Two days ago, Kridangan.com’s specialist football writer, John Welsh presented a realistic analysis about the strengths of participants after the final draw, which was the first major event of the FIFA World Cup 2014. It was a glittering ceremony, held in the picturesque resort of Costa do Sauípe, Bahia on December 6, 2013. This article focuses on the ceremony itself.
The Final Draw was conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, who was assisted by 8 distinguished footballers, representing 8 winners of previous World Cups in tournament’s history. Hosted by actor and supermodel Fernanda Lima and her husband Rodrigo Hilbert, the proceedings began unfolding at 11.00 AM local time. Though Lima and Hilbert are famous Brazilian celebrities, there were people in the auditorium, who saw the couple for the first time. They instantly reconciled to the histrionic virtues of the hosts as the two of them smartly managed the entire show.
The event began with a solemn remembrance of Nelson Mandela, who had passed away the night before. Rich tributes were paid to him, with broadcasters recalling moments from history, and how the great Mandela worked tirelessly so that his country could claim the honor of hosting the 2010 World Cup. There were awkward moments, when a minute’s silence in Mandela’s memory was broken within ten seconds by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who spoke about celebrating humanity, Mandela and football. Standing next to Mr Blatter on stage was the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who in her election speech in 2010, had promised voters of her responsibility of delivering a great World Cup to Brazil, where football is religion. On Friday, she reminded that the Brazil World Cup would be an unforgettable Cup of the Cups. She said; it was the first time that all previous champions were participating in the tournament, which had teams from all five continents. She also mentioned Brazilian football greats; Pele, Ronaldo and Felipe Scolari. The event was interspersed with some musical numbers and dances but all that passed quickly.
Before the main draw, Vincente Del Bosque, manager of reigning champions Spain appeared with World Cup trophy and said that Spain will do their best to retain it next summer. All 32 teams were introduced starting with 6 South American sides, 5 Africans, 13 Europeans, 4 North and Central Americans and 4 Asians. Also seen on stage were Ronaldo and Bebeto, whose famous baby-cradling act, after scoring a goal for Brazil 20 years ago, is remembered even now. The World Cup 2014 mascot Fuleco, who danced on stage, also mimicked Bebeto briefly. World Cup legends Hurst, Kempes, Cannavaro, Mattheus, Zidane, Hierro and Cafu entered the stage at this time to help Jérôme Valcke in the draw process.
The first act was drawing 1 ball from Pot 4 and dropping it into pot 2, so that all pots could have 8 teams each. Expectedly, hosts Brazil were drawn as the first team in Group A. One by one other balls from Pot 1 were drawn to form Groups B to H. holders Spain were B1, Colombia C1, Uruguay D1, Switzerland E1, Argentina F1, Germany G1 and Belgium H1.
Italy from Pot 2 joined Uruguay in Group D. Then Chile from Pot 3 joined Spain in Group B, Cameroon from Pot 4 joined Brazil in Group A, Ecuador joined Switzerland in Group E, Ivory Coast joined Colombia in Group C, Nigeria went to Group F with Argentina, Ghana joined Germany in Group G and Algeria was placed alongside Belgium in Group H.
Next round saw Mexico joining Brazil and Cameroon in Group A, Australia being placed in Group B with Spain and Chile, Japan drawn in Group C, Costa Rica in Group D, Honduras in Group E, Iran in Group F, USA in Group G and South Korea in Group H.
The last round completed all Groups and also decided who would face whom in league stages. In being drawn as the last Group A team, Croatia was destined to play Brazil in the opening game. Group B was completed with Netherlands drawn as last Group B team, Greece completed Group C, England finished Group D, France was last drawn in Group E, first-timers Bosnia Herzegovina completed Group F, Portugal concluded Group G and the last team in Group H was Russia.
Experts think that Group B with the Netherlands, Spain, Australia and Chile is one group of death. On these pages, John Welsh has already given a hint about tough challenges that the Germans could face in Group G, which has the vastly improved USA, a Roanaldo-inspired Portugal and supercharged Ghanaian black stars. Another interesting Group is Group D, comprising of Italy, Costa Rica, Uruguay and England.
In the inaugural match of the 20th World Cup, Brazil and Croatia play each other on June 12, 2014 at Sao Palo. Five days later, Germany will make history as the first team playing its 100th World Cup match. The league matches will continue every day after June 12 until the 26th. The Grand Finale is slated for July 13, 2014 at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.