Sunday, 22 November 2009

WC2010: Whos Going? (Part 3)

A few more while I have the time.. For these guys I'll start talking about their Group Stage draw etc, but I doubt I'll be going back to edit the others.


So we've all seen how France eventually qualified, winning in extra time against the Republic of Ireland with a, lets just say, dubious "goal" from true professional Thierry Henry. Not too much point going into detail about this, but Henry cheated, he should have been caught. It's a shame as it was a sickening way for Ireland to be eliminated, and on such a grand stage, a blatant foul like that has to be spotted.

Now France themselves, Raymond Domenech is in charge just now, but after what was a disappointing qualifying campaign (despite actually qualifying...) it is still to be seen whether Domenech will actually be the man in charge come June 2010. I am actually quite interested to see how France will fare this time around, still they have bags of quality, and if they can start performing to their potential they will do well in South Africa.

France were drawn into Group A, alongside hosts South Africa, Uruguay and Mexico. Tricky group but I'm sure Domenech and the squad will be pleased to avoid some other tricky sides.

Star Man: Nicolas Anelka

In the form of his life just now, an on-form Anelka is absolutely key to France's success. Leading the line with Henry and Benzema, France in truth do have a very impressive forward line.

Player to watch: Hugo Lloris

Will be one of the top keepers in South Africa. Keeping goal has been a somewhat problematic position for France in the past while, Landreau has yet to meet his potential, Coupet was just not up to scratch, and now Hugo Lloris has arrived to save the day.

Great shot-stopper, great command of his area, and a mistake is rare from him. Top player.

Prediction: Quarter finals. Got the team to go farther, got the lack of team spirit to be stopped at the groups or second round. Quarter finals is the most likely outcome for Les Bleus


They were finalists in Euro 2008, and generally do well in the World Cup, so you would be excused for thinking Germany are in with a shout for winning. In truth this is a team with a few problems, only increased by the tragic death of first choice goalkeeper Robert Enke.

Their qualifying was quite straightforward though, remaining unbeaten in their group with Russia, Finland and Wales. Germany have some big time players and will always be tricky to beat for ANY side, but with integral players like Ballack coming out and saying he doesn't think they have a chance of winning, don't expect too much from them.

Germany are placed in Group D alongside Serbia, Australia and Ghana.

Star Man: Michael Ballack

Top player and has been for many years. Extremely gifted technically, and as the captain really has to run the team from the centre. Ballack is one of those players that if he were to be injured, Germany's chances would dwindle further.

Player to watch: Mesut Ozil

Ozil, 21, has been coveted by the German national set up for years. The exciting Werder Bremen attacking midfielder has been drawing admirers from all around the footballing world this season with some virtuoso performances. He is a firm favourite in Bremen, comfortably filling the void left by Diego. Ozil is already being tipped by journalists (and the man himself) as Ballack's natural heir in the national team, and he possesses all the qualities to become a world-class no.10. Amazing first touch, great vision, and an explosive turn of pace make him a very very tricky customer.

Prediction: In truth, Germany have a deceptively tough group which they will have to work very hard to get through. However if they do make it as expected, I can see Germany exiting in the Quarter Finals.


A team for the future, Ghana made a really good impression on the footballing world with their resilient showing at WC2006 in Germany. Currently competing in the African Cup of Nations, Ghana have been plagued with injuries making their campaign tougher than usual. But they do have some classy players and with everyone fit, their starting line-up is a daunting prospect to play against with the likes of Essien, Muntari, Appiah, Gyan etc.

Ghana find themselves in group D, facing Germany, Serbia and Australia.

Star Man: Michael Essien

Essien is certainly the most famous of players in the Ghana squad, and alongside Muntari and Appiah in midfield, it gives Ghana a fantastic engine room from which to power the team.

I've always been a massive fan of Essien, always used to watch him at OL and when I said he would be world-class, he didn't let me down at Chelsea. Fabulous player.

Predictions: Strong team, but if they make it through the group I would expect a second-round exit.

More soon!

WC2010: Whos Going? (Part 2)

Here's a few more nations.


Right, just to let you know, I really haven't been able to watch much or any of the African teams in qualifying, so the actual teams are a bit of an unknown quantity to myself. However I know a good few players in the squads and will give my thoughts based on that.

At first glance, this isn't an Algeria squad full of recognised names. Fans from Scotland will be able to pick out Madjid Bougherra and possibly even Hull's Kamel Ghilas, but in truth this is a team with a lot of undiscovered talent. I look forward to seeing them perform as a group, and they shouldnt just be dismissed as being no-hopers.

Star Man: Madjid Bougherra

Don't need to say terribly much about Bougherra, as most of us know him already. The 27 year old's career is now starting to come together at Rangers, with silverware and some Champions League experience. Bougherra's accomplished defending will be key for this Algeria side.

Player to watch: Kamel Ghilas

From now until the first game of the 2010 World Cup, Algerian forwards will be battling it out to earn the second starting place up front alongside Rafik Saifi. Players like Djebbour, Ghezzal and this man Ghilas will be the ones in the running. Lucky enough to play in the English Premier League, Ghilas has been able to test his skills against some of the best defences in the world. If he is placed just behind goal-getter Saifi, then Ghilas could give a lot of teams something to think about.

Prediction: Realistically, they will exit in the first round. If they get a favourable draw, then maybe they could dig out some big results.


"The Indomitable Lions" are Africa's most successful team. They have qualified for five World Cups (now six), and managed to make it to the quarter finals on one ocassion. In recent years however, they have been underperforming. Failing to qualify for World Cup 2006 was an aberration, and the former experienced stars like Geremi, Wome and Rigobert Song are beginning to fade. However, it really isn't all bad, as the Indomitable Lions have the potential to get back to their best. Here is a little reminder of one of their proudest moments, victory in the Second Round of World Cup 1990:

Young talent in Cameroon is abundant, players like Landry N'Guemo, Alexandre Song and Stephane M'Bia are starting to look like the players they were tipped to be. Also with players like Samuel Eto'o looking as dangerous as ever, it could be a good year for Cameroon.

Star Man: Samuel Eto'o

World Class striker, and someone capable of taking the Golden Shoe if Cameroon were to progress to the later stages. If he gets the service he needs, Eto'o will shine once again for Cameroon.

Player to watch: Stephane M'Bia

Always tipped for the top, M'Bia is now starting to realise that potential at 23 years old. Recently the subject of a £10.5 million transfer from Rennes to Marseille, watch out for this young midfielder.

Prediction: Second Round. Unless they get a tough draw, then they will go at the first hurdle.


For the first time in about 10 years, Denmark are looking like a serious team again. Qualifying top of a very tough group containing Portugal, Sweden and Hungary, Denmark will now be looking to relive some of their former glory. Morten Olsen looks like he's got the team to click. Famously frustrating striker Nicklas Bendtner is looking comfortable and scoring goals, veterans Gronkjaer, Tommason and Rommedahl are still showing their class, and in general the team's set-up looks top-class.

Star Man: Christian Poulsen

Maybe a surprise choice, but Poulsen has now firmly established his place as the engine that runs this Denmark squad. He played the most minutes in the qualifying campaign and popped up with a couple of goals from centre midfield. He is one of those players that really aggravates his opponents, but when he is on your side he is invaluable.

Player to watch: Nicklas Bendtner

You'll know him already, so I won't have to say much, but I predict WC2010 is where Bendtner goes from useful young striker, to renowned goalscorer. He will be playing in quite a good team, with some great service around him, and hopefully he won't be as frustrating as he usually is.

Predictions: I'm going to say quarter finals, but maybe I'm overrating them.


The Auld Enemy qualified comfortably through their group to progress to their 13th World Cup and grudgingly, they have a great chance. England have always had an excellent squad, but they can just never seem to get it done in the end. Now, with Capello at the helm, realistically they could win the thing.

They have quality all over the park, and a top manager who knows how a football team works, and if he picks a good squad, England are serious contenders.

Star Man: Wayne Rooney

He is undoubtedly amongst the best players in the world. Consistently world-class, he will be key to Capello's plans and potentially could win the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament.

Prediction: Potential winners, I'm saying they will be finalists or eliminated in the semis.

More later on.

Oh and just a reminder, the Group Stage draw is made on the 4th of December in Cape Town. Dont miss it!