It is summer time, the sky is clear and the beautiful stone beaches of Sochi are packed full with tourists taking a dip in the warm waters of the Black Sea. This city bordered by the Caucasian Mountains has been referred to by many as the Russian Riviera with its many restaurants and its melting pot of nationalities – 118 by official accounts.
Along Navaginskaya Street, one of the city’s main boulevards, parents shuffle along as their children rock on scooters and roller skates. An elderly man delights little children with music from wooden instruments on the steps of the city administration office as the country marks Russia Day this Monday.
Along Kurortny Prospect, mass transit buses move by covered in advertising announcing the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup.
At the Moremall (pronounced Moramol), staffers are hard at work issuing Fan IDs to spectators that have bought tickets for the biggest football fiesta to be hosted by the city this month.
Four matches will be played in Sochi – three group matches and one semi-final match – as the city warms up ahead of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
The Fisht Stadium was the scene of the closing ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and has been newly converted to a football stadium with an attendant increase in capacity.
In April it hosted its first football match since the Olympics as Russia held Belgium to a 3-3 draw in an international friendly.
In two weeks it will be the turn of African champions Cameroon to take on world champions Germany for a place in the semi-final.
I am eager to finally watch the Indomitable Lions in their reincarnation on the world stage after the debacle of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where backroom problems spilt onto the pitch as players attacked one another leading to an ignominious campaign.
The last time I watched the Lions was at South Africa 2010 in their last group game against The Netherlands in Cape Town. They lost that game and crashed out of the tournament without a point.
As newly minted AFCON champions, I hope that Benjamin Moukandjo and his teammates are in a better frame of mind to represent the continent this time.
Many people that I have met in Sochi are excited to see Cameroon come to town. A couple that I met on Saturday during a mountain hike told me they have already bought their tickets for the game.
Ticket sales have been slow for this tournament with the Russia vs Portugal game the only game sold out at the moment, according to the Fifa website.
These football tickets are really costly by Russian standards and it will affect the total number of tickets sold by Fifa. The Confederations Cup tickets range from 960 rubles ($17 USD), 4700 rubles ($83), 5700 rubles ($100) and 9000 rubles ($158) for group stage matches.
This is because regular domestic league matches usually cost 250 rubles ($4.50) for the big cities like Moscow while smaller cities cost lesser.
Fifa hopes that international fans would come as Russia has eased visa restrictions with the Fan ID which can be gotten once a ticket is purchased from the official website.
No matter what happens, the games will go on and one anticipates a grand celebration of football in Sochi this summer.
We have been waiting for so long.
Lolade Adewuyi attends the Russian International Olympic University, Sochi. Follow his blog about the local experience in Sochi for Goal Africa during the Confederations Cup.
Got any questions? Get in touch via Twitter: @Jololade