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Craig Porter 8th Jan 2010 - 10:08

World Cup 2010: Group A

South Africa will be hoping that hosting the FIFA World Cup will bring the same success enjoyed by six of the seven World Cup winning nations, including Group A opponents Uruguay and France, that all won the tournament on home soil.

Argentina (1978), France (1998), Germany (1974), Italy (1934), Uruguay (1930) and, of course, England in 1966 hosted the World Cup and won football's ultimate prize in their own country. Despite having held the title five times, Brazil are the only world champions to have missed out.

So will South Africa's Bafana Bafana add themselves to this list that has proved so elusive for Brazil? The truth is they'll be lucky to get out of Group A and into the knockout stages of South Africa 2010.

South Africa Mexico Uruguay France
FIFA Ranking 86 15 19 7
Appearances (Last) 2 (2002) 13 (2006) 10 (2002) 12 (2006)
Best result Group stage QF (70, 86) Winner (30, 50) Winner (98)
-v- South Africa - P3 W2 D0 P2 W1 D1 P3 W2 D1
-v- Mexico P3 W1 D0 - P17 W3 D7 P6 W5 D1
-v- Uruguay P2 W0 D1 P17 W7 D7 - P4 W1 D2
-v- France P3 W0 D1 P6 W0 D1 P4 W1 D2 -
Coach Carlos A Parreira Javier Aguirre Oscar Tabarez Raymond Domenech
Star man Steven Pienaar Cuauhtemoc Blanco Diego Forlan Thierry Henry
To win Group A
6/1 (7.00) 19/5 (4.80) 19/5 (4.80) 5/6 (1.83)
To lift the cup
125/1 (126.00)
80/1 (81.00)
100/1 (101.00)
14/1 (15.00)



South Africa

How far can home advantage take them?

At odds of 6/1 in the betting to win Group A, South Africa are the outsiders behind France (5/6) and joint 2nd favourites Mexico and Uruguay both at 19/5. They're not going to win the tournament, their price of 125/1 probably isn't big enough, but that doesn't mean they can't make it out of Group A and keep the home crowds interested in the 2010 World Cup.

As hosts they have not had the competitive match practice they might need to go into this tournament but their performance in the FIFA Confederation Cup less than 12 months ago, where they narrowly lost to Brazil in the semi-finals and Spain in the 3rd place play-off, was encouraging and remember how well Korea did in front of its own fans.

They will rely on Everton's Steven Pienaar to direct things in the midfield and supply Benni McCarthy, their most successful striker and 100/1 shot in the Top Tournament Goalscorer betting, with the service he needs. That's assuming Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bafana Bafana's Brazilian coach who led the his home nation to World Cup glory in 1994, picks the Rovers player who he has considered to be lacking match practice at Blackburn.



Youngsters need to step up on this stage

Mexico, as they did during qualification for the 2002 tournament, once again turned to Javier Aguirre to successfully turn around a struggling World Cup Finals qualification campaign. Replacing the sacked Sven Goran Eriksson, Aguirre's miraculous turnaround, which included beating all five teams in their group, ended up qualifying with a game to spare and finished in second place behind USA.

The key to the revival is often attributed to his convincing 36-year old Cuauhtemoc Blanco (of La Cuauhtemiña fame - see video at the bottom) out of retirement to help him inspire his young squad, featuring the likes of Tottenham's 20-year old Giovani Dos Santos and Efrain Juarez, Andres Guardado and keeper Guillermo Ochoa (aged 21, 23 and 24 respectively), led by his captain, Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez.

Mexico would do well to beat France to the top of Group A but the 19/5 odds are generous and the French, who were within seconds of missing out on the tournament, are not exactly firing on all cylinders. But let's not forget there's also Uruguay.



Time for this old champion to come back

Youthful and resilient are two adjectives often used to describe Oscar Washington Tabarez's Uruguay side. The 62 year old is in his second stint as national coach, having previously got to the last sixteen in Italia 90. Twenty years on and, despite the long odds of 100/1 to lift the World Cup trophy, he has a side capable of repeating that feat.

Uruguay have World Cup history but you'd be looking at your grandparents or great-grandparents to tell you about it as they last won the tournament 60 years ago (when even the veteran coach was just two years old), and again another 20 before that.

The squad are certainly battlers and came back from the disappointment of a deserved loss to Argentina to win the resulting play-off qualifier against Costa Rica. Captain Diego Lugano, who plies his trade at Fenerbahce, is a solid figure at the back and up front there are two of the finest goalscoring partnerships in the competition in Diego Forlán (66/1 Top Tournament goalscorer) and Luis Suárez (50/1 the same betting market). The pair contributed towards Uruguay's total of 28 goals during the group phase of qualification, the third highest behind Brazil and Chile.



Follow the French for the long haul

It may have taken until the dying moments of extra-time in their qualfying play-off (that we're not going to mention again out of respect for our Irish customers) for France to reach the 2010 Finals but they are going to South Africa to make it four World Cups on the bounce. Now they are there, they'll hope to put the troubled journey behind them as they did once they'd secured a place in Germany 2006 and went on to reach the final. Les Bleus are a genuine contender to lift the cup and at 14/1 are a tempting each-way bet (essentially 7/1 to reach the final again).

There is no doubt they will qualify from this group, probably winning it at the 5/6 betting odds available.

There is true quality in the squad and although some of the stars of previous World Cups won't be appearing, the likes of Thierry Henry and Karim Benzema (both 25/1 Top Goalscorer) and the rejuvenated Nicolas Anelka who will be among the top scorers if France go all the way and can be backed at 40/1.


This website is not associated, affiliated or connected in any way with FIFA, the World Cup 2010 Local Organising Committee, or the South African Football Association.


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