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Three-time FIFA World Cup™ winners Germany are usually there or thereabouts when the honours are handed out, and the current national squad will head for South Africa with their sights and expectations set appropriately high. After triumphing in Switzerland in 1954, on home soil in 1974 and in Italy in 1990, the team now coached by Joachim Low are aiming to hoist the most prestigious trophy in the world's favourite sport for the fourth time.
The Germans' consistent success is based on deep reserves of experience, finely-honed tactical know-how, and the ability to rise to the occasion when the chips are down. Their qualifying campaign merely served to emphasise the enduring nature of those attributes. Michael Ballack will be utterly determined to lead his country to a major international title after the runners-up spot at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, third on home soil in 2006, and another second place at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.
That would not merely be the crowning glory of the Germany captain's already illustrious career, it would elevate him to membership of an elite group of FIFA World Cup-winning captains, legendary trio Fritz Walter, Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus. Apart from Ballack, German hopes rest largely on striker Miroslav Klose, a goal-getter with the uncanny ability to hit peak form bang on time for the FIFA World Cup, and former talented youngsters turned senior pros Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski.
Miroslav Klose, Michael Ballack (C), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm,
Franz Beckenbauer, Juergen Klinsman, Rudi Voeller, Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn.
After a 32-year absence from the world stage, Australia made a strong statement at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, reaching the knockout stage where it took a last-minute goal from eventual champions Italy to eliminate Guus Hiddink's team. The squad, now under another Dutchman, Pim Verbeek, features many of the Germany 2006 personnel and is a battle-hardened and experienced group.
Unlike four years ago when Australia qualified through via the Oceania zone, and finally a dramatic play-off against Uruguay, the preparation for the Socceroos this time is very different following a lengthy campaign across the length and breadth of Asia.
Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill.
Serbia played their maiden international, independently, on 16 August 2006, winning 3-1 away to Czech Republic. They did, however, former part of two now disbanded teams: Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.
The former participated at nine FIFA World Cups™ between 1930 and 2002, and finished runners-up at the UEFA European Championship twice. Then, at Germany 2006, Serbia and Montenegro lost all three matches in a competitive group to fall at the first hurdle.
While Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montengro wore blue shirts, Serbia adopted a red jersey and the nickname Beli Orlovi (White Eagles).
Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic.
The only African side to get out of the group stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and the first to qualify for South Africa 2010, Ghana are anxious to prove themselves as the cream of the continent. Though this will be only their second appearance at the finals, the Black Stars have enjoyed considerable success at all levels of international football. They have won four CAF African Cup of Nations titles, though none since 1982, as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups, and they became the first African team to lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup when they beat Brazil on penalties in October 2009. With added experience since their 2006 adventure, where they lost to Italy and Brazil but beat the Czech Republic and USA, Ghana are set to be a major threat at Africa's first FIFA World Cup.
Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari,
Favorite Teams in Group D to Qualify the last 16.
Germany and Serbia (Based on Performance and Experience of the teams).
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