Despite a tortuous qualification campaign, Argentina are travelling to South Africa with serious designs on winning the title for the first time in 24 years. To achieve that goal, the 1978 and 1986 world champions have pinned their faith in coach Diego Armando Maradona, the country's most famous footballing son and the inspiration behind the second of those memorable triumphs.
The Argentinians made extremely hard work of qualifying for the finals, just as they did in 1985, the prelude to an electrifying charge to glory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™. The two-time world champions started the campaign under the stewardship of Alfio Basile, who made way for Maradona after a defeat to Chile on Matchday Ten had relegated them to third place. Yet after a series of setbacks, they eventually hauled themselves over the line with narrow victories in their final two games against Peru and Uruguay.
COACH: DIEGO ARMANDO MARADONA
ARGENTINA NATIONAL TEAM
After seemingly coming from nowhere to triumph at UEFA EURO 2004, Greece continue to defy the odds under wily coach Otto Rehhagel and have clinched qualification for only their second FIFA World Cup™ finals.Though dismissing Rehhagel would have amounted to high treason, given the regal status ‘King Otto’ has enjoyed since victory on Portuguese soil, failure to reach Germany 2006 and a limp group-stage exit at EURO 2008 had ratcheted up the pressure on the German supremo. The Greek FA kept the faith, however, and were rewarded by qualification for their first global finals since USA 1994. Greece kicked off South Africa 2010 qualifying in impressive fashion, picking up victories over Luxembourg, Latvia and Moldova, scoring eight times and conceding none in the process.
GREEK NATIONAL TEAM
Asia's most frequent visitors to the FIFA World Cup™, Korea Republic are also the continent's most successful team at the showpiece event. The Taeguk Warriors will be hoping to translate their regional dominance on to the world stage again when South Africa 2010 kicks off.
Korea Republic may have qualified for their seventh consecutive world finals, but it was a bumpy ride this time. Despite a series of lacklustre performances in the third round, the South Koreans managed to top their group after two goalless draws with neighbours Korea DPR. The North Koreans proved to be their nemesis again in the final round, holding the Taeguk Warriors to a 1-1 stalemate in Shanghai. However, they bounced back in style with back-to-back wins over United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, before a crucial 1-1 draw with Iran in Tehran. A 1-0 home victory in the Korean derby followed, and the mission was accomplished with a 2-0 win against UAE on the road.
KOREA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
COACH: HUH JUNG - MOO
KOREA REPUBLIC NATIONAL TEAM
Expectations are diminished for Nigeria at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but it was not long ago that the Super Eagles were seen as the most likely African nation to finally reach the last four of a FIFA World Cup. And though they have just one point from their last five matches in the finals and missed out on Germany 2006 altogether, the continent’s most populous nation looks likely to be a dangerous dark horse with little to lose up against the world’s best.
A surprising scoreless draw in their first match in the final round of CAF qualifying to Mozambique left Nigeria playing catch-up to Tunisia from the start, and consecutive draws with the Carthage Eagles had the west Africans staring elimination in the face. However, Tunisia lost 1-0 in Mozambique and Nigeria came from a goal behind twice to win 3-2 in Kenya. Striker Obafemi Martins was the hero on the day, coming on at half-time before scoring the first equaliser on the hour mark and the winner just nine minutes from time. The goal stamped Nigeria’s ticket to the next World Cup.
COACH: LARS LAGERBACK
NIGERIA NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP B MATCHES:
12 JUNE, SAT - ARGENTINA V/S NIGERIA [ JOHANNESBURG ]
12 JUNE, SAT - KOREA REPUBLIC V/S GREECE [ PORT ELIZABETH ]
17 JUNE, THU - ARGENTINA V/S KOREA REPUBLIC [ SC,JOHANNESBURG ]
17 JUNE, THU - GREECE V/S NIGERIA [ BLOEMFONTEIN ]
22 JUNE, TUE - NIGERIA V/S KOREA REPUBLIC [ DURBAN ]
22 JUNE, TUE - ARGENTINA V/S GREECE [ POLOKWANE ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
FIFA WORLD CUP
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME - FOOTBALL