Super Eagles of Nigeria will discover their opponents in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia at the tournament’s draw ceremony at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Friday. The 32-team 21st World Cup has been scheduled to take place between June 14 and July 15, 2018.
Nigeria, who will make their sixth World Cup appearance in Russia, are in Pot 4 alongside Serbia, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia
Three-time African champions the Super Eagles could be drawn against powerhouses Germany, Argentina, Brazil and France, who are all in Pot 1.
At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Nigeria were drawn against Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran in Group F.
Austin Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu are among the former football stars invited by FIFA as special guests for the draw.
The former Eagles captains will join the likes of ex-Brazil striker Ronaldo, Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho, Marcel Desaily, Lothar Matthaus and Peter Schmeichel at the ceremony.
Former PSG midfielder Okocha represented Nigeria at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups, while Kanu appeared at the 1998, 2002 and 2010 finals
Holders Germany will find out who stands between them and a successful defence of the World Cup at the draw.
After beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final at the Maracana in Rio to lift the World Cup in 2014, the aim for Joachim Loew’s side now is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain the trophy, according to AFP.
Having already won the Confederations Cup in Russia earlier this year with a fringe squad, the Germans are leading favourites for glory in 2018, a status that Loew himself has said there is no avoiding.
Certainly, the Germans can expect stiff competition from the Brazil of Neymar – revitalised after their nightmare 7-1 loss to the Germans on home soil – and Spain in particular.
The first step, though, is discovering who they will meet in the group stage as the focus turns to the State Kremlin Palace, where the snow and freezing temperatures of a Russian winter will greet the footballing world.
Germany, Brazil and Argentina are all in the first pot along with France, European champions Portugal, Belgium, Poland and the hosts.
But if those nations are certain of avoiding each other, danger lurks in pot two, where the Spanish – rebuilt into a formidable force by Julen Lopetegui after poor showings in 2014 and at Euro 2016 – lie along with England.
This will be the penultimate 32-nation tournament before FIFA’s grand plan for 48 teams comes into effect for 2026 and world body will keep apart sides from the same continent with the exception of Europe, which has 14 representatives to go into the eight groups.
As a result, most of the sections will contain two European nations, raising the prospect of England or Spain meeting Germany or France in heavyweight contests right from the start.
Alternatively, there is the possibility of England being drawn with Iceland in a repeat of the Euro 2016 clash in Nice that ended in humiliation for Roy Hodgson’s England.
Those sides will add something new to a tournament that will be deprived, amongst others, of Italy for the first time since 1958, 2014 semi-finalists Holland , and the United States.