Teams: FRANCE (10), URUGUAY (16), MEXICO (17), SOUTH AFRICA (83)
France are the firm favourites to win this group, with Uruguay and Mexico expected to fight it out for the second pre-quarter finals berth. However, the hosts of any international tournament can never be counted out, and South Africa reached the semi finals of last years FIFA Confederations’ Cup when the tournament was also held there. Thus this group may eventually become tougher and much more competitive than it looks and may throw up some surprises.
Previous World Cups: 1930 – R1, 1934 – R1, 1938 (hosts) – QF, 1954 – R1, 1958– SF (3rd), 1966 – R1, 1978 – R1, 1982 – SF (4th), 1986 – SF (3rd), 1998 (hosts) – Winners, 2002 – R1, 2006 – Final.
2010 – qualified on Nov-18, 2009; 31st team to qualify.
Head Coach: Raymond DOMENECH (FRA – age 58)
01. Hugo LLORIS (G – age 23) Lyon (FRA)
02. Bacary SAGNA (D – age 27) Arsenal (ENG)
03. Eric ABIDAL (D – age 30) Barcelona (ESP) (06)
04. Anthony REVEILLERE (D – age 30) Lyon (FRA)
05. William GALLAS (D – age 32) Arsenal (ENG) (06)
06. Marc PLANUS (D – age 27) Bordeaux (FRA)
07. Franck RIBERY (M – age 27) Bayern Munich (GER) (06)
08. Yoann GOURCUFF (M – age 23) Bordeaux (FRA)
09. Djibril CISSE (F – age 28) Panathinaikos (GRE) (02)
10. Sidney GOUVOU (F – age 30) Lyon (FRA) (06)
11. Andre-Pierre GIGNAC (F – age 24) Toulouse (FRA)
12. Thierry HENRY (F – age 32) Barcelona (ESP) (C) (98) (02) (06)
13. Patrice EVRA (D – age 29) Manchester United (ENG)
14. Jeremy TOULALAN (M – age 26) Lyon (FRA)
15. Florent MALOUDA (M – age 30) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
16. Steve MANDANDA (G – age 25) Marseille (FRA)
17. Sebastien SQUILLACI (D – age 29) Sevilla (ESP)
18. Alou DIARRA (M – age 28) Bordeaux (FRA) (06)
19. Abou DIABY (M – age 24) Arsenal (ENG)
20. Mathieu VALBUENA (M – age 25) Marseille (FRA)
21. Nicolas ANELKA (F – age 31) Chelsea (ENG)
22. Gael CLICHY (D – age 24) Arsenal (ENG)
23. Cedric CARRASSO (G – age 28) Bordeaux (FRA)
Though France are favourites in this group, their form in qualification was anything but convincing, culminating in a controversial home draw with Ireland which finally saw them through. However, they are now in the Finals and are expected to do well – the French supporters shall be hoping a second successive final appearance.
On paper the French attack looks quite convincing. In Thierry Henry of Barcelona, Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea, Andre-Pierre Gignac of Toulouse and Sidney Gouvou of Lyon they seem to possess plenty of fire-power and big-match experience. Djibril Cisse of Panathinaikos has been recalled to give cover.
The support from midfield is also expected to be substantial, what with the presence of stalwarts like Franck Ribery of Bayern, Florent Malouda of Chelsea and Alou Diarra of Bordeaux. Younger talents like Yoann Gourcuff of Bordeaux, Jeremy Toulalan of Lyon, Abou Diaby of Arsenal and the exciting Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille can provide the energy and flair if given opportunities.
The central defence shall revolve round the experienced Eric Abidal of Barcelona and William Gallas of Arsenal, now recovered fully from injury. Full backs Bacary Sagna of Arsenal and Patrice Evra of Manchester United should provide dour defence with attacking flair down the wings. The ought to be adequately covered by Anthony Reveillere of Lyon, Gael Clichy of Arsenal, Marc Planus of Bordeaux and Sebastien Squillaci of Sevilla.
In goal France seem to lack international experience – both Hugo Lloris of Lyon and Steve Mandanda of Marseille are young, though both are talented keepers. Cedric Carrasso of Bordeaux provides cover.
Previous World Cups: 1930 (hosts) – Winners, 1950 – Winners, 1954 – SF (4th), 1962 – R1, 1966 – QF, 1970 – SF (4th), 1974 – R1, 1986 – PQF, 1990 – PQF, 2002 – R1.
2010 – qualified on Nov-18, 2009; 32nd (last) team to qualify.
Head Coach: Oscar TABAREZ (URU – age 63)
01. Fernando MUSLERA (G – age 24) Lazio Roma (ITA)
02. Diego LUGANO (D – age 29) Fenerbahce (TUR) (C)
03. Diego GODIN (D – age 24) Villarreal (ESP)
04. Jorge FUCILE (D – age 25) Porto (POR)
05. Walter GARGANO (M – age25) Napoli (ITA)
06. Mauricio VICTORINO (D – age 27) Universidad de Chile (CHI)
07. Edinson CAVANI (F – age 23) Palermo (ITA)
08. Sebastian EGUREN (M – age29) AIK Solna (SWE)
09. Luis SUAREZ (F – age 23) Ajax Amsterdam (NED)
10. Diego FORLAN (F – age 31) Atletico Madrid (ESP) (02)
11. Alvaro PEREIRA(M – age25) Porto (POR)
12. Juan CASTILLO (G – age 32) Deportivo Cali (COL)
13. Sebastian ABREU (F – age 33) Botafogo (BRA) (02)
14. Nicolas LODEIRO (M – age21) Ajax Amsterdam (NED)
15. Diego PEREZ (M – age30) Monaco (FRA)
16. Maxi PEREIRA (D – age 26) Benfica (POR)
17. Egidio AREVALO (M – age27) Penarol (URU)
18. Ignacio GONZALEZ (M – age28) Valencia (ESP)
19. Andres SCOTTI (D – age 35) Colo Colo (CHI)
20. Alvaro FERNANDEZ (M – age24) Universidad de Chile (CHI)
21. Sebastian FERNANDEZ (F – age 25) Banfield (ARG)
22. Martin CACERES(D – age 23) Juventus (ITA)
23. Martin SILVA (G – age 27) Defensor Sporting (URU)
Uruguay were the very last team to qualify for this World Cup after finishing fifth in South America and then defeating Costa Rica in the play offs. They are expected to be one of the main contenders for a pre-quarter final berth from Group A, but they are not really expected to progress much further.
Like many countries this year, Uruguay seem to lack a really experienced international goalkeeper. Both Fernando Muslera of Lazio and Juan Castillo of Deportivo Cali are talented keepers, but have played only a handful of international matches. The third keeper Martin Silva of Defensor is even less experienced.
The defence seems better served, with the presence of captain Diego Lugano of Fenerbahce, Diego Godin of Villarreal, Jorge Fucile of Porto and Maxi Perreira of Benfica. Young Martin Caceres of Barcelona is also in the squad, as also are Chile based Mauricio Victorino and Andres Scotti.
In midfield Uruguay has one of South America’s most skilful players in Diego Perez of Monaco. Around him there are players like Walter Gargano of Napoli, Sebastian Eguren of AIK, Ignacio Gonzalez of Valencia and the exciting Alvaro Perreira of Porto.
The attack seems to be Uruguay’s strength. The Botafogo veteran Sebastian Abreu shall add experience to the mercurial duo of Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid and Luis Suarez of Ajax, giving the attack a real menacing look. Edinson Cavani of Palermo is another interesting prospect.
Previous World Cups: 1930 – R1, 1950 – R1, 1954 – R1, 1958 – R1, 1962– R1, 1966 – R1, 1970 (hosts) – QF, 1978 – R1, 1986 – QF, 1994 – PQF, 1998 – PQF, 2002 – PQF, 2006 – PQF.
2010 – qualified on Oct-10, 2009; 18th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Javier AGUIRRE (MEX – age 51)
01. Oscar PEREZ (G – age 37) Chiapas (MEX) (98) (02)
02. Francisco RODRIGUEZ (D – age 28) PSV Eindhoven (NED) (06)
03. Carlos SALCIDO (D – age 30) PSV Eindhoven (NED) (06)
04. Rafael MARQUEZ (D – age 31) Barcelona (ESP) (C) (02) (06)
05. Ricardo OSORIO (D – age 30) Stuttgart (GER) (06)
06. Gerardo TORRADO (M – age 31) Crux Azul (MEX) (02) (06)
07. Pablo BARRERA (M- age 23) Pumas UNAM (MEX)
09. Guillermo FRANCO (F – age 33) West Ham United (ENG) (06)
10. Cuauhtemoc BLANCO (F – age 37) Veracruz (MEX) (98) (02)
11. Carlos VELA (F – age 21) Arsenal (ENG)
12. Paul AGUILAR (D – age 24) Pachuca (MEX)
13. Guillermo OCHOA (G – age 24) America (MEX) (06)
14. Javier HERNANDEZ (F – age 22) Guadalajara (MEX)
15. Hector MORENO(D – age 22) Alkmaar Z (NED)
16. Efrain JUAREZ (D – age 22) Pumas UNAM (MEX)
17. Giovani DOS SANTOS (F – age 21) Galatasaray (TUR)
18. Andres GUARDADO (M – age 23) Deportivo La Coruna (ESP) (06)
19. Jonny MAGALLON (D – age 28) Guadalajara (MEX)
20. Jorge TORRES NILO (D – age 22) Atlas (MEX)
21. Adolfo BAUTISTA (M – age 31) Guadalajara (MEX)
22. Alberto MEDINA(M – age 27) Guadalajara (MEX)
23. Luis Ernesto MICHEL (G – age 30) Guadalajara (MEX)
Mexico has played some splendid football recently under Javier Aguirre, who has recalled a few veterans to add to the pool of talented youngsters to produce a team that look quite balanced and powerful.
The experienced Guillermo Blanco of West Ham and the exciting young Carlos Vela of Arsenal and the immensely talented Giovani Dos Santos form this mixture of experience and youth in attack. The veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco of Veracruz has been added to the attack to provide big match experience, while Javier Hernandez provides the youthful zest.
In midfield another most experienced player – Gerardo Torrado of Cruz Azul shall be the kingpin. Alongside him are players like Andres Guardado of La Coruna, Israel Castro of Pumas to provide youth, with the Guadalajara duo Adolfo Bautista and Alberto Medina providing experience.
The Mexican defence revolves round the captain, Rafael Marquez of Barcelona. He is regarded as one of the best centre backs in world football. Other highly experienced defenders in the team are the PSV duo of Carlos Salcido and Francisco Rodriguez, Jonny Magallon of Guadalajara and Ricardo Osorio of Stuttgart. Hector Moreno of Alkmaar, Jorge Nilo of Atlas and Paul Aguilar of Pachuca provide the energy of youth.
In Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico has a splendid goalkeeper who is young as well as experienced. Oscar Perez is also widely experienced, and it will be interesting to see who gets the job in South Africa.
Previous World Cups: 1998 – R1, 2002 – R1.
2010 – qualified on May-15, 2004 – as hosts; 1st team to qualify.
Head Coach: Carlos Alberto PARREIRA (BRA – age 67)
01. Moeneeb JOSEPHS (G – age 30) Orlando Pirates (RSA)
02. Siboniso GAXA (D – age 26) Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)
03. Tsepo MASILELA (D – age 25) Maccabi Haifa (ISR)
04. Aaron MOKOENA (D – age 29) Portsmouth (ENG) (C) (02)
05. Anele NGCONGCA (D – age 22) Racing Genk (BEL)
06. MacBeth SIBAYA (M – age 32) Rubin Kazan (RUS) (02)
07. Lance DAVIDS (M – age 25) Ajax Cape Town (RSA)
08. Siphiwe TSHABALALA (M – age 25) Kaizer Chiefs (RSA)
09. Katlego MPHELA (F – age 25) Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)
10. Steven PIENAAR (M – age 28) Everton (ENG) (02)
11. Teko MODISE (M – age 27) Orlando Pirates (RSA)
12. Reneilwe LETSHOLONYANE (M – age 28) Kaizer Chiefs (RSA)
13. Kagisho DIKGACOI (M – age 25) Fulham (ENG)
14. Matthew BOOTH (D – age 33) Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)
15. Lucas THWALA (D – age 28) Orlando Pirates (RSA)
16. Itumeleng KHUNE (G – age 23) Kaizer Chiefs (RSA)
17. Bernard PARKER (F – age 24) Twente (NED)
18. Siyabonga NOMVETHE (F – age 32) Moroka Swallows (RSA) (02)
19. Surprise MORIRI (M – age 30) Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)
20. Bongani KHUMALO (D – age 23) Supersport United (RSA)
21. Siyabonga SANGWENI (D – age 28) Golden Arrows (RSA)
22. Shu-Aib WALTERS (G – age 28) Maritzburg United (RSA)
23. Thanduyise KHUBONI (M – age 24) Golden Arrows (RSA)
South Africa’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is truly excited by his team’s prospects in the World Cup, hoping to make it a memorable one for the hosts. Few outside South Africa give the Bafana Bafana much chance, but they do have the passion and skill to deliver. Home support could also be an immense factor.
In goal South Africa are well served by Itumeleng Khune of Chiefs, who is one of Africa’s best young keepers. Moeneeb Josephs of Arrows is also a superb keeper.
The defence is led by the captain Aaron Mokoena of Portsmouth, whose EPL experience shall be invaluable. The Sundowns duo of Matthew Booth and Siboniso Gaxa are both strong no-nonsense defenders. Tsepo Masilela of Maccabi Haifa and Lucas Thwala of Pirates are also capable defenders.
In midfield there is the dynamic Steven Pienaar of Everton, alongside such talents as MacBeth Sibaya of Rubin Kazan, Siphiwe Tshabalala of Chiefs, Kagisho Dikcagoi of Fulham and Teko Modise of Pirates.
The attack shall be led by Bernard Parker of Twente and Siyabonga Nomvethe of Swallows. Katlego Mphela of Sundowns is another exciting prospect.
All in all South Africa is quite capable of upsetting the applecart of higher rated teams and provide the spark in this group.