The Tournament hosts as well as the first ever African nation to do so. The Bafana Bafana had no qualifying process to go through, so on one hand should be a lot fresher than the other nations, but on the other the hand, the team haven’t had the necessary competitive experience of playing together. Home advantage is a major factor and the influence and experience of former Brazil national team boss; Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Manager: Carlos Alberto Parreira
He has manager 4 different nations at 5 different World Cup Finals (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Brazil x2) and won the 1994 World Cup with the boys from Brazil.
Key Player: Steven Pienaar
The Everton winger has been excellent this season and needs to perform along with the likes of Aaron Mokoena, Benni McCarthy and Siyabonga Nomvethe. Pienaar has 46 caps for South Africa.
Best Finish: Group Stage
Mainly due to its History, the Country has been banned from many former tournaments, but of the two World Cup tournaments they have been to, 98’ and 2002’, the Japan/South Korea 2002 campaign was indeed their most successful points wise.
Prediction: 2nd Round
I believe they may just sneak through the group stages, mainly thanks to the home support. I believe a win against Uruguay and a draw against an underachieving Mexican side may get them through.
The team from Central America qualified through the CONCACAF group by finish second in the behind the USA, and ahead of Honduras. The Mexicans have played in 13 Finals and South Africa will be there 14th.
Manager: Javier Aguirre
A former Mexican International, he played 59 times for his country scoring 14 times. He is currently in second spell in charge and coaches at his first World Cup.
Key Player: Rafael Marquez
The Barcelona played is a very versatile, being able to play both Central or Defensive midfield as well as a centre back. The 31 year old is of the upmost experience and has 88 caps. He is also one of the senior members of the squad along with the legendary Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 109 caps and Gerardo Torrado, 107 caps respectively.
Best Finish: Quarter Finals
Achieved their best finishes in both 1970 and 1986 World Cups, coincidently they were both held in Mexico. In 1970 they lost to eventual finalists, Italy. The 1986 was supposedly meant to be held in Columbia, but couldn’t go ahead due to economic reasons.
Prediction: Group Stage
I think the Mexicans will be slow starters and believe the South African’s will just creep in ahead of them. However don’t be surprised if the Mexicans end up winning the group!
The South American side nicknamed “La Celeste” (the Sky Blues) were the first ever winners of the World Cup Finals, all the way back in 1930 (held in Uruguay), and then won it again in 1950 (Brazil). However they haven’t came anywhere near as close in recent times.
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
The Uruguayan national has managed the side for the last 4 years, and taking them to their second World Cup. His managerial CV reads, amongst others, AC Milan and Boca Juniors.
Key Player: Luis Suarez
The Ajax hit man and Captain is a technically gifted player with an excellent record in the Eredivisie. His club side only just missed out on the league title this season, by only one point. He and other young players including Edinson Cavani and Sebastian Fernandez will need to link up well with the more experienced players such as Diego Forlan, Diego Lugano and Jorge Fucile in order to cause any sort of impact.
Best Finish: Winners in 1930 and 1950
Prediction: Group Stage
Can’t see the South Americans making it out of the group stages
When they reached their peak, they were an unstoppable force in the late 90’s. I fully expect the French to get over the heartbreak of the 2006 penalty shoot out defeat, by going far in this tournament also. Some say they shouldn’t be here, as they cheated against the Republic of Ireland, but by no means will they let this affect them now. No Zidane this time round, but with a big number of experienced players and gifted younger players, the French could go far.
Manager: Raymond Domenech
I’ve never personally been a fan of this man. He makes some stupid statements, outrageous player selections and some very strange tactical decisions. However he is now into his 6th year as coach, and led the France to the Runners-up place last time round, so has the competition pedigree. The French side only missed out on automatic qualification by one point from Serbia.
Key Player: Franck Ribery
A mixed season on and off the field this season, the former Marseille winger is one of the most cavorted and sought after players in World football, and the 2010 tournament is the stage in which he can shine.
Best Finish: Winners 1998
Held on home soil, players such as Emmanuel Petit, Zinedine Zidane, Barthez, Lizarazu, Leboeuf, Blanc, Thuram and many more all guided Les Blues to their first ever World Cup title. Some say it was a long time coming, but the French golden generation helped dismantle Mario Zagallo’s Brazil side 3-0, a team boasting the likes of Dunga, Aldair, Cafu, Bebeto, Rivaldo and of course “R9” Ronaldo.
Prediction: Quarter Finals
I fully expect them to banish any cobwebs and win the group with maximum points.
Stay tuned for Group B coming real soon