On Sunday, men will have the chance to become gods as the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup starts in Qatar. It is the biggest stage of all as the best players in the world make efforts to take center stage.
Within the 29-day period, matches will be won, incredible goals will be scored, some fans will go home in tears and records will be broken.
But just as in any competition, questions are raised. Here are five key questions on the minds of everyone ahead of the tournament.
Can the trophy go to an African nation?
Over the years, a number of African countries have been given the opportunity to show their worth in the World Cup. Some have made good account of themselves whilst others haven’t.
At the time of writing, no African country has made it to the semis of the World Cup. In fact, there is an exclusive list of three countries from the continent to reach the quarter-finals: Ghana in 2010, Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990.
With five Africans set to participate in Qatar, many still wonder if this time Ghana or Morocco or Cameroon can take the trophy home.
Will Messi finally lift the title?
Since Lionel Messi burst unto the scene, he has been hailed as the greatest player of all time. The Argentine has won trophies in abundance and broken many records in an exemplary career.
However, one trophy has eluded him; the World cup. In 2014, he came agonizingly close. With a magical supporting cast led by Angel Di Maria, Argentina marched all the way to the final but lost to a strike from Mario Gotze of Germany.
This year, Argentina come into the competition as a favorite, having gone unbeaten in over 30 games. He looks set to clinch that elusive title unless someone else stands in his way.
What happens to France?
Four years ago, France lit up the World Cup in Russia. With a stacked lineup led by the young Kylian Mbappe, Les Bleus won the title for the second time in their history.
This year, the story looks different for Didier Deschamps’ men. They have been on poor form in Europe and have lost many key players due to injury. They will be without Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and others in Qatar.
Three of the last four tournament winners crashed out of the group stages. Will it be the same story for France?
Has the time finally arrived for Brazil?
Ahead of the tournament, Brazil ranks first in the men’s list and with good reason. Tite’s men have excited fans consistently with fancy football and eye-catching goals against helpless opponents.
Neymar is fit and firing, Vinicius has potential to reach the very top, Casemiro is still available, they have the two best goalkeepers in the world and more.
It will be difficult for any team to stop them.
The European challengers?
The last four World Cup tournaments have been won by European countries. This naturally brings an eye to European teams as they look to maintain their grip on the trophy.
Some exciting options available are Spain and England who have a mixed bag of experience and youth to battle the best in the globe.
There is also Belgium who still have their golden generation, led by Kevin De Bruyne available to help them win. If Portugal can click well with Ronaldo as the leader, they will cause huge problems as well.
It will be an exciting month of football.