Though their light may have faded somewhat since they brightened up the world stage at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™, Cameroon are not a side to underestimate at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The top African nation in FIFA’s rankings, they also bring Africa’s richest pedigree to the finals. They have appeared a continental-best five times in the World Cup, and no other African side has yet eclipsed their historic run to the Italy 1990 quarter-finals – though Senegal equalled the achievement in 2002.
Though the 2-0 victory in Morocco that clinched their qualification was straightforward enough, Cameroon had in fact completed an impressive turnaround in a campaign that started with just a draw from their first two matches. Two victories in four days over contenders Gabon were followed by a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Togo, and Cameroon’s four consecutive wins were more than enough to reach South Africa. In the end, the team, led from the back by the likes of veterans Geremi Njitap, Rigobert Song and goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni, gave up just two goals in six final round contests.
COACH: PAUL LE GUEN
CAMEROON NATIONAL TEAM
After a six-year absence, Danish Dynamite is once again set to explode on the elite world footballing scene. The Scandinavians missed out on both the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany and UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, but the FIFA founder members blazed an impressive trail en route to a berth in South Africa next summer.
The Danes saw off big-name rivals Portugal and Sweden in European qualifying Group 1 to top the group with just one defeat in their ten matches.Campaign highlights included a 3-2 win and 1-1 draw with the Portuguese Selecção das Quinas, where convincing team performances saw the Danes take four points off the group favourites and earn themselves the decisive advantage. The crucial win in Lisbon featured an astonishing three goals in the last ten minutes. Denmark also beat neighbours and keen rivals Sweden home and away by the only goal of the game on both occasions.
COACH: MORTEN OLSEN
DANISH NATIONAL TEAM
Boasting one of the strongest squads in Asian football, Japan, winners of three of the last five editions of the AFC Asian Cup, have high hopes for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ - their fourth appearance at the global showpiece.
Having comfortably reached the fourth and final stage of Asian Zone qualifying for South Africa 2010, Japan won four, drew three and lost just one of their eight matches in Group 1. A 2-1 reverse in Australia and a frustrating 0-0 at home against the same opponents were the lowlights of this final phase, though coach Takeshi Okada's charges still finished well clear of Bahrain, Qatar and Uzbekistan in the five-team section.
COACH: TAKESHI OKADA
JAPAN NATIONAL TEAM
The final or bust. The Oranje have set lofty aims for their campaign in South Africa, 32 years after their 3-1 extra-time defeat by Argentina in the showpiece game, which itself came four years on from their 2-1 final loss to West Germany. Since the retirement of pioneering coach Rinus Michels, a multitude of players have followed in the footsteps of the Johan Cruyff generation without ever advancing as far as the final hurdle, though one particularly talented crop did claim the European title in 1988.
It was a full house for the Netherlands as they picked up eight wins from eight games. The Van Marwijk era has proved to be a faultless one so far, with the former Feyenoord coach leading his troops to the top of Group 9, where Norway and Scotland came equipped as their major rivals. As it happened, the Dutch let in the only two goals they conceded all campaign against Iceland and FYR Macedonia, while hitting two of their 17 efforts to secure slender but controlled 1-0 victories in Glasgow and Oslo.
COACH: BERT VEN MARWIJK
NETHERLAND NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP E MATCHES:
14 JUNE, MON - NETHERLAND V/S DENMARK [ SC, JOHANNESBURG ]
14 JUNE, MON - JAPAN V/S CAMEROON [ BLOEMFONTEIN ]
19 JUNE, SAT - JAPAN V/S NETHERLAND [ DURBAN ]
19 JUNE, SAT - DENMARK V/S CAMEROON [ PRETORIA ]
24 JUNE, THU - DENMARK V/S JAPAN [ RUSTENBURG ]
24 JUNE, THU - NETHERLAND V/S CAMEROON [ CAPE TOWN ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA 2010