As we are a little more than a month away from the kickoff to the 2010 World Cup I will begin the countdown with a preview of each country participating. Today will be South Africa.
South Africa is the host nation. For the last four years South Africans wondered if they would get to host the World Cup with the delays in building the stadiums, the workers strike and the fear of crime. The time has arrived for them to show the world they can produce a great World Cup!
Unfortunately, South Africa may be the first host nation not to make it out of the group round. This was said in 1994 about the US and in 2002 about both Japan and South Korea so; we can’t underestimate the home countries home field advantage.
South Africa did not have to qualify for the World Cup since they are the host. They did participate in the African World Cup qualifying section because it is also used for qualification to the African Nations Cup. The South Africans did not qualify for the Nations Cup. They have also been subpar in recent friendlies against top teams. One bright spot was the Confederations Cup, but that was almost a year ago. Every single player that steps on the field will need to have the performance of their lives in all three matches to advance.
South Africa’s top player is Steven Pienaar who plays for Everton in the English Premier League. He brings a lot of energy and has a tremendous work rate. If his teammates can follow his lead South Africa may surprise everyone.
The coach of South Africa is Carlos Alberto Parreira who led Brazil to their 4th World Cup in 1994.
Prediction: 4th place in Group A. In order to finish higher they will have to jump on Mexico (preview tomorrow) in the opening match of the Cup from the start. Uruguay (preview Monday) is a tough South American team even though they had to earn a berth in a playoff with Costa Rica and France (preview Tuesday) is a top team when they want to play regardless of the hand ball they got them into the World Cup as the expense of the Irish.