Teams: BRAZIL (1), PORTUGAL (3), IVORY COAST (27), NORTH KOREA (105)
Brazil will obviously be the firm favourites to win this group, though Portugal might have something to say about that. Ivory Coast, too, would be keen to prove their credentials in their home continent. North Korea do not seem to have much chance and would do well to earn even a single point.
19th World Cup Finals. (Only team to appear in all Finals so far.)
Previous World Cups: 1930 – R1, 1934 – R1, 1938 – SF (3rd), 1950 (hosts) – Runners’ up, 1954 – QF, 1958 – Winners, 1962 – Winners, 1966 – R1, 1970 – Winners, 1974 – SF (4th), 1978 – SF (3rd), 1982 – PQF, 1986 – QF, 1990 – PQF, 1994 – Winners, 1998 – Runners’ up, 2002 – Winners, 2006 – QF.
2010 – qualified on Sep-05, 2009; 7th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Carlos DUNGA (BRA – age 46)
01. Julio Cesar SOARES (G – age 30) Inter Milan (ITA) (06)
02. Maicon SISENANDO (D – age 28) Inter Milan (ITA)
03. Lucio DA SILVA (D – age 32) Inter Milan (ITA) (C) (02) (06)
04. Juan DOS SANTOS (D – age 31) Roma (ITA) (06)
05. Felipe MELO (M – age 26) Juventus (ITA)
06. Michel BASTOS (D – age 26) Lyon (FRA)
07. Blumer ELANO (M – age 29) Galatasaray (TUR)
08. Gilberto SILVA (M – age 33) Panathinaikos (GRE) (02) (06)
09. Luis FABIANO (F – age 29) Sevilla (ESP)
10. Ricardo ‘Kaka’ DOS SANTOS (M – age 28) Real Madrid (ESP) (02) (06)
11. Robinho DE SOUZA (F – age 26) Santos (BRA) (06)
12. Heurelho GOMES (G – age 29) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
13. Daniel ALVES (D – age 27) Barcelona (ESP)
14. Luisao DA SILVA (D – age 29) Benfica (POR) (06)
15. Thiago DA SILVA (D – age 25) AC Milan (ITA)
16. Gilberto MELO (D – age 34) Cruzeiro (BRA) (06)
17. Josue DE OLIVEIRA (M – age 30) Wolfsburg (GER)
18. Ramires DO NASCIMENTO (M – age 23) Benfica (POR)
19. Julio BAPTISTA (M – age 28) Roma (ITA)
20. Jose Kleberson PERREIRA (M – age 31) Flamengo (BRA) (02)
21. Nilmar DA SILVA (F – age 25) Villarreal (ESP)
22. Doni MARANGON (G – age 30) Roma (ITA)
23. Grafite LIBANIO (F – age 31) Wolfsburg (GER)
Brazil starts any World Cup as favourites, and this time is no exception. Under Dunga the team has developed into a ruthless unit capable of steamrolling any opposition.
Julio Cesar of Inter will keep goal for Brazil, if fit. He is regarded as one of the best in the world. His deputies, Gomes of Spurs and Doni of Roma are also superb keepers. In fact it is hard to remember Brazil ever having three such talented goalkeepers in their squad.
The heart of the defence is controlled by the captain Lucio of Inter and Juan of Roma. Luisao of Benfica is there as a world class back-up. Maicon of Inter will play at right back and the veteran Gilberto Melo of Cruzeiro and young Michel bastos of Lyon will vie for the left back’s spot. Daniel Alves of Barcelona and Thiago Silva of Milan are also in contention.
The most important player in the Brazil midfield is Kaka of Real Madrid. If fully fit, he can change the course of a match in a flash. Gilberto Silva of Panathinaikos and Felipe Melo of Juventus play more defensive roles and control the middle of the park. Elano of Galasataray is a sublime playmaker, while players like Julio Baptista of Roma, Kleberson of Flamengo, Josue of Wolfsburg and Ramires of Benfica are all brilliant players.
Up front Luis Fabiano of Sevilla is the current number one striker of Brazil, alongside the immensely talented Robinho of Santos. Some believe that Robinho is just about ready to step up from being a great talent to a really great player. Nilmar of Villarreal and Grafite of Wolfsburg are two other lethal strikers.
All in all Brazil have the components to lift this World Cup with ease. However, it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure and perform as a team.
Previous World Cups: 1966 – SF (3rd), 1986 – R1, 2002 – R1, 2006 – SF (4th).
2010 – qualified on Nov-18, 2009; 29th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Carlos QUEIROZ (POR – age 57)
01. Eduardo CARVALHO (G – age 27) Braga (POR)
02. Bruno ALVES (D – age 28) Porto (POR)
03. Paolo FERREIRA (D – age 31) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
04. Rolando FONSECA (D – age 24) Porto (POR)
05. Duda BARBOSA (D – age 30) Malaga (ESP)
06. Ricardo CARVALHO (D – age 32) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
07. Cristiano RONALDO (F – age 25) Real Madrid (ESP) (C) (06)
08. Pedro MENDES (M – age 31) Sporting CP (POR)
09. Liedson MUNIZ (F – age 32) Sporting CP (POR)
10. Danny ALVES (M – age 26) Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
11. Simao SABROSA (M – age 30) Atletico Madrid (ESP) (06)
12. Beto BASTOS (G – age 28) Porto (POR)
13. Miguel MONTEIRO (D – age 30) Valencia (ESP) (06)
14. Miguel VELOSO (M – age 24) Sporting CP (POR)
15. Pepe FERREIRA (D – age 27) Real Madrid (ESP)
16. Raul MEIRELES (M – age 27) Porto (POR)
17. Ruben AMORIM (F – age 25) Benfica (POR)
18. Hugo ALMEIDA (F – age 26) Werder Bremen (GER)
19. Tiago MENDES (M – age 29) Atletico Madrid (ESP) (06)
20. Deco DE SOUZA (M – age 32) Chelsea (ENG) (06)
21. Ricardo COSTA (D – age 29) Lille (FRA) (06)
22. Daniel FERNANDES (G – age 26) Iraklis (GRE)
23. Fabio COENTRAO (M – age 22) Benfica (POR)
Portugal have great hopes of doing very well in the forthcoming World Cup. Led by the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo and coached by the phlegmatic Carlos Queiroz, they have several world class players and are capable of beating any team on a given day.
The Portugal attack revolves round Ronaldo. He is certainly one of the best players in the world, and the role of captain may help him produce a better performance. Hugo Almeida of Werder Bremen is another Portuguese striker who is in form. Ruben Amorin of Benfica and Liedson of Sporting are other strikers in the squad.
The Portugal midfield is also massively talented. They have experienced players like Chelsea’s Deco, Simao and Tiago Mendes of Atletico Madrid and Pedro Mendes of Sporting along with the highly rated Raul Meireles of Porto and Miguel Veloso of Sporting.
The defence revolves around the two experienced central defenders Ricardo Carvalho of Chelsea and Pepe of Real Madrid. As sidebacks Paolo Ferreira of Chelsea and Bruno Alves of Porto are more than efficient. Ricardo Costa of Lille, Duda of Malaga and Rolando of Porto provide cover.
Goalkeeping may turn out to be Portugal’s weakness, as none of the keepers in the squad have much international exposure. Eduardo of Braga is likely to play as first choice.
2010 – qualified on Oct-10, 2009 –13th team to qualify.
Head Coach: Sven-Goran ERIKSSON (SWE – age 62)
01. Boubacar BARRY (G – age 30) Lokeren (BEL) (06)
02. Benjamin ANGOUA (D – age 23) Valenciennes (FRA)
03. Arthur BOKA (D – age 27) Stuttgart (GER) (06)
04. Kolo TOURE (D – age 29) Manchester City (ENG) (06)
05. Didier ZOKORA (M – age 29) Sevilla (ESP) (06)
06. Steve GOHOURI (D – age 29) Wigan Athletic (ENG)
07. Seydou DOUMBIA (F – age 22) Young Boys (SUI)
08. Salomon KALOU (F – age 24) Chelsea (ENG)
09. Cheick TIOTE (M – age 24) Twente (NED)
10. Gervinho KOUASSI (F – age 23) Lille (FRA)
11. Didier DROGBA (F – age 32) Chelsea (ENG) (C) (06)
12. Jean-Jacques GOSSO (M – age 27) Monaco (FRA)
13. Romaric NDRI (M – age 27) Sevilla (ESP) (06)
14. Emmanuel KONE (M – age 23) International (ROM)
15. Aruna DINDANE (F – age 29) Portsmouth (ENG) (06)
16. Aristide ZOGBO (G – age 28) Maccabi Netanya (ISR)
17. Siaka TIENE (M – age 28) Valenciennes (FRA)
18. Kader KEITA (M – age 28) Galatasaray (TUR) (06)
19. Yaya TOURE (M – age 27) Barcelona (ESP) (06)
20. Guy DEMEL (D – age 29) Hamburg (GER) (06)
21. Emmanuel EBOUE (D – age 27) Arsenal (ENG) (06)
22. Sol BAMBA (D – age 25) Hibernian (SCO)
23. Daniel YEBOAH (G – age 25) ASEC Mimosas (CIV)
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Ivory Coast squad contains 11 players from their 2006 squad, which means that he has put together an experienced team. Their talismanic captain Didier Drogba, however, may not participate in the finals due to injury, thus putting preparations in disarray, somewhat. Still, the team has enough talent to shine, even without Drogba.
Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry of Lokeren is experienced as well as skilful. He was in the 2006 team. In front of him, the defence boasts of such splendid players like Kolo Toure of Manchester City, Guy Demel of Hamburg, Arthur Boka of Stuttgart and Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal, all from the 2006 squad.
The midfield also consists of some talented players, including Yaya Toure of Barcelona, who is perhaps the kingpin. The Sevilla pair of Didier Zokora and Romaric provide the solidity and flair, respectively. Those three, along with Kader Keita of Galatasaray are from the 2006 squad, too.
The forward line usually revolves aroung Drogba, naturally. But even without him, Ivory Coast shall have Salomon Kalou of Chelsea and Aruna Dindane of Portsmouth – both of whom are supremely talented. Gervinho of Lille is another player to watch.
2010 – qualified on Jun-17, 2009; 6th team to qualify.
Head Coach: KIM Jong-Hun (PRK – age 53)
08. JI Yun Nam (D – age 33) April 25 (PRK)
09. JONG Tae Se (F – age 26) Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
10. HONG Yong So (F – age 28) Rostov (RUS) (C)
16. NAMSong Chol (D – age 28) April 25 (PRK)
17. AHN Young Hak (M – age 31) Omiya Ardija (JPN)
23. PAK Sung Hyok (M – age 20) Sobaeksu (PRK)
(** KIM Myong Won (20) is a forward, but he has been registered as a goalkeeper, and thus he will be allowed to play only as a goalkeeper!!!)
North Korea are not being given any chance to progress beyond the group stage – in fact, even winning a point may be almost impossible for them, experts say! However, in their only other World Cup appearance, in 1966 in England, they started with similar predictions, but stunned the world by reaching the quarter finals!!! This time the North Korean supporters are hoping for some similar miracles!
North Korea have come to the finals with just two keepers, of whom Ri Myong Guk of Pyongyang is likely to play as first choice. The defence is well organised, including young and energetic players like Cha Jong Hyok of Amrokgang, Ri Jun Il of Sobaeksu and Ri Kwang Chon of April 25. The experience and stability is provided by the veterans Pak Chol Jin of Amrokgang and Ji Yun Nam of April 25.
Veteran Mun In Guk of April 25 is one of their most influential players in midfield, along with Japan based Ahn Young Hak of Omiya. Kim Yong Jun of Pyongyang is a busy playmaker with plenty of experience. Pak Nam Chol (senior) of April 25 is another hard working midfielder. (The other Pak Nam Chol, of Amrokgang, is a young defender.)
Up front Russia based Hong Yong Jo of Rostov is the captain and principal goal-getter. He will be supported by Japan based Jong Tae Se of Kawasaki.