Preparing to reach the mountain top

first_imgWhen I was a boy, one of the things I used to hear but never listened to, was this: “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”In my childhood days, batsmen like Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, and Clyde Walcott were my cricket heroes. To me, they were talented batsmen, pure and simple.Even later on, when my heroes became batsmen like Rohan Kanhai and Garry Sobers, it never dawned on me that they all had to work for hours to hone their skills.It was not until I became a man, when I witnessed the likes not only of Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, and Brian Lara, but also that of Alvin Kallicharran, Larry Gomes, and Augustine Logie, that I understood the importance of hard work, training and practice to the fulfilment of one’s talent and the satisfaction of reaching the top.All those enthralling skills – the flowing runs, the elegant offside and on-side drives, the rapier-like cuts, the savage but thrilling hooks and pulls – that attracted thousands upon thousands of people to cricket grounds around the world, and the stamina to bat as if forever, like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, were the result of plenty sweat and aching, but well-drilled muscles, muscles that in the end reacted instinctively to anything and everything thrown at them on the cricket field.Training and practice, I realised then, make perfect.NOTHING LIKE TRAININGI also realised then, the more I read, the more I travelled, and the more I talked to some of the great players, that there was nothing like practice, and nothing like training.I learnt that in the general scheme of things, talent, what is usually called talent, is of less importance.What you put in is what you get out.Sport, success in sport, is one of the most published things about mankind. One of the least published things, however, is what makes a man a success.Look at any sport, look at the great practitioners, look at champions like Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Usain Bolt, look at their habits, and they all have one thing in common practice and training, every day, and for hours, many hours each day.Sometimes, however, I wonder if this is the same for the present set of West Indies players, and for those from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago and others who aspire to play for the West Indies.In fact, I stopped wondering years ago. I know now, based on what I have seen and based on what I have found out after asking questions, that most of them do not train or practise half as much as they should.The players with the basic ‘talent’ to play for the West Indies do not train and practise as hard and as often as they should, and the reason is either that that they cannot be bothered with the work, or they feel that they are good enough already and do not need to work.To them, training and practice mean going to the nets for a few minutes per day, stroking a few deliveries around, smashing a few deliveries out of the ground, and walking away after a few minutes. And most times, this is done in the presence of the coach, and it is done based on the demands of the team.The bowlers usually jog up to the wicket and wheel their arms over a few times, the fast bowlers included. No one ever trains to really get fit, or to really keep fit, and no one ever practises to improve his attacking play or his defensive play, his accuracy and control, and his fielding and his catching.Most times, even whenever they fail, even whenever the team fails, and whenever they lose in three days, it is the same reaction. Sometimes, most times whenever they lose early, it is no practice or training on the days scheduled as match days, according to some players.The West Indies ‘big guns’ usually do whatever they want to do, and whenever they want do it.A West Indies player lives off one or two or three successes for a long time. He plays as if a little success will last him forever.NO RIGHT TO SUCCEEDA West Indies player, or a territorial player, must know, and must be told, that no one has any God-given right to succeed; that although no one can succeed all the time, he must never succumb to complacency; that like the reporter, he is as good as last copy; and that every time he goes out to bat, or to bowl, or to field, he must challenge himself to be the best.The game, the fans, and his team expect nothing less. That’s his job, and that’s his road to success, to greatness.The West Indies fans must support the players despite the players’ poor performance, and the West Indies Board must do its best to support the players.One of the problems with the development of the players, however, is the coaching, or the lack of proper coaching, available.The West Indies have a lot of ‘coaches’ but most of them are not real coaches. They are, to call a spade a spade, nothing but organisers, admittedly, good organisers.They simply set the time to train and to practise, see that the props are in place, organise who to do what and when, position themselves at the bowler’s end, and direct traffic from there, sometimes telling the bowlers to keep the ball up or the batsmen to play in the ‘V’, and sometimes not to cut against the spin.There is no attempt to do anything else, to talk to the bowlers and to the batsmen, to correct mistakes, their technical mistakes, to show them what they may be doing wrong, and to try and prepare them for the next outing.No wonder West Indian players perform badly, making the same mistakes match after match, year after year.It seems as if the exercise of finding a coach is only to find something for the former players to do, and not to find the former players who are really interested in coaching or who can do a good job as coaches.Practice and training make perfect. Thank God for players like Easton McMorris, Sam Morgan, Desmond Lewis, and James Adams, and for one like Chanderpaul. They used to train and practise day after day, and till the cows come home.Maybe the West Indies and territorial players will change their attitude and their habits now that they are professionals, and now that the young West Indians in Bangladesh showed them how to play the game, how to win, and how, it is said, they should prepare themselves.Hopefully, they will behave like professionals, and that they will now train and practise, train and practise to reach the top.last_img read more

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2010 Fifa World Cup team statistics

first_imgHost South Africa is among the 32 teamscompeting in the first African World Cup.(Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. Formore free photos, visit the image library.)MEDIA CONTACTS • Wolfgang Eichler, Fifa Media Officer+27 11 567 2010 or +27 83 2010 [email protected]• Delia Fischer, Fifa Media Officer+27 11 567 2010 or +27 11 567 2524Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Denmark … Get to know the 32 teams competing in South Africa’s 2010 Fifa World Cup: the matches they’ll be playing, their past performances in the tournament, their countries as footballing nations and much more. Algeria Argentina Australia Brazil Cameroon Chile Côte d’Ivoire Denmark England France Germany Ghana Greece Honduras Italy Japan Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Nigeria North Korea Paraguay Portugal Serbia Slovakia Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Switzerland Uruguay USA  DOWNLOADSRight-click on the link to save the PDF file to your computer.Download 2010 World Cup teams statistics (6 MB)Download 2010 World Cup match schedule (2.3 MB)Download Fifa Team media officers contacts (157 KB)  ALGERIA (ALG)Algeria: Group C matches England vs USA, 12 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgAlgeria vs Slovenia, 13 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSlovenia vs USA, 18 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgEngland vs Algeria, 18 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSlovenia vs England, 23 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethUSA vs Algeria, 23 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaAlgeria: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1982Previous World Cups: 2Best World Cup progress: Groups stages in 1982, 1986Total World Cup matches: 6World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 2 / 1 / 3Percentage of World Cup match wins: 33%Algeria: Footballing nation Association: Fédération Algérienne de Football Year association founded: 1962Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1964Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 34-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 1.8-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 5.2%Professional footballers: 300Algeria: Overview Algeria will end a 24-year absence from football’s top table when they kick their first ball at the 2010 Fifa World Cup. This will mark their third appearance at a World Cup and they are looking to graduate from the group stage for the first time ever.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, they shared a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland before losing 1-0 to Brazil and 3-0 to Spain.They earned a place in this year’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory against African champions Egypt in Khartoum, Sudan. Algeria are in Group C, where they will be up against England, the US and Slovenia.Algeria’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP ARGENTINA (ARG)Argentina: Group B matches Argentina vs Nigeria, 12 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgSouth Korea vs Greece, 12 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethArgentina vs South Korea, 17 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgGreece vs Nigeria, 17 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNigeria vs South Korea, 22 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanGreece vs Algeria, 22 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneArgentina: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 14Best World Cup progress: Winners 1978, 1986Total World Cup matches: 65World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 33 / 13 / 19Percentage of World Cup match wins: 51%Argentina: Footballing nation Association: Asociación del Fútbol Argentino Year association founded: 1893Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1912Confederation: South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)Population: 41-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 2.7-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 6.5%Professional footballers: 3 530Argentina: Overview Argentina had a difficult qualifying campaign. The two-time world champions started the campaign under leadership of coach Alfio Basile, but a defeat to Chile relegated them to third place. Coaching was then taken over by former player Diego Armando Maradona.After going down Chile, Argentina fell to a humiliating 6-1 loss to Brazil, their second-ever home qualifying loss. They tallied up six defeats in their fight to qualify. They recorded eight wins and four draws before scraping into the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Uruguay.Despite a tortuous qualification campaign, Argentina is travelling to South Africa with serious plans to win the title for the first time in 24 years. To achieve that goal, the 1978 and 1986 world champions have pinned their faith in coach Maradona, the country’s most famous footballing son and the guiding hand behind the qualifying triumph.Argentina was drawn in Group B to take on Nigeria, South Korea and Greece.Argentina’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP AUSTRALIA (AUS)Australia: Group D matches Germany vs Australia, 13 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSerbia vs Ghana, 13 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaGermany vs Serbia, 18 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethGhana vs Australia, 19 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgGhana vs Germany, 23 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgAustralia vs Serbia, 23 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitAustralia: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1974Previous World Cups: 2Best World Cup progress: Round of 16 in 2006Total World Cup matches: 7World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 1 / 2 / 4Percentage of World Cup match wins: 14%Australia: Footballing nation Association: Football Federation Australia Year association founded: 1961Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1963Confederation: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)Population: 21-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 971 000Footballers as percentage of population: 4.6%Professional footballers: 200Australia: Overview Australia has appeared on the world stage just twice, but is now making up for lost time by claiming a second consecutive qualification.After a 32-year absence from the tournament, Australia made a strong statement at the 2006 Fifa World Cup, reaching the knockout stage where it took a last-minute goal from eventual champions Italy to eliminate the team. The current squad, led by Pim Verbeek from the Netherlands, is an experienced group featuring many of the Germany 2006 players.The Australians finished top of their group overcoming some of the best Asian teams to be one of the first nations to book their place in South Africa. They will be playing in Group D against Germany, Serbia and Ghana.Australia squad for the 2010 Fifa World Cup BACK TO TOP BRAZIL (BRA)Brazil: Group G matches Brazil vs North Korea, 15 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgCôte d’Ivoire vs Portugal, 15 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethBrazil vs Côte d’Ivoire, 20 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgPortugal vs North Korea, 21 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNorth Korea vs Côte d’Ivoire, 25 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitPortugal vs Brazil, 25 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanBrazil: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 18Best World Cup progress: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002Total World Cup matches: 92World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 14 / 14 / 14Percentage of World Cup match wins: 70%Brazil: Footballing nation Association: Confederaçao Brasileira de FutebolYear association founded: 1914Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1923Confederation: South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)Population: 198-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 13.2-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 6.6%Professional footballers: 16 200Brazil: Overview Brazil, the five-time world champions, go into every Fifa World Cup heavily favoured to add yet another star to the legendary yellow and blue jersey. Coach Carlos Dunga will be fully aware that any outcome other than a sixth world crown will likely be considered a failure.In the qualifiers, the Brazillians clinched a South Africa 2010 berth with three match days to spare. Dunga’s team defeated arch-rivals Argentina 3-1 in Rosario to confirm their passage to South Africa.Despite the Brazilian national team position being his first coaching role, Dunga answered those who doubted his credentials by guiding the team to triumph in the 2007 Copa America, the Fifa Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 and to qualifying for South Africa 2010 with room to spare.The triumphant Confederations Cup 2009 campaign cemented Kaká, aka Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, as the man Brazil look to for inspiration. This fact was reflected in him taking the Adidas Golden ball, awarded to the best player of the tournament. Meanwhile, up front, Luis Fabiano proved himself a truly world-class finisher with five goals including a priceless brace in the 3-2 final win over the USA.Brazil have been drawn into a tricky Group G to face Portugal, Côte d’Ivoire and North Korea. As hosts of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, Brazil are keen to take the trophy home to defend it on home turf.Brazil’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP CAMEROON (CMR)Cameroon: Group E matches Netherlands vs Denmark, 14 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgJapan vs Cameroon, 14 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNetherlands vs Japan, 19 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanCameroon vs Denmark, 19 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaDenmark vs Japan, 24 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgCameroon vs Netherlands, 24 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownCameroon: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1982Previous World Cups: 5Best World Cup progress: Quarter-finalists in 1990Total World Cup matches: 17World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 4 / 7 / 6Percentage of World Cup match wins: 24%Cameroon: Footballing nation Association: Fédération Camerounaise de FootballYear association founded: 1959Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1964Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 19-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 786 000Footballers as percentage of population: 4.2%Professional footballers: 540Cameroon: Overview Having competed in the World Cup five times and ranked by Fifa as the top African country, Cameroon is a side to be watched in 2010. They are considered the continental-best. No other African side has beaten their historic run to the Italy 1990 quarter-finals.Though their qualification-clinching 2-0 victory in Morocco was straightforward enough, Cameroon had a tough campaign. They were in the bottom of their group after two games before Paul Le Guen replaced Otto Pfister as coach.Under the new leader they completed an impressive turnaround campaign with two victories in four days over contenders Gabon. This was followed by a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Togo, and Cameroon’s consecutive wins were more than enough to reach South Africa. The Cameroonians will be playing in Group E, taking on the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan.Cameroon will be playing in the World Cup for the sixth time – a new African record.Cameroon’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP CHILE (CHI)Chile: Group H matches Honduras vs Chile, 16 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSpain vs Switzerland, 16 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSpain vs Honduras, 21 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgChile vs Switzerland, 21 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethSwitzerland vs Honduras, 25 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinChile vs Spain, 25 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaChile: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 7Best World Cup progress: Third-place semi-finalists in 1962Total World Cup matches: 25World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 7 / 6 / 12Percentage of World Cup match wins: 28%Chile: Footballing nation Association: Federación de Fútbol de ChileYear association founded: 1895Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1913Confederation: South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)Population: 17-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 2.6-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 15.7%Professional footballers: 637Chile: OverviewChile last qualified for the Fifa World Cup 12 years ago in France. Coached by the experienced Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa, the Chileans qualified for the finals with some ease, making up for their poor performances in the qualifying competitions for Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006, when they finished ninth and seventh respectively.Bielsa’s side finished second in the continental qualifying group, just one point behind Brazil – their best performance yet. They qualified for the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa with a spectacular 4-2 win in Colombia.Chile will be taking part in the World Cup finals for the eighth time. They will be playing in Group H against Spain, Switzerland and Honduras.Chile’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP CÔTE D’IVOIRE (CIV)Côte d’Ivoire: Group G matches Brazil vs North Korea, 15 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgCôte d’Ivoire vs Portugal, 15 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethBrazil vs Côte d’Ivoire, 20 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgPortugal vs North Korea, 21 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNorth Korea vs Côte d’Ivoire, 25 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitPortugal vs Brazil, 25 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanCôte d’Ivoire: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 2006Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 1962Total World Cup matches: 3World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 1 / 0 / 2Percentage of World Cup match wins: 33%Côte d’Ivoire: Footballing nation Association: Fédération Ivoirienne de FootballYear association founded: 1960Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1964Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 21-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 802 000Footballers as percentage of population: 3.9%Professional footballers: 100Côte d’Ivoire: OverviewIf an African team is to make a major impact on the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire is seen by many as the most likely candidate. Led by coach Vahid Halilhodzic the team cemented their status as one of the continent’s powerhouses when they qualified for 2010 without losing a match.The team feature top-drawer talent such as English Premier League striker Didier Drogba who plays for Chelsea FC and teammate Salomon Kalou – a tough duo up front. Didier Zokora, who plays for Spanish club Sevilla FC , and FC Barcelona’s Yaya Toure are formidable in the midfield. The England-based pair of Arsenal FC player Emmanuel Eboue and Manchester City FC’s Kolo Toure form one of the best defences in Africa.Côte d’Ivoire also have a point to prove after being eliminated in the first round at Germany 2006. With more experience, this team is certain to be a handful in attack. They have been drawn into a tough Group H with Brazil, North Korea and Portugal.Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP DENMARK (DEN)Denmark: Group E matches Netherlands vs Denmark, 14 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgJapan vs Cameroon, 14 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNetherlands vs Japan, 19 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanCameroon vs Denmark, 19 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaDenmark vs Japan, 24 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgCameroon vs Netherlands, 24 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownDenmark: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1986Previous World Cups: 3Best World Cup progress: Quarter-finalists in 1988Total World Cup matches: 13World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 7 / 2 / 4Percentage of World Cup match wins: 54%Denmark: Footballing nation Association: Dansk Boldspil-UnionYear association founded: 1889Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1904Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 5-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 511 000Footballers as percentage of population: 9.3%Professional footballers: 852Denmark: OverviewAfter a six-year absence, Denmark is set to explode on the elite world footballing scene. The Fifa founder members blazed an impressive campaign battling against Portugal and Sweden in the European 2010 World Cup qualifying games. They came to top of their group, beating Sweden 1-0 to qualify.Denmark will be looking to extend their creditable record at three previous World Cup appearances, where they reached the second elimination round twice and the quarter-finals on another occasion. In 1986 in Mexico they progressed to the last 16. The core of that team then went on to register the nation’s greatest footballing triumph with the 1992 Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) European Championship crown in neighbouring Sweden.The Uefa European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men’s national football teams governed by Uefa. It has been held every four years since 1960. After winning the Uefa European Championships, the team went on to win the Fifa Confederations Cup in 1995.South Africa will be Denmark’s fourth appearance at the Fifa World Cup. They will be playing in Group E with the Netherlands, Japan, and Cameroon.Denmark’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP ENGLAND (ENG)England: Group C matches England vs USA, 12 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgAlgeria vs Slovenia, 13 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSlovenia vs USA, 18 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgEngland vs Algeria, 18 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSlovenia vs England, 23 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethUSA vs Algeria, 23 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaEngland: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1950Previous World Cups: 12Best World Cup progress: Winners in 1966Total World Cup matches: 55World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 25 / 17 / 13Percentage of World Cup match wins: 46%England: Footballing nation Association: The Football AssociationYear association founded: 1863Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1905Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 61-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 4.2-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 6.8%Professional footballers: 6 100England: OverviewEngland swept into the finals with a 5-1 defeat of Croatia, making it their eighth victory in eight Group 6 matches. Coach Fabio Capello’s side ensured their progress to the finals with two matches to spare.England captain John Terry said: “When we play like that, pressing and working the ball, we’re a difficult opposition for any side. Don’t forget, it’s taken a year for us to get this good, and we’ve got a way to go to get to where we ultimately want to be. But we’re on track.”Dubbed English football’s golden generation, South Africa 2010 may be the last chance at international silverware for some of the most well-known faces in the game. The team fell short at the Uefa Euro 2004 and the 2006 Fifa World Cup Germany.England has appeared at 11 previous editions of the global showpiece, debuting at Brazil 1950.They were the winners on home soil in 1966, and displayed their best performance outside their own shores in Italy 1990, when they reached the last four. They were defeated in penalties by eventual winners West Germany.The team are in Group C where they where they will play against the US, Algeria and Slovenia.England’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP FRANCE (FRA)France: Group A matches South Africa vs Mexico, 11 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgUruguay vs France, 11 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSouth Africa vs Uruguay, 16 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaFrance vs Mexico, 17 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneMexico vs Uruguay, 22 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgFrance vs South Africa, 22 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinFrance: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 12Best World Cup progress: Winners in 1998Total World Cup matches: 51World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 25 / 10 / 16Percentage of World Cup match wins: 51%France: Footballing nation Association: Fédération Française de FootballYear association founded: 1919Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1904Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 62-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 4.2-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 6.7%Professional footballers: 1 825France: OverviewFrance had one of the most controversial qualification games. They finished a point behind Serbia in group seven and were paired with the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. Led by coach Raymond Domenech they played to a 1-0 win in Ireland.This was followed by a game of huge controversy. In the playoff game Ireland captain Robbie Keane scored a goal that levelled the tie at 1-1 on aggregate, leading to extra-time. William Gallas scored the disputed winning goal for France, which came from a handball pass from captain Thierry Henry.The French are in Group A where they will play against South Africa, Mexico and Uruguay.France won the World Cup as the host nation in 1998, and the European Football Championship in 1984 and in 2000. They also won the Fifa Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003. Despite a drop in standards in 2002 and 2006, France still came agonisingly close to winning the World Cup title again in Germany 2006, losing out on penalties to Italy in the final.France’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP GERMANY (GER)Germany: Group D matches Germany vs Australia, 13 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSerbia vs Ghana, 13 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaGermany vs Serbia, 18 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethGhana vs Australia, 19 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgGhana vs Germany, 23 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgAustralia vs Serbia, 23 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitGermany: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1934Previous World Cups: 16Best World Cup progress: Winners in 1954, 1974, 1990Total World Cup matches: 92World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 55 / 19 / 18Percentage of World Cup match wins: 60%Germany: Footballing nation Association: Deutscher Fussball-BundYear association founded: 1900Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1904Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 82-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 16.3-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 19.8%Professional footballers: 864Germany: OverviewThree-time Fifa World Cup winners Germany have not missed a World Cup since 1950 and that record was extended as they booked their place to South Africa with a 1-0 win over group rivals Russia.“We’ve been very successful in the past, and that’s an inspiration to the next generations,” said German fullback Philip Lahm.“You only have to look at Germany’s record at major tournaments. We won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990, and the European Championship in 1972, 1980 and 1996.“We’re definitely among a group of countries with a chance of taking the trophy. We were third at the World Cup and second at the Euro, so our goal for 2010 is to make the final and win the trophy.”The 2006 Fifa World Cup hosts were drawn into Group D with Ghana, Serbia and Australia.Germany’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP GHANA (GHA)Ghana: Group D matches Germany vs Australia, 13 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSerbia vs Ghana, 13 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaGermany vs Serbia, 18 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethGhana vs Australia, 19 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgGhana vs Germany, 23 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgAustralia vs Serbia, 23 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitGhana: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 2006Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Round of 16 in 2006Total World Cup matches: 4World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 2 / 0 / 2Percentage of World Cup match wins: 50%Ghana: Footballing nation Association: Ghana Football AssociationYear association founded: 1957Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1958Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 24-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 987 000Footballers as percentage of population: 4.1%Professional footballers: 0Ghana: OverviewGhana was the first African team to reach the 2010 World Cup from the qualifiers. The only African side to progress past the group stage at the 2006 Fifa World Cup Germany, Ghana is anxious to prove themselves as the cream of the continent.Speaking to Fifa after the 2-0 qualifying game against Sudan, Ghana’s midfielder Michael Essien said: “The people of Ghana wanted us to win and we did not let them down. What a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the first World Cup to be staged in Africa.”Though this will be only their second appearance at the World Cup, the Ghanaians have enjoyed considerable success at all levels of international football. They have won four Confederation of African Football Africa Cup of Nations titles, as well as two Fifa U-17 World Cups.In October 2009 they became the first African team to lift the Fifa U-20 World Cup when they beat Brazil on penalties. With added experience since their 2006 adventure, Ghana is set to be a major threat at Africa’s first Fifa World Cup. They will be playing in Group D against Germany, Australia and Serbia.Ghana’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP GREECE (GRE)Greece: Group B matches Argentina vs Nigeria, 12 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgSouth Korea vs Greece, 12 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethArgentina vs South Korea, 17 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgGreece vs Nigeria, 17 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNigeria vs South Korea, 22 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanGreece vs Algeria, 22 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneGreece: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1994Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 1994Total World Cup matches: 3World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 0 / 0 / 3Percentage of World Cup match wins: 0%Greece: Footballing nation Association: Hellenic Football FederationYear association founded: 1926Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1927Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 11-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 761 000Footballers as percentage of population: 7%Professional footballers: 1 818Greece: OverviewThe Uefa Euro 2004 champions, Greece continue to defy the odds to have clinched qualification for only their second Fifa World Cup finals.The road to South Africa was tricky as they had to play European Zone play-offs against Ukraine, opponents who had taken four points from the Greeks in Group 2 qualifications for Germany 2006. This time around, after a 0-0 draw in Athens, Greece grabbed a 1-0 second-leg success in Donetsk.There will be no shortage of experience for the Greeks when they come to South Africa. Chief among their veteran performers are defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos, who has played more qualifying minutes than any other squad member, and former Inter Milan and Benfica midfielder Karagounis.They will also have top European Zone qualifying scorer Theofanis Gekas, and Angelos Charisteas, scorer of the winning goal in the final at Euro 2004.Greece will be looking to advance past the group stages for the first time and surprise the world again, as they did at Euro 2004. They will be playing in Group B against Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea.Greece’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP HONDURAS (HON)Honduras: Group H matches Honduras vs Chile, 16 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSpain vs Switzerland, 16 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSpain vs Honduras, 21 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgChile vs Switzerland, 21 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethSwitzerland vs Honduras, 25 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinChile vs Spain, 25 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaHonduras: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1982Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 1982Total World Cup matches: 3World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 0 / 2 / 1Percentage of World Cup match wins: 0%Honduras: Footballing nation Association: Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de HondurasYear association founded: 1951Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1951Confederation: Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)Population: 8-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 421 000Footballers as percentage of population: 5%Professional footballers: 100Honduras: OverviewDespite having just squeezed into qualification, coach Reinaldo Rueda’s team will not be going to South Africa just to make up the numbers. Honduras will be playing in the Fifa World Cup for the second time since 1982.Big-name stars in the the Honduran team include key striker Carlos Pavon, supported by the talented David Suazo, Wilson Palacios, Julio Leon and Amado Guevara. Pavon would love nothing more than to crown his top international career with a goal-laden showing on the biggest stage of all.For Honduras, qualifying for the World Cup had become something of a recurring nightmare. They invariably fell short at key moments, until the arrival of 42-year-old Colombian strategist Rueda. In their road to South Africa, Honduras racked up an eight-game unbeaten home run and bolstered the best defensive record in the section.After their bad luck in Spain in 1982, when they left the competition without a single win, Honduras are determined to put in a better showing in their second World Cup. They will be playing in Group H against Spain, Switzerland and Chile.Honduras’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP ITALY (ITA)Italy: Group F matches Italy vs Paraguay, 14 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNew Zealand vs Slovakia, 15 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgItaly vs New Zealand, 20 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSlovakia vs Paraguay, 20 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinSlovakia vs Italy, 24 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgParaguay vs New Zealand, 24 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneItaly: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1934Previous World Cups: 16Best World Cup progress: Winners in 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006Total World Cup matches: 77World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 44 / 19 / 14Percentage of World Cup match wins: 57%Italy: Footballing nation Association: Federazione Italiana Giuoco CalcioYear association founded: 1898Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1905Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 58-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 5-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 8.6%Professional footballers: 3 541Italy: OverviewThe World Cup defending champions, the Italians will be one of the leading contenders to emerge triumphant at the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Marcello Lippi’s men will be vying to match the performance of their pioneering predecessors in 1934 and 1938 by winning the tournament twice in succession.Italy sealed the chance to defend their world title in South Africa in dramatic fashion, equalising in the last minute in Ireland to snatch a 2-2 draw and top spot in Group 8.After an early exit at the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup, the Italian team will be looking to turn around their misfortune. Under the leadership of 61-year-old coach and master tactician Lippi, the team are working to add a fifth World Cup crown to their rich footballing history.They have been drawn in Group F with Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia.Italy’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP JAPAN (JPN)Japan: Group E matches Netherlands vs Denmark, 14 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgJapan vs Cameroon, 14 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNetherlands vs Japan, 19 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanCameroon vs Denmark, 19 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaDenmark vs Japan, 24 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgCameroon vs Netherlands, 24 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownJapan: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1998Previous World Cups: 3Best World Cup progress: Round of 16 in 2002Total World Cup matches: 10World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 2 / 2 / 6Percentage of World Cup match wins: 20%Japan: Footballing nation Association: Japan Football AssociationYear association founded: 1921Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1929Confederation: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)Population: 127-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 4.8-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 3.8%Professional footballers: 976Japan: OverviewThe co-hosts of the 2002 Fifa World Cup, Japan boast one of the strongest squads in Asian football. Winners of three of the last five editions of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup, Japan have high hopes for the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa.They were the first team to book their place after earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Uzbekistan in Tashkent. This will be their fourth appearance at the Fifa World Cup, where they will be playing in Group E against Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon.The Japanese will 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.The Japanese hopes rest on players such as 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 qualifying round was comfortable for the Japanese. They reached the fourth and final stage of Asian Zone having won four, drawn three and lost just one of their eight matches in Group 1.Japan’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP MEXICO (MEX)Mexico: Group A matches South Africa vs Mexico, 11 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgUruguay vs France, 11 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSouth Africa vs Uruguay, 16 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaFrance vs Mexico, 17 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneMexico vs Uruguay, 22 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgFrance vs South Africa, 22 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinMexico: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 13Best World Cup progress: Quarter-finalists in 1970, 1986Total World Cup matches: 45World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 11 / 12 / 22Percentage of World Cup match wins: 24%Mexico: Footballing nation Association: Federación Mexicana de Fútbol AsociaciónYear association founded: 1927Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1929Confederation: Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)Population: 111-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 8.5-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 7.6%Professional footballers: 4 593Mexico: OverviewAfter a turbulent couple of years that has seen three coaches come and go and more than 60 players pull on the famous green jersey, Mexico has returned to calmer waters under the steadying influence of Javier Aguirre. The former Atletico Madrid coach has put together a team comprising of bright young talents and established stars, restoring their wavering confidence in the process.After being appointed as coach in the qualifying matches, Aguirre worked a miracle, transforming Mexican fortunes despite kicking off with a 2-1 reverse in El Salvador. Victories over each of their five group rivals then followed, giving them a ticket to the finals with one game to spare. After a draw against Trinidad and Tobago in their final outing, the Mexicans ended the group in second place behind eternal rivals US.Veteran playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco is perhaps the player Mexico fans should thank for their side’s turnaround. Lured out of retirement by Aguirre, the talented 36-year-old became the symbol of a revitalised team, helping younger teammates to find their best form.Mexico have been drawn into Group A to face South Africa, Uruguay and 1998 World Cup winners France.Mexico’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP NETHERLANDS (NED)Netherlands: Group E matches Netherlands vs Denmark, 14 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgJapan vs Cameroon, 14 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNetherlands vs Japan, 19 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanCameroon vs Denmark, 19 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaDenmark vs Japan, 24 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgCameroon vs Netherlands, 24 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNetherlands: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1934Previous World Cups: 8Best World Cup progress: Runners-up in 1974, 1978Total World Cup matches: 36World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 16 / 10 / 10Percentage of World Cup match wins: 44%Netherlands: Footballing nation Association: Koninklijke Nederlandse VoetbalbondYear association founded: 1889Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1904Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 17-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 1.7-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 10.4%Professional footballers: 1 000Netherlands: OverviewNetherlands have set a high target for their campaign in South Africa, 32 years after their 3-1 extra-time defeat by Argentina in the showpiece game, four years after their 2-1 final loss to West Germany.The Dutch won 2-1 away to Iceland to become the first European side to qualify, having picked up eight wins from eight games.The team has proved to be faultless so far, with the former Feyenoord coach Bert van Marwijk leading his troops to the top of Group 9, where Norway and Scotland were their major rivals.With a rich history in football as well as an outstanding calibre of players, Netherlands want to go all the way to the top. The Oranje have been drawn into Group E with Japan, Denmark and Cameroon.Netherlands’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP NEW ZEALAND (NZL)New Zealand: Group F matches Italy vs Paraguay, 14 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNew Zealand vs Slovakia, 15 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgItaly vs New Zealand, 20 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSlovakia vs Paraguay, 20 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinSlovakia vs Italy, 24 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgParaguay vs New Zealand, 24 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneNew Zealand: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1982Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 1982Total World Cup matches: 3World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 0 / 0 / 3Percentage of World Cup match wins: 0%New Zealand: Footballing nation Association: New Zealand FootballYear association founded: 1891Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1948Confederation: Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)Population: 5-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 199 000Footballers as percentage of population: 4.3%Professional footballers: 25New Zealand: OverviewThe All Whites, New Zealand make a successive return to the Fifa World Cup after qualifying for Germany in 2006. The team 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 180-minute 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 of 35 100 in the capital Wellington for the decisive qualifier.Captain and centre-back Ryan Nelsen is undoubtedly the player with the highest profile and best credantials in the team. The defender has been a regular at Blackburn Rovers for a number of years, the only New Zealander to have played for so long 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.New Zealand have been drawn into Group F to face Slovenia, Paraguay and defending champions Italy.New Zealand’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP NIGERIA (NGA)Nigeria: Group B matches: Argentina vs Nigeria, 12 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgSouth Korea vs Greece, 12 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethArgentina vs South Korea, 17 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgGreece vs Nigeria, 17 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNigeria vs South Korea, 22 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanGreece vs Algeria, 22 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneNigeria: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1994Previous World Cups: 3Best World Cup progress: Round of 16 in 1994, 1998Total World Cup matches: 11World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 4 / 1 / 6Percentage of World Cup match wins: 36%Nigeria: Footballing nation Association: Nigeria Football FederationYear association founded: 1945Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1960Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 149-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 6.7-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 4.5%Professional footballers: 2 440Nigeria: OverviewThe 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa sees the return of the Super Eagles Nigeria, after failing to qualify for Germany 2006. Expectations are high for the team, after the dramatic qualifying match that saw Nigeria beating Kenya 3-2.The Nigerians are expected to outshine their debut performance at USA 1994, where they dismantled eventual semi-finalists Bulgaria 3-0 in their first match before going on to fall 2-1 against Italy in the second round.The Eagles will play Argentina, Korea and Greece in Group B.Nigeria’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP NORTH KOREA (PRK)North Korea: Group G matches Brazil vs North Korea, 15 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgCôte d’Ivoire vs Portugal, 15 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethBrazil vs Côte d’Ivoire, 20 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgPortugal vs North Korea, 21 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNorth Korea vs Côte d’Ivoire, 25 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitPortugal vs Brazil, 25 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanNorth Korea: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1966Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Quarter-finalists in 1966Total World Cup matches: 4World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 1 / 1 / 2Percentage of World Cup match wins: 25%North Korea: Footballing nation Association: DPR Korea Football AssociationYear association founded: 1945Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1958Confederation: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)Population: 23-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 503 000Footballers as percentage of population: 2.2%Professional footballers: 0North Korea: OverviewNorth Korea seemingly came from nowhere to storm into the Asian Zone’s final qualification round, where they defied sizeable odds to take one of the continent’s four automatic spots in the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Nonetheless, North Korea’s qualification campaign took a gruelling 20 months and 16 games.South Africa 2010 will mark North Korea’s second appearance in the Fifa World Cup; their first was in England in 1966.They have been drawn into Group G to face strong opponents Brazil, Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire. This will make it difficult for them to emulate the success of the 1966 North Korea team, which beat Italy 1-0 to reach the quarter-finals.North Korea’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP PARAGUAY (PAR)Paraguay: Group F matches Italy vs Paraguay, 14 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNew Zealand vs Slovakia, 15 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgItaly vs New Zealand, 20 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSlovakia vs Paraguay, 20 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinSlovakia vs Italy, 24 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgParaguay vs New Zealand, 24 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneParaguay: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 7Best World Cup progress: Round of 16 in 1986, 1998, 2002Total World Cup matches: 22World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 6 / 7 / 9Percentage of World Cup match wins: 27%Paraguay: Footballing nation Association: Asociación Paraguaya de FútbolYear association founded: 1906Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1925Confederation: South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)Population: 7-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 1-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 14.8%Professional footballers: 590Paraguay: OverviewParaguay will be making their eighth Fifa World Cup appearance in 2010, their fourth in a row. In the qualifying matches they recorded the most wins in the group with 10 wins, three draws and five defeats. They collected 33 points in all to finish third behind the Chileans and Brazil. They confirmed their ticket to the finals in style, with Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo declaring a national holiday for the nation to celebrate.The team’s success at the Fifa World Cup in South Africa rests on the services of several internationally renowned players, most of whom play club football in Mexico and Europe. While the side is sprinkled with proven performers in every area, the Paraguayans’ biggest name can be found up front: Roque Santa Cruz has had several successful seasons in England and is currently playing for Manchester City.Paraguay have been drawn into Group F to face New Zealand, Slovakia and defending champions Italy.Paraguay’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP PORTUGAL (POR)Portugal: Group G matches Brazil vs North Korea, 15 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgCôte d’Ivoire vs Portugal, 15 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethBrazil vs Côte d’Ivoire, 20 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgPortugal vs North Korea, 21 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNorth Korea vs Côte d’Ivoire, 25 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitPortugal vs Brazil, 25 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanPortugal: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1966Previous World Cups: 4Best World Cup progress: Third-place semi-finalists in 1966, fourth-place semi-finalists in 2006Total World Cup matches: 19World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 11 / 1 / 7Percentage of World Cup match wins: 58%Portugal: Footballing nation Association: Federaçao Portuguesa de FutebolYear association founded: 1914Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1923Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 10-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 548 000Footballers as percentage of population: 5.1%Professional footballers: 1 663Portugal: OverviewIn the qualifying games, Portugal quickly went from being group favourites to standing on the threshold of elimination. With the management of Mozambican-born coach Carlos Queiroz, a former coach for South Africa, and talented players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Deco, expectations of the team are high.Portugal were finalists at Uefa Euro 2004 and semi-finalists at Germany 2006, but have never progressed beyond a World Cup semi-final. They have displayed some dazzling football in recent years – without winning a major prize.Portugal reached the finals courtesy of a play-off win over Bosnia-Herzegovina. For 2010 thay have been drawn against Brazil, North Korea and Côte d’Ivoire in Group G. Competition will be tough: five-time winners Brazil are the favourites for the tournament while Côte d’Ivoire boast players of the calibre of Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and Salomon Kalou.It is Portugal’s clash with the Ivorians that Ronaldo believes could be crucial, with the two nations’ opening bout in Port Elizabeth.Portugal’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP SERBIA (SRB)Serbia: Group D matches: Germany vs Australia, 13 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSerbia vs Ghana, 13 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaGermany vs Serbia, 18 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethGhana vs Australia, 19 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgGhana vs Germany, 23 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgAustralia vs Serbia, 23 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSerbia: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930 (as Yugoslavia)Previous World Cups: 10Best World Cup progress: Fourth-place semi-finalists in 1930, 1962 as YugoslaviaTotal World Cup matches: 40World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 16 / 8 / 16Percentage of World Cup match wins: 40%Serbia: Footballing nation Association: Football Association of SerbiaYear association founded: 1919Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1923Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 7-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 442 000Footballers as percentage of population: 6%Professional footballers: 1 500Serbia: OverviewSerbia will appear as an independent state for the first time in the 2010 Fifa World Cup. As part of the Yugoslavian side they appeared at nine editions of the competition, and competed as Serbia and Montenegro at Germany 2006.The Serbian national team was previously known as the Yugoslavia national football team from 15 January 1992 until 4 February 2003, and then as the Serbia and Montenegro national football team until 3 June 2006. This was when Serbia declared independence as the successor state to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.It was officially renamed the Serbia national football team on 28 June 2006, while the Montenegro national football team was created to represent the new state of Montenegro.Serbia beat Romania 5-0 to earn automatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup as the leaders of European qualifying Group 7. They have been drawn in Group D with Germany, Australia and Ghana.Serbia’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP SLOVAKIA (SVK)Slovakia: Group F matches Italy vs Paraguay, 14 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownNew Zealand vs Slovakia, 15 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgItaly vs New Zealand, 20 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSlovakia vs Paraguay, 20 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinSlovakia vs Italy, 24 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgParaguay vs New Zealand, 24 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSlovakia: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 2010Previous World Cups: 0Best World Cup progress: The former Czechoslovakia played in eight Fifa World Cups and were runners-up in 1934 and 1962Total World Cup matches: –World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: –Percentage of World Cup match wins: –Slovakia: Footballing nation Association: Slovak Football AssociationYear association founded: 1993Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1994Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 5-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 622 000Footballers as percentage of population: 11.4%Professional footballers: 489Slovakia: OverviewLike Serbia, Slovakia will appear in a Fifa World Cup as an independent state for the first time in 2010. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Slovak Football Association was founded in 1993.While this may be Slovakia’s first appearance on the global stage, the country’s footballing past is tied up with that of the former Czechoslovakia, who participated in eight finals overall. Czechoslovakia 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.Slovakia clinched qualification with a 1-0 away win against Poland. Currently ranked 34th in the world, they finished as surprise winners at the top of a tricky European qualifying group containing Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland and Northern Ireland. The Slovakians are in Group F with Italy Paraguay and New Zealand.Slovakia’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP SLOVENIA (SVN)Slovenia: Group C matches England vs USA, 12 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgAlgeria vs Slovenia, 13 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSlovenia vs USA, 18 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgEngland vs Algeria, 18 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSlovenia vs England, 23 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethUSA vs Algeria, 23 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaSlovenia: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 2002Previous World Cups: 1Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 2002Total World Cup matches: 3World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 0 / 0 / 3Percentage of World Cup match wins: 0%Slovenia: Footballing nation Association: Football Association of SloveniaYear association founded: 1991Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1992Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 2-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 117 000Footballers as percentage of population: 5.8%Professional footballers: 284Slovenia: OverviewGiven that they only gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia’s football history is shorter than the majority of their South Africa 2010 rivals. They can, however, reflect with pride on having qualified for the Fifa World Cup at just the second time of trying. Slovenia played their first match in 1992 after the split of Yugoslavia in 1991.A nation of just 2-million people, Slovenia has done better than expected to secure a place at next year’s World Cup. They knocked out experienced teams such as Poland, Czech Republic and, finally, Russia to take their place in South Africa. Slovenia have been drawn in Group C with England US and Algeria.Slovenia’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP SOUTH AFRICA (RSA)South Africa: Group A matches South Africa vs Mexico, 11 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgUruguay vs France, 11 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSouth Africa vs Uruguay, 16 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaFrance vs Mexico, 17 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneMexico vs Uruguay, 22 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgFrance vs South Africa, 22 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinSouth Africa: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1998Previous World Cups: 2Best World Cup progress: Group stage in 1998, 2002Total World Cup matches: 6World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 1 / 3 / 2Percentage of World Cup match wins: 17%South Africa: Footballing nation Association: South African Football AssociationYear association founded: 1991Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1992Confederation: Confederation of African Football (CAF)Population: 49-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 4.5-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 9.3%Professional footballers: 1 000South Africa: OverviewThere is cautious optimism in South Africa as the Rainbow Nation prepares to write what is undoubtedly the most significant chapter of its short football history. A mammoth task lies ahead.In 1996, four years after their readmission to international football, South Africa shot to fame and stunned the African continent by claiming their maiden CAF Africa Cup of Nations trophy against Tunisia at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Now, 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.Recent years have brought many disappointments, but Bafana Bafana have also shown that, given motivation and purpose, they can be a potent threat. And there can be no greater motivation than representing their country in a Fifa World Cup on home soil.Their brave performance at the Fifa Confederations Cup last June, when they lost narrowly to Brazil in the semi-finals and to Spain in the third place play-off, should certainly serve as a reminder to their detractors that the team should not be underestimated.Bafana Bafana boasts the talents of midfield maestro Steven Pienaar who, since his arrival at English Premier League team Everton, has reinvented himself and matured as an all-round player. His performance during the 2009 Confederations Cup were another reminder that he will be key to any South African success in 2010.Now in his second stint as a South Africa coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira has a pedigree for success, having led his native Brazil to win the 1994 Fifa World Cup USA. He brings a wealth of experience, which should be vital in revitalising a South African side struggling with some significant pre-tournament problems.The South Africans have been drawn into Group A to face France, Mexico and Uruguay.South Africa’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOP SOUTH KOREA (KOR)South Korea: Group B matches Argentina vs Nigeria, 12 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgSouth Korea vs Greece, 12 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethArgentina vs South Korea, 17 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgGreece vs Nigeria, 17 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinNigeria vs South Korea, 22 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanGreece vs Algeria, 22 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSouth Korea: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1954Previous World Cups: 7Best World Cup progress: Fourth-place semi-finalists in 2002Total World Cup matches: 24World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 4 / 7 / 13Percentage of World Cup match wins: 17%South Korea: Footballing nation Association: Korea Football AssociationYear association founded: 1933Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1948Confederation: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)Population: 48-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 1.1-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 2.3%Professional footballers: 550South Korea: OverviewAsia’s most frequent visitors to the Fifa World Cup, South Korea are also the continent’s most successful team at the tournament. They may have qualified for their seventh consecutive world finals, but it was a bumpy ride this time. Despite a series of lacklustre performances in the third round, the South Koreans managed to top their group after two goalless draws with neighbours North Korea.The North Koreans proved to be their nemesis again in the final round, holding the Taeguk Warriors to a 1-1 stalemate in Shanghai. But they bounced back in style with back-to-back wins over United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, before a crucial 1-1 draw with Iran in Tehran. A 1-0 home victory in the Korean derby followed, and the mission was accomplished with a 2-0 win against UAE.Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung has played a key role in South Korea’s two previous Fifa World Cup campaigns. The multifunctional winger is now an indispensible member of the team, with his ability to create space and chances for his fellow players.The 2002 Fifa World Cup co-hosts are striving to do better than Germany 2006 where they made an early exit in the group stages. The team has been drawn into Group B against Argentina, Nigeria and Greece.South Korea’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP SPAIN (ESP)Spain: Group H matches Honduras vs Chile, 16 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSpain vs Switzerland, 16 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSpain vs Honduras, 21 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgChile vs Switzerland, 21 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethSwitzerland vs Honduras, 25 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinChile vs Spain, 25 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaSpain: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1934Previous World Cups: 12Best World Cup progress: Fourth-place semi-finalists in 1950Total World Cup matches: 49World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 22 / 12 / 15Percentage of World Cup match wins: 45%Spain: Footballing nation Association: Real Federacion Española de FutbolYear association founded: 1909Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1913Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 40-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 2.8-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 7%Professional footballers: 1 331Spain: OverviewSpain, the Uefa Euro 2008 champions, won each of their 10 qualifying games. The team have not rested on the success of their 2008 victory, consistently bringing in new faces without compromising their attractive short-passing football.Maturity, resilience and the ability to overcome adversity were all in evidence during their qualifying campaign. The team boasts the goalkeeping qualities of captain Iker Casillas, who plays in the Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid. The midfield combination of La Liga club Barcelona player Xavi Hernandez and Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas is vital to Spain’s fluid style, while at the sharp end of the attack there can be few if any better finishers than David Villa and Licverpool player Fernando Torres.Spain have never won the Fifa World Cup and hope to take the crown in South Africa 2010. The team have been drawn into Group H to face Honduras, Chile and Switzerland.Spain’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP SWITZERLAND (SUI)Switzerland: Group H matches Honduras vs Chile, 16 June, Mbombela Stadium, NelspruitSpain vs Switzerland, 16 June, Durban Stadium, DurbanSpain vs Honduras, 21 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgChile vs Switzerland, 21 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethSwitzerland vs Honduras, 25 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinChile vs Spain, 25 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaSwitzerland: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1934Previous World Cups: 8Best World Cup progress: Quarter-finalists in 1954Total World Cup matches: 26World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 8 / 5 / 13Percentage of World Cup match wins: 31%Switzerland: Footballing nation Association: Schweizerischer FussballverbandYear association founded: 1895Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1904Confederation: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)Population: 8-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 571 000Footballers as percentage of population: 7.5%Professional footballers: 550Switzerland: OverviewSwitzerland will be appearing in their ninth Fifa World Cup in 2010. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his men are aiming for more than just a supporting role. Eliminated in the last 16 at Germany 2006, the Swiss worked hard on their way to South Africa. They finished at the top of their group on 21 points, beating Greece by one point in a taxing group.The Swiss reached the quarter-finals in their first two World Cup appearances in 1934 and 1938. The highlight of the 1938 campaign was a 4-2 victory over a Nazi-controlled German team featuring Austrian players after the annexation of the country. When World Cup football resumed in 1950 after a 12-year World War II-enforced hiatus, the Swiss were knocked out at the group stage.The Swiss hosted the tournament in 1954 and again made the quarters with two victories over Italy. The quarter-final match against Austria was the highest-scoring match in World Cup history as Switzerland remarkably threw away a three-goal lead, conceding five in seven first-half minutes to lose 7-5. In the 1962 and 1966 campaigns, the Swiss lost all their games.Switzerland have been drawn into Group H to face Spain, Honduras and Chile.Switzerland’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squadBACK TO TOP URUGUAY (URU)Uruguay: Group A matches South Africa vs Mexico, 11 June, Soccer City, JohannesburgUruguay vs France, 11 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSouth Africa vs Uruguay, 16 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaFrance vs Mexico, 17 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneMexico vs Uruguay, 22 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgFrance vs South Africa, 22 June, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinUruguay: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 10Best World Cup progress: Winners in 1930Total World Cup matches: 40World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 15 / 10 / 15Percentage of World Cup match wins: 38%Uruguay: Footballing nation Association: Asociación Uruguaya de FútbolYear association founded: 1900Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1923Confederation: South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)Population: 3-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 241 000Footballers as percentage of population: 6.9%Professional footballers: 1 100Uruguay: OverviewTwo-time world champions Uruguay clinched the 32nd and final place in South Africa with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Costa Rica. Few nations have the footballing history of Uruguay. The country has a population of a little over 3-million yet boasts an impressive collection of world, Olympic and continental titles.Football is the most important sport in Uruguay. They won an Olympic gold medal in 1924 and another one in 1928, which were considered the most important tournaments in football before the World Cup began in 1930. The first World Cup, which Uruguay won, was held in 1930 in Montevideo. Uruguay also won the World Cup in 1950, beating Brazil.Uruguay has made two appearances at the last five Fifa World Cup finals. The man charged with the task of improving that record and raising their profile once more is Oscar Tabarez, who is now in his second stint as national coach, having taken the Uruguayans through to the last 16 at Italy in 1990.Uruguay have been drawn into Group A to face South Africa, Mexico and France.Uruguay’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad USA (USA)BACK TO TOPUSA: Group C matches England vs USA, 12 June, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, RustenburgAlgeria vs Slovenia, 13 June, Peter Mokaba Stadium, PolokwaneSlovenia vs USA, 18 June, Ellis Park Stadium, JohannesburgEngland vs Algeria, 18 June, Cape Town Stadium, Cape TownSlovenia vs England, 23 June, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port ElizabethUSA vs Algeria, 23 June, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, PretoriaUSA: Fifa World Cup history First World Cup: 1930Previous World Cups: 8Best World Cup progress: Third-place semi-finalists in 1930Total World Cup matches: 25World Cup matches: won/drawn/lost: 6 / 3 / 16Percentage of World Cup match wins: 24%USA: Footballing nation Association: US Soccer FederationYear association founded: 1913Year association affiliated to Fifa: 1914Confederation: Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)Population: 307-millionTotal footballers (male and female): 24.5-millionFootballers as percentage of population: 8%Professional footballers: 1 513USA: OverviewThough football has not traditionally had a high profile in US sporting life, the sport has steadily grown in popularity since the 1970s. Ranked 14th in the world by Fifa, the American team have appeared in the last five World Cups.The US reached the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa by qualifying in first place in the final six-team hexagonal phase of North, Central America and Caribbean Zone qualifying. Under the careful guidance of coach Bob Bradley, a well-drilled blend of proven internationals and up-and-coming stars will be keen to build on their second-place finish at the Fifa Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.The US has taken part in nine Fifa World Cups, with Mexico the only Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football team involved in more editions of the tournament.The Americans’ best World Cup performance came at Uruguay 1930, when they exited at the semi-final stage. At Germany 2006 they bid farewell to the tournament at the first hurdle. South Africa 2010 will be the Americans’ sixth consecutive appearance. They are in Group C where they will be playing England, Algeria and Slovenia.USA’s 2010 Fifa World Cup squad BACK TO TOPlast_img read more

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9 months agoChelsea boss Maurizio Sarri: VAR killing match atmos

first_imgChelsea boss Maurizio Sarri: VAR killing match atmosby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admits he’s no fan of VAR.The Blues lost the first-leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal at Tottenham due to the intervention of technology.Sarri said: “The problem is not the referee or one or the other. The problem is they are not ready to use VAR.”They use the system for the first time in the League Cup so they need only to get used to using the system. I don’t like the VAR but it is only my opinion.”We risk changing the atmosphere in the stadium. You score but have to wait for 30 seconds to celebrate. It is negative for the atmosphere in the stadium.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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Mayor tribal council call for calm as jury deliberates

first_imgThe Canadian PressBATTLEFORD, Sask. – There are calls for calm as a Saskatchewan jury continues deliberating the fate of a farmer charged in the fatal shooting of a young Indigenous man.Gerald Stanley, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie from the Red Pheasant First Nation in August 2016.Court has heard that Boushie was shot in the head with a handgun while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that had been driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.“This case has cracked open the racial undercurrent in Saskatchewan with the potential to further drive a wedge of mistrust between communities,” Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said in a joint statement.“We cannot build our future with hateful dialogue and divisiveness. As we await the verdict and wonder what impact this could have on our province, and more importantly, our relations with each other, we must continue to work with each other in a good way, in a respectful way.”The jury spent Friday morning listening to testimony from Stanley and his son.Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said now it’s just a waiting game.“I’m hoping the jury will do the right thing,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty hard to predict where it’s going to go. They might decide second (degree murder), manslaughter, acquittal, a hung jury – so that’s where I’m at.”The family is anxious for the case to wrap up, he added.“It’s been hanging over my family’s head for quite a while. You know it’s time that my family starts to heal and move on.”The trial has heard that the SUV that Boushie and four others were in that day had a flat tire. The driver testified the group had been drinking and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm, but went to the Stanley property in search of help with the tire.Defence lawyer Scott Spencer has argued Boushie died as a result of a freak accident when the gun misfired and Stanley never intended to hurt anyone. Crown prosecutor Bill Burge disputed that Stanley believed the firearm was empty and that the gun could have had a misfire, or hang fire.The case has exposed an ugly side in rural Saskatchewan – landowners who blame Indigenous people for high rates of property crime and First Nations who bear the brunt of that racism and hate.With the trial coming to an end the RCMP issued a statement reminding all people and parties to “conduct themselves in a peaceful and civil manner regardless of the outcome.”RCMP also warned people will be held responsible for what they say or post online and police will investigate any complaints of suspected criminal behaviour.last_img read more

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The week in college football

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs for a fourth-quarter touchdown against Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Florida State won, 27-2. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)#3 Oklahoma Sooners vs #15 Houston Cougars (Noon) NRG Stadium, Houston, TXThe college football season gets off to a fast start Saturday with the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners taking on the No. 15 Houston Cougars. Many expect Oklahoma to contend for a national title this year with Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield once again at quarterback and Samaje Perine running beside him. Houston isn’t going to go down easy though. Greg Ward Jr. is one of if not the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation, and Tom Herman is looking to show the big schools once again that his teams can compete with anyone. Expect a shootout with plenty of fireworks, as this one already has playoff implications.#5 LSU Tigers vs Wisconsin Badgers (3:30 p.m.) Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WIWill this be Les Miles’ last year? That is the question on the minds of many as LSU heads up to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. With 19 returning starters, including superstar Leonard Fournette, this could be Miles’ most talented team. If Brandon Harris can step up his game, LSU could find themselves in the playoffs. Many expect Wisconsin to take a few steps back this year, but Paul Chryst believes the Badgers could shock some people. If Corey Clement can come back from his sports hernia injury that kept him out for the season last year, Wisconsin has a shot to stay with anyone. This game is going to be a slow grind and likely very low scoring.#18 Georgia Bulldogs vs #22 North Carolina Tar Heels (5:30 p.m.) Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GABecause of the loaded week one slate, No.18 Georgia vs No.22 North Carolina is not getting a lot of love. This game is HUGE though as the losing team can pretty much already kiss their playoff chances goodbye. Georgia decided to go with senior Greyson Lambert at quarterback, and the return of running back Nick Chubb has Bulldog fans very excited. With a brand new starting front seven on defense, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle Elijah Hood. Hood, UNC’s running back, ran for 1,463 yards last year and 17 touchdowns, astounding numbers. North Carolina is breaking in a new quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, but he has 8 returning starters around him on the offensive side. This one is going to come down to defense. Whichever team shows up defensively and shuts down the run will win this game.#20 USC Trojans vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8 p.m.) AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TXThe defending national champions are back and just as good as ever. The Crimson Tide are once again the favorites to win the national title. For Alabama, it’ll be interesting to see how Cooper Bateman replaces Jake Coker and if Bo Scarbrough is as good as advertised. The defense is expected to be just as dominant even though Kirby Smart left for Georgia. If Cody Kessler had one more year of eligibility, USC would be the favorites to win the Pac-12. They return 16 starters from last year, 10 on the offensive side, and Adoree Jackson is a name that everyone will know by the end of the year. There is a good chance this game turns ugly as Alabama is going to look to assert its dominance early.#10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Texas Longhorns (7:30 p.m.) Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TXHow about some Sunday night college football. No.10 Notre Dame and Texas get to start their years off in primetime in Austin, Texas. For Notre Dame, many are wondering if this will finally be the year they get over the hump. They only return 9 starters from last year, but Brian Kelly feels that this could be his best team. Week one could also ultimately decide who will be Notre Dame’s QB, DeShone Kizer or last year’s original starter Malik Zaire. On the other side, Charlie Strong could be coaching for his job this year. He returns 15 starters from last year, so there are some expectations for Texas this year. Jerrod Heard is going to have to take a big step forward though at quarterback if Texas wants to win this game and eventually play in a bowl game.#11 Ole Miss Rebels vs #4 Florida State Seminoles (8 p.m.) Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FLIn a loaded first week of college football, the best game could be saved for last when No.11 Ole Miss travels to Orlando to take on No.4 Florida State on Monday night. The Rebels lost three of their top players to the NFL in Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, and Robert Nkemdiche. This just means that Chad Kelly is going to have to step up, and he seems very equipped to dominate in the SEC. As for Florida State, the expectations for this year are huge. They return 18 starters from last year, including all 11 starters on offense. Sean Maguire is currently nursing a broken foot, but with Dalvin Cook at running back, Florida State should only face a minor hiccup. This game is going to come down to the wire as both teams have two solid offenses, good defenses, and great coaching. read more

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Ohio State mens soccer upsets Michigan State at home

“Matt (Lampson) just sent a great ball in. It was kind of slippery and it slipped through. I was hoping it would come through and it did, so I just put my left foot on it,” McAnena said. Scales scored the team’s first goal with header after Chris Hegngi lofted a cross across the box, allowing Scales to put some force behind the finish to tie the game at one with 25 minutes to play in the first half. The win pushes OSU’s record to 6-2-2 while Michigan State falls to 7-2-0. Despite being ranked No. 19, a win over the No. 11 team in the country did not feel like an upset for the Buckeyes. “We’re both top teams in the Big Ten and we both play really well,” McAnena said. “Every game in the Big Ten every team is pretty evenly matched.” “I’m not about rankings, to be honest,” Scales said. “If we come out everyday and compete, do the things we need to do, listen to our coaches, then we’re going to be a good team.” The Buckeyes will have to find a way to maintain the momentum, without playing a game for another week. OSU plays Northwestern at 1 p.m. Sunday in Evanston, Ill. Austin McAnena scored for the second-straight game as the No. 19 Ohio State men’s soccer team beat the No. 11 Spartans of Michigan State 2-1 on a blustery afternoon Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. “Coming off a good result against Akron, to get a result like this is even better,” mid-fielder Sam Scales said. “To go 2-0 in the Big Ten, we just got to keep going off this momentum and hopefully we can go 3-0 and get that Big Ten title in our hands.” OSU coach John Bluem said it is critical for the team to keep compiling wins at home going forward. “I think that Michigan State is a good team. They had some problems today but they’re going to figure in the conference race I think,” Bluem said. “You have to win your home games.” With the Big Ten schedule including only three home games for the Buckeyes, each win against conference opponents is critical. “I’m just glad that we got through it, and I think the guys gutted it out and it was a good performance, and a super goal by Austin (McAnena),” Bluem said. McAnena’s second goal in as many games came off a set piece from goalkeeper Matt Lampson, which was misjudged by the Spartans’ defense. From the left side of the box, McAnena was able to track the ball behind the defenders and finish with his left foot into the far side of the net for the game’s deciding goal in the 64th minute. read more

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Ohio State womens hoops seeks top spot in Big Ten

After a decisive win against the Indiana Hoosiers, the No. 9 Ohio State women’s basketball team has crept within a half game of the conference lead. Now, OSU will look to grab first place in the Big Ten when they travel to Penn State to face the No. 12 Nittany Lions (21-5, 11-3 Big Ten) Monday. The Lady Lions hold the top spot in the Big Ten, as well as a five-game winning streak after defeating No. 17 Purdue, 74-63, Thursday. “You can never gauge your stuff on what other people are doing, whether they are coming in on a winning streak or a losing streak,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “You got to stay focused on the topic at hand and that’s the next game.” That task will include stopping sophomore guard Maggie Lucas, who had 28 points in the victory against the Boilermakers. Lucas scored 20 of those points in the second half, and five 3-pointers throughout the game. “She’s able to get those three’s off and we just got to watch for her,” said redshirt junior guard Amber Stokes. “We know it’s going to be a competitive game.” Lucas is averaging more than 19 points a game, while her teammates junior guard Alex Bentley and senior guard Zhaque Gray are averaging 14 and 10 points respectively. With its guards contributing a majority of its points, OSU is preparing to see a team that mirrors it’s own offensive attack. “They’re good in transition, they like to push it, we like to push it,” Foster said. “There’s not a whole lot of teams in the league that like to go up and down … it’s going to be a fun game.” Senior guard Samantha Prahalis and junior guard Tayler Hill combined, are averaging 41.1 points per game. While Prahalis sat out against Indiana due to an illness, she’s still averaging more than 25 points a game and needs 19 more assists to become the all-time Big Ten assist leader. She has 874 and is chasing Northwestern’s Nancy Kennelly, who set the record 892 career assists from 1989-93. Monday’s game will be the first time OSU and Penn State have met since the Buckeyes defeated the Lady Lions, 84-70, in the 2011 Big Ten championship game. After Monday’s game, OSU has two more games remaining, including a trip to No. 21 Nebraska (20-6, 9-5 Big Ten), before heading into tournament play. The Buckeyes will look to defend their 2011 title beginning March 1 in Indianapolis. Monday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with tipoff set for 7 p.m. read more

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Mens soccer prepares to take on No 7 Notre Dame

Shelby Lum / Photo editorFreshman Craig Zahour plays the ball up the field during a match against IPFW on Aug. 20, at Jesse Owen’s Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-0.The Ohio State men’s soccer team will finish exhibition matches when it travels to South Bend, Ind., to play No. 7 Notre Dame. Unranked OSU is currently 1-1 in exhibition this year after falling to West Virginia 1-0 and defeating Indiana University — Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) 2-0 at home.Like the Buckeyes, the Fighting Irish enter this game with an exhibition record of 1-1, after splitting back-to-back road games, losing to Creighton 1-0 and beating Drake 2-0.Notre Dame is coming off a season in which, at one point, it was the top-ranked team in the country, going 17-4-1 and finishing with the program’s best record since 1987. The team is hoping to continue that success despite the loss of two first-team All-Americans, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year forward Ryan Finley, who scored 21 of the Irish’s 52 goals.OSU will treat this game like a regular season one, but coach John Bluem will still be using the exhibition contest as a learning experience for his team.“They (Notre Dame) were the No. 1 team in the country for a while last year,” said Bluem, who is entering his 17thseason at the helm. “It’ll be a really good test to go on the road and play a team of that quality and again, it will expose some of the weaknesses of our team and the strengths of our team as well.”OSU junior midfielder Yianni Sarris, who assisted on both Buckeye goals against IPFW, said that the team will prepare for Notre Dame like it would for a regular season game, even though it knows it is still preseason.“You got to be ready for the season,” Sarris said. “The regular season is just around the corner and we’re going at it 100 percent.”Sarris will look to become a leader of this team after transferring from Florida Gulf Coast University before the 2012 season.The Buckeyes will begin regular season play when they face off against UNC-Wilmington and Northern Illinois in theWolstein Classic Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

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