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3rdWc-Icon-4On June 12, the waiting and anticipation will end and 32 teams will get down to the business of competing for one of the most coveted trophies in sports –The FIFA World Cup 2014.

Hosted in 12 cities in Brazil (the tournament kicks off in São Paulo), a country where football is akin to religion, the excitement is set to be tremendous. Brazil has a knack of producing legendary footballers such as Cafu, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Romário, Sócrates, Zico, and the legend that is Pelé.

A five time World Cup Champion, Brazil will try to keep the Cup at home. In the initial group phase, the mighty Brazilians will come up against Croatia, Cameroon and Mexico.

The defending champions, Spain, will be hoping to repeat their 2010 victory by beating the Netherlands to claim the title. The Netherlands, of course, are always a potent force to contend with, while the French, Portuguese and the all time perennial under-achievers on the big stage – the English – can beat the best teams on a good day. Also in contention are the Germans, who will be banking on their efficiency, team spirit and the experience of winning the Cup three times.

The Argentineans have not had much luck since the ‘hand of God’ incident in 1986, but are viewed as a potential threat with world class striker, Lionel Messi, as their captain. Along with Chile and perhaps Uruguay, they should put up a solid show for the South American continent.

Many of the other teams, especially those from Africa and Asia will be hard pressed to compete with the European and South American onslaught, although the Koreans are an extremely hard working unit whose never say die attitude saw them finish fourth in 2002, and can never be discounted.

All matches are slated to begin in the late evening in Pakistan, so get ready to enjoy a month long feast of football!

– Haroon Rasheed

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 8, 2014.