Argentina

The fantastically talented Argentinian team is led by World Footballer of the year candidate Lionel Messi, and strikers Carlos Tevez of Manchester City and Diego Milito who scored both goals in Inter Milan’s recent Champions League victory over Bayern Munich. The question mark around the Argentinian team is of course their manager, Diego Maradona.  Led by Maradona, Argentina almost missed qualifying for the World Cup despite having player for player one of the strongest teams in the world. Apart from a suspicion that Maradona does not have the tactical savvy to lead a team at the highest level, his  selections for the tournament are open to question. It is hard to believe that the aging Juan Sebastian Veron really deserves a place on the team, and the omission of Inter Milan defender and captain Javier Zanetti, cannot but raise eyebrows.

Key player:

Maradona. If Maradona can limit his role to cheerleading Argentina could go far.

Nigeria

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been one of Africa’s most successful teams qualifying for the world Cup in 1994, 1998 and 2002. In 1994 they came within a minute of defeating eventual finalists, Italy. One of the criticisms of the African teams in the World Cup has been that they were, as the English commentators like to put it, “naïve” defensively.  If my memory serves me correctly one of the mottos of the 1994 team was “you will score 4 goals, we will score 5”. Hardly a recipe for success in modern soccer. The 2010 edition of the Super Eagles cannot be said to suffer from this defect.  The defence is led by Everton’s Joseph Yobo who at the age of 29 with 65 caps will provide steady leadership to a solid defense.  The loss in midfield Chelsea’s Mikel will be a serious problem in midfield. Up front the perhaps aging Kanu and Obafemi Martins can provide the goals.

Key player:

Martins will be a danger up front and Yobo will hold the defense together. But the key to Nigeria’s success will be will be whether the aging Kanu can justify his controversial selection.

 

South Korea

South Korea went to the semi final in 2002 when the tournament was in Korea-Japan, but they failed to get out of their group in 2006. Korean Captain Park Ji Sung who plays for Manchester United purpose and energy in the midfield. Park Chu-Young and Lee Chung-Yong, are also players to watch. With the experience of thirty-six year old goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae, South Korea is solid in goal.

Key player:

Goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae. He can solidify a team which overall does not have enough depth to advance.

Greece

Greece has done little since they won the European Championship in 2004. They qualified in perhaps the weakest European group, finishing second. Greece continues to rely on the formula that took them to the Euro 2004 championship: suffocating defense and an uncanny ability to grab a goal when they need it. This won’t be enough to take them out of the group stage this time.

Key player:

If Theofanis Gekas can maintain his qualifying form and their defense holds anything can happen

Prediction. Despite Maradona, Argentina should top the group. In Africa, with their World Cup experience the Super Eagles will finish second, and even have an outside chance of finishing first if they can get a result against Argentina. Korea will fight hard, but in the end will fail to match their success of 2002. Greece must be content to be in the tournament.

Where to watch the teams?

Please let us know where the fans of Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea and Greece will be found watching their teams.