Dhaka, Bangladesh
World soccer carnival starts today

World soccer carnival starts today

Focus of global interest shifts onto Moscow

News Special The centre of global interest shifts onto Moscow with all stars of the soccer world gathered there and its quadrennial carnival all set for the kickoff today. Host Russia takes on Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital. The starter of the 32-nation soccer summit is timed 9pm Bangladesh time. A FIFA or Federation of International Football Associations preview says as the hosts, Russia, automatically qualified for the 2018 World Cup and comes in with the homefield advantage despite a poor stretch leading up to the tournament going 0-4-3 since its last win. Saudi Arabia, on the other side, comes in as "the lowest-ranked team in the competition and is making its first World Cup appearance since 2006 and looking for their first win since 1994". The remaining two teams in the Group A should provide quite a challenge with Egypt and Uruguay rounding out the quartet. "The home country always stands a chance to make a run but both Russia and Saudi Arabia will need to take advantage of every opportunity as they look to advance," says the curtain-raiser. Incidentally, the global sporting event comes against the backdrop of some earthshaking or awe-inspiring happenings in almost all of which Russia as a reviving world power had a part, and it would hold the centre of universal attention on the world war of booters unless--goodness forbids--any unforeseen unwanted incident should upset the pristine aesthetic pleasure shared by all across the board. In a sombre backdrop was the conflagration of all-engulfing Middle East wars--civil wars and global 'war on terror' by a US-led coalition. As the warring forces, including the coalition, got stuck in a veritable hellhole, Vladimir Putin's Russia, perceivably with the acquiescence of Xi Jinping of China, sent sorties to save the situation and apparently salvaged those entangled in a do-or-die mayhem. Turkey evidently switched sides from the NATO alignment and polished the war-ravaged rugged land of Mesopotamian Civilization with an expedition styled 'Operation Olive Branch' that stands for peace mission. In the immediate past were three mega-events of global import touching on economics, geopolitics and strategy. The G7 summit of rich nations ended in disagreements with US president Donald Trump pulling off the grouping's joint declaration and trouncing the host, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, as his pleading for taking in Russia to make G8 was not honoured. An event of counterbalance was staged with Xi presiding over a summit of SOC or Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries that rallied leaders including Russian president Putin and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. They 'consolidated' the emerging unity avowedly meant for forging a new world order based on 'shared prosperity' for all. Crowning it all was the June 12th Singapore summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, billed a historic peace meet between a superpower and a 'rogue state' armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and threatening to strike in the mainland America in retaliation for Trump's armada with a feigned target of 'obliterating' North Korea from world map. Much of the tension and worry of the present-day humanity is set to be purged through this thriller being staged in Moscow. However, the unifying spirit of the world sporting summit has some innocuous divisions based on team support for the 32 nations in the grand clash. Bangladesh is no exception--even a same house is split along the fans lines, and decorated with flags of favorite teams and jerseys with portraits of respective iconic players. On the global plane, Argentina, Brazil, France, holders Germany and Spain are figuring high as possible victors this time around. Bangladesh, where people are traditionally football-crazy but national footballers stand nowhere near their expectations, is divided down the middle with fans mainly supporting the Argentines or Brazilians with Messi and Neymar as the icons. Watch out! The ball rolls in no time now. A UNB report adds: World-best 32 football playing nations, split into eight groups, will participate in the biggest show on earth missed by four-time champions Italy, 2010 finalist Netherlands, two-time Copa champions Chile and the USA while Saudi Arabia returned to the World Cup after 2002. The 30-minute glittering opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 pm (BST) with 500 local performers, including dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists, rendering the show. Brazil's two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo will show off the trophy to 80,000 fans inside the stadium. World Cup organisers earlier announced that British singer Robbie Williams will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony on Thursday. In the 1990s, Williams was a part of the pop group "Take That." Robbie Williams will open the World Cup programme with Russia soprano Aida Garifullina joining the English singer for what FIFA has described as a "musical extravaganza". A fireworks display is set to bring the ceremony to a close before the World Cup competition returns four years on from Mario Gotze's decisive contribution in Brazil. Bangladesh U-12 boy Rafi is going to make history in the opening ceremony of 21st FIFA World Cup as Ambassador of Bangladesh. He will carry the national flag of Bangladesh accompanied by Bangladeshi young journalist Shams alongside the budding footballers of some 211 countries across the world in the ceremony. Bangladeshi budding footballer Rafi, now in Russia Under FIFA Football For Friendship programme, also played for Galapagos Sea Lions team alongside the players of six countries -- China, Cyprus, Liberia, Anguilla, Ivory Coast and Turks & Caicos Island at Spartak Stadium in Moscow and scored six goals in the three matches on Tuesday ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018.

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