The countdown to the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 continues this coming Thursday with the final draw in Medellin, where the 24 qualifiers for the tournament will find out who they will face in the group phase, a crucial part of their preparations.

Held at the city’s Plaza Mayor Conference Centre, the draw will start at 18.00 local time and will be streamed live on FIFA.com. Among the guests will be several stars of Colombian football, including Juan Pablo Angel and David Ospina, not to mention futsal luminaries such as Falcao, who is about to appear in his fifth World Cup, and Kike and Marquinho, former world champions with Spain and Brazil respectively.

With the exception of Falcao, they will all take part in the draw, an experience that Kike, a Futsal World Cup winner with La Roja in 2000 and 2004, is looking forward to: “After four championships as a player waiting to see how the draw would work out, I now get to experience it from the other side. It’s a pleasure and it’s going to be unforgettable.”

A prodigal son of Medellin, Angel is also delighted to be forming part of the high-quality line-up of draw assistants. “I like the sport and I have a lot of time for it,” the former Colombia international, who scored nine goals in 33 appearances for his country, told FIFA.com.

A futsal player in his formative years, he added: “It’s grown a lot here in Colombia, and it’s a nice responsibility to have. On a personal level, it’s always nice to support an international event that’s taking place at home.”

High expectation
Assessing the importance of the draw, Kike, who will also be playing for the FIFA Futsal Stars Team against Colombia in an exhibition match in Medellin on Friday, said: “The qualifiers are a big attraction, but it’s the draw that really marks the start of the World Cup. That’s when you get the chance to analyse your group rivals and you look ahead to see which teams you might face in the knockout rounds.”

Angel, who experienced more than a few tournament draws in his career, explained the emotions that the players will be experiencing right now: “Tension. You look at the challenge posed by your opponents and you start to think about your chances of doing well or not. Expectations grow and objectives start taking shape.”

The importance of the event is underlined by the fact that 18 of the national team coaches will be in attendance.

How the draw works
As part of the draw procedure the 24 qualifiers will be split into four different pots according to the number of points obtained over the last five world finals, with more weight being given to the most recent Futsal World Cup to reflect their current form.

The six seeds in Pot 1 one will be hosts Colombia, defending champions Brazil, Thailand 2012 runners-up Spain, and Italy, Argentina and Russia. Teams will be drawn from Pot 1 first and then sequentially down to Pot 4. Each time a team is drawn from a pot, they will be allocated to a corresponding position in a group, with the number of the group being drawn from a separate pot.

“With the aim of attracting as many people as possible to the arenas, the Local Organising Committee requested that Colombia, as the hosts, and Brazil and Spain, as the top two seeds, each play their three group games at one of the three venues,” FIFA Event Manager Jaime Yarza told FIFA.com. “Colombia will be based in Cali, while Spain and Brazil will go to Medellin or Bucaramanga, in no particular order.”

Providing a party atmosphere at the draw ceremony will be popular Colombian singer Martina, La Peligrosa, ensuring that everyone will be ready for the tournament to kick off on 10 September.