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Ready to face-off in South Africa: deconstructing group G

Former English manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will lead The Elephants into battle in a group that will be difficult to qualify from.

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2010 23:17 IST

Ivory coast

D Drogba (C)

Former English manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will lead The Elephants into battle in a group that will be difficult to qualify from. They drove through their qualifying group without a single loss with Chelsea forward Didier Drogba emerging as the side’s top scorer. They possess a veritable crop of stars in almost every position on the field. Marshalling the tight defence, Emmanuel Eboue, Kolo Toure and Arthur Boka will look to hold their own while Yaya Toure and Bakary Kone should make substantial impact in the midfield. Salomon Kalou and Drogba, if fit, make a world-class pair up front and can plunder goals galore. Anything can happen in this group (the Group of Death) and Ivory Coast are probably Africa’s best bet to make it to the latter stages of the tournament.

Key players: Yaya Toure, Bakary Kone, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba

Coach: Sven-Goran Eriksson

Odds: 20-1.

Record: P:3 W:1 D:0 L:2


Portugal

C Ronaldo (C)

Coach Queiroz defended his choices in midfield for the squad, namely the lack of cover for playmaker Deco created by leaving out Sporting's Joao Moutinho, by saying the team has players who can be adapted to that role. A Selecção das Quinas did not have a great qualifying, nearly ending up at the bottom of their group. A play-off with Bosnia-Herzegovina saw them qualifying for the World Cup and will look to go one better than their previous campaign. They have talent aplenty with Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho and Ricardo Costa in defence. Midfielders Raul Meireles and Tiago control the game while Nani and Ronaldo will look to weave magic in front. WhethWhether it will be enough to beat Brazil and Ivory Coast will be delectable wait.

Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Tiago, Bruno Alves

Coach: Carlos Queiroz

Odds: 14-1.

Record: P:19 W:11 D:1 L:7


Brazil

Lucio (C)

The Selecao arrive as firm favourites to lift the trophy for the sixth time. Manager Dunga was a coveted captain in his time and achieving anything less than a finish on the winner’s podium will be considered a failure. The team racked up nine wins, seven draws and three losses during the qualifiers. The group is the most exciting of the lot this time, and Brazil will rely heavily on keeper Julio Cesar and captain Lucio leading the defence to thwart attacks. Felipe and Melo and Kaka are components of an effective midfield and in Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Nilmar and Grafite, Brazil possess a tough strike-force. Will it be enough to knock aside challenges from Portugal and Ivory Coast? Looks like it.

Key players: Kaka, Julio Cesar, Felipe Melo.

Coach: Dunga

Odds: 9-2.

Record: P:92 W:62 D:14 L:14


North Korea

H Jo (C)

It is perhaps the Asians bad luck to have been picked for a group such as this one. Making their first appearance since the scintillating quarterfinal run in 1966, the Koreans went through a grueling qualifying stage making light meat of Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and UAE. Hong Yong Jo was in-form through the qualifiers scoring four goals in as many games and was partnered by Kawasaki Frontale forward Jong Tae-Sae. The squad boasts of mostly domestic league players and the alck of international exposure could further add to their problems. With the exception of a massive upset, it's unlikely that the Chollima will progress to the next round. Although, a repeat of 1966 would only make the World Cup a little more exciting.

Key players: Hong Yong-Jo, Jong Tae-Sae, Ahn Young-Hak

Coach: Kim Jong-Hun

Odds: 500-1.

Record: P:4 W:1 D:1 L:2