World Cup 2018 draw: Who are hosts Maria Komandnaya & Gary Lineker?

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With the stage set in Moscow, Goal takes a look at the pair who will be running the ceremony and group stage draw

The 2018 World Cup is just over six months away, but the teams will soon know their opponents for the group stage.

Moscow's famous State Kremlin Palace is the venue for the draw, which takes place on Friday December 1, and the stage is set.

France 11/2 to lift the World Cup

The event will be led by Gary Lineker and Maria Komandnaya, with a number of well known former footballers also taking part.

With the draw imminent, Goal takes a look at the duo who will be conducting the ceremony. 


WHO IS GARY LINEKER?


Gary Lineker

To many from a younger demographic, Gary Lineker is the unmistakable face of BBC's Match of the Day and the star of a series of savoury snack advertisements, but he is also one of England's most accomplished players of all time.

A former striker, Lineker won 80 caps for the Three Lions, scoring 48 goals, putting him third in the nation's all-time top scorers list behind Wayne Rooney and Bobby Charlton.

He played at four major tournaments, including the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, winning the Golden Boot award at the former with six goals.

Gary Lineker

Lineker's playing career began at his hometown club Leicester City and his journey through the world of football took him to Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham and even Japan, where he finished his career.

After hanging up his boots, he embarked on a media career, beginning with the BBC - where he still works - and he has become a regular feature on sports television in the UK, presenting programmes for the likes of BT Sport, NBC Sports and ESPN.

"As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions. It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament — now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw," Lineker told FIFA.com following the news that he would host the event. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is."


WHO IS MARIA KOMANDNAYA?


Sergey Gordeev Maria Komandnaya

The 2018 World Cup draw will be co-presented by Maria Komandnaya, who will join Lineker on stage at the State Kremlin Palace.

Komandnaya is a Russian sports journalist who is one of the country's most well-known football reporters.

She has worked with a variety of media outlets during the course of her career, including FOX Sports, Moscow FM and Match TV.

 

A post shared by Maria Komandnaya (@komandnaya) on

Indeed, Komandnaya was a familiar face on FOX's coverage of the 2017 Confederations Cup and she will no doubt be to the fore during next year's tournament.

“The draw is an extraordinary time,” Komandnaya told FIFA.com. “Millions of fans are holding their breath, hoping their dreams will come true. It’s the time when the World Cup officially begins.

 

A post shared by Maria Komandnaya (@komandnaya) on

“I believe that football is a universal language, capable of bringing people together from all around the world. And it's the time when all of us can speak football. I'm so thrilled to have the chance to help conduct one of the greatest sports events.

"I want to show fans how beautiful my country is and how excited we are to host the World Cup. We are so passionate about what we do, and about football. Believe me, it will be a truly extraordinary event.”


WHO ELSE WILL BE AT THE WORLD CUP 2018 DRAW?


Diego Maradona World Cup draw

The great and the good of the football world will descend on Moscow for the draw in December and, since they will be learning their World Cup fate, representatives from each of the 32 associations involved will be chief among them.

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As well as that, draw hosts Lineker and Komandnaya will be assisted by eight former footballers who have been chosen to represent the host nation and seven World Cup-winning teams.

Laurent Blanc (France), Gordon Banks (England), Cafu (Brazil), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Carles Puyol (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay) and Diego Maradona (Argentina) represent seven of the nations to have won the tournament and Nikita Simonyan will represent Russia.

Miroslav Klose, who won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, will serve as the trophy bearer.

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