United States of America
C Bocanegra (C)
The US will look to aim for a second place finish in the group although a chance upset with the likes of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in attack, they might pull off a massive shock. Their road to South Africa has been typically efficient with a 9-0 rout of Barbados to kickstart qualification from the CONCACAF. With only two defeats through the qualifying stages, the Stars and Stripes ended up on top of the final Hexagonal, even edging out archrivals Mexico at the timorous Estadio Azteca. Under the guidance of coach Bob Bradley, the motley crew of young talent with sizeable experienced seniors, many of them playing for clubs in Europe, the United States will be keen to improve their World Cup record thus far.
Key players: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Oguchi Onyewu.
Coach: Bob Bradley.
Record: P: 25 W: 6 D: 3 L: 16
R Koren (C)
Slovenia knocked out the likes of Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic to cement their berth in South Africa and to consider them pushovers would be undermining a determined side. This will be their second WC appearance and their mean defensive line will ensure their presence is not to be taken for granted. Coach Matjaz Kek has ensured his side the thrill of being at another World Cup and will try and push for at least a second place finish in the group stages.
Key players: : Samir Handanovic, Milivoje Novakovic, Robert Koren
Coach: Matjaz Kek
Record: P: 3 W: 0 D: 0 L: 3
Y Mansouri (C)
The Les Fenecs (Desert Foxes) last appeared at the 1986 WC and the current players will want to prove themselves. Their road to South Africa was disappointing and impressive equally. While winning every home game, they lost crucial away matches to end up just a point ahead of Gambia, Senegal and Liberia. They sealed their place in the finals with a play-off match against Egypt. The Algerian midfield is the pillar, with Yazid Mansouri, Karim Ziani and Mourad Meghni likely to feed striker Karim Matmour. The defence is also worthy with Antar Yahia and Nadir Belhadj. Coach Saadane has experience at the WC as assistant-coach in ‘82 and heading the outfit in '86, something that should aid Algeria.
Key players: Yazid Mansouri, Antar Yahia, Marim Matmour.
Coach: ‘Cheik’ Rabah Saadane.
Record: P: 6 W: 2 D: 1 L: 3.
R Ferdinand (C)
Easily the favourites in the group, the 1966 champs should have an easy run to the second round. Fabio Capello will look to Wayne Rooney to lead with assistance from Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Spurs’ Jermaine Defoe seems to be in good touch while the defensive duo of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand will keep oppositions in check. The side had the highest tally of goals (34) in the Eurozone. The Three Lions possibly have the best group to contend with and a disappointment would be difficult for Rooney and Co. to justify.
Key players: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jermaine Defoe.
Coach: Fabio Capello.
Record: P: 35 W: 25 D: 17 L: 13.