South Africa earned the honor of becoming the first African nation to host a World Cup and now the pressure is on for the Bafana Bafana to put in a good showing and advance from group play in front of their home fans.
The host nation has advanced from group play in every previous World Cup and South Africa will be cautiously optimistic they will continue the trend.
"We are all aware that it is a huge honour to play in a World Cup on home soil; not many players have had such a privilege,” Aaron Mokoena, South Africa captain said on FIFA.com. “We are also aware of the task that lies ahead. For us, the World Cup is our priority, it's our biggest goal. We need to represent our country with pride."
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South Africa has qualified for two previous World Cups, in 1998 in France and South Korea/Japan in 2002. They failed to advance past the group stage at either of these World Cups.
The optimism heading into this year’s World Cup is largely pinned on the good showing at the FIFA Confederations Cup, the World Cup tune-up, in 2009 in South Africa. After advancing from group play, South Africa only narrowly lost to Brazil in the semifinal and took Spain to extra time before losing by a one goal margin.
Steven Pienaar is the heart and soul of the South Africa side. The Everton midfielder must play with confidence if they are to avoid being dropped after the group play.
Bernard Parker does not get as much attention as Pienaar but brings a complete game to the team. The midfielder/striker plays in the Netherlands for FC Twente and consistently sets is the final piece in the puzzle on attack.
It will be interesting to see if out of favor Benni McCarthy can earn a place on the final roster. The forward scored the first goal for South Africa at a World Cup finals when he scored in a 1-1 draw against Denmark in 1998 and still has a lethal touch if given the chance.
South Africa will be anchored by one of the up-and-coming goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who impressed many at the 2009 Confederations Cup, along with fan favorite Matthew Booth in central defense.
South Africa will no doubt hope they picked up some magic from the water during a recent national team training camp held in Brazil but regardless thought the camp was a huge success.
“The team’s preparations are well on course, the Brazil camp was a success, we are going to step up the preparations with another April camp in Germany and the final one in our country in May,” South African Football Association (SAFA) President, Kirsten Nematandani said on the team’s return to South Africa.
Head Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
Nicknames: Bafana Bafana (The Boys)
Qualified: Host Nation
World Cup Appearances: 1998 and 2002
Best Finish: Eliminated after group play
Mexico is historically the most dominant team from the CONCACAF region but got off to a poor start in the final CONCACAF hexagonal before Javier Aguirre replaced Sven Goran Eriksson at the helm three games into the process. The former manager restored order and helped El Tri Colores to a 2nd place finish and a place in South Africa.
El Vasco (the Basque), as Aguirre is known, reversed the team fortunes with a combination of veterans and youth. Cuauhtemoc Blanco was called out of retirement and skipper Rafeal Marquez instilled in younger players the honor of pulling on the green jersey of the Mexican national soccer team as the team started their qualifying turnaround.
"I feel relaxed,” Aguirre said after securing qualification for South Africa. “Whenever you reach an objective you've been brought in to achieve you have the satisfaction of knowing that you haven't let down the people who put their faith in you. I am happy and proud. When I came into the job we were fifth and nine points away from first place, and now we're in the World Cup."
The task at hand for this talented side will be to improve on their Round of 16 finish in the last 4 World Cups.
The inspiration of the veterans have helped the youngsters shine for Mexico starting at the back with goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, in midfield Giovani dos Santos leaving his mark on games, and with a ready calling of youthful players in attack including Chivas Guadalajara’s Javier Hernandez, Arsenal’s Carlos Vela, and UNAM Pumas Pablo Barrera.
Head Coach: Javier Aguirre
Nicknames: Al Tri Colores
Qualified: 2nd CONCACAF Region
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006.
Best Finish: Reached the quarterfinals as hosts in 1970 and 1986
France booked their ticket to South Africa be way of a controversial no call on a Thierry Henry handball that resulted in a William Gallas goal but all that will be in the past when Les Bleus begin their push for another World Cup title.
Regardless of how they advanced, France has the talent to make any team fearful and if they are playing well to win the title.
"The objective was to qualify,” Domenech said after securing a spot in South Africa. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never had any doubts. We’ve had difficulties for two years now, but everyone kept believing and they were justified in doing so. We grabbed hold of the right to take part in something exceptional – a World Cup in South Africa.”
The criticism on the French football team is that they have not lived up to expectations with so much talent under Domenech. The struggles in qualifying should not have been apparent leaving fans to wonder what team will show up on the big stage this summer.
Head Coach: Raymond Domenech
Nicknames: Les Bleus
Qualified: Euro Playoff
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Winner 1998
Uruguay will look to re-discover their World Cup past when they take the field in South Africa this summer. La Celeste won the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and added a second title in 1950 but have struggled over the last 20 years.
Head coach Oscar Tabarez, known affectionately as El Maestro, has the pedigree and talent to take the team far. Tabarez was the head coach of Uruguay when they made it to the Round of 16 at Italia 1990 and with fearsome strike force that includes Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez will be a team looking to advance.
“We had to work hard to qualify, especially in the games in Montevideo,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “Luckily for us, though, the World Cup’s taking place far away from home! I know we have to improve a lot if we are to perform well in South Africa but we do have a lot of strong points and we hope to be able to show them.”
Head Coach: Oscar Tabarez
Nicknames: La Celeste, Los Charrúas
Qualified: 5th in CONMEBOL and qualified through playoff with 4th place CONCACAF finisher
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990, 2002
Best Finish: Winner 1930 and 1950
Diego Maradona has the circus packed up and ready to take South Africa this summer and with the talent at his disposal Argentina is surely one of the favorites to win the World Cup despite an adventuresome qualifying campaign.
Just as the coach did in 1986, Lionel Messi will be the key ingredient to helping the South American side to a third World Cup. The Barcelona player has been likened to the coach since he was young but the only way to get near his greatness is with a world title.
"I tell my players that 30 days of sacrifice for the chance to kiss the World Cup is nothing in the life of a man,” Maradona said. “An achievement like that is like touching the sky. I played in World Cups and I reached two Finals. I know what it takes. I know how to lead the group and how to coach the players. I've earned the right to talk about the subject. I didn't come eighth, ninth or get knocked out in the first round. I know something about this."
Head Coach: Diego Armando Maradona
Nicknames: La Albiceleste
Qualified: 4th place in CONMEBOL
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Winners 1978 and 1986
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (AZ), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Diego Pozo (Colon)
Defenders: Nicolas Burdisso (Roma), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Walter Samuel (Inter Milan), Gabriel Heinze (Marseille), Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Juan Manuel Insaurralde (Newell's Old Boys), Clemente Rodriguez (Estudiantes), Ariel Garce (Colon)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Sebastian Blanco (Lanus), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes), Jesus Datolo (Olympiakos), Jose Sosa (Estudiantes), Maxi Rodriguez (Liverpool), Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina), Juan Mercier (Argentinos Juniors), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle United), Javier Pastore (Palermo)
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Diego Milito (Inter Milan), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Carlos Tevez (Man. City), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli).
Nigeria is traditionally one of the toughest African sides since they jumped onto the world stage at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. The Super Eagles had to wait to the final day of group play to qualify and are looking to put some poor performances behind them and shine on their home continent.
The challenge for Nigeria will be to focus on playing their entertaining style of play which leads to results.
"We know that we will have a tough job at the World Cup,” Nigeria forward Chinedu Obasi said. “We are up against some tough teams like Argentina, with top players like [Lionel] Messi. It's important for us to prove that we can play our own game against the best."
Head Coach: Lars Lagerback
Nicknames: Super Eagles
Qualified: 1st African Group B
World Cup Appearances: 1994, 1998, 2002
Best Finish: Round of 16 in 1994 and 1998
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Dele Ayenugba (Beni Yehuda FC), Bassey Akpan (Bayelsa United), Austine Ejide (Hapoel Petah Tikva)
Defenders: Taye Taiwo (Marseille), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow) Onyekachi Apam (Nice), Joseph Yobo (Everton), Daniel Shittu (Bolton), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam), Rabiu Afolabi (Salzburg), Peter Suswan (Lobi Stars)
Midfielders: Kalu Uche (Almeria), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Sani Kaita (Alaniya), Lukman Haruna (Monaco), Ayila Yussuf (Dynamo Kiev), Peter Osaze (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Forwards: Yakubu Ayegbeni (Everton), Victor Anichebe (Everton), Chinedu Obasi (Hoffenheim), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg), Ideye Brown (Sochaux), Ikechukwu Uche (Zaragoza), John Utaka (Portsmouth), Peter Utaka (Odense), Victor Obinna (Malaga).
Head Coach: Huh Jung-Moo
Nicknames: Taegeuk Warriors, Tigers of Asia, Red Devils
Qualified: 1st Asia Group 2
World Cup Appearances: 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: 2002 - Fourth place
South Korea Squad:
Goalkeepers: Lee Woon-Jae (Suwon Samsung), Jung Sung-Ryong (Seongnam Ilhwa), Kim Young-Kwang (Ulsan Hyundai).
Defenders: Lee Young-Pyo (Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Lee Jung-Soo (Kashima Antlers, Japan), Kim Hyung-Il, (Pohang Steelers), Oh Beom-Seok (Ulsan Hyundai), Kim Dong-Jin (Ulsan Hyundai), Cho Yong-Hyung (Jeju United), Kwak Tae-Hwi (Kyoto Sanga FC, Japan), Cha Du-Ri (Freiburg, German), Kang Min-Soo (Suwon Samsung), Cho Won-Hee (Suwon Samsung), Hwang Jae-Won (Pohang Steelers)
Midfielders: Park Ji-Sung (Man. United, England), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton Wanderers, England), Ki Sung-Yueng (Celtic, Scotland), Kim Jung-Woo (Gwangju), Kim Nam-Il (Tom Tomsk, Russia), Kim Bo-Kyung (Oita Trinita, Japan), Kim Jea-Sung (Pohang Steelers), Shin Hyung-Min (Pohang Steelers), Kim Chi-Woo (FC Seoul), Koo Ja-Cheol (Jeju United).
Forwards: Lee Keun-Ho (Jubilo Iwata, Japan), Ahn Jung-Hwan (Dalian Shide, China), Lee Dong-Gook (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Park Chu-Young (Monaco, France), Yeom Ki-Hun (Suwon Samsung), Lee Seung-Yeoul (FC Seoul).
Head Coach: Otto Rehhagel
Qualified: Euro Playoff winner
World Cup Appearances: 1994
Best Finish: Eliminated after group stage
Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris), Alexandros Tzorvas (Panathinaikos), Costas Chalkias (PAOK).
Defenders: Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Liverpool), Vangelis Moras (Bologna), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Giourkas Seitaridis (Panathinaikos), Loukas Vintra (Panathinaikos), Nikos Spiropoulos (Panathinaikos), Stergos Marinos (Panathinaikos), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos), Giorgos Galitsios (Olympiakos), Vassilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Costas Manolas (AEK Athens), Stelios Malezas (PAOK), Giorgos Tzavelas (Panionios).
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Siena), Christos Patsatzoglou (Omonia), Costas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Panathinaikos), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens), Thanassis Prittas (Aris).
Strikers: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Angelos Charisteas (Nuremberg), Pantelis Kapetanos (Steaua Bucharest), Fanis Gekas (Hertha Berlin), Dimitris Salpingidis (Panathinaikos), Costas Mitroglou (Olympiakos).
The United States men’s national soccer team will be making their 9th appearance at the FIFA World Cup, including their sixth consecutive showing. They are in Group C along with England, Algeria and Slovenia.
After a run to the FIFA Confederations Cup final in South Africa last summer, the Red, White and Blue will be looking to improve on their 2006 World Cup showing. The U.S. failed to advance from group play despite high expectations.
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
Nicknames: Red, White and Blue, Stars and Stripes
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
England will be making their 13th appearance at the FIFA World Cup. The Three Lions are one of only seven teams to win the World Cup when they raised the trophy on home soil at Wembley Stadium in 1966.
The pressure is always on England to turn in a good performance and this year they are considered one of the teams with a chance to win another title.
Head Coach: Fabio Capello
Nicknames: Three Lions
World Cup Appearances: 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
Best Finish: Winner 1966
Slovenia World Cup Team Profile
Slovenia is making their second World Cup appearance. The European side first qualified in 2002 only ten years after playing their first match.
The nation of 2 million surprised many by advancing to the 2010 World Cup finals. They bettered Poland, Czech Republic in group play and Russia in the UEFA playoff to make it to South Africa.
After qualifying head coach Kek said; “Slovenia has realised a dream.”
Head Coach: Matjaz Kek
Qualified: UEFA Playoff Winner
World Cup Appearances: 2002, 2010
Best Finish: Eliminated in group stage in first appearance
Algeria is making their third appearance at the FIFA World Cup. The Desert Foxes appeared in back-to-back events in 1982 and 1986 but have not been back.
Algeria finished on top of CAF Group C but advanced after playoff against Egypt after the two teams finished the group stage with identical overall and head-to-head records
Head Coach: Rabah Saadane
Nicknames: The Desert Foxes (Les Fennecs)
Qualified: 1st CAF Group C
World Cup Appearances: 1982, 1986, 2010
Best Finish: Eliminated in group stage
Head Coach: Joachim Low
Nicknames: Die Mannschaft
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 4
World Cup Appearances: 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: World Cup champions in 1954, 1974, and 1990
Goalkeepers: Joerg Butt (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen)
Defenders: Dennis Aogo (Hamburg), Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Andreas Beck (Hoffenheim), Jerome Boateng (Hamburg), Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Serdar Tasci (Stuttgart), Heiko Westermann (Schalke)
Midfielders: Michael Ballack (Chelsea, England), Sami Khedira (Stuttgart), Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen), Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Christian Traesch (Stuttgart), Piotr Trochowski (Hamburg)
Forwards: Cacau (Stuttgart), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Stefan Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Cologne)
Head Coach: Pim Verbeek
Qualified: 1st AFC Group A
World Cup Appearances: 1974, 2006
Best Finish: Round of 16 in 2006
Goalkeepers: Adam Federici (Reading, England), Brad Jones (Middlesbrough, England), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, England).
Defenders: Michael Beauchamp (Al-Jazira, UAE), David Carney (FC Twente, Netherlands), Scott Chipperfield (Basel, Switzerland), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa, England), Mark Milligan (JEF United, Japan), Craig Moore (no club), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray, Turkey), Jade North (Tromso, Norway), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow, Russia), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough, England).
Midfielders: Mark Bresciano (Palermo, Italy), Tim Cahill (Everton, England), Nicky Carle (Crystal Palace, England), Jason Culina (Gold Coast), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers, England), Richard Garcia (Hull, England), Vince Grella (Blackburn Rovers, England), James Holland (AZ, Netherlands), Brett Holman (AZ, Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor Kulubu, Turkey), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht, Netherlands), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo, Italy).
Forwards: Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray, Turkey), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough, England), Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente, Netherlands), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg, Germany).
Head Coach: Radomir Antic
Nicknames: Beli Orlovi - White Eagles
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group7
World Cup Appearances (as Yugoslavia 1930-2002, Serbia and Montenegro 2006 and Serbia 2010- present): 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1990, 1998, 2006
Best Finish: Fourth place finish in 1930 and 1962
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan), Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Bojan Isailovic (Zagleb Lubin), Andjelko Djuricic (Uniao Leiria).
Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Antonio Rukavina (Munich 1860), Nemanja Vidic (Man. United), Neven Subotic (Bor. Dortmund), Aleksandar Lukovic (Udinese), Ivan Obradovic (Real Zaragoza), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio).
Midfielders: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Nenad Milijas (Wolves), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege), Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kiev), Zdravko Kuzmanovic (VfB Stuttgart), Zoran Tosic (FC Cologne), Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin), Nemanja Matic (Chelsea), Radosav Petrovic (Partizan).
Forwards: Nikola Zigic (Valencia), Marko Pantelic (Ajax), Danko Lazovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Dejan Lekic (Red Star).
Head Coach: Milovan Rajevac
Nicknames: The Black Stars
Qualified: 1st African Group 1
World Cup Appearances: 2006
Best Finish: Round of 16 in 2006
Goalkeepers: Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars), Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Stephen Ahorlu (Hearts of Lions), Richard Kingston (Wigan)
Defenders: Eric Addo (Roda JC), Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek), Samuel Inkoom (Basle), John Mensah (Sunderland), Jonathan Mensah (Granada), John Pantsil (Fulham), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders: Anthony Annan (Rosenborg), Stephen Appiah (Bologna), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese), Dede Ayew (Arles-Avignon), Agyemang Badu (Udinese), Derek Boateng (Getafe), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth), Haminu Dramani (Lok. Moscow), Michael Essien (Chelsea), Laryea Kingston (Hearts), Bernard Kumordzi (Panionios), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan), Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (Al Sadd)
Forwards: Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan), Matthew Amoah (NAC), Asamoah Gyan (Rennes), Prince Tagoe (Hoffenheim)
Head Coach: Bert van Marwijk
Nicknames: Oranje, Clockwork Orange
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 9
World Cup Appearances: 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006
Best Finish: Runners Up 1974 and 1978
Goalkeepers: Sander Boschker (FC Twente), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Piet Velthuizen (Vitesse), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht).
Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg), Andre Ooijer (PSV), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord).
Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV), Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Otman Bakkal (PSV), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Wout Brama (FC Twente), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Orlando Engelaar (PSV), John Heitinga (Everton), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), David Mendes da Silva (AZ).
Forwards: Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Eljero Elia (Hamburg), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Jeremain Lens (AZ).
Head Coach: Morten Olsen
Nicknames: Danish Dynamite
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 1
World Cup Appearances: 1986, 1998, 2002
Best Finish: Quarterfinals 1998
Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (Brondby), Kim Christensen (IFK Gothenburg), Jesper Christiansen (FC Copenhagen), Thomas Sorensen, (Stoke City)
Defenders: Daniel Agger (Liverpool),Lars Jacobsen (Blackburn),Simon Kjaer (Palermo),Per Kroldrup (Fiorentina),William Kvist (FC Copenhagen),Patrick Mtiliga (Malaga),Simon Busk Poulsen (AZ)
Midfielders: Mikkel Beckmann (Randers FC),Thomas Enevoldsen (Groningen),Christian D. Eriksen (Ajax),Jesper Gronkjaer (FC Copenhagen),Daniel Jensen (Werder Bremen),Martin Jorgensen (Aarhus),Thomas Kahlenberg (Wolfsburg),Michael Krohn-Dehli (Brondby),Christian Poulsen (Juventus),Jakob Poulsen (Aarhus),Dennis Rommedahl (Ajax),Michael Silberbauer (Utrecht),
Forwards:Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal),Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord),Soren Larsen (Duisburg)
Head Coach: Takeshi Okada
Nicknames: Samurai Blue
Qualified: 2nd Asia Group 1
World Cup Appearances: 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Round of 16 in 2002
Goalkeepers: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus)
Defenders: Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (Tokyo), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers).
Midfielders: Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg, Germany), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Junichi Inamoto (Kawasaki Frontale), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble, France), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F Marinos),
Forwards: Takayuki Morimoto (Catania, Italy), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Yoshito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Kishi Yano (Albirex Niigata)
Head Coach: Paul Le Guen
Nicknames: The Indomitable Lions
Qualified: 1st African Group A
World Cup Appearances: 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Best Finish: Quarterfinals in 1990
Goalkeepers: Hamidou Souleymanou (Kayserispor), Idriss Carlos Kameni (Espanyol), Guy Ndy Assembe (Valenciennes), Amour Patrick Tignyemb (Bloemfontein Celtic).
Defenders: Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana (Astres de Douala), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham), Sebastien Bassong (Tottenham), Gaetan Bong (Valenciennes), Aurelien Chedjou (Lille), Geremi Njitap (Ankaragucu), Stephane Mbia (Marseille), Makadji Boukar (Al Nahdha), Nicolas Nkoulou (Monaco), Rigobert Song (Trabzonspor).
Midfielders: Marcel Ndjeng (Augsburg), Enoh Eyong Tarkang (Ajax), Jean II Makoun (Lyon), Georges Mandjeck (Kaiserslautern), Joel Matip (Schalke 04), Patrick Mevoungou (Canon Yaounde), Landry Nguemo (Celtic), Alexandre Song (Arsenal).
Forwards: Vincent Aboubakar (Coton Sport), Eric Choupo-Moting (Nuremberg), Achille Emana (Betis), Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan), Mohamadou Idrissou (Freiburg), Rostand Dorge Kouemaha (Brugges), Achille Webo (Mallorca), Jacques Zoua (FC Basel).
Head Coach: Marcello Lippi
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 8
World Cup Appearances: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: World Cup winners in 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan de Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari), Salvatore Sirigu (Palermo)
Defenders: Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Leonardi Bonucci (Bari), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (Palermo), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Fabio Grosso (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan)
Midfielders: Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Juventus), Andrea Cossu (Cagliari), Daniele De Rossi ( Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan)
Forwards: Marco Borriello (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria), Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal)
Head Coach: Gerardo Martino
Nicknames: Guaraníes or La Albirroja (White and red)
Qualified: 3rd CONMEBOL
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Round of 16 in 1986, 1998, and 2002
Goalkeepers: Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteno), Aldo Bobadilla (Independiente Medellin, Colombia), Justo Villar (Valladolid, Spain)
Defenders: Antolin Alcaraz (Brugge, Belgium), Carlos Bonet (Olimpia), Julio Cesar Caceres (Atletico Mineiro, Brazil), Denis Caniza (Leon, Mexico), Paulo Da Silva (Sunderland, England), Julio Manzur (Olimpia, Paraguay), Claudio Morel (Boca Juniors, Argentina), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Dario Veron (UNAM, Mexico)
Midfielders: Sergio Aquino (Libertad), Edgar Barreto (Atalanta, Italy), Marcos Caceres (Racing Club, Argentina), Victor Caceres (Libertad), Marcelo Estigarribia (Newell’s Old Boys, Argentina), Eduardo Ledesma (Lanus, Argentina), Nestor Ortigoza (Argentinos Juniors, Argentina), Cristian Riveros (Cruz Azul, Mexico), Jonathan Santana (Wolfsburg, Germany) Enrique Vera (Liga de Quito, Ecuador)
Forwards: Jorge Achucarro (Newell’s Old Boys, Argentina), Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Edgar Benitez (Pachuca, Mexico), Oscar Cardozo (Benfica, Portugal), Rodolfo Gamarra (Libertad), Osvaldo Martinez (Monterrey, Mexico), Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City, England), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmund, Germany).
Head Coach: Ricki Herbert
Nicknames: All Whites
World Cup Appearances: 1982
Best Finish: Group Stage
New Zealand Roster:
Goalkeepers: James Bannatyne (Team Wellington), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix).
Defenders: Andy Boyens (New York Red Bulls), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), Winston Reid (FC Midtjylland), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City).
Midfielders: Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Christie (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury United), Simon Elliott (no club), Michael McGlinchey (Motherwell), David Mulligan (no club),
Forwards: Rory Fallon (Plymouth), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United), Chris Wood (West Bromwich).
Head Coach: Vladimír Weiss
Nicknames: The Fighting Jondas
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 3
World Cup Appearances: First appearance
Goalkeepers: Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw), Dusan Kuciak (Vaslui), Lubos Kamenar (Nantes), Dusan Pernis (Dundee United).
Defenders: Peter Pekarik (Wolfsburg), Martin Petras (Cesena), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Lubomir Michalik (Leeds), Jan Durica (Hannover 96), Radoslav Zabavnik (Mainz), Marek Cech (West Bromwich), Tomas Lubocan (Zenit St. Petersburg), Kornel Salate (Slovan Bratislava).
Midfielders: Kamil Kopunek (Spartak Trnava), Jan Kozak (Timisoara), Juraj Kucka (Sparta Prague), Miroslav Karhan (Mainz), Marek Sapara (Ankaragucu), Mario Pecalka (Zilina), Stanislav Sestak (Bochum), Marek Hamsik (Napoli), Vladimir Weiss (Man. City), Miroslav Stoch (Chelsea), Dusan Svento (Red Bull Salzburg), Zdeno Strba (Xanthi).
Forwards: Erik Jendrisek (Schalke 04), Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu), Martin Jakubko (Saturn Moscow), Filip Holosko (Besiktas).
Head Coach: Dunga
Nicknames: A Selecao, Samba Kings
Qualified: 1st CONMEBOL
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: World Cup winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan, Italy), Gomes (Tottenham, England) and Doni (Roma, Italy)
Defenders: Juan (Roma, Italy), Lucio (Inter Milan, Italy), Luisao (Benfica, Portugal), Thiago Silva (Milan, Italy), Maicon (Inter Milan, Italy), Dani Alves (Barcelona, Spain), Gilberto (Cruzeiro, Brazil), Michel Bastos (Lyon, France)
Midfielders: Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos, Greece), Felipe Melo (Juventus, Italy), Josue (Wolfsburg, Germany), Kleberson (Flamengo, Brazil), Elano (Galatasaray, Turkey), Ramires (Benfica, Portugal), Kaka (Real Madrid, Spain) and Julio Baptista (Roma, Italy)
Strikers: Luis Fabiano (Sevilla, Spain), Nilmar (Villarreal, Spain), Robinho (Santos, Brazil), Grafite (Wolfsburg, Germany)
Head Coach: Kim Jong-Hun
Qualified: 2nd Asia Group 2
World Cup Appearances: 1966
Best Finish: Quarterfinals in 1966
Head Coach: Sven-Göran Eriksson
Nicknames: The Elephants
Qualified: 1st CAF Group E
World Cup Appearances: 2006
Best Finish: Eliminated after group stage
Ivory Coast Roster:
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Vincent Angban (ASEC Mimosas), Daniel Yeboah (ASEC Mimosas), Aristide Zogbo (Maccabi Netanya), Souleymane Bamba (Hibernian).
Defenders: Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal), Abdoulaye Meite (West Brom), Siaka Tiene (Valenciennes), Benjamin Angoua (Valenciennes), Kolo Toure (Man. City), Steve Gohouri (Wigan).
Midfielders: Emerse Fae (Nice), Guy Demel (Hamburg), Romaric N'Dri Koffi (Sevilla), Didier Zokora (Sevilla), Cheick Tiote (FC Twente), Yaya Toure (Barcelona), Gilles Yapi Yapo (Young Boys), Kanga Akale (Lens), Jean-Jacques Gosso (Monaco), Emmanuel Kone (International Curtea Arges).
Forwards: Aruna Dindane (Lens), Seydou Doumbia (Young Boys), Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Salomon Kalou (Chelsea), Kader Keita (Galatasaray), Bakari Kone (Marseille), Gervinho (Lille), Lacina Traore (CFR Cluj).
Head Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Nicknames: Selecção das Quinas
Qualified: UEFA Playoff Winner
World Cup Appearances: 1966, 1986, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Third place in 1966
Goalkeepers: Beto (Porto), Eduardo (Sporting Braga), Daniel Fernandez (Iraklis)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Porto), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Ze Castro (Deportivo), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Duda (Malaga), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Miguel (Valencia), Pepe (Real Madrid), Rolando (Porto)
Midfielders: Deco (Chelsea), Raul Meireles (Porto), Pedro Mendes (Sporting Lisbon), Nani (Manchester United), Miguel Veloso (Sporting Lisbon), Simão (Atletico Madrid), Tiago (Atletico Madrid)
Forwards: Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), Danny (Zenit), Liedson (Sporting Lisbon), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Head Coach: Vicente del Bosque
Nicknames: La Furia Roja (The Red Fury) or La Roja (The Red One)
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 5
World Cup Appearances: 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: Fourth place in 1950
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David De Gea (Atletico Madrid), Diego Lopez (Villareal), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).
Defenders: Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Osasuna), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Xabier Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Marcos Senna (Villarreal), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi (Barcelona).
Forwards: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia), Pedro (Barcelona), Dani Guiza (Fenerbache), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), David Villa (Valencia).
Head Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Nicknames: Schweizer Nati
Qualified: 1st UEFA Group 2
World Cup Appearances: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006
Best Finish: Quarterfinal runs in 1934, 1938 and 1954
Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Johnny Leoni (Zurich), Marco Woelfli (Young Boys).
Defenders: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lazio), Stephane Grichting (Auxerre), Steve Von Bergen (Hertha Berlin), Philippe Senderos (Arsenal), Mario Eggimann (Hannover), Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria).
Midfielders: Valon Behrami (West Ham), Gokhan Inler (Udinese), Benjamin Huggel (Basel), Gelson Fernandes (St. Etienne), Xherdan Shaqiri (Basel), Pirmin Schwegler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen), Marco Padalino (Sampdoria).
Forwards: Alex Frei (Basel), Blaise Nkufo (Twente), Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen), Hakan Yakin (Lucerne), Marco Streller (Basel).
Head Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Nicknames: Los Catrachos
Qualified: 3rd CONCACAF
World Cup Appearances: 1982
Best Finish: Eliminated after group stage
Goalkeepers: Ricardo Canales (Motagua), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Noel Valladares (Olimpia)
Defenders: Victor Bernardez (Anderlecht, Belgium), Osman Chavez (Platense, Argentina), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan, England), Oscar Garcia (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Motagua), Sergio Mendoza (Motagua), Johnny Palacios (Olimpia), Mauricio Sabillon (Hangzhou Lucheng, China)
Midfielders: Edgard Alvarez (Bari, Italy), Julio Cesar de Leon (Torino, Italy), Roger Espinoza (Kansas City Wizards), Amado Guevara (Motagua), Ramon Nunez (Olimpia), Wilson Palacios (Tottenham, England), Hendry Thomas (Wigan, England), Danilo Turcios (Olimpia)
Forwards: Walter Martinez (Marathon), Carlos Pavon (Real Espana), David Suazo (Genoa, Italy), Georgie Welcome (Motagua)
Head Coach: Marcelo Bielsa
Nicknames: La Roja
Qualified: 2nd CONMEBOL
World Cup Appearances: 1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982, 1998,
Best Finish: Third place finish in 1962
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Miguel Pinto (Univ. de Chile), Luis Marin (Union Espanola)
Defenders: Waldo Ponce (Univ, Catolica), Gary Medel (Boca Juniors), Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen), Ismael Fuentes (Univ. Catolica), Pablo Contrer(as PAOK), Gonzalo Jara (West Bromwich), Roberto Cereceda (Colo Colo), Mauricio Isla (Udinese)
Midfielders: Carlos Carmona (Reggina), Rodrigo Millar (Flamengo), Pedro Morales (Dinamo Zagreb), Marco Estrada (Univ. de Chile), Manuel Iturra (Univ. de Chile), Jaime Valdes (Atalanta), Charles Aranguiz (Colo Colo), Rodriguez Tello (Besiktas), Matias Fernandez (Sporting), Jorge Valdivia (Al Ain), Gonzalo Fierro (Flamengo), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo)
Forwards: Jean Beausejour(Club America), Hector Mancilla (Toluca), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Humberto Suazo (Real Zaragoza), Fabian Orellana (Xerez), Alexis Sanchez (Udinese), Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow)
The Liverpool 2013/14 soccer jersey is available for pre-order. The Reds are eager to compete for silver next season.
Ajax has released their away soccer jersey for the 2013/14 season. Get in the Gear.
Bayern Munich are kings of Germany and hope to be crowned kings of Europe at Wembley later this month!
The Juventus jersey for the 2013/14 was released earlier this week. Be the first to wear the colors of the Old Lady.
Chelsea won the Europa League on Wednesday. The Blues defeated Benfica 2-1 on injury time goal from Ivanovic.
adidas has added some color to the Predator line with this new colorway. Released on May 17. Be the first to own a pair.
One of the top soccer cleats for control the Nike CTR360 will not let you down on the field in tight spaces.
The new PUMA evoSPEED 1.2 FG. A great new soccer cleat with classic look and first time for PUMA to be on the cleat.
Borussia Dortmund hears Wembley Calling and are headed to London for the Champions League final.
The adidas Nitrocharge is the most talked about new cleat in years. It was released on May 15 and will take your pitch by storm.