L. NEILL (C)
After a 32-year hiatus from the pinnacle of the football world, Australia made an impressive start to the 2006 campaign by reaching the knockout stages, losing out to eventual champions Italy. Dutchman Pim Verbeek's battle-hardened side will find the going tough with the likes of Germany, Serbia and Ghana in this group. However, if their arduous qualifying through the long Asian route is anything to go by, the Socceroos should find inspiration in the likes of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Captain Lucas Neill will also be an inspiring presence as he will look to marshall his defence. With an exciting midfield to watch out for, this Australian side should provide plenty of sparks to an already inflammable group.
Key players: Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton.
Coach: Pim Verbeek.
Record: P:7 W:1 D:2 L:4
D. STANKOVIC (C)
Striker Dragan Mrdja did his hopes of breaking into Serbia's final 23-man squad no harm when he scored four goals in Vojvodina Novi Sad's 7-0 drubbing of Napredak Krusevac on the final day of the season. Mrdja, who appears to be at the bottom of coach Radomir Antic's pecking order, finished as the Serbian first division's top scorer with 22 league goals from 30 matches. Rightback Pavle Ninkov said he had no hard feelings about being left out of the squad Antic.
Key players: Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic, Marko Pantelic, Milan Jovanovic
Coach: Radomir Antic
Record: P:3 W:0 D:0 L:3
P. LAHM (C)
Three time World champions Germany enter the 2010 tournament as a relatively younger looking side, along with a good mix of experience and generous talent.
Coach Joachim Loew’s tactically superior side will be without captain Michael Ballack (after the midfielder was injured during the FA Cup final against Portsmouth), but Philipp Lahm should prove to be an able leader from the back. The Germans dropped points only against Finland and beat a mighty Russian side to make it to South Africa. With quality faces like Schweinsteiger, Podolski and Klose, the journey to the second round should be a comfortable one for a country with ample past glory and determination.
Key players: Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm.
Coach: Joachim Loew.
Record: P:92 W:55 D:19 L:18.
S. APPIAH (C)
Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has had his application to play for Ghana in the upcoming World Cup approved by FIFA. Boateng had previously played for Germany at under-20 level but because he has dual nationality and had not been capped at senior level by the Germans, is free to play for the Black Stars. “The Ghana Football Association were notified of the decision last week,” a FIFA spokesman said.
Grouped with favourites Germany and the Socceroos, Ghana will fire on all cylinders to progress past the first round.
Key players: Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah.
Coach: Milovan Rajevac.
Record: P:4 W:2 D:0 L:2.