Slovakia Team Profile World Cup 2010

Appearing for the first time in a major international competition, Slovakia have been striving to relive the glory years enjoyed by the former Czechoslovakia since going it alone in 1993.

While their team is hardly filled with household names, Slovakia can nonetheless rely on a well-organised collective with plenty of admirable qualities. Likewise, their continuing progress gives them good reason to be optimistic about their voyage to South Africa.

Slovakia team road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Fourth in their section in qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, third on the road to Korea/Japan 2002 and runners-up ahead of Germany 2006, Slovakia continued their rise by sealing top spot in Group 3. Vladimir Weiss's side booked their historic place on 14 October 2009, upsetting a number of predictions that they would struggle to cope with a difficult pool.

Their passage was far from smooth, but slowly and surely Slovakia mounted their bid, losing only to closest challengers Slovenia. Their nearest rivals proved a real thorn in their side, downing them 2-1 in their second outing and, above all, prevailing 2-0 in Bratislva in the penultimate round of matches, yet Slovakia's desire to experience a FIFA World Cup finals shone through in the end. Needing to prevail in Poland in their final outing, they duly triumphed 1-0.

The star players of Slovakia team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Solid at the back for Premier League heavyweights Liverpool, Martin Skrtel is a central figure for his country, while midfielder Marek Hamsik has both a knack of scoring goals for Napoli and the welcome habit of shining for the national side. The latter is unlikely to go unnoticed in South Africa and the same applies to Stanislav Sestak, who finished top scorer for Slovakia with six strikes in qualifying and is eager to continue in similar fashion.

The coach of Slovakia team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

Born in 1964, former Slovakian international Vladimir Weiss was appointed in June 2008, taking over from Jan Kocian after his predecessor failed to take the side through to UEFA EURO 2008.

Blessed with a strong personality, Weiss learnt the coaching ropes at Artmedia Bratislava, leading the unfancied Slovakian outfit into the UEFA Champions League group phase in 2005/06. The following season, he opted to boost his credentials with Saturn Moscow Oblast in Russia, before celebrating a triumphant return to Artmedia with the Slovakian league title a year after. All that remained was a tilt at leading the national team and, given his previous successes, who knows how far they can progress together?

Vladimir Weiss is also the son of... Vladimir Weiss, a former Czechoslovakian international. In fact, he is the father of Vladimir Weiss too, with his son plying his trade at Manchester City and often called up to demonstrate his worth in a national team shirt.

Previous FIFA World Cups

While this may be Slovakia's first appearance on the global stage, the country's footballing past is naturally tied up with that of the former Czechoslovakia, who participated in eight finals overall. Czechoslovakia even reached the final in 1934, losing 2-1 after extra time to Italy, and 1962, when they succumbed 3-1 to Brazil. They also advanced as far as the last eight in 1990.

Honours (as Czechoslovakia)
  • 1 UEFA European Championship (1976)
  • 1 Olympic Football Tournament (1980)

New Zealand Team Profile World Cup 2010

After a disastrous campaign four years ago, New Zealand bounced back in emphatic fashion under coach Ricki Herbert to qualify for their first appearance on the world stage in 28 years following a debut showing at Spain 1982. Herbert, and assistant Brian Turner, were both key figures in the campaign nearly three decades ago.  The duo have turned the All Whites into a solid unit whose rearguard, the fifth-placed Asian nation Bahrain was unable to breach over 180 minutes of the intercontinental play-off.

Four years after elimination by the Solomon Islands, the Kiwis claimed the Oceania crown to earn a trip to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they showed solid form after a poor opening against European champions Spain. The dramatic South Africa 2010 play-off victory against Bahrain united the Rugby-mad nation behind the All Whites like never before, resulting in a national record crowd in the capital Wellington for the decisive qualifier.

New Zealand team road to 2010 World Cup South Africa
New Zealand topped their Oceania qualification group comfortably winning their first five games before an inconsequential defeat in Fiji with many of the first-team regulars were unavailable. The Kiwis then had an 11-month wait before a two-legged meeting with the fifth-placed Asian nation. Bahrain saw off regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia to earn the right to play New Zealand, having also reached the same stage four years ago, only to fail against Trinidad and Tobago. In exhausting heat, New Zealand battled gamely in the first leg to earn a scoreless draw in Manama. The second leg was poised on a knife-edge throughout, with New Zealand triumphing courtesy of a thumping header from Rory Fallon in the final minute of the first half, though goalkeeper Mark Paston will equally be remembered in the years to come for his penalty save five minutes into the second half.

The star players of New Zealand team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Captain and centre-back Ryan Nelsen is undoubtedly the highest profile and best credentialed member of the squad. The resolute defender has been a regular at Blackburn Rovers for a number of years, and is the only New Zealander to achieve such longevity in the English Premier League. At the other end of the pitch, the All Whites have a number of key attacking options led by the prolific Shane Smeltz. Oceania Player of the Year and Australian A-League top-scorer Smeltz has an all-round finishing ability, and is deadly in the air or with his feet. Celtic target-man Chris Killen is a perfect foil for Smeltz, while Fallon and teenage giant Chris Wood both possess quality aerial ability.

The coach of New Zealand team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Ricki Herbert is one of New Zealand football’s most-famous figures, having been a regular member of the Spain ’82 squad and then becoming one of the first Kiwis to play in England which he did with Wolverhampton Wanderers. After assuming the reins of the national team in 2005, Herbert has for several seasons also been the coach of New Zealand’s only professional club, Wellington Phoenix who compete in the A-League. Well regarded across both New Zealand and Australia, Herbert has formed the All Whites into a solid working unit who produce consistent performances.

Previous FIFA World Cups

New Zealand have appeared on the world stage just once, with the qualification for the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ considered one of the country’s most famous sporting achievements. The squad attained stunning results including away wins in Australia, Saudi Arabia and China over a then-record 15-match qualification campaign. Featuring a teenage Wynton Rufer, who went on to become New Zealand’s most well-known export, the All Whites lost all three matches at Spain ’82, but were not disgraced in a high-quality group featuring Brazil, Soviet Union and Scotland.

  • Coach Ricki Herbert is set to claim the rare honour of featuring at the FIFA World Cup as a player and as a coach in the nation’s only two FIFA World Cup appearances.
  • New Zealand are the second consecutive Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) member to qualify for the FIFA World Cup after Australia achieved the same feat in 2006.

Cameroon Team Profile World Cup 2010

Though their light may have faded somewhat since they brightened up the world stage at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Cameroon are not a side to underestimate at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The top African nation in FIFA’s rankings, they also bring Africa’s richest pedigree to the finals. They have appeared a continental-best five times in the World Cup, and no other African side has yet eclipsed their historic run to the Italy 1990 quarter-finals – though Senegal equalled the achievement in 2002.

However, the team have not managed to advance past the group stage in three finals appearances since then, winning just once in their nine matches. They lost out on Germany 2006 entirely after missing a penalty kick in the final moments of their last qualifier against Egypt. But the long road to the 2010  FIFA World Cup has forged considerable momentum behind what many Cameroonians are hoping is the right mix of players, and a new generation of Roger Millas and Francois Omam-Biyiks.

Cameroon team road to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Though the 2-0 victory in Morocco that clinched their qualification was straightforward enough, Cameroon had in fact completed an impressive turnaround in a campaign that started with just a draw from their first two matches. Two victories in four days over contenders Gabon were followed by a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Togo, and Cameroon’s four consecutive wins were more than enough to reach South Africa. In the end, the team, led from the back by the likes of veterans Geremi Njitap, Rigobert Song and goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni, gave up just two goals in six final round contests.

The star players of Cameroon team in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Eto'o scored a total of nine goals in 11 qualifiers, and the world class striker will be the first player opposing coaches try to stop. The promising Pierre Webó is the other main threat up front, while Jean Makoun, Stephane Mbia and Alexandre Song give the midfield a classy but rugged edge in front of mainstays Song, Geremi and Kameni.

The coach of Cameroon team in 200 FIFA World Cup South Africa
The reversal of fortune for Cameroon coincided with the arrival of no-nonsense 45-year-old coach, Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who took over from German veteran Otto Pfister after the slow start. Le Guen had previously taken charge of big clubs Lyon, Rangers and Paris St. Germain, and he brought a sea change in attitude and professionalism to the side. His controversial decision to hand the captaincy to three-time African player of the year Samuel Eto'o in place of long-time captain Rigobert Song turned out to be just what the two players and the team needed.

  • Cameroon were eliminated at the group stage of Spain 1982 despite not suffering a defeat. They lost out to Italy for second in the table on the goals scored ti-ebreaker after three draws.
  • Cameroon have played in 17 FIFA World Cup matches, the most of any national team from Africa. Their 1-0 defeat of holders Argentina to kick off the 1990 FIFA World Cup is one of the great upsets in the history of the event.
  • Roger Milla was a record 42 years and 39 days old when he scored for the Lions against Russia in the 1994 World Cup. He was also the first African to play in three World Cup finals.

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