Teams: ENGLAND (8), UNITED STATES (14), SLOVENIA (25), ALGERIA (30)
England are the favourites to win Group C, with United States and Slovenia expected to fight for second place, though only Algeria are also quite capable of troubling all the other three teams and earn a surprise berth for themselves in the knock-out stage.
Previous World Cups: 1950 – R1, 1954 – QF, 1958 – R1, 1962 – QF, 1966 (hosts) – Winners, 1970 – QF, 1982 – PQF, 1986 – QF, 1990 – SF (4th), 1998 – PQF, 2002 – QF, 2006 – QF.
2010 – qualified on Sep-09, 2009; 9th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Fabio CAPELLO (ITA – age 64)
01. David JAMES (G – age 39) Portsmouth (ENG) (02) (06)
02. Glen JOHNSON (D – age 25) Liverpool (ENG)
03. Ashley COLE (D – age 29) Chelsea (ENG) (02) (06)
04. Steven GERRARD (M – age 30) Liverpool (ENG) (C) (06)
05. Michael DAWSON (D – age 26) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
06. John TERRY (D – age 29) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
07. Aaron LENNON (M – age 23) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) (06)
08. Frank LAMPARD (M – age 32) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
09. Peter CROUCH (F – age 29) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) (06)
10. Wayne ROONEY (F – age 24) Manchester United (ENG) (06)
11. Joe COLE (M – age 28) Chelsea (ENG) (02) (06)
12. Robert GREEN (G – age 30) West Ham United (ENG)
13. Stephen WARNOCK (D – age 28) Aston Villa (ENG)
14. Gareth BARRY (M – age 29) Manchester City (ENG)
15. Matthew UPSON (D – age 31) West Ham United (ENG)
16. James MILNER (M – age 24) Aston Villa (ENG)
17. Shaun WRIGHT-PHILLIPS (M – age 28) Manchester City (ENG)
18. Jamie CARRAGHER (D – age 32) Liverpool (ENG) (06)
19. Jermain DEFOE (F – age 27) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
20. Ledley KING (D – age 29) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
21. Emile HESKEY (F – age 32) Aston Villa (ENG) (02)
22. Michael CARRICK (M – age 28) Manchester United (ENG) (06)
23. Joe HART (G – age 23) Manchester City (ENG)
Fabio Capello’s England were most impressive in qualification, and are being considered one of the favourites to win the trophy by many pundits. There strength lie in the successful amalgamation of Italian style and technique with the usual English running game that was so apparent in some of their qualifying matches.
England always have had quality goalkeepers, and this time Robert Green of West Ham is expected to be the first choice, though veteran David James, playing in his third Cup, could also start. Young Joe Hart of Manchester City is the third keeper.
The heart of the defence will be manned by the duo of former captain John Terry of Chelsea and possibly Ledley King of Spurs. Glenn Johnson of Liverpool and Ashley Cole of Chelsea, now fully fit, are likely to be the side backs – both are good defenders as well as splendid attackers. Matthew Upson of West Ham, Jamie Carragher of Liverpool and the inexperienced Michael Dawson of Tottenham Stephen Warnock of Aston Villa shall cover for the top four in defence.
England’s midfield shall largely depend on how Chelsea’s Frank Lampard gels with captain Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. Joe Cole of Chelsea is back from injury and could create some magic with his sublime skills. Aaron Lennon of Spurs and Manchester City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips are the recognised wingers in the squad, though the energetic James Milner of Aston Villa could also fill that role if required. Gareth Barry of Manchester City is a much improved player under Capello, and if fit, can lend much needed solidity to the midfield. Otherwise Michael Carrick of Manchester United can step into the holding role.
The attack revolves mostly round Wayne Rooney of Manchester United – one of the best English strikers in history. If he plays at his best then England can beat any team on a given day. The tall gangling Peter Crouch could be his partner up front. Crouch never looks like a truly international class striker, yet his scoring record for England is one of the best ever. Jermain Defoe, Crouch’s club mate from Spurs and Emile Heskey are there for cover.
Previous World Cups: 1930 – SF (3rd), 1934 – R1, 1950 – R1, 1990 – R1, 1994 (hosts) – PQF, 1998 – R1, 2002 – QF, 2006 – R1.
2010 – qualified on Oct-10, 2009; 19th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Bob BRADLEY (USA – age 52)
01. Tim HOWARD (G – age 31) Everton (ENG) (06)
02. Jonathan SPECTOR (D – age 24) West Ham United (ENG)
03. Carlos BOCANEGRA (D – age 31) Rennes (FRA) (C) (06)
04. Michael BRADLEY (M – age 22) Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)
05. Oguchi ONYEWU (D – age 28) AC Milan (ITA) (06)
06. Steve CHERUNDOLO (D – age 31) Hannover (GER) (02) (06)
07. DaMarcus BEASLEY (M – age 28) Glasgow Rangers (SCO) (02) (06)
08. Clint DEMPSEY (M – age 27) Fulham (ENG) (06)
09. Herculez GOMEZ (F – age 28) Puebla (MEX)
10. Landon DONOVAN (M – age 28) Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) (02) (06)
11. Stuart HOLDEN (M – age 24) Bolton Wanderers (ENG)
12. Jonathan BORNSTEIN (D – age 25) Chivas (USA)
13. Ricardo CLARK(M – age 27) Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
14. Edson BUDDLE (F – age 29) Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
15. Jay DEMERIT (D – age 30) Watford (ENG)
16. Francisco TORRES (M – age 22) Pachuca (MEX)
17. Jozy ALTIDORE (F – age 20) Hull City (ENG)
18. Brad GUZAN (G – age 25) Aston Villa (ENG)
19. Maurice EDU (M – age 24) Glasgow Rangers (SCO)
20. Robbie FINDLEY (F – age 24) Real Salt Lake (USA)
21. Clarence GOODSON (D – age 28) Start (NOR)
22. Benny FEILHABER (M – age 25) Aarhus (DEN)
23. Marcus HAHNEMANN (G – age 38) Wolverhampton Wanderers (ENG) (06)
United States are one of the most under-rated teams in world football today. Their FIFA ranking and their performance in the last Confederations’ Cup (where they reached the final) merit praise, yet most pundits are writing them off as also-rans even before the start of the competition.
Tim Howard of Everton is likely to be the first choice keeper in the Finals, with Marcus Hahnemann of Wolves and Brad Guzan of Aston Villa as his understudies. All are experienced and skilful keepers.
In defence the captain Carlos Bocanegra is an experienced player, as are players like Steve Cherundolo of Hannover, playing in his third Cup, and Oguchi Onyewu of Milan. They shall be ably supported by Jonathan Spector of West Ham, Jay DeMerit of Watford, and Jonathan Bornstein of Chivas. Between them they give the American defence much strength and character, as was demonstrated in the Confederations’ Cup.
The midfield general for the Americans is Landon Donovan of LA Galaxy, playing in his third cup. Other important players in the US midfield are Clint Dempsey of Fulham, DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu of Rangers, Ricardo Clark of Frankfurt and Benny Feilhaber of Aarhus. Michael Bradley of Monchengladbach, son of coach Bob, is also a splendid young midfielder.
The attack will rely heavily on young Jozy Altidore of Hull City, who was quite a revelation during the Confederations’ Cup. The other forwards in the squad are all quiet inexperienced, though Herculez Gomez of Puebla is considered a great prospect.
2010 – qualified on Nov-18, 2009 –30th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Matjaz KEK (SVN – age 48)
01. Samir HANDANOVIC (G – age 25) Udinese (ITA)
02. Miso BRECKO (D – age 26) Cologne (GER)
03. Elvedin DZINIC (D – age 24) Maribor (SVN)
04. Marko SULER (D – age 27) Gent (BEL)
05. Bostjan CESAR (D – age 27) Grenoble (FRA)
06. Branko ILIC (D – age 27) Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS)
07. Nejc PECNIK (F – age 24) Nacional (POR)
08. Robert KOREN (M – age 29) West Bromwich Albion (ENG) (C)
09. Zlatan LJUBIJANKIC (F – age 26) Gent (BEL)
10. Valter BIRSA (F – age 23) Auxerre (FRA)
11. Milivoje NOVAKOVIC (F – age 31) Cologne (GER)
12. Jasmin HANDANOVIC (G – age 32) Mantova (ITA)
13. Bojan JOKIC (D – age 24) Chievo (ITA)
14. Zlatko DEDIC (F – age 26) Bochum (GER)
15. Rene KRHIN (M – age 20) Inter Milan (ITA)
16. Aleksander SELIGA (G – age 30) Sparta Rotterdam (NED)
17. Andraz KIRM (M – age 25) Wisla Krakow (POL)
18. Aleksander RADOSAVLJEVIC (M – age 31) Larissa (GRE)
19. Suad FILEKOVIC (D – age 31) Maribor (SVN)
20. Andrej KOMAC (M – age 30) Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR)
21. Dalibor STEVANOVIC (M – age 25) Vitesse (NED)
22. Matej MAVRIC (D – age 31) Koblenz (GER)
23. Tim MATAVZ (F – age 21) Groningen (NED)
Slovenia qualified by defeating fancied Russia in the European Play-offs to underline their growth as a major European football team. The team appears well balanced, consisting of a few very skilful players who are undoubtedly keen to make a mark in the World Cup. This makes Slovenia a dangerous opponent in the forthcoming competition.
The acrobatic Samir Handanovic of Udinese is the main goalkeeper for Slovenia. His understudy is his elder cousin Jasmin Handanovic of Mantova. The third keeper is Aleksander Seliga of Sparta Rotterdam.
The core of the solid Slovenian defence is formed by Branko Ilic of Lokomotiv Moscow, Bojan Jokic of Chievo, Bostjan Cesar of Grenoble and Miso Brecko of Cologne. Marko Suler of Gent and Matej Mavric of Koblenz provide adequate cover.
The midfield is controlled by the captain Robert Koren of WBA. Andraz Kirm of Wisla is another influential player in midfield, while Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Andrej Komac provides experience and skills. Dalibor Stevanovic of Vitesse is another rising talent, regarded very highly in French football.
Up front, Germany based Zlatko Dedic of Bochum and Milivoje Novakovic of Cologne form a fairly lethal attacking duo, backed up by Valter Birsa of Auxerre and Zlatan Ljubijankic of Gent.
All in all, Slovenia have the team and players to produce entertaining football and challenge strongly for a berth in the knock-out stage.
Previous World Cups: 1982 – R1, 1986 – R1.
2010 – qualified on Nov-18, 2009; 27th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Rabah SADAANE (ALG – age 64)
01. Lounes GAOUAOUI (G – age 32) ASO Chlef (ALG)
02. Madjid BOUGHERRA (D – age 27) Glasgow Rangers (SCO)
03. Nadir BELHADJ (D – age 28) Portsmouth (ENG)
04. Antar YAHIA (D – age 28) Bochum (GER)
05. Rafik HALLICHE (D – age 23) Nacional (POR)
06. Yazid MANSOURI (M – age 32) Lorient (FRA) (C)
07. Ryad BOUDEBOUZ (M – age 20) Sochaux (FRA)
08. Mehdi LACEN (M – age 26) Racing Satander (ESP)
09. Abdelkader GHEZZAL (F – age 25) Siena (ITA)
10. Rafik SAIFI (F – age 35) Istres (FRA)
11. Rafik DJEBBOUR (F – age 26) AEK Athens (GRE)
12. Habib BELLAID (D – age 24) Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
13. Karim MATMOUR (F – age 25) Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)
14. Abdelkader LAIFAOUI (D – age 28) ES Setif (ALG)
15. Karim ZIANI (M – age 27) Wolfsburg (GER)
16. Faouzi CHAOUCHI (G – age 25) ES Setif (ALG)
17. Adlene GUEDIOURA (M – age 24) Wolverhampton Wanderers (ENG)
18. Carl MEDJANI (D – age 25) Ajaccio (FRA)
19. Hassan YEBDA (M – age 26) Portsmouth (ENG)
20. Djamel MESBAH (M – age 25) Lecce (ITA)
21. Foued KADIR (M – age 26) Valenciennes (FRA)
22. Djamal ABDOUN (M – age 24) Nantes (FRA)
23. Rais M’BOHLI (G – age 24) Slavia Sofia (BUL)
The Algerian team is primarily made up of players based in Europe, many of them being French by birth. Their hard earned place in the Finals was achieved after a superb display against Egypt in the Play-off, and it send signals to their opponents that they are going to be very competitive, to say the least.
In Lounes Gaouaoui Algeria have one of the finest goalkeepers in African football, particularly famous for his spectacular leaps to collect aerial balls. Faouzi Chaouchi is an able understudy, playing particularly well in the play-off match against Egypt in Gaouaoui’s absence. Rais M’Bohli of Slavia Sofia is the third keeper.
The Algerian defence is also more than competent, with British based players in Nadir Belhadj of Portsmouth and Madjid Bougherra of Rangers. Bochum’s Antar Yahia is another solid defender, as is young Rafik Halliche of Nacional. Yahia is also adept in scoring from set pieces – he also scored the winning goal against Egypt.
The captain Yazid Mansouri of Lorient is their midfield general who can control the game almost at will. Around him there are talented and creative players like Karim Ziani of Wolfsburg and Hassan Yebda of Portsmouth.
The veteran striker Rafik Saifi of Istres is now 35, but he is still capable of troubling any defence. Alongside him young Rafik Djebbour of AEK, Karim Matmour of Monchengladbach and Abdelkader Ghezzal of Siena are three other skilful forwards.
With all these skilled players, Algeria are hoping to make a mark in the first ever African World Cup.