Algeria will end a 24-year absence from football’s top table when they kick their first ball at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Les Fennecs (the Desert Foxes) may have won the CAF African Cup of Nations since appearing at Mexico 1986, but they spent a long time in the wilderness before slowly working their way back as a competitive force at the start of the century. The current crop of players feel stronger than ever, with enough belief to put in a historic performance in South Africa.
Until finally sealing their place via a one-off play-off match with Egypt in Khartoum, Sudan, on 18 November, Algeria both suffered and impressed in their qualifying campaign. They won all six of their home games in the second and third qualifying rounds but lost three of their away visits, while drawing twice and winning the other game. As a result, they finished one slender point ahead of Gambia, Senegal and Liberia in their first qualifying group, before ending on equal terms with the Pharaohs in their second, and bringing about the need for a play-off on neutral terrain. The duo nonetheless came in eight points ahead of Zambia and 11 ahead of Rwanda.
ALGERIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION
COACH: RABAH SAADANE
ALGERIA NATIONAL TEAM
Dubbed English football's ‘golden generation', only to fall flat at UEFA EURO 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, South Africa 2010 may well be the last chance of international silverware for some of the most well-known faces in the world game.
Following the disappointment of missing out on a place at the UEFA EURO 2008, England bounced back in emphatic fashion in qualifying for South Africa. Indeed, they stormed to no fewer than nine wins from ten Group 6 games, scoring a European Zone high of 34 goals in the process, with their only defeat coming in Ukraine with qualification already secured
COACH: FABIO CAPELLO
ENGLAND NATIONAL TEAM
A nation of just two million people, Slovenia have already punched above their weight to secure a place at this FIFA World Cup™. When one considers that they knocked out Poland, Czech Republic and, finally, Russia - population 142 million – to take their place in South Africa, the achievement becomes near-miraculous. Yet 2010 is, in fact, this fledgling football nation’s second appearance on the game’s biggest stage, and they are determined to continue defying the odds when they square up to the world’s best.
When the Preliminary Draw was made, most observers envisaged Group 3 being dominated by Czech Republic and Poland, two teams who had successfully qualified for both Germany 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008. As it was, the anticipated favourites melted into the background as the section developed into an enthralling two-way battle between Slovenia and Slovakia.
SLOVAKIAN FOOTBALL FEDERATION
COACH: MATJAZ KEK
SLOVAKIAN NATIONAL TEAM
4. UNITED STATES
With typical efficiency, the United States reached the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ by qualifying in first place in the final six-team Hexagonal phase of North, Central America and Caribbean Zone qualifying. Under the careful guidance of coach Bob Bradley, a well-drilled Stars and Stripes' blend of proven internationals and up-and-coming stars never looked in danger of missing out, and will be keen to build on their second-place finish at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.
After putting nine goals without reply past minnows Barbados in Stage 2, the USA found themselves drawn with Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and Cuba in Group 1 of Round 3. Bradley's charges held firm to win five of their six encounters in the penultimate group stage, their only defeat a 2-1 reverse in Port of Spain against the Soca Warriors with progress to the Hexagonal already in the bag.
UNITED STATES FOOTBALL
COACH: BOB BRADLEY
UNITED STATES NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP C MATCHES:
12 JUNE, SAT - ENGLAND V/S UNITED STATES [ RUSTENBURG ]
13 JUNE, SUN - ALGERIA V/S SLOVENIA [ POLOKWANE ]
18 JUNE, FRI - UNITED STATES V/S SLOVENIA [ EP, JOHANNESBURG ]
18 JUNE, FRI - ENGLAND V/S ALGERIA [ CAPE TOWN ]
23 JUNE WED - ENGLAND V/S SLOVENIA [ PORT ELIZABETH ]
23 JUNE, WED - UNITED STATES V/S ALGERIA [ PRETORIA ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
FOOBALL WORLD CUP 2010
2006 WORLD CUP GERMANY
ADIDAS - THE OFFICIAL PARTNER FIFA WORLD CUP 2010