In the wake of last Friday’s Group Stage Draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we have a look to see which of our International Claret & Blue stars will be clashing with in Round One come June and July.
A total of ten potential Hammers are expected to be on the Plane from their respective Nations next summer to the 21st playing of FIFA’s showpiece Competition, it will be the first time since 2006 that it has been held in Europe.
We start with the English persuasion of keeper Joe Hart, full-back Aaron Cresswell and hopeful Michail Antonio, who was picked for Gareth Southgate’s Squad as recently as April.
The former Middlesbrough Boss would have been licking his lips at the prospect of making it to The Knockout stages when sat at The Kremlin four days ago in chilly Moscow.
The Three Lions have been drawn with outsiders Panama and Tunisia to accompany Belgium in Group G, avoiding many typical “bogey” Nations and with an excellent opportunity to progress.
Also in the European contingent, Jose Fonte, a 2016 European Champion, and his Portugal Team will be hoping to become the second Nation since the turn of the Century to win a European Championship and a World Cup consecutively.
Ironically, the only other Country to achieve that in the modern era was bitter rivals Spain, who they have been picked to play in the difficult Group B alongside Morocco and Iran, can the centre-back inspire his Nation to history?
To finish with our Continental European Hammers, young Swiss midfielder Edimilson Fernandes after Switzerland overcame Northern Ireland in a Play-Off to make The tournament, having been denied Automatic Qualification by Fernando Santos’ men.
La Nati have a very undesirable task on their hands to progress competing with five-time Champions Brazil, 2014 Quarter-Finalist Costa Rica and a stern Serbia side.
But, if that was difficult, spare a thought for Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer Javier Hernandez, who is yet to feature under David Moyes in East London nursing a hamstring injury, as well as Fonte (foot).
Should he stay fit, Chicharito will be facing reigning World Champions Germany a year after losing to them in the Final of the 2017 Confederations Cup also held in Russia.
Sweden, fresh from dumping Italy out in a Play-Off and outsiders South Korea, themselves proving in the 2002 Tournament that they can pack a punch on the World Stage, will Hernandez be able to find his shooting boots in that Group?
Also in The Americas, 2016/2017 West Ham United Players’ Player of the Year Manuel Lanzini and his veteran teammate Pablo Zabaleta don’t have it easy either, if they are both picked by Argentina Manager Jorge Sampaoli.
They will be competing in “The Group D of Death”, clashing with the form Nations of Croatia and Iceland, and African giant-killers Nigeria, a threat to any International Xl, “The Jewell” will need to be on top form to impress out of this bunch.
Last but not least is two likeable long-serving Irons from another African Nation in the form of Senegal Skipper Cheikhou Kouyate and prolific forward Diafra Sakho.
The pair became National heroes last month when The Lions of Teranga Qualified for just their second WC and their first since 2002, beating South Africa away from home to achieve the feat.
Aliou Cisse’s men are surprise favourites to finish second down in Group H with tricky Poland, Columbia and Japan to play and why not? With such quality as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane in their ranks and the pedigree of beating the likes of France in the 2002 Tournament.
So, now that you have been given the full lowdown on who will be representing West Ham at next summer’s Tournament and who they will be vying for success against, the 2018 World Cup is now just months away and Russia is set, but will there be Hammers success on the World Stage?