France crossed a new threshold in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, having never before graced the finals on four consecutive occasions. Les Bleus have become a regular presence in recent years, having earned a reputation as one of world football’s leading teams since the late 1990s. Their fine displays at the first edition in 1930 marked them out as a good side and they have occasionally produced legendary talents, but only in the last decade or so have they evolved into a team that starts every major tournament with serious hopes of winning it.
They may not have done it in style, but France just about satisfied the demands of their supporters by booking themselves a place in South Africa. It took an extra-time goal in their play-off with Ireland to give them a 2-1 aggregate win and finally send them through, and that came after they had finished second in qualifying Group 7 of the European Zone.
COACH: RAMOND DOMENECH
FRANCE NATIONAL TEAM
Few nations have the footballing history of Uruguay. Nestling on the northern bank on the River Plate, the country has a population of a little over three million yet boasts an impressive collection of world, Olympic and continental titles and a record that compares favourably with the world’s best. The glory years of Uruguayan football are but a fading memory, however, with La Celeste having made just two appearances at the last five FIFA World Cup™ finals.
Just as they did in 2001 and 2005, Uruguay finished fifth in the ten-team qualifying group, which meant yet another play-off. But unlike four years ago, when they were eliminated by Australia, the Uruguayans were this time pitted against Costa Rica, the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF Zone. The South Americans gained the upper hand in the first leg in San Jose, winning 1-0 through a goal from captain Diego Lugano. Four days later they completed the job in Montevideo, with Sebastian Abreu, one of the few survivors from Korea/Japan 2002, scoring in a 1-1 draw.
COACH: 62 YEAR OLD OSCAR WASHINGTON TABAREZ
URUGUAY NATIONAL TEAM
After a turbulent couple of years that has seen three coaches come and go and more than sixty players pull on the famous green jersey, Mexico have returned to calmer waters under the steadying influence of Javier Aguirre. The former Atletico Madrid coach has put together a team comprising bright young talents and established stars, restoring their wavering confidence in the process.
After disposing of Belize with a minimum of fuss in the second qualifying round, Mexico were drawn into a tough group containing Jamaica, Canada and Honduras in the following phase. Coached at the time by Sven Goran Eriksson, El Tri struggled to impose their authority and only scraped in the fourth and final round on goal difference ahead of the Reggae Boyz.
COACH: SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON
MEXICAN NATIONAL TEAM
4. SOUTH AFRICA
In 1996, four years after their readmission to international football, South Africa shot to prominence and stunned the African continent by claiming their maiden CAF Africa Cup of Nations trophy against Tunisia at Soccer City in Johannesburg. How ironic that, 16 years later, South Africa will return to the venue where they achieved this first major success, aiming to rewrite the script on an even bigger stage.
South Africa, by virtue of their role as hosts, gained automatic qualification.
COACH: CARLOS ALBERTO PARREIRA
SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL TEAM
GROUP A MATCHES:
11 JUNE, FRI. - SOUTH AFRICA V/S MEXICO [ JOHANNESBURG ]
11 JUNE, FRI. - URUGUAY V/S FRANCE [ CAPE TOWN ]
16 JUNE, WED. - SOUTH AFRICA V/S URUGUAY [ PRETORIA ]
17 JUNE, THU. - FRANCE V/S MEXICO [ POLOKWANE ]
22 JUNE, TUE. - URUGUAY V/S MEXICO [ RUSTENBURG ]
22 JUNE, TUE. - SOUTH AFRICA V/S FRANCE [ BLOEMFONTEIN ]
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 SOUTH AFRICA
SAY NO TO RACISM
FIFA WORLD CUP SUPPORT YOUR TEAM