Japan Team Profile World Cup 2010

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.

First on the agenda is an improvement on the disappointing showing at Germany 2006, when the Samurai Blue exited at the first hurdle after a 3-1 reverse against Australia, a 0-0 draw with Croatia and a resounding 4-1 defeat by Brazil. Japan will also be facing their first finals without iconic midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata. The former Roma schemer featured in each of the national side's games at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 before hanging up his boots after the latter event aged just 29.

Japan team road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

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.

The star players of Japan team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Japan's biggest star is former Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, who in the summer 2009 made the switch from Glasgow to La Liga with Espanyol. Another European-based performer is young midfielder Keisuke Honda, at Eredivisie outfit VVV Venlo and like Nakamura a gifted left-footer. Leading from the back is 31-year-old defensive rock and captain Yuji Nakazawa, who with over 90 senior caps to his name is Japan's third-most capped player of all time.

The coach of Japan team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
National supremo Okada is widely considered to be one of the finest Japanese strategists around. He was at the helm during the Samurai Blue's first FIFA World Cup appearance at France 1998, having successfully negotiated a tricky play-off meeting with Iran, and later enjoyed spells at club level with Consadole Sapporo and Yokohama F Marinos.

The 53-year-old former international defender's time in Sapporo included taking the team from the second division into the top flight, while the tactician led Marinos to successive J.League titles in 2003 and 2004. Having stepped away from his role in Yokohama in 2006, he picked up the reins of the national team for a second time a year later - following the stroke suffered by previous incumbent Ivica Osim.

Previous FIFA World Cups
South Africa 2010 will be Japan's fourth FIFA World Cup finals, and their fourth in a row. Their best finish came as hosts at Korea/Japan 2002, when they topped Group H ahead of Belgium, Russia and Tunisia to advance to the knockout stages for the first and so far only time. Once in the Round of 16 they put in a brave fight only to go down 1-0 against eventual third-place finishers Turkey, the goal coming after 12 minutes from Umit Davala.


  • At his first finals as Japan coach, back at France 1998, Okada's charges lost each of their three group games, scoring once and conceding four times in the process.
  • Masashi Nakayama scored Japan's first ever FIFA World Cup finals goal, netting in the 74th minute of the 2-1 reverse against Jamaicaon French soil.

Ghana Team Profile World Cup 2010

The only African side to get out of the group stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany and the first to qualify for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Ghana are anxious to prove themselves as the cream of the continent. Though this will be only their second appearance at the finals, the Black Stars have enjoyed considerable success at all levels of international football. They have won four CAF African Cup of Nations titles, though none since 1982, as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups, and they became the first African team to lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup when they beat Brazil on penalties in October 2009. With added experience since their 2006 adventure, where they lost to Italy and Brazil but beat the Czech Republic and USA, Ghana are set to be a major threat at Africa's first FIFA World Cup.

Ghana football team road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Ghana guaranteed their place in the finals after going unbeaten through their opening four matches of the final round. They did not concede a goal in the group until a shock 1-0 defeat at Benin, but that came after they had already qualified. The key stretch for the west Africans came in June 2009 when they won 2-0 away to both Mali and Sudan, with Germany 2006 veteran Matthew Amoah scoring a goal in the first match and both in the second. Ironically, Ghana were shakier in the previous round of qualifying, only topping the group on goal difference over Gabon and Libya after losing a match to both teams.

The star players of Ghana in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Although Ghana lack the attacking firepower of many African sides, they rely most prominently on a world class midfield led by Michael Essien. The Chelsea man usually pairs with Sulley Muntari and captain Stephen Appiah to form a formidable engine room capable of both stifling attacks and creating them. Two of the trio Asamoah Gyan, Junior Agogo and Matthew Amoah usually operate in attack, while the England-based duo of John Mensah and John Paintsil keep the back tight in front of another Premier League player, goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

The coach of Ghana in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
With Claude Le Roy's departure after a relatively disappointing third-place finish at the 2008 Cup of Nations on home soil, Milovan Rajevac took over leadership of the Black Stars. A former defender that played his career in Yugoslavia, the Serbian was best known for a brief coaching stint with Red Star Belgrade as well as leading perennial Serbian strugglers FK Borac to their first-ever qualification for a European tournament.


  • Ghana were the youngest team at Germany 2006, with an average age of just under 24 years.
  • Asamoah Gyan scored the fastest goal of the 2006 FIFA World Cup after 68 seconds in their 2-1 win over Czech Republic. It was also Ghana's first-ever goal in the finals.
  • Ghana lost 3-0 to Brazil in the second round of Germany 2006, but they were without the talismanic Michael Essien, who was suspended.


Serbia Team Profile World Cup 2010

Serbia played their maiden international, independently, on 16 August 2006, winning 3-1 away to Czech Republic. They did, however, former part of two now disbanded teams: Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.

The former participated at nine FIFA World Cups between 1930 and 2002, and finished runners-up at the UEFA European Championship twice. Then, at Germany 2006, Serbia and Montenegro lost all three matches in a competitive group to fall at the first hurdle.

While Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montengro wore blue shirts, Serbia adopted a red jersey and the nickname Beli Orlovi (White Eagles).

Serbia team road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
When the draw for the first phase of European Zone qualifying was made, the consensus was that Austria, Romania and Serbia were competing for second place behind France. However, although Les Bleus edged the Beli Orlovi 2-1 in Saint-Denis in their second outing, Radomir Antic's team won their next five preliminaries to establish a four-point lead atop of the section. They retained it by drawing 1-1 at home to the French. That result left Serbia needing victory from their penultimate qualifier with Romania to make sure of a place at World Cup South Africa 2010, and they achieved it in emphatic fashion with a 5-0 success in Belgrade.

The star players of Serbia team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic is a rock at the heart of the Serbian backline. Fierce in the tackle and strong in the air, the 28-year-old was named the 2008/09 English Premier League's player of the season. Multifunctional midfielder Dejan Stankovic has played international football since 1998 and now captains his country, while Marko Pantelic and Milan Jovanovic carry a threat in attack.

The coach of Serbia team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Radomir Antic's playing career included an impressive eight-year spell with Partizan, and stints in Turkey, Spain and England, but it was at the coaching reins that he truly began to excel. He led Zaragoza, Real Madrid and Oviedo prior to landing at Atletico Madrid, who he improbably guided to a La Liga/Copa del Rey double in his first season in 1995/96. Antic had three spells at the Atletico controls, but had been out of the game for four years when he was appointed Serbia coach in 2008. However, thanks to his tactical expertise and ability to elicit the best from his charges, the Serbians charged through to South Africa 2010.

Previous FIFA World Cups
  • Serbia will be appearing at the FIFA World Cup independently for the first time in South Africa.
  • They formed part of the Yugoslavia side that appeared at nine editions of the competition, and the Serbia and Montenegro team that competed at Germany 2006.

Slovenia Team Profile World Cup 2010

Slovenia is a nation of just two million people, Slovenia have already punched above their weight to secure a place at this 2010 FIFA World Cup. When one considers that they knocked out Poland, Czech Republic and, finally, Russia - population 142 million – to take their place in South Africa, the achievement becomes near-miraculous. Yet 2010 is, in fact, this fledgling football nation’s second appearance on the game’s biggest stage, and they are determined to continue defying the odds when they square up to the world’s best.

Slovenia team road to 2010 FIFA Wold Cup South Africa
When the Preliminary Draw was made, most observers envisaged Group 3 being dominated by Czech Republic and Poland, two teams who had successfully qualified for both Germany 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008. As it was, the anticipated favourites melted into the background as the section developed into an enthralling two-way battle between Slovenia and Slovakia.

The Slovenians’ success was based on a defence that was arguably the meanest in the entire European Zone. True, the Netherlands just edged them in statistical terms, but Bert van Marwijck’s side also played two games fewer than a Slovenia team who conceded just four times in 10 group matches. Indeed, Matjaz Kek’s outsiders took their bid for top spot down to the final day, only to be denied when Slovakia – a team they had beaten home and away – somehow dug out a 1-0 win away to Poland.

Despite the Slovenians’ impressive efforts, it was clear that Russia could barely contain their glee being paired with them in play-offs, with Alexander Kerzhakov among those describing it as “a favourable draw” for Guus Hiddink’s team. How wrong they were. Everything looked to be adhering to the expected script when the Russians raced into a two-goal lead in Moscow, but their unheralded visitors refused to lie down and set up a thrilling return meeting when Nejc Pecnik fired home with just two minutes of the first leg remaining. The stage was set, and Slovenia rose to the occasion with a performance in Maribor worthy of any arena, one justly rewarded by a decisive Zlatko Dedic strike that secured one of the great qualifying upsets of recent years.

The star players of Slovenia team
Household names are conspicuous by their absence in this Slovenia squad. Yet although his team’s success has been built on collective strength and spirit, Kek is not without talented individuals to call upon. Arguably the best known is Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic, who scored five times during qualifying and, at 30, is approaching this 2010 FIFA World Cup at the peak of his powers. The Ljubljana-born striker describes himself as making up one third of Slovenia’s “backbone”, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and captain Robert Koren, a talented attacking midfielder, identified by Novakovic as comprising this key triumvirate.

The coach of Slovenia team in 2010 FIFA Wold Cup South Africa
A player renowned more for his leadership skills rather than any great natural talent, Matjaz Kek was already in his 30s by the time he won his one and only Slovenia cap in 1992. It was at Maribor, the club with which he won three successive titles in the twilight of his playing career, that Kek was given his first managerial post eight years later. After a moderately successful six-year stint, Kek moved on to Football Association of Slovenia in 2006, initially taking charge of the national U-15 and U-16 teams. By January 2007, however, he had been promoted to the position of senior coach, and has since gone on to exceed all expectations by leading his unfancied team back to the game’s greatest stage. As Kek himself said after seeing off the Russians: “Slovenia has realised a dream.”


Algeria Team Profile World Cup 2010

Algeria will end a 24-year absence from football’s top table when they kick their first ball at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Les Fennecs (the Desert Foxes) may have won the CAF African Cup of Nations since appearing at Mexico 1986, but they spent a long time in the wilderness before slowly working their way back as a competitive force at the start of the century. The current crop of players feel stronger than ever, with enough belief to put in a historic performance in South Africa.

Algeria road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Until finally sealing their place via a one-off play-off match with Egypt in Khartoum, Sudan, on 18 November, Algeria both suffered and impressed in their qualifying campaign. They won all six of their home games in the second and third qualifying rounds but lost three of their away visits, while drawing twice and winning the other game. As a result, they finished one slender point ahead of Gambia, Senegal and Liberia in their first qualifying group, before ending on equal terms with the Pharaohs in their second, and bringing about the need for a play-off on neutral terrain. The duo nonetheless came in eight points ahead of Zambia and 11 ahead of Rwanda.

The star players of Algeria team
Scorer of the goal that took Les Fennecs through to South Africa, Antar Yahia is one of the pillars at the back for his team, a status he shares with Madjid Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj and goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui, although back-up custodian Fawzi Chaouchi is now making serious claims on the gloves. Midfield is Algeria’s strength, meanwhile, with captain Yazid Mansouri spreading the ball around and forward-thinkers Karim Ziani and Mourad Meghni the most likely players to spark danger. Lastly, striker Karim Matmour has steadily been proving himself more than useful on the right wing.

The coach of Algeria in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Following a modest playing career in his homeland and briefly in France, ‘Cheik’ (the Elder, the Wise or the Master) Rabah Saadane quickly tried his hand at coaching. He soon found employment with the national association, first taking charge of various youth teams. In 1982, he was part of the coaching staff as Algeria disputed the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. Four years later, he took over the reins of the national side but paid the price for poor results at the global showcase. He took up the post again for a short while in 1999, then from 2003 to 2004 and began his current stint in 2007. In the club game, the veteran trainer notably lifted the CAF Champions League with Raja Casablanca in 1989 and the Arab Champions League title with ES Setif in 2007.

Previous FIFA World Cups
South Africa will mark Algeria’s third appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals, and they will be looking to graduate from the group stage for the first time in their history. In 1982, they made history by defeating West Germany 2-1 and Chile 3-2, only to lose 2-0 to Austria. Four years on from their debut, with a certain Saadane in the dugout, they shared a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland before losing 1-0 to Brazil and 3-0 to Spain.

1 CAF African Cup of Nations (1990)


World Cup 2010 Champion ?

Which country should stage the 2018 World Cup?


Copyright © 2009 by World Cup 2010 South Africa