicken, Jersey and a Wavin'Flag anyone?