|wyart lane's guide
the world cup 2002
This article originally
MEHSTG Vol. 2 Issue 26 (April 2002)
Featured are some of the
rejected mascots for the countries,
drawn by Ian Gland.
- World and European Champions. Will be favourites for this tournament,
but are temperamental and a long way from home. Might lose it in the
heat of the Asian sun. Dodgy keeper. Arrogance might get the best of
ONE TO WATCH : - It can only be ZIDANE, the most expensive player in the world. And after his goal in the Champions' League Final, is it any surprise.
: - The dark horses (not their national nickname) who have done pretty
well in the African Nations Cup. Will be wanting to do well against
fellow French speakers as they have a French coach. Might give a scare,
but will not progress.
ONE TO WATCH : - Striker DIOUF is the one who catches the eye.
|URUGUAY : -
Traditionally, they give other teams the boot … quite literally, but
this group of players have come through together from the squad who won
the World Under-19 championships a few years ago. Having dumped
Daniel Fonseca, there is no reliable scorer, but they have a sound
defence and it would be difficult to imagine a Uruguay team being
otherwise. Struggled to qualify,
but might go through if they win their game with Denmark.
ONE TO WATCH : - Although out of action because of a passport scandal, Alvaro RECOBA could justify his potential if he gets the chance.
: - Wide age range in the squad as the manager has introduced some very
young players alongside the older hands. They are fairly tight, but this
tournament might have come a bit early for them. Capable of scoring from
midfield, their threat will be down the flanks with Gronkjaer capable of
giving anyone a run for their money.
ONE TO WATCH : - Christopher POULSEN is a young midfielder who has broken into the side and is highly rated by coach Brian Laudrup.
: - Surprise package in Euro 2000 and knocked Romania out in the
play-offs, with a tight defence and an enterprising midfield. Former
Sampdoria defender Katanec is in charge and he has moulded a nice
footballing side, despite having a Portsmouth player in their squad.
Could go through if they play to their potential.
ONE TO WATCH : - Anyone with the initials ZZ would be well known, but this one - Zlatko ZAHOVIC - is a talented player, who nearly came to Spurs a few years back.
Slov the Snail
|SPAIN : - As
always, they qualified for the finals with no problem, but the perennial
under-achievers might not get much further than the quarter finals. They
should do as they have a squad packed with talent, but the sum is not
always as good as the parts. Youngsters have been phased in to help out
the older boys in the squad.
ONE TO WATCH : - The goalscoring machine that is Raul GONZALES. Never looked back since moving across Madrid from Atletico to Real and he is sheer class.
|SOUTH AFRICA :
- Not quite the side that qualified for the last World Cup, with some
players now plying their trade at less attractive clubs like Charlton
and Watford. Struggled for goals in qualifying and the forwards have to
make their own goals, with only Fortune as a real creator. The sqaud
consists of a great number of midfielders and only three forwards, so
expect the middle men to break to support those up field. Have grown
together and might be more able to cope with a big competition, but will
be vying for the second place with three decent sides.
ONE TO WATCH : - Celta Vigo's want-away forward Benni McCARTHY now needs to show what he can do.
- Apart from the goalscoring keeper Chilavert, Paraguay have few stars.
Knocked out by a golden goal in France, the defence have stayed together
and will be tighter for that. Up front, Santa Cruz of Bayern Munich will
be a handful and midfielder Acuna will be the main creator. Having
avoided defeat by Brazil and Argentina in the qualifiers, they are a
ONE TO WATCH : - A keeper who scores from free-kick and penalties must be the star of the side and CHILAVERT will want to prove to the world that he is.
: - A group of players who have done well to get where they are today -
in their first World Cup finals since 1954. As A side who had to beat
Austria in the play-offs to get to the finals, they are a compact team,
who play for each other. However, when things go against them, they tend
to play for themselves. Should reach the second stage, although they are
light up front.
ONE TO WATCH : - Young midfielder Yildiray BASTURK could make his mark on this tournament with his powerful runs.
: - As always will be regarded as a favourite, but more for what they
have done in the past than what they might have produced of late.
Another struggler to qualify under manager Big Phil Scolari, they have
the skill, but have not been meshing as a team. Don't expect it to be
like the gold and blue of the past, nor Ronaldo to feature too strongly this time
ONE TO WATCH : - It can only be RIVALDO, an exquisitely skilled player, who can produce the unexpected.
: - A long qualification route through CONCACAF means that the players
are well used to playing together and their top players are at the age
where this will be their last chance to impress on the world stage.
Captain Reynaldo Parks will miss out with a knee injury, but will be
replaced by the marvellously named Pablo Chinchilla. Speedy up front and adaptable in the middle, they are a side worth
watching, but away from home are not at their best.
ONE TO WATCH : - Hernan MEDFORD is a veteran, but still packs a punch in attack.
: - A new country to the World Cup finals and one the FIFA people were
delighted to see qualify. The spending power of their fans in a
neighbouring Asian country will help the economies of the hosts. Little
is expected from them apart from honest endeavour and the use of the
tournament as a learning experience under old WC-hardened manager Bora
ONE TO WATCH : - Former Spurs trialist Fan ZHIYI is the captain and mainstay of the national side at centre half.
: - Did well at Euro 2000, but spoiled their excellent play by ugly
scenes when a golden goal penalty put them out. Flair side with bags of
skill, but they work hard too. Watch out for the changing positions from
the basic 4-4-2 formation in a "total football" style.
Conceicao and Rui Costa are a joy to behold, amongst a side that have
come through together from the youth set up.
ONE TO WATCH : - Can only be the second most costly player in the world - Luis FIGO. A real world star and one who can turn a game in an instant, as long as he gets 100% fit.
: - Led by Jerzy Engel, the Poles have been transformed into a good
footballing unit. There is enough talent in the squad to go forward from
this group and maybe reach the quarter finals. Naturalised Nigerian
Olisadebe has provided the goals, but they have a well drilled defence
ONE TO WATCH : - Keeper Jerzy DUDEK has really impressed since his move to England.
Tel E. Graf Pole
: - Not having won a match on their previous appearances in the finals,
the track record is not good. In this group, it could be unlikely that
they do any better against experienced opponents, even with former
Holland manager Guus Hiddink in charge.
ONE TO WATCH : - Perugia based Jung-Hwan AHN is excellent on his day and I like to think he will have at least one day in his own country.
Danny the Dead Dog
: - Squeaked through to Japan in the last qualifying place from
CONCACAF, but have done well since. Coach Bruce Arena has introduced
some younger players to the squad and there is a good mix of strengths
and experience. Might not make the next round though.
ONE TO WATCH : - Amongst all the old heads Landon DONOVAN could make his burst onto the scene, after impressing at the Olympics.
|REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
: - A side in the mould of their manager, Mick McCarthy. He believes in
strong defence and hard work from all areas of the team. There is a
major reliance on Quinn and Keane up front, with some goals from
midfield, but not enough. Will qualify for the next round, where they
might meet their match.
ONE TO WATCH : - With Roy going home in a sulk, it is left to Robbie KEANE to take on the mantle of Irish hopes.
: - Not qualifying automatically was a crime in their home country, but
got in through the play-offs. Rudi Voller will have to find the right
mix in the side, that has stuttered of late, now further hindered by a
spate of injuries to crucial members of the squad. They are always likely to
get to the later stages and they have a solid system that players can
slip in and out of. Have the benefit of being in one of the easier
groups, but will need to find some cohesion in their play to get beyond
the second stage. Problem may lay in scoring.
ONE TO WATCH : - Without Effenberg and Deisler, there is a chance for BALLACK to dominate and take the German side forward.
: - A talented side who retained their African Nations Cup earlier this
year. Play with a fluidity that is nice to watch, but they do lack the
system to prevent their weaknesses being exploited by European sides.
Explosive on attack (especially with young Eto'o), they have defensive frailties that teams like
Germany will capitalise on.
ONE TO WATCH : - Explosive is the only word to describe Patrick MBOMA, the Sunderland forward. Interesting to see how he and club-mate Quinn do in this competition.
: - Asian qualifier, but not expected to do much more than make up the
numbers. They have been lacking new blood and some participants from
1994 will still be in the side, giving experience, but they will be
eight years older. Fast on the break, this will be their main weapon.
ONE TO WATCH : - Asian player of the year Nawaf Al TEMYAT might over-shadow Sami Al Jaber as the best man in their side, despite suffering a long knee injury at the turn of the year.
: - Another of the fancied teams to triumph, but can't even beat Wales
!! Good all round strength and good strikers in Batigol and Crespo.
Should play a better style of football than they are remembered for in
England and should come through this group comfortably. Good mix of
established internationals and some youngsters coming through.
ONE TO WATCH : - Lazio's CRESPO has grown over the last few years into a striker to match Batistuta of a few years back.
: - Having sacked their coach after the unsuccessful African Nations
Cup, they will need to get sorted out quickly as the summer is not far
away. Very skillful players in their squad, but they have to develop
their team-play or they will not get far. Some of the bigger names
have been omitted form the squad, so there could be some dissent among
the ranks. A threat to all the teams in
this group and hopefully, England will know enough about their stars to
ONE TO WATCH : - JayJay OKOCHA should be the Super Eagles man of tournament, if he is in the right mood.
: - Qualified by the skin of their teeth despite the 5-1 thrashing of
Germany. We will just have to hope that like Spurs that result was not a
one off. Good youthful squad that might not be in their prime until
2006, but should give a good account of themselves. Tough group and
might not get beyond it, as someone will take a point off them.
Also, pre-tournament injuries after a long season at home are starting
to hit hard.
ONE TO WATCH : - It has to be Mr. Posh, despite all his haircuts and shortcomings. If fully recovered from his broken metatarsal, BECKHAM will make the team tick.
Sven The Swede
: - Many familiar faces in this squad to all who follow British
football. They have some players up their sleeve, but with a couple
having exiled themselves from the squad because of disagreements with
the coaches, they might lack a bit of experience at the very top level.
Plenty of fight in the squad ... mainly between Mellberg and Ljungberg
ONE TO WATCH : - Henrik LARSSON will be the main man for the Swedes and could score the goals to take them forward.
: - The first time they have got to the finals and they will be out to
make the most of it. Unlikely to progress further, but their attacking
style might provide problems for Mexico and Croatia. SCBC's Delgardo
will important to them if he can get fit, but Hibernian's De La Cruz
will help prove that they are a strong and fit side who should not be
under-estimated. Will definitely miss the high altitude that they
usually play their games at.
ONE TO WATCH : - Alex AGUINAGA plays his football in Mexico and good midfield performances might make him unpopular on his return.
: - Another side who will always be rated highly. However, they have
struggled to get a pattern that suits them and with Del Piero off form,
there could be a team that is more workmanlike than artistic. If Vieri
is fit, he will add potency to the strike-force, which is a bit
lightweight otherwise. A place in the semis at least for the Azzurri.
ONE TO WATCH : - Roma's main man Francesco TOTTI is the one who will make or break the Italian challenge this time. A talented midfielder, he is who the whole country looks to, especially to see if he has overcome his thigh injury.
: - Experienced World Cup campaigners and they have a good record in
qualifying. They have veteran defender Suarez and the talent of Espanyol
striker Palencia, but the belief that manager Aguirre has instilled in
them may be their greatest strength. They play with an attacking 4-4-2
formation that might leave them short at the back on occasion.
ONE TO WATCH : - Based in Spain, Cuauhtemoc BLANCO will need to do more than be remembered for his hop with the ball between his feet if his country are to impress.
: - A third place last tournament was the first time in a major
competition for the Croatians, but this time they might be a little long
in the tooth to repeat that feat. Jarni, Prosinecki, Suker and Boksic
are still there and the need for fresh players breaking into the squad
is necessary. The Kovac brothers in defence will tie up the opposition
strikers, but midfield legs might not last the pace in the Asian heat
ONE TO WATCH : - Surgery has robbed the squad of Juventus' Igor Tudor, but keeper Stipe PLETIKOSA could be the major player for the Croats and might make the difference between the second stage and the quarter-finals.
: - Midfielder Beya's lob from the halfway line put them through to WC
2002 and was one of 28 goals scored in 10 games in qualifying, but their
defence might be found out. Even though many players are based abroad,
the team have little top level experience. The squad came together at
the 1996 Olympics and have evolved as a group, with some youthful
additions. Their play reflects this, as they are the top team in Africa
ONE TO WATCH : - Kahled BADRA, a rugged defender, might be prominent as he could have a lot to do !! Can be utilised at set-pieces and has attracted AC Milan's attention recently.
: - Home advantage might help the little nation in their preparation,
but come the matches they will not find it as easy. Their best hope will
be on Belgium not playing to their best, but it will be interesting to
see how well the side have moved on since 1998. Based around the Youth
squad of the 1999 World Youth Championship, there is vigour and hope in
equal amounts in this tournament, but they lack physical strength.
ONE TO WATCH : - The superstar of Japan is Hidetoshi NAKATA of Parma, who is the playmaker and pin up of the team.
: - A strange blend over the years. Belgium have done well with a good
all-round team, but they have failed on the bigger stage. They are
lacking in invention since Scifo hung up his boots, but Wilmots drives
them on from midfield and Sonck is a highly rated forward. Should go
through in one of the weaker groups.
ONE TO WATCH : - With Emile Mpenza's groin pulling him out of the squad, Wesley SONCK will want to show why his goalscoring qualities are so sought after.
: - Some players are well known from previous campaigns, like Onkopno,
but newer names like forwards Beschastnykh and the 19-year-old Izmailov
are likely to take centre stage. Playing abroad, Karpin and Mostovoi
will have good experience with home based Khohklov adding to the side in
midfield and keeper Ruslan Nigmatullin looking to show his talents to
the watching global audience. Coach Romantsev will hope it all gels at
the right time to get through this stage.
ONE TO WATCH : - Yegor TITOV, the midfielder eyed by Spurs, is the mainstay of the side and can produce the killer pass.
For Wyart's World Cup Diary, click here.
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