There's an added air of excitement as the World Cup nears for Under-23s coach Radhi Jaïdi, whose native country, Tunisia, is paired with England on the opening day of Group G fixtures.
Jaïdi has mixed emotions when recalling his memories of World Cup tournaments, having missed out on South Korea in 2002, but represented Tunisia at Germany 2006, scoring in a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia.
The former defender will be flying out to Russia this week, invited by FIFA, for Tunisia's maiden game against the Three Lions, but before leaving, we asked him to give us his choices for 2018 title contenders.
"I can't wait for the World Cup to begin," he exclaimed. "All the attention now is on the World Cup, after our season has finished.
"One of the best moments of my career was being involved in World Cup competition. 2002 was disappointing, but 2006 in Germany was really good. Scored a goal against Saudi Arabia, which was a personal highlight.
"Playing against Spain was one of the biggest games I ever played, unlucky we lost. But in general for Tunisia to be involved in World Cups is a huge achievement for the Tunisian people. We're trying as a nation to push to the next phase now.
"It's the best tournament a player can be involved in, to represent your country.
"I fancy Spain, Belgium, Germany and maybe Portugal to do well. I don't think there will be any huge surprises, these countries always compete.
"My gut is saying that one of the favourites will win the World Cup again, but let's see."