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07.12.2009 Football News

World Cup draw-Who got lucky

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Ghanasoccernet's Nii Ayitey Tetteh expects Spain to lift the Fifa World Cup trophy on 11 July next year in South Africa and has tipped all but Algeria of the African qualifiers to progress to the second round. 

''If you come across her, I would like you to ask: Why she has been so unfair to us in world cup draws?"

Those were the words of Traore, a frustrated Ivorian fan, reacting in a radio interview to a successive difficult draw for the Elephants of Ivory Coast for their second world cup appearance.

In their first appearance in 2006, they were also drawn in a difficult group with the Netherlands, Serbia and former winners Argentina.

On a calm evening amid music and pomp at the Cape Town Convention Centre in South Africa, the final draw for the 2010 Fifa World Cup was held.

Group G consisting of Brazil, Portugal, Korea DPR and Ivory Coast is without doubt the most difficult group and would be appropriately christened "The Group of Death"

But the question remains, who is this despondent Ivorian fan looking for? Lady luck of course! Troare replied. 

"But where can I find her? The reporter quipped.  

Traore mulls over the question for a second and replies 'I don't know, but I know she is definitely not Ivorian.

So if lady luck is not Ivorian, which nationality is she? Is she English? a Spaniard or an Italian, who seemingly had favourable draws.

Well to find out which team got lucky in the draw, let's revisit the groups.

GROUP A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
The team cut above the others in this group in terms of pedigree is France, but the Le Blues have been off colour lately.

They engaged the Republic of Ireland in a play off before qualifying albeit under controversial circumstances.

The French have shown however that they can rise to the occasion against all odds just like in 2006 when they got to the final after a false start.

South Africa on the account of competing as hosts should exhibit extra desire and home support to advance from the group just as they did in the recent Confederations Cup.

The other teams; Mexico, who have advanced to the second round in the last four finals, and two time winners Uruguay would provide a decent challenge but should eventually succumb to the firepower of France and the passion of South Africa.

Verdict: A balanced Group; France and South Africa to progress.  

GROUP B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea and Greece

There would be a feeling of déjà vu for three of the teams in this group; Argentina, Nigeria and Greece.

The teams were grouped together in the 1994 world cup and it produced some explosive encounters.

For Nigeria and Diego Maradona's Argentina in particular, their meeting would be the third after Argentina defeated Nigeria 2-1 in 1994 and 1-0 in 2002.

Both countries also struggled to qualify but seven months is enough time for both teams to regroup, after all, talent has never been in question.

Nigeria defeated Greece 2-0 back in 1994 and the pattern does not look like changing.

Greece will offer a stiff challenge guided by Otto Rehhagel's astute tactics.South Korea's fairy tale success in 2006 would remain just that; a fairy tale.

VERDICT: Two clear favourites; Argentina and Nigeria to progress.  

GROUP C: England,USA, Alegria and Slovenia
So the English got the easy draw they were looking for huh! They have every reason to believe that.

Slovenia though they finished ahead of Russia in their qualifying group, would only be making their second appearance and Algeria is only coming back after a 24-year absence.

The serious challenge would come in the shape of the USA who have matured into a solid unit as evident in the last Confederations Cup where they beat Spain in the semis and were eventual runners up only to Brazil.

The first match involving England and the USA does not come any juicier due to their historical and cultural ties.

Even beyond sports, any contest involving the two nations is fiercely contested. England would especially seek to avenge the shock 1-0 defeat decades ago in the 1950 world cup.

VERDICT: A curious GROUP, USA to progress alongside England. 

GROUP D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Germany, three time champions, clearly stands out from the pack.

You can bet that on any given day, the German machine would be well oiled. With great pedigree and character, the Germans would win this group.

Serbia, who finished ahead of France in their qualifying group, have a well organized unit spiced with talents like Nemanja Vidic and Dejan Stankovic to offer a credible challenge.

Ghana making a second appearance would hope to improve on the second round feat in 2006. It is hoped the Black Stars would have shed their naivety and produce a more matured performance.

The key match would be the Ghana-Serbia match as the winner is most likely to join the Germans in the second round.

Ghana's coach Milovan Rajevac wanted to avoid his native Serbia, well Serbia is exactly what he got. Would that be an advantage or a disadvantage? Only time will tell.

Australia also made the last 16 in 2006 but would find it more daunting this time round.

VERDICT: An intriguing Group, Germany to progress with winner of the Ghana-Serbia match.   

GROUP E: Netherlands, Denmark,Japan, Cameroon
The Netherlands are one of football's big puzzles. The Oranje as they are called have been described as the most talented team never to have won the world cup.

It is this tag that the Oranje desperately seek to shirk. The team qualified with a hundred percent record and would come up against a resurgent Cameroonian side now coached by Paul Le Guen.

Since reaching the quarter final in 1990, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have had an average world cup record and disappointed many a time.

However there is renewed hunger amongst this set. Well when a lion is hungry, you need to take cover.

And cover is what the Danes and Japanese would not want to take as they stake a claim for the available second round slots.

These two sides would count on team organization more than talent to further their causes.

VERDICT: Balanced Group: Netherlands and Cameroon to progress.  

GROUP F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia .
Italy, the defending champions clearly lead the pack. For all the talents in Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, the

Azzuri of Italy would easily win this group. New Zealand gave us an idea of their potential or lack of it at the recent Confederations Cup where they were whipping boys.

They would actually be excited just to pick up their first world cup point.

Slovakia, a breakaway state from the former Czechoslovakia, who finished ahead of their brothers Czech in the qualifiers and Paraguay who have some world cup experience would battle for the second ticket to the second round.

VERDICT: Lopsided Group, Italy and Paraguay to progress.  

GROUP G: Brazil, Korea, DPR, Ivory Coast, Portugal

The adjectives have been pouring in; call it whatever you want; the group of death, the group of stars etc, one thing is for sure, this group throws up some real juicy match ups.

Consider the stars on display; Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Robhino and Maicon (Brazil) Christiano Ronaldo, Deco (Portugal), Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast).

Am sure you are salivating already. Well we all know Brazil, five time champions, would win this group, but who joins them?

The Ivorians have been tipped as Africa's realistic chance at the trophy due to an immensely talented pool of players and if they can grind a result against Portugal then the Elephants have the potential to go all the way to the final.

Korea D.P.R caused one of world cup upsets in 1966 when they beat Italy 1-0. Another of such upsets however looks very dim.

VERDICT: Group of death:Brazil to progress with winner of Ivory Coast-Portugal.  

GROUP H: Spain, Switzerland,Honduras,Chile
Easily the weakest group by a mile. Perennial underachievers Spain seemed to have shrugged that tag when they won the European title last year but then again choked earlier this year in the Confederations Cup losing to U.S.A in the Semis.

Such upsets are however not expected in a Latin flavoured group.

Chile, who had an impressive qualifying campaign finishing second to Brazil, would seek to build on this form while Honduras would be excited with a first world cup point.

Switzerland, who have enjoyed a good year qualifying for the world cup as well as winning the U-17 world cup in Nigeria this year, would hope to improve their second round achievement in 2006.

VERDICT: The Group of Life, Chile to progress alongside Spain.

So who got lucky with the draw? Well with respect to quality, it is evident that most of the groups are evenly distributed. However the easiest group to predict would be Group H where Spain clearly stands out.

Switzerland, Chile and Honduras would provide a semblance of a challenge but would no match for the reigning European champions.

Lady Luck smiled brightest on Spain, but please don't't tell Traore, he might just book a flight to Madrid.

Would he find her there? In London? Or in Accra? Let me know.

Links to other stories on the World Cup draw:  


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