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Netherlands (Holland, Dutch, Blunder, Belanda)
The final or bust. The Oranje have set lofty aims for their campaign in South Africa, 32 years after their 3-1 extra-time defeat by Argentina in the showpiece game, which itself came four years on from their 2-1 final loss to West Germany. Since the retirement of pioneering coach Rinus Michels, a multitude of players have followed in the footsteps of the Johan Cruyff generation without ever advancing as far as the final hurdle, though one particularly talented crop did claim the European title in 1988. Often seen as spectacular but mentally fragile, the Netherlands hope to banish that image under Bert van Marwijk, who took over in the wake of their disappointing UEFA EURO 2008 campaign.
He and his charges at least have history on their side this time around. The last team to reach a FIFA World Cup™ finals without dropping a single point in qualifying - West Germany in 1982 - went on to contest the final. The current Oranje vintage have made no efforts to conceal their ambitions and, once again, look on paper to have all the ingredients necessary to go far.
Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Robin Van Persie, Ibrahim Affelay, Khalid Bouhlarouz, Ryan Babel,
Johan Cryuff, Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids.
After a six-year absence, Danish Dynamite is once again set to explode on the elite world footballing scene. The Scandinavians missed out on both the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany and UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, but the FIFA founder members blazed an impressive trail en route to a berth in South Africa next summer.
The Danes will now be looking to extend their creditable record at three previous finals appearances, where they reached the Round of 16 twice and the quarter-finals on the other occasion. Denmark's first tilt at the trophy was in 1986 in Mexico, where they progressed to the last sixteen. The core of that team then went on to register the nation's greatest footballing triumph with the 1992 UEFA European Championship crown in neighbouring Sweden.
The small but totally football-mad nation went on to further success in the period after that. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, the Danes were a shade unlucky to lose to eventual finalists Brazil in the quarter-finals, before England proved too strong in the Round of 16 at the 2002 tournament in Korea/Japan. Denmark played some of the most attractive football at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, but came up against the in-form Czech Republic in the quarter-finals and lost 3-0.
With their long absence from the major stage now poised to end, captain Jon Dahl Tomasson and his men are keen to cut a dash in South Africa. Should head coach Morten Olsen be spared the injury woe which threatened to derail his side's qualification campaign at one point, the undoubted quality in the squad means the Scandinavians must be a good bet for a shock or two in South Africa.
Jon Dahl Tomasson, Nicklas Bendtner, Dennis Rommedahl.
Boasting one of the strongest squads in Asian football, Japan, winners of three of the last five editions of the AFC Asian Cup, have high hopes for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ - their fourth appearance at the global showpiece.
First on the agenda is an improvement on the disappointing showing at Germany 2006, when the Samurai Blue exited at the first hurdle after a 3-1 reverse against Australia, a 0-0 draw with Croatia and a resounding 4-1 defeat by Brazil. Japan will also be facing their first finals without iconic midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata. The former Roma schemer featured in each of the national side's games at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 before hanging up his boots after the latter event aged just 29.
Though their light may have faded somewhat since they brightened up the world stage at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™, Cameroon are not a side to underestimate at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The top African nation in FIFA’s rankings, they also bring Africa’s richest pedigree to the finals. They have appeared a continental-best five times in the World Cup, and no other African side has yet eclipsed their historic run to the Italy 1990 quarter-finals – though Senegal equalled the achievement in 2002.
However, the team have not managed to advance past the group stage in three finals appearances since then, winning just once in their nine matches. They lost out on Germany 2006 entirely after missing a penalty kick in the final moments of their last qualifier against Egypt. But the long road to the 2010 World Cup has forged considerable momentum behind what many Cameroonians are hoping is the right mix of players, and a new generation of Roger Millas and Francois Omam-Biyiks.
Samuel Eto'o, Gerimi, Alex Song
Favorite Teams in Group E to Qualify the last 16.
Netherlands and Denmark or Cameroon (Based on Performance and Experience of the teams).
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