After a 32-year absence from the world stage, Australia made a strong statement at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, reaching the knockout stage where it took a last-minute goal from eventual champions Italy to eliminate Guus Hiddink's team. The squad, now under another Dutchman, Pim Verbeek, features many of the Germany 2006 personnel and is a battle-hardened and experienced group.
The Socceroos impressed in a 14-match Asian qualification campaign overcoming some of the continents best to finish top of Group 1 and be one of the first nations to reach South Africa 2010. Australia also finished top of the previous qualifying stage ahead of Qatar, China and Asian champions Iraq, despite losing matches to the latter two. The next and final stage proved a triumph for Pim Verbeek's tactical acumen as the Socceroos remained undefeated across eight matches, five points clear of Japan, with Bahrain, Qatar and Uzbekistan trailing well behind.
COACH: PIM VERBEEK
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL TEAM
Three-time FIFA World Cup™ winners Germany are usually there or thereabouts when the honours are handed out, and the current national squad will head for South Africa with their sights and expectations set appropriately high. After triumphing in Switzerland in 1954, on home soil in 1974 and in Italy in 1990, the team now coached by Joachim Low are aiming to hoist the most prestigious trophy in the world's favourite sport for the fourth time.
Clinical efficiency and unbending resolve rather than sparkling skill were the hallmarks as Low's men marched to first place in European qualifying Group 4 for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The Germans dropped points only in their home and away meetings with an awkward Finnish side. Klose's hat-trick dragged his side level three times in a 3-3 draw in Helsinki, and Podolski netted a face-saving last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 stalemate in Hamburg. However, that was the final qualifying fixture, and Ballack and company were already guaranteed top spot, as Wales, Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein had all been despatched with the minimum of fuss.
COACH: JOACHIM LOEW
GERMAN NATIONAL TEAM
The only African side to get out of the group stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and the first to qualify for South Africa 2010, Ghana are anxious to prove themselves as the cream of the continent. Though this will be only their second appearance at the finals, the Black Stars have enjoyed considerable success at all levels of international football. They have won four CAF African Cup of Nations titles, though none since 1982, as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups, and they became the first African team to lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup when they beat Brazil on penalties in October 2009. With added experience since their 2006 adventure, where they lost to Italy and Brazil but beat the Czech Republic and USA, Ghana are set to be a major threat at Africa's first FIFA World Cup.
Ghana guaranteed their place in the finals after going unbeaten through their opening four matches of the final round. They did not concede a goal in the group until a shock 1-0 defeat at Benin, but that came after they had already qualified. The key stretch for the west Africans came in June 2009 when they won 2-0 away to both Mali and Sudan, with Germany 2006 veteran Matthew Amoah scoring a goal in the first match and both in the second. Ironically, Ghana were shakier in the previous round of qualifying, only topping the group on goal difference over Gabon and Libya after losing a match to both teams.
COACH: MILOVAN RAJEVAC
GHANA NATIONAL TEAM
Serbia played their maiden international, independently, on 16 August 2006, winning 3-1 away to Czech Republic. They did, however, former part of two now disbanded teams: Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.
When the draw for the first phase of European Zone qualifying was made, the consensus was that Austria, Romania and Serbia were competing for second place behind France. However, although Les Bleus edged the Beli Orlovi 2-1 in Saint-Denis in their second outing, Radomir Antic's team won their next five preliminaries to establish a four-point lead atop of the section. They retained it by drawing 1-1 at home to the French. That result left Serbia needing victory from their penultimate qualifier with Romania to make sure of a place at South Africa 2010, and they achieved it in emphatic fashion with a 5-0 success in Belgrade.
COACH: RADOMIR ANTIC
SERBIA NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP D MATCHES:
13 JUNE, SUN - GERMANY V/S AUSTRALIA [ DURBAN ]
13 JUNE, SUN - GHANA V/S SERBIA [ PRETORIA ]
18 JUNE, FRI - GERMANY V/S SERBIA [ PORT ELIZABETH ]
19 JUNE, SAT - AUSTRALIA V/S GHANA [ RUSTENBURG ]
23 JUNE, WED - GERMANY V/S GHANA [ SC, JOHANNESBURG ]
23 JUNE, WED - AUSTRALIA V/S SERBIA [ NELSPRUIT ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
FIFA WORLD CUP
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 GROUP D GERMANY