Chile's recent renaissance has been capped by a return to the FIFA World Cup™ finals following a 12-year absence. In the international wilderness since France 1998, when Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano showcased their consummate finishing skills, La Roja believe they have the resources to emulate their illustrious predecessors and advance beyond the group phase.
Bielsa's side, which boasts the youngest average age of all the South American teams, finished second in the continental qualifying group, just one point behind Brazil. That performance, their best since the group format was introduced, was rounded off in style with a spectacular 4-2 win in Colombia in October, a result that rubber-stamped their return to the world elite with one game remaining.
CHILE FEDERATION OF FOOTBALL
COACH: MARCELO BIELSA
CHILEAN NATIONAL TEAM
Honduras reached the finals of the FIFA World Cup™ for only the second time in dramatic fashion, an equaliser in the dying seconds of the USA's clash with Costa Rica triggering frantic celebrations fromLos Catrachos' fans thousands of miles further south. Yet despite having squeezed into the finals, coach Reinaldo Rueda's talented team will not be going to South Africa just to make up the numbers.
Rueda's men dug deep from the off to oust Puerto Rico 6-2 on aggregate to progress to the penultimate round of North, Central America and Caribbean Zone qualifying. Once there they successfully negotiated a tricky section to qualifying for the final six-team Hexagonal round ahead of Mexico, Jamaica and Canada.
HONDURAS FOOTBALL FEDERATION
COACH: REINALDO RUEDA
HONDURAS NATIONAL TEAM
On a scale of one to ten, Spain's performance in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ can only be given top marks. On top of wins in each of their ten games, La Roja were the European Zone's second top scorers with 28 goals while conceding a miserly five at the other end. Maturity, resilience and the ability to overcome adversity were all in evidence during their campaign, and few national teams in world football are blessed with squads of such depth and sheer talent. The Iberians have not rested on the laurels of their UEFA EURO 2008 victory, consistently bringing in new faces without renouncing their commitment to attractive short-passing football.
The title of European champions inevitably meant that Spain's opponents redoubled their efforts to claim what would be a notable scalp. Their narrow 1-0 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina - courtesy of a solitary strike from David Villa - was typical of the kind of gritty resistance they have had to overcome since Austria/Switzerland. And though Armenia and Estonia were dispatched relatively comfortably, an away clash in Belgium and a double-header against EURO 2008 semi-finalists Turkey forced the Spaniards to dig deep for nine valuable points.
FEDERATION OF SPAINISH FOOTBALL
COACH: VICENTE DEL BOSQUE
SPANISH NATIONAL TEAM
Switzerland will be appearing at the FIFA World Cup™ finals for the ninth time when next summer's tournament gets underway in South Africa, where coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his men are aiming for more than just a supporting role.Hitzfeld and his team made a distinctly inauspicious start on the road to the 2010 finals. After conceding in the final minute to draw away to Israel, a disastrous 2-1 defeat to minnows Luxembourg in Zurich brought shame and embarrassment on the team.
However, the cringeworthy defeat ultimately acted as a wake-up call, and the Swiss duly reeled off five wins on the spin, against Latvia (2-1), Greece (2-1 and 2-0) and Moldova (2-0 and 2-0). They only dropped points again in a 2-2 draw away to the Latvians.
A comfortable 3-0 revenge victory in Luxembourg and a goalless draw with Israel in front of a delirious Basel crowd sealed top spot in European Group 2 and a confirmed place in South Africa for Frei and company.
SWITZERLAND FOOTBALL FEDERATION
COACH: OTTMAR HITZFELD
SWISS NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP H MATCHES:
16 JUNE, WED - HONDURAS V/S CHILE [ NELSPRUIT ]
16 JUNE, WED - SPAIN V/S SWITZERLAND [ DURBAN ]
21 JUNE, MON - SPAIN V/S HONDURAS [ EP, JOHANNESBURG ]
21 JUNE, MON - CHILE V/S SWITZERLAND [ PORT ELIZABETH ]
25 JUNE, FRI - HONDURAS V/S SWITZERLAND [BLOEMFNTEIN ]
25 JUNE, FRI - SPAIN V/S CHILE [ PRETORIA ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 GROUP H SPAIN
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010
ADIDAS JABULANI OFFICIAL BALL
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA