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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moses Mabhida Stadium

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Moses Mabhida Stadium

Located in KwaZulu Natal in the beautiful City of Durban, Moses Mabhida Stadium is named after a hero of the working class. The Moses Mabhida Stadium is located adjacent the ABSA Stadium in the Kings Park Sporting Precinct - a site located in Stamford Hill, is yet to be another world class multi-purpose stadium set to make possible successful history in the making of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

To make way for this prestigious contribution Kings Park Stadium was demolished in late 2006 to develop a new stadium complex set to comprise of an adjoining indoor arena, sporting museum, sport institute and a new transmodal transportation station in preparations ahead of the world showpiece. Scheduled to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup five group matches, one second round match, one quarter final and a semi-final match; the catering capacity is set to comprise of 70 000 spectator seats. There are plans and allocations to increase the capacity of the stadium to 84 000 seats in the future to further accommodate major events such as Olympics.

If you've not yet applied for World Cup tickets, you better hurry up!

Posted by Volkan at 19:32 0 comments Links to this post

The World Cup might still be over a year away, but your first chance to apply for tickets will soon be gone, unless you want to pay silly money to ticket touts or websites with promises of getting tickets and maybe not getting them.

You have until March 31st to apply on the FIFA website here.

There are going to be another four phases to get tickets but if you are desperate to go, your best chance is if you are involved in all of them and as long as you apply before March 31st, you'll know two weeks later if you've got them.

The other phases will be taking place as follows:

Phase Two: May 4th 2009 to November 16th 2009

Applications submitted during this stage will be processed, subject to availability, on a first come first served basis. Basically, if you don't get on phase one, you need to be up early on May 4th.

Phase Three: December 5th 2009 to January 22nd 2010

This phase is very much like the first one that we are in currently. From the FIFA ticketing website: all correctly submitted applications received during this stage will be considered for allocation. If the number of applications for Match or Team Specific tickets exceeds the number of tickets available, tickets will be allocated by a random selection draw taking place on 1 February 2010. Please note: it makes no difference whether you apply early, on 5 December 2009, or late, on 22 January 2010. Each correctly submitted application will have the same opportunity of being successful in the draw.

Phase Four: February 9th 2010 to April 7th 2010

Like phase two, first come first served, so get up early on February 9th 2010.

Last Phase: April 15th 2010 to July 11th 2010

Tickets will be sold at point of sale and again on a first come first served basis.

Please remember, the only place you can order these tickets is from the FIFA Ticketing website - do not be duped into thinking you can get these tickets anywhere else.

Gabon bask in the glory

Posted by Volkan at 14:53 0 comments Links to this post

Alain Giresse was a subtle footballer in his glory days as part of one of France's greatest midfields and he is also proving to be a master of understatement as a coach. Rather than basking in the glory of his team's unexpected triumph at the start of the final phase of Africa's qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa finals, the Gabon coach has been a measure of calm and quiet in the wake of surprise 2-1 win over Morocco in Casablanca.

The Group A victory is arguably the biggest-ever for the central African country, who were regarded as little more than also-rans in the qualifying race. But even with Cameroon, Morocco and Togo in their group, Gabon top the standings after the first weekend of matches and will go into their next game in June brimming with confidence.

"For us it was a perfect performance," Giresse told radio reporters after the win in Casablanca. "To take on a team at the level of Morocco and beat them was great. On paper, we might not have been given a chance, but our side has improved and on the pitch we proved that even without experience, this young side is a very good team.

"It was an encouraging test. Three points away from home in a group where each point is going to be vital is enormous for us. It has given us great encouragement to continue this campaign with some vigour."


On paper, we might not have been given a chance, but our side has improved and on the pitch we proved that even without experience, this young side is a very good team.

Alain Giresse was delighted after Gabon's win.

Gabon were one of only two teams to record away wins in the ten African qualifiers played at the weekend. The other was Tunisia, whose Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho was also full of praise for his charges after a 2-1 triumph in Nairobi in their Group B game against Kenya.

"We adapted well to our opponent's game, we used the ball and played intelligently. I want to say ‘bravo' to my players because what they achieved was not easy."

Points gained away from home are going to be vital in the competition and there were also away successes of sorts for Algeria, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia. The quartet all managed away draws although both Algeria and Nigeria had arguably hoped for more in their respective matches.

Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has blamed poor marksmanship in front of goal and a slow start to the game for the Super Eagles failure to win in Maputo. Before the match, the Mambas would surely have settled for a draw with their illustrious opponents, but after two disallowed goals and a myriad of chances, the Mozambique coach Mart Nooij was also disappointed.

"We dominated from beginning to end. We didn't earn a draw, we lost two points. But the game showed again we have the quality to play with the best teams in Africa. We should have better luck in our next matches," said the Dutchman.


A stumble at the start does not mean it's the end of the road for us.

Mido offers some words of wisdom.

Zambia coach Herve Renard says his team's draw at current CAF champions Egypt in Cairo has opened up the chances to all participants in Group C for FIFA World Cup qualification.

"Egypt are the best team in Africa and we had nothing to lose. My players were determined to win but they managed a draw which is good," said the inexperienced Frenchman.

For the weekend losers, there was reflection and immediate desire to pick up their form for the next round of qualifiers in June.

"It was disappointing because we didn't deserve to lose," said Cameroon's veteran fullback Geremi after a 1-0 loss to Togo in Group A. "We have five games left and we have to do everything to win those five."

Egypt striker Ahmed ‘Mido' Hossam added: "A stumble at the start does not mean it's the end of the road for us, we still have five games to play and we should learn from our mistakes against Zambia."

2010 hosts snatch late win over Norway

Posted by Volkan at 10:39 0 comments Links to this post
By:
Brad Morgan

Rustenburg - It took a stoppage time goal, but Bafana Bafana sneaked a 2-1 win over Norway in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Rustenburg on Saturday to pick up their first victory over European opposition since they beat Slovenia 1-0 in the 2002 Fifa World Cup.

For South Africa, the 2010 Fifa World Cup hosts, it was just their sixth win in 27 matches against European opposition.

The fixture, besides serving as the Nelson Mandela Challenge for 2009, also served as the official re-opening of the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, one of the Fifa World Cup finals venues, after the completion of renovations to it.

There were plenty of Fifa and South African government officials in attendance, along with a vocal and happy crowd, which was hoping for a repeat of Bafana's last Mandela Challenge match in November, 2008 when they beat Africa’s highest ranked team, Cameroon, 3-2.

Norway entered the contest on the back of a 1-0 win away to Germany, following the return of coach Egil Olsen to the national job; he had been in charge during Norway’s best years in their history in the 1990s, helping the team rise to as high as number two in the Fifa world rankings, and guiding them to the World Cup finals in 1994 and 1998.

South Africa began the contest with confidence, taking the attack to the European side. Within the first minute, the home team had taken its first shot on goal.

They kept pressing and their reward for the early pressure arrived early, in the seventh minute. Red Star Belgrade striker Bernard Parker profited from a goal mouth scramble, after a low cross from Siboniso Gaxa, toe-poking the ball past Norwegian goalkeeper Jon Knudsen to send the crowd wild with yells of delight.

Bafana were on top and Everton's Steven Pienaar fired a rasping shot just over the Norwegian crossbar. However, in the 27th minute, Norway drew level.

Matthew Booth conceded a free kick and Morten Gamst Pedersen, a team-mate of South African captain Aaron Mokoena at Blackburn Rovers, pulled his side level from a free kick, which deflected off Pienaar and left Itumeleng wrong-footed and beaten.

In response, midfield ace Teko Modise let fly with a trademark fierce strike from a South African free kick, but Knudsen stood firm in the visitors' goal.

Pederson was just wide of the target when his shot was deflected after Pienaar had conceded possession on the edge of the South African area.

Just before the break, Modise came close with another free kick, his effort passing narrowly wide of the mark.

As they had done in the first half, South Africa began the second half brightly. Once again it was Modise asking the questions, but Knudsen had no problems keeping his side on level terms.

Norway appealed for a penalty when Bafana skipper Mokoena knocked Mohammed Abdellaoue off the ball, but the referee ignored their appeals.

On the hour-mark, Mabhuti Khenyeza had a golden opportunity to put Bafana ahead. Siboniso Gaxa picked out the striker with an accurate cross, but Khenyeza's header hit the crossbar and bounced out of play.

Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana began making changes in the 68th minute when he sent on Msilo Modubi for Macbeth Sibaya. A minute later, Siphiwe Tshabalala replaced Khenyeza. After 78 minutes, Ketlego Mphela took over from Steven Pienaar, and five minutes later Surprise Moriri replaced Parker.

Despite the fresh legs and signs that the Norwegians were wilting in the African heat, there was still no way through for the home team.

Jon Arne Riise let fly with a typically vicious left-footed shot, but Khune denied the AS Roma man.

The match reached the end of regulation time with the sides tied at one-all and it appeared that the teams would share the spoils, but there was one final twist to come.

With the final whistle due at any moment, substitute Tshabalala blasted a shot from outside the box into the top corner of the Norwegian goal to snatch victory for Bafana Bafana as the side's fans erupted into joyous celebrations.

South Africa will be in action on Tuesday again when they face a tough test against Portugal, ranked tenth in the Fifa world rankings. The teams meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Ellis Park Stadium

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Ellis Park Ellis Park

Ellis Park was first built in 1928 as a rugby union stadium. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1982, again exclusively for rugby. It was named after JD Ellis, a Johannesburg city councillor who approved the use of the land for a stadium, setting aside 13 acres.

The stadium was used for the finals of the 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup. Ellis Park has also been the stage for many unforgettable football matches. Bafana Bafana held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in 1995, and then drew 0-0 with then FIFA World Cup holders France in 2000 in international friendlies.

Currently, it is the home ground of Orlando Pirates FC, a club in the Premier Soccer League. In 1995, they were the first South African team to win the CAF African Club Championship.

The Nelson Mandela African XI played the World All Stars XI in a farewell match for the outgoing president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Kalusha Bwalya, Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe and Tijani Babangida joined 'World All Stars' such as Rigoberto Song, Dunga, Luis Hernandez and Claudio Suarez in saluting a great state leader.

Ellis Park is to undergo a minor upgrade and will be ready in time for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Turan: I'm not a star

Posted by Volkan at 20:33 4 comments Links to this post

The Turkey national squad left Madrid's Bernabeu stadium on Saturday in a dejected mood following their side's 1-0 defeat against Spain in the biggest game of the night in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ European qualifying Group 5.

That result meant the Crescent Stars slid to third in the table behind the seemingly invincible Spaniards and second-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina, leaving them in dire need of a result against the group leaders and current European champions in Istanbul on Wednesday. One man the Turks are pinning their hopes on to get their qualification campaign back on track is 22-year-old midfielder Arda Turan. The Galatasaray youth team product is hailed as Turkey's brightest young talent and is being touted from all corners as a star of the future.

A winner of the Turkish title and Super Cup last season, Turan has been a mainstay in coach Fatih Terim's international squad for around two-and-a-half years and starred at last summer's UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. FIFA.com spoke exclusively with the player about his desire to move abroad, South Africa 2010 and what is so unique about Turkish football.

FIFA.com: Mr Turan, are you Turkish football's latest superstar?
Arda Turan: I'm not a star, just a good footballer and, most importantly, I'm a team player. I always give 100 per cent and I'm constantly trying to improve my game.

Do you want to stay in Turkey or would you like to play abroad one day?
I'm definitely planning on playing in one of Europe's top leagues at some point. It would be a great chance for me to represent my country and further my career.

Are there any teams in particular who you would like to play for?
Liverpool or Juventus would be great.

What is so special about the Turkish league and what is it like playing for an historic club like Galatasaray?
It's a fascinating league, but sometimes the pitches we have to play on aren't great and that doesn't make things easy. At Galatasaray, winning the title is always a must, and being part of a team like that means that you are constantly under pressure to succeed and have to possess a will to win.


The people in Turkey are extremely passionate and would never give up on the team they love.

Turan on the Turkish fans

The Turkish fans always create a fantastic atmosphere in the stadiums. Why is that?
The people in Turkey are extremely passionate and would never give up on the team they love.

Turkey currently lie in third place behind Spain and Bosnia-Herzegovina. You've played in all five qualifying matches so far and scored against the latter. What does it mean to you to play for your country?
I'm a very patriotic person and have plenty to thank my country for, so pulling on the national strip means a lot to me. It's a great honour.

What would it mean to you to play in your first ever FIFA World Cup?
All the greatest footballers in history made their names at the World Cup, so I think it would be a big opportunity for me.

Turkey did not qualify for Germany 2006 but then made it to the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2008. If they do manage to qualify for South Africa 2010, what do you think they can realistically hope to achieve?
Our minimum goal has to be to survive the group stage. After that, provided we take each game as it comes, we have every chance of improving on our semi-final finish in 2002.

At EURO 2008, Turkey bowed out at the last-four stage to Germany after Philipp Lahm scored a late winner in a tight encounter. Was that the worst moment of your career so far?
The worst moment of my career was when I got shown a yellow card in the quarter-final, leaving me to watch the Germany game from the stands.

Turkey are currently 11th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. What is holding the team back from moving further up the list?
The more experience we gain, the more we will improve.

Do you have a role model and who would you like to swap shirts with?
Maradona is my favourite player because he was just so talented and I also admire Zinedine Zidane for his skills on the pitch. From today's players, it would be nice to swap shirts with Lionel Messi.

Who is the best midfielder in the world at the moment?
Kaka.

Do you have any plans for life after football?
I would stay involved in football in some capacity, probably in the coaching side of things.

What are your goals for the rest of 2009?
To retain the league title with Galatasaray and win as many games as I can with the national team.

Maradona unleashes the 'shorties'

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Argentina's trio of "shorties" have a bright future, coach Diego Maradona said after his three-pronged attack of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi led the 4-0 victory over Venezuela. All three players, average height 1.70 metres, scored in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on 28 March which marked Maradona's home and competitive debut since his surprise appointment last year.

"It was the perfect game, we kept the ball, we broke down the flanks and we had lots of scoring chances created by the shorties," said Maradona. "I want to hear the response of those who want us to play with big strikers and pump high balls at them.

"The boys knew when to wait for their moment and we scored the goals at exactly the right time," added Maradona, a shorty himself at 1.65 metres. "Venezuela have improved and it wasn't easy to score four goals. These players like to perforate defences," he said. "This is my ideal team."

Messi had one of his best games for Argentina scoring the first goal, setting up the second and nearly adding another with a brilliant run through the Venezuela defence late in the game. "If Messi plays like that every time, it will be excellent," said Maradona. "If that last chance had gone in, we would all have had to leave the stadium, pay for another ticket and come back in again."

Maradona opted for a 3-4-3 formation, giving Messi the prestigious number ten shirt, after enigmatic playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme announced his international retirement earlier this month. Furious that Maradona had made comments on his playing style in a television interview, Riquelme said the two could not work together and the coach had broken a code of ethics.

Riquelme generally controlled the midfield when he played and Messi appeared to enjoy more freedom without him. The Monumental crowd, which gave Maradona a rousing reception, aimed a few jibes at the mercurial Boca Juniors playmaker with chants of "Riquelme's watching on the telly."

Maradona said that the only sour note were some jeers for midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron when he replaced Tevez midway through the second half. Many blamed Veron, making only his second appearance since the 2007 Copa America, for Argentina's shock first-round exit at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ and some have not forgiven him.

Cape Town

Posted by Volkan at 18:49 0 comments Links to this post

Cape Town -  Table Mountain

One would be hard pressed to find a reason not to fall in love with the port city of Cape Town. It has one of the most idyllic settings - nestled between and around the ocean and mountains. The iconic Table Mountain rises 1,086 above the city and has served as a mariner's landmark. On a clear day, the flat-topped mountain is visible 200km out to sea.

The so-called "Mother city" has an abundance of contrasting activities from lounging on the Atlantic seaboard's popular beaches to exploring the vividly painted area of the Bo-Kaap. Hout Bay is a hub for fishing, especially tuna and crayfish, and the historical naval base at Simon's Town has a fascinating past.

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a great location for shopping, and is also host to the Two Oceans Aquarium, depicting sea life from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Long Street has long been a place of bustling nightlife and there is a wealth of museums in the city to discover. The Western Cape area is renowned as a wine-producing area, and there are tours available along the 'wine route'.

Cape Town has distinct Malay influences, reminiscent of days when the spice route travelled via its shores. There are also many foreign people who have made Cape Town their home, and the result is a hybrid of cultures in a cosmopolitan city.

History
Cape Town had its first inhabitants as early as 100,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers roamed the Cape Peninsula. After the arrival of European sailors in 1652, it became a haven for sailors who travelled along the African coast on the spice route to India.

The city has also played an important role in contemporary South African history. Robben Island was used as a prison for political prisoners as early as 1898, but became famous as the place of incarceration for the Rivonia Trial accused, which included Nelson Mandela.

Cape Town has been the legislative capital of South Africa since 1910. The Houses of Parliament, still in use today, were built in 1885.

Football
Cape Town has produced many of South Africa's top recent internationals such as Shaun Bartlett, Benni McCarthy and past heroes such as Albert Johannensen and David Julius, who played top football in Europe.

Cape Town has also produced three of South African football's most exalted figures. Quinton Fortune signed to Manchester United in 1999. He was soon followed by his former Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz, who is now the assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. In 2006, Fortune made the move to Bolton Wanderers.

Benni Macarthy has enjoyed international success, winning the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto under the leadership of Jose Mourinho. He also won a Portuguese top flight Golden Boot. He currently plays for Blackburn Rovers, where he finished as the Premiership's second leading marksman in his first season in England.

Sean Bartlett played for FC Zurich in 1998 and then made the move to Charlton Athletic in 2000. During his tenure at Charlton, he helped the club consolidate their position in the English top flight. He is the most capped Bafana Bafana striker, and has scored the most goals for his country.

Hellenic were the first Cape Town side to win a championship in 1971, soon followed by Cape Town City. In 1995, Cape Town Spurs swept the board and did the double, claiming the league and knockout cup crowns. All three clubs have since folded.

Ajax Cape Town and Santos, champions in 2002, continue the keep professional football alive in the city. Ajax Cape Town is an affiliate of Ajax Amsterdam and has scouted many talents who made the move to Amsterdam, including Steven Pienaar, Gabriel Mofokeng and Stanton Lewis.

Vasco Da Gama is a small football club started in 1980. Despite its size, the club has produced a wealth of Bafana Bafana national team players. Goalkeeper Andre Arendse, midfielder Thabo Mngomeni and forward Shaun Bartlett played for the club, as did David Nyathi, who was selected for the FIFA World XI and turned out in Switzerland, Turkey and Spain.

Abbiati out for up to six months

Posted by Volkan at 18:26 1 comments Links to this post

AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida reactsAC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati will be out of action for five to six months following surgery on his cruciate knee ligament, his club has revealed.

Abbiati injured his knee two weeks ago in Milan's 5-1 victory at Siena, after which he was replaced by Brazilian Dida.

Milan said on their official website that the operation had been a complete success, but not only is Abbiati's season over, he will also miss the beginning of the next campaign.

In Dida, though, Milan have a player who was their first-choice goalkeeper for over five seasons.

He had not played in Serie A this season until Abbiati's injury, but had kept goal in all Milan's UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia matches.

2010 FIFA World Cup™ - Top Photos

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Nakamura: Japan must improve

Posted by Volkan at 18:03 0 comments Links to this post

Japan may have moved to within one win away from the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura says they must improve further to stay on course. After a scoreless first half on 28 March, Japan got off to a flying start in the second half with Nakamura opening the scoring in the 47th minute to beat Bahrain 1-0 in an Asian qualifier. Japan now have three wins and two draws for 11 points to lead in the five-team Group 1 competition, overtaking Australia's ten points. Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Qatar have all four points.

"I don't feel like we qualified yet. We have too many things to improve further," said Nakamura. "We have to play more scrupulously in every play. We should exchange passes without looking round."

Coach Takeshi Okada agreed, saying: "We haven't gained anything yet. We have to improve the quality of our play to get stronger." Japan had a couple more apparent chances when defender Atsuto Uchida was free in front of the Bahrain goalmouth, but failed to hit a shot in the 54th minute. Ten minutes later, Uchida's shot hit the bar.

"I don't say because I scored the goal, but I say the goal was very important," said Nakamura. "It was really tough to take three points from a win. We confirmed it again. It would have been easier if Uchida had scored a goal. He could have hit it to a different angle."

While Japan's next game will be on 6 June against Uzbekistan away, Bahrain will play Qatar, while Australia will play Uzbekistan both at home on 1 April. "Under the wing of [former Brazilian coach] Zico, we played friendly games against Argentina and Germany. I hope we can have games against such powerhouses," Nakamura said.

Stars In South Africa

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It is one of the many tragedies of the apartheid era in South Africa that footballers from the country were denied a chance to perform on the international stage.

Generations of stars never got the opportunity to test their mettle in competitions like the FIFA World Cup ™ and the CAF Africa Cup of Nations because of the policy of separation practiced by the white minority regime.

South Africa did not compete in a FIFA World Cup or a Cup of Nations qualifying campaign until 1992, which means that for some 60 years their footballers stood on the sidelines and watched while the rest of the world got on with the business of competition.

Yet there were South Africans who did manage to taste international football, but had to represent other countries to compete at that level.

Hodgson the hero
The first real superstar of South African football was Gordon Hodgson, who played in the country's first-ever international against Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1924.

He later went on to play for Liverpool and England and his record of 17 hat-tricks for Liverpool is yet to be broken.

After World War Two, a flurry of South African footballers left to play in England, almost all of them white, who were members of the racially-segregated national side.

Bill Perry played for England and scored the winning goal in the famous 'Matthews' FA Cup final of 1953 when Blackpool came from behind to beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3.

John Hewie was the first South African to play in a FIFA World Cup. Thanks to his ancestry, he was picked to play for Scotland in Sweden in 1958.

The first black footballers to leave South Africa were Darius Dhlomo and Steve Mokone, who made a major impression at Heracles Almelo in the Netherlands. They were major heroes for the black population, who because of apartheid had few role models in their society.

Later David Julius left South Africa because of apartheid and played at Sporting Lisbon. As 'David Juliao', he was capped by Portugal.

South African Albert Johanneson was the first black player to play in a FA Cup final for Leeds United in 1965.

Colin Viljoen and Brian Stein, whose father was an anti-apartheid activist and had to flee the regime, both played later for England at a time when there was no South African national side to represent.

Roy Wegerle, who competed for the likes of Chelsea, QPR and Luton Town in England's top flight, became an American citizen through his wife and competed at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals. His decision to take up the opportunity to play for the USA came just before South Africa's re-admission into international football.

The forgotten footballers
Names like Pule 'Ace' Ntsoelengoe, Kaizer Motaung and Jomo Sono are legendary in South Africa, but their impact on the international scene is negligible.

Had they, however, been exposed to international audiences and competition, who knows how different their futures and profiles might have been.

Ntsoelengoe, who died last year at the age of 50, is generally regarded as the best ever South African footballer. His career alternated between the colours of Kaizer Chiefs and clubs in the North American Soccer League. Two years ago he was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame.

In the late 1960s and throughout the 70s, the NASL in the USA and Canada was only the outlet for top South African talent and Ntsoelengoe was one of many who crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play in the league.

Sono was an understudy to Pele for New York Cosmos and later helped Toronto Blizzard to win the NASL title.

Motaung was the first South African to go the USA and was named Rookie of the Year in 1968. He later came home and started a new club called Kaizer Chiefs, today the country's best supported team.

Since the end of apartheid, South African footballers have had the same opportunities as the rest of the world and players like Lucas Radebe, Benni McCarthy and Steven Pienaar have been able to compete at the highest level.

Indeed, McCarthy is the only South African international to have won a UEFA Champions League medal, with FC Porto in 2004.

Green Point

Posted by Volkan at 15:47 0 comments Links to this post

Cape Town is building a new stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The stadium will be in the suburb of Green Point, which the stadium is also named after. Fans will be a stone's throw from the ocean and the mountains of Cape Town will be the backdrop for matches. The location is ideal as it is a short walk from the transportation hub of the city. The new stadium precinct will be built on part of the land currently occupied by a golf course.

Upon completion, Green Point stadium will have a gross seating capacity of 70,000 and it is scheduled for completion by 2009.

Cape Town has another world-standard stadium, Newlands, but is primarily used as a rugby union stadium. The stadium has, however, hosted Tottenham Hotspur in 2003, as part of their South African tour.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa has offered the city the opportunity to build a multi-purpose international stadium that will be used for a variety of events after the tournament has left Cape Town's shores.

Facts

Name:

Greenpoint

City:

Cape Town

Construction:

new

Completion:

2009

Gross Capacity:

70 000

Holland vs Scotland Preview

Posted by Volkan at 15:17 0 comments Links to this post

As Scotland take to the pitch in the Amsterdam Arena tomorrow night, the mood will be one of excitement, anticipation and perhaps a little dread. Indeed, not since the days of Berti Vogts has a Scotland match been met with such rampant pessimism as the upcoming Group Nine encounter and, though this will no doubt give way, by virtue of a few pints, to a brash kilt-flaunting confidence by the time kick off arrives, it is easy to understand why some of the Tartan Army have reservations about the nation’s chances.

After a stuttering start to the campaign which leaves the Scots on four points from their first three games, the trip to face a Holland side sporting a 100% record has been rocked by a series of injuries which have left an already threadbare squad in tatters. Paul Hartley, Stephen McManus, Alan Hutton, David Weir, James McFadden and Barry Ferguson are all either doubts or certainties to miss the game and this is merely the tip of the iceberg. That all six took part in our one ray of hope—the 1-0 victory over France at the Parc des Princes in September 2007—just adds weight to the uneasy rumblings emanating from all corners of the country. The memory, too, of the 6-0 drubbing which befell us on our last visit to face the Dutch in 2003, looms large in the Scottish psyche and ensures that anything better than a point is deemed a result as outlandish as Darren Mackie winning the next Golden Shoe.

Yet, the Scottish star has not fallen as far as some would have us believe. The loss to Macedonia, disappointing though it may be, was firmly in keeping with losses to Georgia and Belarus in other, more positive, campaigns. These are the results for which the expression “we never do things the easy way” was invented and the 2-1 win in Iceland, which followed, has proven a better result than originally anticipated with the island nation now sitting, surprisingly, in joint-second place in the group. It is worth reiterating that second place, barring a piece of extreme misfortune, will be enough to secure the play-off place which was, realistically, our goal all along and, though a sizeable percentage of the country appeared to throw in the towel after the 0-0 draw with Norway at Hampden in October, Scotland’s start has arguably been better than each of our three closest challengers.

Some solace may also be found in the history of our opponents. The story of Dutch football has been littered with whirlwind starts, featuring truly scintillating football, which have ran out of steam and met decidedly anticlimactic conclusions. Such was the case in Euro 2008, where the same Holland side that appeared invincible in the group stages were comprehensively outplayed by Guus Hiddink’s Russia and deservedly dumped out of the competition at the quarter-final stage. A nation which has veered so often from greatness to incompetence must, at some stage, suffer the dip in form needed for Scotland’s makeshift side to accomplish a positive result. That the Dutch made hard-work of stuffy and well organised defensive performances by Romania, Albania and even Luxembourg in the last campaign, provides some hope that a heroic backs to the wall effort may prove enough to take home an invaluable point or, perhaps, something more.

So whilst, in the absence of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, we may have to make do with Kenny Miller, Graham Alexander and Gary Teale, it is worth remembering the many occasions where a seemingly unbeatable Dutch side has been humbled by an un-fancied team willing to go that extra mile for the cause. Here’s hoping history repeats itself on Saturday night.

Stuart Brown

Capello wants Rooney to calm down

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Wayne Rooney apparently got singled out by Fabio Capello at the England training ground for his reaction at being sent off against Fulham.

“What were you doing punching the corner flag? You’re a crazy man, a crazy man,” he reportedly told Rooney.

Rooney received his second yellow and then the red for throwing the ball in the direction of the referee, though he claims it was to his team so they could take the free kick quickly.

The disciplinary record for Rooney has got better this term with him not receiving a caution in his last 5 England internationals and only having received 6 bookings all season. Rooney will however now miss United’s match with Aston Villa on the 5th of April.

It is thought that Capello has been concerned by a number of incidents involving members of his squad since the last time they met up.

Ashley Cole was arrested earlier this month for being drunk and disorderly while Steven Gerrard faces affray charges over a disturbance at a Southport bar in December.

The Italian disciplinarian hopes a gentle warning will be enough to remind Rooney and others of the need for discipline as they look to make it five wins from five at the top of their World Cup qualifying group against Ukraine on Wednesday.

2010 Fifa Wold Cup Blog

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Hello Dear Readers,
2010 World Cup in your opinion I'll write about I opened a blog.
Now start this blog until the World Cup will provide information during the transmission.
We have written articles needed about the World Cup.
You sure you read the article.

Stadiums

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Green Point

Green Point

The new Green Point Stadium in the City of Cape Town will have picturesque mountains and ocean as scenery.

Cape Town
Durban Stadium

Durban Stadium

The new Durban Stadium's design is characterized by two large archways which arc 100 meters above the stadium roof.

Durban
Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Ellis Park, at the centre of bustling Johannesburg, was built in 1982 and has had a long and distinguished history with sport.

Johannesburg
Soccer City

Soccer City

For a long time Soccer City was the only South African stadium dedicated to the beautiful game and is a fitting finals venue.

Johannesburg
Free State

Free State

Free State Stadium in the golden Province of the Free State, will have a seating capacity of 48 000.

Mangaung/Bloemfontein
Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

The Port Elizabeth Stadium, set on the shores of the North End Lake will be the first dedicated football stadium in the city.

Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
Mbombela

Mbombela

In the Mpumalanga Province, the stadium is a welcome addition to the area and will have a seating capacity of 46,000.

Nelspruit
Peter Mokaba

Peter Mokaba

The Peter Mokaba stadium is named in honour of the anti-aparthied activist Peter Mokaba who was renowned for his fighting spirit.

Polokwane
Royal Bafokeng Stadium

Royal Bafokeng Stadium

The Royal Bafokeng Stadium is named after the Bafokeng People who own shares in the platinum mines in the area.

Rustenburg
Loftus Versfeld

Loftus Versfeld

Loftus Versfeld is the most established stadium, built in 1906 and is a homeground for Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Tshwane/Pretoria

Football History in South Africa

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Football in South Africa can be traced back to the late 19 th century and the first recognised club was formed as early as 1879, under the title of Pietermaritzburg County. The team initially played matches against military selections from the occupying British troops, and came solely from the European immigrant population.

The Natal Football Association was formed in 1882 and with a league comprising four clubs - Pietermaritzburg County, Natal Wasps, Durban Alpha and Umgeni Stars. By the following year, the league had grown to the strength of ten clubs.

The game spread next to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, where a Scotsman by the surname of Dickson, his first name having faded from the annals of history, attempted to establish a league, but with little success. Two Englishman founded a club called Pioneers FC in Cape Town in 1890, and they immediately challenged the dominance of the British military teams for competition honours.

In Johannesburg, the Transvaal FA had been formed in 1889 by the Dutch immigrants who settled in the area, and their main competition was the Transvaal Challenge Cup. The early winners were Wanderers Wasps in 1889, Rangers in 1890, 1892 to 1894 and 1896. The Rangers club existed for more than a hundred years, winning the First Division in 1986.

The South African Football Association, later to be known as the FA of South Africa, was set up in 1882, but after exactly 100 years it reconstituted under its first name to represent all of the country's diverse communities. A national team first represented South Africa when English club Corinthians toured in 1897, 1903 and 1907. England was, in fact, the setting for the first overseas tour by a South African team, Orange Free State Bantu Soccer making the trip there in 1898.

South Africa's second touring team visited South America. The team traveled across the Atlantic by boat, taking nine weeks on their journey, and stopped first in Brazil, where they cleaned up the local opposition.


In Uruguay and Argentina, South Africa played international matches against their respective hosts and also won handsomely. They beat the Argentinians 4-1 in Buenos Aires - a result that today would be almost unthinkable. The side continued to represent the country until 1963, playing against mostly European touring clubs or full internationals against the likes of Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Portugal and Northern Ireland. South Africa's last international match before their sporting isolation was against Israel in 1954.

Racial integration in football has always been a source of pride with the sport helping to break the apartheid barriers, albeit in a slow process. But the Inter Racial Soccer Board organised representative matches from 1946. In the Natal province, the Indian, African and Coloured FA's competed for the Singh Trophy. In the old Transvaal province, it was the Rev. Sigamoney Trophy.

The South African Soccer Federation, which led the campaign against segregated sport and received its first major boost in Paris in 1955 when the International Olympic Committee acknowledged and recorded that discrimination against "non-white" sportspeople in South Africa existed.

Professional soccer was introduced to South Africa in 1959 with the formation of the National Football League. There were 12 founding members, but none of the clubs are in existence today. In the first completed season, more than 500,000 spectators watched the 210 league and cup matches and huge crowds continued well in the 1970s.

In 1971, the National Professional Soccer League came into existence with Orlando Pirates crowned as the first national champions. Today the professional league has changed its name to the Premier Soccer League and there are still a sprinkling of clubs from the first league in 1971 playing in the top flight.

The South African Football Association was founded on 8 December 1991, the culmination of a long unity process that was to rid the sport in South Africa of all its past racial division. Four disparate units came together to form the organisation - the Football Association of South Africa, the South African Soccer Association, the South African Soccer Federation and the South African National Football Association.


A SAFA delegation received a standing ovation at the CAF Congress in Dakar, Senegal a month later, where South Africa were accorded observer status. South Africa's FIFA membership was confirmed at their congress in Zurich in June 1992. Membership of the CAF followed automatically and South Africa was back on the world stage.


Within a month, the country hosted their first international match as FIFA World Cup™ Italy 1990 quarter-finalists Cameroon went to play in three matches to celebrate the unity process. In September 1992, South Africa played their first junior international against Botswana at U-16 level in Lenasia, and to date the country has entered a team in each of FIFA's and the CAF's competitions, from U-17 to senior level and also for the women's team.

In the short space of six years, South Africa achieved remarkable success with qualification for the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals in France, the title of African champions at the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, which the country hosted, and the runners-up berth in Burkina Faso two years later. They also qualifed to play at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals.

At club level, Orlando Pirates won the prestigious CAF African Champions Cup (now the CAF Champions League) in 1995, the first club from the southern African region to take the title in more than 30 years of competition. Pirates were playing in the event for the first time and won the title away from home in the Cote d'Ivoire to further amplify the magnificence of their victory.

Big Five

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The term 'big five' was historically used to denote the five most dangerous animals to hunt in South Africa. However, at present, the term simply refers to South Africa's most popular and exciting creatures: the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros.

The so-called king of beasts, the lion, is on everybody's list of animals to see. The fascination is no doubt due to the size and awesome power of this big cat, as well as its formidable hunting prowess.

A more elusive cat than the lion, the leopard, is the most adaptable of the large predators and may still be found in close proximity to man. It is able to survive in almost any environment, be it the forest, savannah, desert or mountain top.

The African Elephant is the largest land mammal and perhaps the continent's most charismatic creature. Their magnificence and apparent compassion captivates game viewers and seemingly the whole of the human imagination.

Closely related to the domestic cow, the African buffalo is one of the most successful and ecologically important mammals on the African continent. Buffalo are completely dependent upon surface water, so are absent from arid and semi-arid regions but are widespread and common in savannah, woodland and forest environments.

The final member of the big five is the rhinoceros, encompassing the white and black rhino species. Apart from differing facial features, the two species of African rhino are similar in height, averaging about 1.6m at the shoulder, but the Black Rhinoceros has roughly half the mass of a White Rhino, weighing in at a demure 1000 kg. The most noticeable difference between the two is that the White Rhinocerous has broad lips, while the Black variety has pointed lips.


Football

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In South Africa, football is not merely a sport, but an institution.

The professional league is known as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and is independently run. The season runs parallel to the major European leagues.

The senior national team is known as Bafana Bafana, which is Zulu for 'the boys'. South Africa has a tendency for nicknaming their national teams; the U-23 national football team is known as Amaglug-glug.

Football in South Africa is governed by the South African Football Association (SAFA). SAFA has recently become a member of the FIFA family. It was banned from FIFA in 1975 for its segregated sports practices, but was readmitted in 1992 with a standing ovation. In order for this to happen, four historically divided football associations, servicing different parts of the South African population had to amalgamate into a single unified association.

Football culture has also emerged from the passion South African fans have for the beautiful game. Makarapas and Vuvuzelas are standard accessories for the dedicated fan.

The 1990s was certainly a good decade for South African football. Highlights included:

  • Bafana Bafana winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996.
  • Qualifying for France 1998, South Africa's first-ever FIFA World Cup.
  • Orlando Pirates winning the CAF African Champions Cup in 1995 and a year later, winning the CAF African Super Cup.
  • The South African national team qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.

Eleven Languages

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South Africa Culture

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Culture is something South Africa boasts in great abundance. The country has distinct cultural influences from all walks of life, leading Archbishop Desmond Tutu to proclaim South Africa a 'rainbow nation'. There is not a singular culture, but rather a variety of different cultures, which are all respected under the South African Constitution and are ultimately unique to the country.

Art and music are intrinsic to this diverse nation. Art, for example, can range from the rock paintings in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains, to the brightly painted huts of the Ndebele tribe. Traditional artwork includes intricate beadwork, ceramics and tapestry.

There is also a eclectic mix of music available. Johnny Clegg sings in Zulu and Abdullah Ibrahim is a smooth jazz maestro, along with trumpeter Hugh Masekela. Lady Smith Black Mambazo has also received critical acclaim, as has Miriam Makeba. Musicians can range from traditional music, pop, rock and reggae to the distinctive sound of Kwaito.

South Africa also has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Robben Island, and the Cradle of Humankind. There is also an abundance of museums and cultural villages, informing visitors about tribal traditions.

Even football has its own culture, with a distinct South African flavour.

The National Arts Festival is held at the end of June/ beginning of July in Grahamstown, near Port Elizabeth.

South Africa (RSA)

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South Africa are on the cusp of the most exciting chapter in their football history as they prepare to stage the FIFA World Cup ™ finals.

Bafana Bafana will, nevertheless, set a new benchmark in the preliminaries for the 2010 showpiece by becoming the first host nation to participate in the qualifying competition. South Africa are guaranteed an automatic berth in the finals, but because the preliminaries will also serve to qualify teams for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, which will be hosted six months earlier in Angola, they will participate.

Qualifying for seven consecutive CAF Africa Nations Cups may have been a fine achievement but the South Africans were made to sweat before clinching their place at Ghana 2008. The result of their travails was a fall down the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to their lowest position in over a decade. Worse was to come at the finals themselves with a disappointing return of two draws in three games, and three goals scored against five conceded.

But drawn in the same group as powerhouse Nigeria as well as the unknown quantity of Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone, it will prove a potential baptism of fire for new coach Joel Santana.

The Brazilian has been brought in to replace compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira, who quit unexpectedly after 15 months for family reasons. Parreira had begun the building of the foundations of a side that South Africa hope will prove competitive when they host the 2010 finals.

South Africa are well aware of the importance of building a strong home side for 2010 and, although flying low under the radar at the moment, they hope to be in among the big guns in two years from now.

Santana is also looking to bring in new blood alongside a generation of stars now on the wrong side of 30. The likes of Benni McCarthy, Sibusiso Zuma and Siyabonga Nomvete could still be around come 2010, but the Brazilian is pinning his hopes on Teko Modise, Thembinkosi Fanteni and their ilk as he builds for the future.

It is only 15 years ago that South Africa was re-admitted to FIFA, yet they have amassed an impressive international record since. A first (1996), second (1998) and third (2000) place at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, as well as two appearances at the finals of the FIFA World Cup (1998, 2002) , is something that most other countries in Africa can only dream of.


Senegal (SEN)

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During their first ever FIFA World Cup ™ finals campaign in 2002, Senegal sent shockwaves through Africa by reaching the quarter-finals, thus emulating the achievements of Cameroon's Indomitable Lions on their debut appearance back in 1990.

The west African side claimed an improbable victory in their opening match with a 1-0 win over reigning champions France, before going on to draw 1-1 with Denmark and 3-3 with Uruguay. Their inspirational form continued in the second round, where they knocked out Sweden 2-1 with a golden goal. Despite being eliminated 1-0 by Turkey in the quarter-finals, also by a golden goal, Senegal thus proved their international credentials and wrote themselves into the history books in the process.

At the start of that prolific year, Senegal also achieved their best ever finish in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. The Lions of Teranga rampaged all the way to the final before losing 3-2 on penalties to Cameroon, the match having ended goalless after extra time.

However, after notching up a respectable last-eight finish in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal then missed out on the 2006 FIFA World Cup following a 3-1 qualifying defeat by Togo, the eventual winners of their preliminary group. But despite saying goodbye to stars such El-Hadji Diouf and Khalilou Fadiga, the latter for health reasons, the Lions of Teranga believe their golden age is still far from over.

To inject fresh impetus, the Senegal Football Association handed new coach Henryk Kasperczak a double mission. First, to qualify for the CAN 2008 in Ghana and bring home the trophy for the first time in the nation's history, a feat beyond the capabilities of former greats including Jules Bocande, Saar Boubacar, Roger Mendy and Amara Traore.

And although the first objective was achieved without too much fuss, the second proved well beyond them. After their opening two games the Senegalese were as good as out of the tournament, a situation that resulted in Kasperczak's instant resignation. The Lions salvaged some pride with a final draw against South Africa but it was not enough to prevent their early exit.

Senegal stamped their authority on the qualifying campaign and finished on a high in the last match, in which they hammered Burkina Faso 5-1. But in the finals in Ghana, Kasperczak quit midway through after an embarrassing defeat to Angola, which ultimately resulted in early elimination.

Senegal have since sought to overhaul the infrastructure of their FA as they await a tough South Africa 2010 qualifying group with Algeria, as well as the Gambia and Liberia.

Senegal will need to draw on all their reserves of pride if they are to negotiate the rocky road to the finals. On the positive side they can call on a solid core of seasoned performers such as Lamine Diatta, Papa Bouba Diop, Mamadou Niang, Henri Camara, Ferdinand Coly, Aliou Cisse, Salif Diao and Tony Sylva, not to mention a promising new generation that includes the likes of Pape Malickou Diakhate, Rahmane Barry, Issa Ba, Frederic Mendy and Babacar Gueye.


Mali (MLI)

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Mali will carry considerable hope of reaching the FIFA World Cup™ finals for the first time in South Africa in 2010 given the star power of their squad.

Even though the Malians did not make it past the first round of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana in early 2008, a squad packed with talent and now under the leadership of former Nigerian FIFA World Cup captain Stephen Keshi is highly regarded.

Striker Frederic Kanoute is the reigning African Footballer of the Year and midfielder Mahamadou Diarra a regular at Real Madrid. Seydou Keita has also emerged as a genuine world star with his performances in Spain for Sevilla.

Despite being one of the first African members of FIFA, Mali waited until 2000 to play their first FIFA World Cup qualifier, a match against Libya in qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002.

This is one of the numerous ironies of a side that frequently threatens to achieve greatness without ever delivering, despite boasting an excellent youth development framework and a host of professionals plying their trade with top European clubs.

A single final appearance, losing 3-2 against Congo at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 1972, and three fourth-place finishes at the 1994, 2002 and 2004 events still remain the west African side's finest achievements, and they are clearly yet to fulfill their potential.

Having witnessed their team suffer a 4-0 mauling by Morocco's Atlas Lions in the semi-finals of the Nations Cup 2004, Mali's fans were then forced to endure a disappointing and ultimately fruitless Germany 2006 qualifying campaign.

However, boasting performers as talented as Sammy Traore, Djimi Traore, Mohamed Sissoko, Seydou Keita and Cheick Oumar Dabo, Mali certainly appear to have the resources to prosper on the big stage, particularly with instinctive finisher Frederic Kanoute and inspirational captain Mahamadou Diarra leading from the front.


Libya (LBY)

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Although Libya has been trying to qualify for the FIFA World Cup ™ finals since 1970, they only ever came close on one occasion. That was in the run-up to 1986, when they came to within a game of making it to the finals in Mexico.

After ousting Sudan in the first round, the Libyans beat Ghana in the next round before taking on Morocco for a place at the finals. The Moroccans won the first game 3-0 and went through, even though Libya won the return leg 1-0.

Not entering the 1994 and 1998 qualifying rounds, the Greens came back in ahead of Korea/Japan 2002. The Libyans managed to advance to the second round at the expense of Mali, who were beaten 4-3 on aggregate.

In the group stage, they had their work cut out for them, as they managed only one draw in eight games.

The draw of the African preliminary qualifying round for Germany 2006 proved a bit of a mismatch in favour of the Libyans, who were drawn against São Tomé e Príncipe - the lowest-ranked African team.

A 1-0 victory in Sao Tome put Libya well on course for a place in the group stage. In the return leg, the Greens ran out comfortable 8-0 winners and booked their tickets for the groups.

Luck was not on their side when the draw was made, however, and they ended up facing Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Egypt, Sudan and Benin. Given the context, Libya's 12-point haul was quite an achievement.

They will again have tough opposition at the start of the 2010 qualifiers, drawn in a difficult group with Gabon, Ghana and Lesotho.


Ghana (GHA)

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Ghana reached their first-ever FIFA World Cup finals™ in Germany in 2006 despite having long been a dominant force on the African scene.

The Black Stars' debut performance at the FIFA World Cup finals was impressive, seeing them through the first round, where they won matches against the Czech Republic and USA before being eliminated by Brazil.

Prior to qualifying, Ghana had been not successful since first entering the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 1962, starting with a 6-3 aggregate win over great rivals Nigeria before losing to Morocco.

The Black Stars have won four previous CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982), as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups. In addition, Ghana has produced a steady stream of some of the best African players to emerge down the years, including Osei Koffi, Abdulrazak Karim, Ben Acheampong and George Al Hassan, without forgetting 1990s stars Abedi Pele of Marseille and legendary striker Anthony Yeboah.

Ghana hosted the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals but lost in the semi-finals, hit by injury and suspension.

Ghana rely heavily on Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien. That star duo aside, talented midfielder Sulley Ali Muntari, striker Matthew Amoahand defenders Samuel Kuffour and John Mensah also count as the team's key components.

Veteran French coach Claude Le Roy had said he would leave the job if he did not win the continental crown and, after initially being persuaded to stay on, he left in May 2008, turning down a contract extension. Three months later, the GFA turned to Serbian Milovan Rajevac, 54, to lead the team's bid to qualify for both the 2010 FIFA World Cup and CAF Africa Cup of Nations.


Egypt (EGY)

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Egypt go into FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 ™ qualifying as reigning African champions, having successfully defended their CAF Africa Cup of Nations crown in Ghana at the start of the year. It was a massive fillip for their chances of returning to the world finals for what would be only the third time.

The win over Cameroon in the final in Accra in February established for Egypt a record sixth success in the African championships and handed coach Hassan Shehata the rare distinction of back-to-back titles and captain Ahmed Hassan an unprecedented third winners' medal.

Egypt are unquestionably one of the major forces in African football. Winners of the 2006 CAF Africa Cup of Nations on home soil following a tense final against Didier Drogba's Côte d'Ivoire, the Pharaohs repeated the trick against Cameroon in Ghaha two years later.

In winning the continental crown for a record sixth time, the Egyptians showcased their group talents throughout a tournament that was theirs for the taking. It was a triumph in which Hassan Shehata, the legendary 'Master of the Nile', had an equally important role to play. A fiery character and a born leader of men, the former prodigy turned coach took over from Marco Tardelli in late 2004 and made the post his own after an initial two-month spell as caretaker, no mean achievement for an Egypt manager.

Ghana 2008 provided Shehata with another opportunity to show his masterful appreciation of the continental game. Not once during their triumphant march through Ghana did the Egyptians look ruffled. Mohamed Aboutrika and Co impressed in the group phase, disposing of Cameroon 4-2 and Sudan 3-0 before drawing 1-1 with Zambia with qualification already in the bag. An efficient 2-1 defeat of Angola followed in the quarter-finals, a result that paved the way to a crushing 4-1 win over the Elephants of Côte d'Ivoire in the semis. And while the 1-0 scoreline in the final against Cameroon looked narrow, the fact is the Egyptians never seemed in any danger of letting the trophy slip from their grasp. To cap it all for the African champions, the tournament also saw the emergence of unheralded players such as goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari and midfielder Hosni Abd Rabou.

Shehata has an advantage over many of his co-African coaches in that he can rely heavily on players from Al Ahly, Egypt's biggest club and champions of Africa in 2005 and 2006, and neighbours Zamalek. Al Ahly currently supply a large number of players to the national team, which makes building a collective understanding simpler. Only six members of the squad play their football abroad: captain and playmaker Ahmed Hassan, defensive duo Wael Gomaa and Ibrahim Said, midfield men Mohamed Shawky and Hassan Mostafa, and goalgetter Mohamed Zidan.

Egypt's talisman is Hassan (Anderlecht), the heir to the legendary Hossam Hassan, and a player blessed with an array of match-winning talents. Mohamed Zidan (Hamburg) and Amr Zaki (Zamalek) are a pair of speedy, skilful strikers who have given their side the attacking clout to match the likes of Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon. At the back, meanwhile, Wael Gomaa is the orchestrator of a solid and well-drilled unit.

Egypt occupies a special place in the history of African football. In 1934, it became the first country from the continent to take part in the FIFA World Cup, after the north Africans took advantage of Turkey's absence, and qualified thanks to a crushing 11-2 aggregate victory over Palestine. However, their stay in Italy, which staged the 1934 finals, was a brief one: a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Hungary meant that they were on their way back home after their first match.

At that point Egypt were Africa's sole representatives in the event, although they were soon joined by Sudan. As a result, they had to take on European and Asian teams to qualify for the finals. In 1938 the Egyptians withdrew from their qualifier against Romania and did not get another shot at reaching the finals until 1954, when they were soundly beaten 2-1 and 5-1 by Italy. Four years later, they forfeited once more after refusing to face Israel in the qualifying play-offs. In fact, it was not until Italy 1990, some 56 years after their first appearance, that Egypt made their return to the FIFA World Cup finals. Drawn in one of the toughest groups, the Pharaohs acquitted themselves well, holding both the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland to draws before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat to England.

Congo DR (COD)

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The Democratic Republic of Congo has the distinction of being the first sub-Saharan African country to participate at the finals of a FIFA World Cup ™.

That was in 1974, when they qualified for the finals hosted in Germany under the name Zaire. Although that campaign ended rather unsatisfactorily with three defeats and 14 goals conceded (including nine against Yugoslavia) - a record that puts them second only to El Salvador at the wrong end of the overall FIFA World Cup stats table - the Leopards will remain in the record books as the first African country not from the north of the continent to have paraded their skills at the showpiece of international football.

Earlier in the same year, Zaire had experienced somewhat more success at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, beating Zambia in the final. Most of the players, including goalkeeper Muamba Kazadi and strikers Mulamba Ndaye and Etepe Kakoko, who starred against the Zambians went on to play in Germany.

Since then, Zaire's (and now Congo DR's) football fortunes have dwindled, and they have not come close to repeating their 1974 success of winning the African championship or qualifying for the FIFA World Cup finals.

Germany 2006 was the closest Congo DR came to returning to the forefront of world football. After Alain Giresse rejected the overtures of the Congolese federation, it was another Frenchman, Claude Le Roy, who finally accepted the post. Highly knowledgeable about African football, the former Cameroon and Senegal coach wasted no time in restoring the team's acumen.

Congo DR were in the running for a qualifying spot until the end of the campaign but finished on four wins, two draws and four defeats, putting them five points adrift of Ghana but ahead of South Africa.

Now one of Africa's biggest countries have set their sights on the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in nearby South Africa and have turned to another Frenchman, Patrice Neveu to help them qualify.

Congo (CGO)

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The Congo team had one of the highest profiles among the African nations in the 1970s and will be looking forward to the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 ™. The countrymen of the legendary Paul Moukila did not make it to Germany 2006, despite putting up a good fight in Group 1 of the qualifiers, where they faced Senegal, Zambia, Mali and Togo. The Diables Rouges ended up fourth ahead of Mali and Liberia, one point behind Zambia.

Congo's first foray into the FIFA World Cup took place in 1972 when the Diables Rouges took on Nigeria ahead of Germany 1974. Two games later - following a 2-1 defeat in the west African nation and a 1-1 home draw - Congo's first FIFA World Cup experience had come to an end.

Four years later, Congo advanced to the second round at Cameroon's expense, but then lost both matches against Côte d'Ivoire to crash out of the competition. It was to be their last FIFA World Cup game for 12 years as they failed to enter the next three editions before making a comeback for USA 1994. Grouped with Nigeria and South Africa it was - once again - a short campaign and after four defeats out of four games, the Congolese FIFA World Cup dream had been put on hold for another four years.

In the qualifying campaign for France 1998, Congo came agonisingly close to reaching the final tournament. After beating favourites South Africa 2-0, the two countries were neck and neck in a group that included Zambia and the Congo DR. South Africa had benefited from a decision that the Congo DR had to play their final two home qualifying matches at a neutral venue due to the civil war raging in the country. Two wins later and it was South Africa who were heading for France.

In the qualifying competition for Korea/Japan 2002, Congo failed to repeat their earlier success and finished bottom of their group.

That failure has made the side even more determined to do well this time around. Congo have just named Ivica Todorov as their new coach and the Serbian will be counting on players like Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers, England) and captain Oscar Ewolo of Lorient in France.


Comoros (COM)

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Comoros became FIFA's 207th member association upon affiliation on 12 December 2005 and are the youngest members of the African football family (CAF).

They made their FIFA World Cup ™ qualifying debut less than two years later, playing in a preliminary round tie against near neighbours Madagascar but were given a rude introduction to the rigours of international football on the wrong side of a massive 10-2 aggregate scoreline.

The two-legged tie also marked the first time international football had been played at the stadium in the capital Moroni, which has had artificial turf installed as part of FIFA's 'Win in Africa with Africa' programme.

Madagascar beat the Comoros 6-2 in the first leg of the tie in Antananarivo and despite coach Ali Mbae Camara almost changing his entire team for the return leg in Moroni, the Comoros lost again, going down 4-0 at home.

The country's football association was set up under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 1979, and underwent a major transformation in 1984, when the clubs of the three islands met at a general assembly to elect a President and an executive committee of nine members.

But despite having the best intentions, the Comorian government has struggled to help the development of football in the country. Indeed, for a number of years now, it has been thanks to the work of Salim Tourki (elected in 1997 and re-elected in 2000 and 2004) that Comoros' footballing infrastructure and a certain level of competitiveness have been maintained.

As a full-fledged member of the global football community, Comoros have also participated in recent regional events in east Africa and in the early stages of the Arab Nations Cup.


Chad (CHA)

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Chad participated in qualifying for only their second FIFA World Cup™, when they entered the preliminary rounds for Germany 2006. At their first attempt, four years previously, they lost at home in the first round to Liberia and although they managed to hold the Lone Stars to a goalless draw in Monrovia in the return leg, they went out on the aggregate.

This time around, Chad were drawn against Angola in the African preliminary qualifying rounds and nobody really gave the Sao a realistic chance of progressing to the next round. That was before the first leg match played in N'Djamena though, as the home side won 3-1 to take a two-goal cushion to Luanda. Striker Francis Oumar was the hero for the home side as he netted a hat trick.

In Luanda though, the Angolans proved too strong for the central African side. The 2-0 victory for the Palancas Negras saw the home team scrape through on the away-goal rule, leaving Chad to dream of what might have been and hoping for better in the run-up to South Africa 2010.


Cape Verde Islands (CPV)

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The Cape Verde Islands might be among Africa's smallest countries but the considerable migration of its people over the last decades means they can tap in to a well of top-trained talent from across the globe. The former Portuguese colony is able to pick from players who compete in leagues across Europe and in the USA, where the population is as big as that on the island archipelago.

Cape Verdean footballers have made a major impact in recent years, notably in Portugal. Striker Dady, for example, was a leading scorer with Lisbon club OS Belenenses before a move to Osasuna in Spain. Others like Cafu, Calo, Emerson, Janicio and Marco Soares are also regulars on the European club circuit, giving new coach Joao de Deus a considerable squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 ™ qualifying campaign.

The Cape Verde Islands were real contenders in the last qualifying campaign for Germany 2006, pushing the likes of Ghana and South Africa before running out of steam in their group. The campaign included a first ever away win in Burkina Faso. Ironically, though, their win in the 2006 preliminary round against Swaziland was the islanders first ever win in the competition.

In their only other qualifying competition - for Korea/Japan 2002 - Cape Verde were drawn against Algeria and although they managed a credible goalless draw at home, they lost the return leg 2-0 to go out.

They might be among the less experienced teams in the South Africa 2010 qualifiers but they are expected to give the likes of Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzan


Cameroon (CMR)

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Cameroon's Indomitable Lions will be chasing their fifth appearance in the last six FIFA World Cup ™ finals, buoyed by their performance at the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, where they bounced back from defeat in the opening game advance to the final, only losing narrowly to Egypt.

Still packed with stars, such as three-time CAF African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o and the long-serving Rigobert Song, the first African player from a country south of the Sahara to earn 100 international caps, Cameroon will be among the leading contenders for a place at the FIFA World Cup ™ finals in South Africa.

Now coached by the veteran Otto Pfister, who was in charge of Togo at the last finals in his native Germany in 2006, Cameroon begin in a modest group against the Cape Verde Islands, Mauritius and Tanzania.

The Indomitable Lions are historically among the heavyweights in African football thanks to the exploits of such legendary names as Roger Milla, Jacques Songo'o, Francois Omam-Biyik, Joseph-Antoine Bell and the late Marc-Vivien Foe.

Who can forget Roger Milla swaying around the corner flag at Italy 1990, when the Lions wrote their names in the tournament annals by upsetting title-holders Argentina in the opening match in Milan? They then went on to prove the result was no fluke by becoming the first African team to reach the quarter-finals, introducing Milla's unique celebration to the a watching world. Despite losing a thriller to England, Milla and his men won the hearts of millions of supporters.

Since then, Cameroon have become a regular fixture in the final phases of the FIFA World Cup, without ever managing to scale the heights of 1990. Indeed, they fell at the first hurdle in 1994, 1998 and 2002. They also endured the heartbreak of not qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in October 2005 when a last minute penalty was missed in their match against Egypt, leaving them two points short of reaching the German showpiece.

Nevertheless, having won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations as well as the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Cameroon have history on their side and a proud reputation to uphold.


Burundi (BDI)

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As one of the smaller African countries, Burundi does not have a rich international footballing tradition, and to make matters worse the country's most famous footballer - Shabani Nonda, top scorer in the French league in the 2002/3 season, turned down a request to play for the country, opting instead to play internationally for Congo DR, for which he was also eligible.

Burundi first entered the FIFA World Cup ™ competition for the 1994 edition. Grouped with Algeria and Ghana, the Les Hirondelles (The Sparrows) managed to do well in their home matches, beating Ghana and drawing with Algeria, but lost both games away. In the qualifying competition for France 1998, Burundi twice managed to beat Sierra Leone to advance to the second round, but withdrew before the start of the competition, allowing Sierra Leone a second chance.

Burundi then did not enter for Korea/Japan 2002, but decided to try again for Germany 2006, where they were drawn to play against Gabon in the African pre-preliminary qualifying rounds. The first leg match played in Bujumbura ended in a goalless draw, which put a lot of pressure on Burundi for the return leg. In Libreville, the home side proved much too strong for Burundi as they won 4-1 to eliminate Les Hirondelles from the competition.

Now the East Africans start off on another FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign seeking to build on the progress they showed at the East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania last December, where they reached the semi-finals. In September they also showed their prowess when they held eventual winners Egypt to a goalless draw in a qualifiers for the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana.

Burundi's team is led by captain Valery Nahayo, who plays in the South African premier league and they also have a bright prospect in teenage striker Eric Ngama.


Burkina Faso (BFA)

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The Stallions of Burkina Faso will be seeking to start a new chapter as they embark on their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa ™ preliminary campaign as they attempt to set aside the disappointment of recent qualifying failures.

The Burkinabe begin a new era by turning to Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte and a new talented generation players, exemplified by the recent Olympique Marseille signing Charles Kabore and the German-based Jonathan Pitroipa, subject of much recent transfer speculation.

The team made a weak bid to reach the 2008 Cup of Nations finals, finishing way off the pace in their group and finding themselves on the receiving end of a humiliating defeat from regional rivals Senegal in their last qualifying game in September.

In the Germany 2006 qualification process, they received an unexpected free pass into the group stage when their opening round contestant, the Central African Republic, withdrew from the competition. This gave the West Africans, who were at that stage ranked 14th on the continent, the certainty that their name would be in the hat when the Preliminary Draw for the 2006 finals was made.

They got off to a flying start, beating Ghana 1-0 in their opening match and laying down a marker for their Group 2 adversaries South Africa, Cape Verde Islands, Congo DR and Uganda. Football fans in Burkina Faso were full of optimism based on the rise of the Stallions towards the top of African football in recent years.

The victory train began to come off the rails with two defeats to Cape Verde, and with a record of two wins and three losses, Burkina Faso were up against it at the half-way stage. Frenchman Bernard Simondi took over the coaching reins from Ivica Todorov and made the team harder to beat at home, even recording wins over South Africa and Congo DR, but in the end it was not quite enough.

Burkina Faso are now hoping to profit from the spoils of the country's youngsters, who finished a highly credible third at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago 2001.