|Yes she is, no she isn't: Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull WILL join forces tonight after "technical" issues|
It's tense. The big kick-off is approaching and the striking fulcrum's availability was in question. Yes, it's the traditional Opening Ceremony crisis for Brazil 2014. Jennifer Lopez went down in training but has apparently recovered (or so www.twitter.com/jlo would suggest) and Brazil will be going with two (or three) up front at their much-anticipated Opening Ceremony.
YOUR OPENING WORLD CUP VIEWING SCHEDULE TONIGHT (from 7pm CAT)
8pm: SABC and SuperSport faces waffle a bit
8.15: Over to Sao Paulo. Lots of noise and flags, loud music.
8.20: Sepp Blatter says something insincere, possibly suffering from flatulence.
8.25: Brazil gives Sepp's people lots of money, nobody's sure how much
8.30: The World Cup anthem "Ola Ola" (In English "Ono Ono") debuts
8.35: J-Lo goes down heavily, Pitbull gives her his famous "bite of life"
8.45: More noise. Bright lights. No fireworks apparently.
8.50: Ceremony ends. Brazilian workers hastily finish building the stadium.
8.55: Pitch laid.
9pm: Brazil and Croatia emerge with expensive World Cup balls
9.15: Carnival atmosphere on the streets sees police in riot gear called out.
9.30: SABC and SuperSport faces waffle a bit
9.50: Teams emerge for anthems. Tears.
10pm: Neymar falls over.
10.20: Fred misses.
11.10: Neymar falls over. Scores.
Midnight: A slightly flustered Brazil register an unimpressive win over Croatia.
Seriously, back at USA 94, Oprah Winfrey actually fell off the stage while introducing Diana Ross at Chicago's Soldier Field before the first North American World Cup. Then dead-shot Di actually mis-kicked her penalty - the ball was supposed to split in two when punted it in to the net but she missed, Stuart Pearce style. Even the greatest stars can get it wrong, ask Bernard Parker.
Twenty years later, Jennifer Lopez is doing a bit of a Cristiano Ronaldo on the anxious Brazilians before the New Corinthians Stadium opens with a blast at 8.15pm CAT (7.15pm in UK).
A crowd of 68,000 will assemble for the 25-minute Opening Ceremony, and with Lopez officially withdrawing ("technical difficulties") and then deciding she was fit, it looks like Pitbull, the bloke who opened the 2013 IPL, will have two partners, along with Brazilian Claudia Leitte.
The three of them will sing the 2014 official anthem "Ola Ola" ("We Are One") before turning the stage over the over 600 gymnasts, trampolinists and dancers. The official English version: "Ono Ono" ("We Haven't Won") will officially be sung for the first time after Roy Hodgson's troops play Italy on Saturday.
I jest. In truth, given their tradition of music, dancing and the slightly risqué Rio Carnival, we expect great things from Brazil before the tournament and during it, despite the protests, graffiti and late arriving stadia which have marked the World Cup build-up so far.
This bloke Pitbull (real name Armando Christian Pérez) appears to be the key player. Born in Miami to Cuban parents about 33 years ago, he made his name by going to number one in most countries around the world with Timber in 2011.
According to most biographies, Pitbull is a bit of a precocious Messi in rap terms amid claims he could juggle the poems of Cuba's national hero Jose Marti from the tender age of three. Apparently the self-confessed former drug dealer chose the stage name Pitbull because: "The Pitbull is too stupid to lose. They bite to lock. They're basically everything that I am. It's been a constant fight."
Wayne Rooney is allegedly changing his name to Dalmation sometime soon after his spotty performance for England, while Roy Hodgson will appear as Cocker Spaniel in Christmas pantomimes.
But seriously, with hosts Brazil kicking off their World Cup campaign at 10pm against Croatia, the nation needs a lift. There will be no fireworks at 7.15pm, so how it can possibly compete with South Africa's 2010 extravaganza is beyond me.
I have attended four World Cup opening and three Olympic opening ceremony. Sydney 2000 was the best I've seen. Fireworks are a must. Back in 1966, England paved the way with a bunch of schoolboys wearing waving flags. We've come a long way.
The bloke behind tonight's extravaganza is, as surprisingly as their current football team, a Belgian. Daphne Cornez insists (with an alarming lack of awareness of his own nation's rampant colonialism): "Tonight will be a tribute to Brazil and it's treasures: Nature, people, football."
Real treasures like gold and diamonds were, of course, taken from Brazil by European "explorers" a few centuries years ago.
In good old imperialist fashion, Cornez adds: "All the participants at the opening ceremony are motivated. It doesn't matter whether they're tired or hot, if they have to go through their routines again and again, they just keep on smiling. Amazing people."
And on that note: have a great World Cup. Mark Fish, Comfort Khezwa and I will be previewing the World Cup (and opening ceremony) at 9am on...
SOCCERBALLZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za with Mark Fish airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names. Ballz will also provide daily World Cup updates from next week.
You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.