Loose cannon's column in Brunei Times. Read here
A TOTAL of 736 actors, or rather players, are vying for the ultimate global recognition on planet Earth's biggest stage, the Fifa World Cup, which kicked off last night.
Thirty two individuals will pull the strings, directing affairs from the bench in a sporting extravaganza widely seen as the director's show.
Excuse this writer for using movie parlance, taking into consideration the long list of injury casualties ahead of the 19th edition of the Cup.
So, here are the nominees for the:
Best Team award
Brazil, seeking their sixth title armed with the distinction of being the only nation to lift the Cup outside their continent, in Sweden 1958 when Pele was unveiled to the world and again in Japan/South Korea in 2002, when the gaped-tooth Ronaldo reigned supreme.
Argentina, with proven scorers Gonzalo Higuain and Diego Milito not likely to start alongside each other and a legend as manager who lacks the ideas in how best to gel the team together.
The Netherlands, boasting one of the most creative midfields and strikeforces, aim to become only the eighth nation to win the Cup.
Spain, Euro champs and arguably the best purveyors of possession football, attempt to emulate West Germany's 72 Euro win/74 World Cup victory.
Germany, dismiss the Teutonic efficiency at your own peril, despite missing the injured Michael Ballack.
Top-scorer award, officially known as the Golden Shoe
Wayne Rooney, who has added headers as part of his deadly repertoire.
Cacau, Brazilian-born attacker donning German colours.
Robin van Persie, hungry for goals after an injury-plagued season.
Gonzalo Higuain, Argentine master marksman at Real Madrid.
Robinho, lithe and tricky across the pitch.
Samuel Eto'o, treble winners with Barcelona and Inter Milan.
David Silva, bound for Spanish champions Barcelona after the World Cup.
Wooden spoonists, Golden Raspberry Award
North Korea, not likely to repeat the 1966 exploits.
Honduras, despite having Spurs midfielder Wilson Palacios running the engine room.
Best player, or Golden Ball
Robinho, likely to overshadow Kaka as the beacon of light for the boys from Brazil.
Lionel Messi, the little Argentine is out of this world but can his teammates keep pace?
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star tends to overdo it but remains a potent force, especially with his free-kicks.
Wesley Sneijder, treble winners with Inter Milan and eager to supply the ammunition for his fellow Dutchmen.
Carlos Dunga has succeeded in forming a team in his playing mould, no-frills yet effective.
Fabio Capello will pray that his regimented approach pays off.
Joachim Loew has a young team to call upon.
Bert van Marwijk may turn out to be a successful Dutch coach.
Vicente del Bosque has added a new dimension to the Spanish armada.
Darkhorses of the tournament
Mexico will play beautiful football
Chile are rich in Latin flair
Slovakia may be debutants but rich in football tradition
Slovenia represent the Soviet elements
Italy are too old to contest
France, a team divided
South Africa stare at early exit
We'll revisit the list of nominees halfway through the tournament. In the meantime, enjoy the African journey.