Teams: GERMANY (6), SERBIA (15), AUSTRALIA (20), GHANA (32)
Germany are favourites to win this group, and Serbia are expected to accompany them in the next round. But both Australia and Ghana are strong teams quite capable of upsetting the top two, makin this group potentially the most competitive group in this year’s World Cup.
Previous World Cups: 1934 – SF (3rd), 1938 – R1, 1954 – Winners, 1958 – SF (4th), 1962 – QF, 1966 – Runners’ up, 1970 – SF (3rd), 1974 (hosts) – Winners, 1978 – PQF, 1982 – Runners’ up, 1986 – Runners’ up, 1990 – Winners, 1994 – QF, 1998 – QF, 2002 – Runners’ up, 2006 – SF (3rd).
2010 – qualified on Oct-10, 2009; 12th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Joachim LOW (GER – age 50)
07. Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER (M – age 25) Bayern Munich (GER) (06)
11. Miroslav KLOSE (F – age 32) Bayern Munich (GER) (02) (06)
16. Philipp LAMM (D – age 26) Bayern Munich (GER) (C) (06)
The loss of Michael Ballack and a few other players through injury may cost Germany plenty during the forthcoming World Cup, but still they are expected to do well, as German teams invariably do in major competitions. For starters, they are clear favourites to win Group D.
In goal Germany seem to have a real weakness with the lack of true international class keepers, forcing Joachim Low to recall the Bayern veteran Hans-Joerg Butt. The other keepers in the squad are both competent, though inexperienced.
The defence have a few experienced players, led by captain Philipp Lamm of Bayern, one of the best full backs in the world. In Arne Friedrich of Hertha, Per Mertesacker of Bremen and Marcell Jansen of Hamburg, they have players with previous World Cup experience. Alongside these, they also have a crop of young talents like Serdar Tasci of Stuttgart, Jerome Boateng and Dennis Aogo of Hamburg and Holger Badstuber of Bayern.
In midfield, without the leadership of Ballack, Germany look a bit thin, but they still boast of such players as Bastian Schweinsteiger of Bayern and Piotr Trochowski of Hamburg, both of whom possess the ability to turn a game on their own.
Miroslav Klose of Bayern, playing in his third Cup, leads the German attack, alongside the brilliant Lukas Podolski of Cologne. Brazilian Cacau Barreto of Stuttgart is another who can make a mark in these finals. Mario Gomez of Bayern is a splendid cover for the frontline strikers.
But apart from players, the traditional German strengths of organisation and discipline are also going to play a major part in the team’s performance, as also their never-say-die attitude.
11th World Cup Finals (1st as SERBIA).
Previous World Cups: (1930 to 2002 as YUGOSLAVIA, 2006 as SERBIA & MONTENEGRO) 1930 – SF (4th), 1950 – R1, 1954 – QF, 1958 – QF, 1962 – SF (4th), 1974 – PQF, 1982 – R1, 1990 – QF, 1994 (hosts) – PQF, 1998 – PQF, 2006 – R1.
2010 – qualified on Oct-10, 2009; 14th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Radomir ANTIC (SRB – age 61)
01. Vladimir STOJKOVIC (G – age 26) Wigan Athletic (ENG) (06)
02. Antonio RUKAVINA (D – age 26) 1860 Munich (GER)
03. Aleksandar KOLAROV (D – age 24) Lazio Roma (ITA)
04. Gojko KACAR (M – age 23) Hertha Berlin (GER)
05. Nemanja VIDIC (D – age 28) Manchester United (ENG) (06)
06. Branislav IVANOVIC (D – age 26) Chelsea (ENG)
07. Zoran TOSIC (M – age 23) Cologne (GER)
08. Danko LAZOVIC (F – age 27) Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
09. Marko PANTELIC (F – age 31) Ajax Amsterdam (NED)
10. Dejan STANKOVIC (M – age 31) Inter Milan (ITA) (C) (98) (06)
11. Nenad MILIJAS (M – age 27) Wolverhampton Wanderers (ENG)
12. Bojan ISAILOVIC (G – age 30) Zaglebie Lubin (POL)
13. Aleksandar LUKOVIC (D – age 27) Udinese (ITA)
15. Nocola ZIGIC (F – age 29) Valencia (ESP) (06)
16. Ivan OBRADOVIC (D – age 21) Real Zaragoza (ESP)
17. Milos KRASIC (M – age 25) CSKA Moscow (RUS)
18. Milos NINKOVIC (M – age 25) Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
19. Radosav PETROVIC (M – age 21) Partizan Belgrade (SRB)
20. Neven SUBOTIC (D – age 21) Borussia Dortmund (GER)
21. Dragan MRDA (F – age 26) Vojvodina (SRB)
22. Zdravko KUZMANOVIC (M – age 22) Stuttgart (GER)
23. Andelko DURICIC (G – age 29) Uniao Leiria (POR)
Serbia have the ability and the skill to emerge as one of the dark horses of the competition. Their performance in the qualifiers have left experts with no doubt that they are at least capable of troubling any team on their day.
In Vladimir Stojkovic of Wigan, Serbia have an excellent keeper, in front of a well organised defence. Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United leads the defence – having established himself as a truly accomplished international class defender. Alongside him Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea is another splendid defender. Others to watch in the Serbian defence are Aleksandar Lukovic of Udinese, Antonio Rukavina of Munich and Neven Subotic of Dortmund.
The midfield dynamo is the veteran captain Dejan Stankovic of Inter Milan. He will be ably assisted by the likes of Milan Jovanovic of Liege, Milos Krasic of CSKA Moscow, Nenad Milijas of Wolves and Zoran Tosic of Cologne. Gojko Kacar of Hertha Berlin is another talented midfielder.
The attack relies heavily on Marko Pantelic of Ajax and Nikola Zigic of Valencia, with Danko Lazovic of Zenit also laying his claims for a place in the first eleven.
Serbian supporters are looking forward to some Balkan magic from their squad, and the team could well provide it.
2010 – qualified on Jun-06, 2009; 3rd team to qualify.
Head Coach: Pim VERBEEK (NED – age 54)
02. Lucas NEILL (D – age 32) Galatasaray (TUR) (C) (06)
Australia were placed in the Asian Zone this time, and they qualified quite easily. They have come to the finals with an experienced squad, with 14 of their players from the 2002 squad that did so well. There are quiet expectations that Australia will do even better this time.
The splendid Mark Schwarzer of Fulham is a veritable tower of strength in the Oz goal, with Adam Federici of Reading and Brad Jones of Middlesbrough as capable deputies.
The defence is also full of players with plenty of big-match experience. Captain Lucas Neill of Galatasaray, Craig Moore of Kavala, Michael Beauchamp of Al Jazira, Luke Wilkshire of Dynamo Moscow, Scott Chipperfield of Basel and Mark Milligan of JEF United are all from the 2002 squad. David Carney of Twente is another talented defender.
The midfield powerhouse is Tim Cahill of Everton, who is now fully fit. Marco Bresciano of Palermo, Jason Culina of Gold Coast and Brett Emerton and Vince Grella of Blackburn are also experienced campaigners. Duisberg’s Dario Vidosic is an exciting prospect, while Richard Garcia of Hull is another skilful player.
Harry Kewell of Galatasaray is expected to lead the Oz attack, alongside Josh kennedy of Nagoya. Brett Holman of Alkmaar is also a superb striker.
2010 – qualified on Sep-06, 2009 –8th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Milovan RAJEVAC (SRB – age 56)
01. Daniel ADJEI (G – age 20) Liberty (GHA)
02. Hans SARPEI (D – age 34) Bayer Leverkusen (GER) (06)
03. Asamoah GYAN (F – age 24) Rennes (FRA) (06)
04. John PAINTSIL (D – age 29) Fulham (ENG) (06)
05. John MENSAH (D – age 27) Sunderland (ENG) (06)
06. Anthony ANNAN (M – age 23) Rosenborg (NOR)
07. Samuel INKOOM (D – age 20) Basel (SUI)
08. Jonathan MENSAH (D – age 19) Free State Stars (RSA)
09. Derek BOATENG (M – age 27) Getafe (ESP) (06)
10. Stephen APPIAH (M – age 29) Bologna (ITA) (C) (06)
11. Sulley MUNTARI (M – age 25) Inter Milan (ITA) (06)
12. Prince TAGOE (F – age 23) Hoffenheim (GER)
13. Andre AYEW (M – age 20) Arles-Avignon (FRA)
14. Matthew AMOAH (F – age 29) NAC Breda (NED) (06)
15. Isaac VORSAH (D – age 22) Hoffenheim (GER)
16. Stephen AHORLU (G – age 21) Heart of Lions (GHA)
17. Abdul Rahim AYEW (D – age 22) Zamalek (EGY)
18. Dominic ADIYIAH (F – age 20) AC Milan (ITA)
19. Lee ADDY (D – age 24) Bechem Chelsea (GHA)
20. Qunicy OWUSU-ABEYIE (M – age 24) Al Sadd (QAT)
21. Kwadwo ASAMOAH (M – age 21) Udinese (ITA)
22. Richard KINGSON (G – age 32) Wigan Athletic (ENG) (06)
23. Kevin-Prince BOATENG (M – age 23) Portsmouth (ENG)
Ghana was the first African team to qualify (apart from the hosts, of course). However, their talismanic midfielder Michael Essien of Chelsea is injured, and will miss the Cup. In spite of that heavy blow, Ghana supporters are expecting their team to do well, as there is no dearth of talent in the squad.
Richard Kingson of Wigan is expected to keep goal for Ghana – he is a competent and experienced keeper. In front of him, the defence is also quite strong, full of players with top level European experience. Players like John Paintsil of Fulham, John Mensah of Sunderland and Hans Sarpei of Leverkusen will give the defense solidity, while youngsters like Samuel Inkoom of Basel, Isaac Vorsah of Hoffenheim and Abdul Rahim Ayew are also very talented.
The captain Stephen Appiah of Bologna is now Ghana’s midfield general, in the absence of Essien. He has the talent and the experience to carry his team. Sulley Muntari of Inter is also going to be an important cog in the wheel, while Derek Boateng og Getafe, Anthony Annan of Rosenborg, Kwadwo Asamoah of Udinese are also skilled midfielders. Also vying for places are Kevin-Prince Boateng of Portsmouth and the highly rated Andre Ayew of Arles-Avignon, the son of the legendary Abedi Pele.
The attack revolves round Asamoah Gyan of Rennes and Matthew Amoah of Breda. Prince Tagoe of Hoffenheim is also rated highly, while young Dominic Adiyiah of Milan is an exciting talent on whom experts in Italy have great hopes.
All these factors, as well as a Cup in their home continent make Ghana a formidable opposition for any team.