World Cup finalists

March 3, 2006
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Fabrice 'Akwa' Maieco
Empics / JonBuckleAngola star striker Akwa
 ANGOLA
Federation: Africa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 60
Group: D
Fixtures: June 11: Portugal; June 16: Mexico; June 21: Iran
Coach: Luis Oliveira Goncalves
Player to Watch: Fabrice 'Akwa' Maieco (Qatar Sports Club)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Four ahead of Nigeria on the head-to-head rule
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

 ARGENTINA
Federation: Conmebol
World Ranking (Feb 06): 4
Group: C
Fixtures: June 10: Ivory Coast; June 16: Serbia & Montenegro; June 21: Netherlands
Coach: Jose Pekerman
Player to Watch: Juan Roman Riquelme (Villarreal, Spain)
Road to finals: Runners-up in group
World Cup record: 1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Winners in 1978, 1986; Runners-up in 1930, 1990

 AUSTRALIA
Federation: Oceania
World Ranking (Feb 06): 48=
Group: F
Fixtures: June 12: Japan; June 18: Brazil; June 22: Croatia
Coach: Guus Hiddink
Player to Watch: Marco Bresciano (Parma, Italy)
Road to finals: Winners of Oceania; Winners of Oceania/Conmebol play-off against Uruguay
World Cup record: 1974
Tournament best: Group Stage in 1974

 BRAZIL
Federation: Conmebol
World Ranking (Feb 06): 1
Group: F
Fixtures: June 12: Croatia; June 18: Australia; June 22: Japan
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
Player to Watch: Ronaldinho (Barcelona, Spain)
Road to finals: Winners of group
World Cup record: 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002; Runners-up in 1950, 1998

 COSTA RICA
Federation: Concacaf
World Ranking (Feb 06): 25
Group: A
Fixtures: June 9: Germany; June 15: Ecuador; June 20: Poland
Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes
Player to Watch: Paulo Wanchope (Al-Garafah, Qatar)
Road to finals: Third in group
World Cup record: 1990, 2002
Tournament best: Round of 16 in 1990

 CROATIA
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 23=
Group: F
Fixtures: June 13: Brazil; June 18: Japan; June 22: Australia
Coach: Zlatko Kranjcar
Player to Watch: Dario Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Eight ahead of Sweden on the head-to-head rule
World Cup record: 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Third place in 1998

Alexander Frei
Empics / JohnWaltonCzech Republic's Pavel Nedved

 CZECH REPUBLIC
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 2
Group: E
Fixtures: June 12: USA; June 17: Ghana; June 22: Italy
Coach: Karel Bruckner
Player to Watch: Pavel Nedved (Juventus, Italy)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group One; Winners of play-off against Norway
World Cup record: First time qualifiers*
*Czechoslovakia reached the finals in 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1970, 1982, 1990. They were runners-up in 1934, 1962.

 ECUADOR
Federation: Conmebol
World Ranking (Feb 06): 38
Group: A
Fixtures: June 9: Poland; June 15: Costa Rica; June 20: Germany
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Player to Watch: Christian Lara (El Nacional)
Road to finals: Third in group
World Cup record: 2002
Tournament best: Group stage in 2002

 ENGLAND
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 9
Group: B
Fixtures: June 10: Paraguay; June 15: Trinidad & Tobago; June 20: Sweden
Coach: Sven Goran Eriksson
Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Six
World Cup record: 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Winners in 1966

 FRANCE
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 5
Group: G
Fixtures: June 13: Switzerland; June 18: South Korea; June 23: Togo
Coach: Raymond Domenech
Player to Watch: Florent Malouda (Lyon)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Four
World Cup record: 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Winners in 1998

 GERMANY
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 19=
Group: A
Fixtures: June 9: Costa Rica; June 14: Poland; June 20: Ecuador
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
Player to Watch: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Road to finals: Qualified as hosts
World Cup record: 1934, 1938, 1994, 1998, 2002*
Tournament best: Runners-up in 2002*
*Outside of unification, Germany played separately as East and West between 1949 and 1990 and were represented at the World Cup in 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990. West Germany won the World Cup in 1954, 1974, 1990; and were runners-up in 1966, 1982, 1986. East Germany qualified only once in 1974, reaching the second group stage.

 GHANA
Federation: Africa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 48=
Group: E
Fixtures: June 12: Italy; June 17: Czech Republic; June 22: USA
Coach: Ratomir Dujkovic
Player to Watch: Sulley Ali Muntari (Udinese, Italy)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Two
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

Ali Daei
Empics / AdamDavyIran legend Ali Daei

 IRAN
Federation: Asia
World Ranking (Feb 06): 22
Group: D
Fixtures: June 11: Mexico; June 17: Portugal; June 21: Angola
Coach: Branko Ivankovic
Player to Watch: Ali Daei (Saba Battery)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group Two
World Cup record: 1978, 1998
Tournament best: Group stage in 1978, 1998

 ITALY
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 12=
Group: E
Fixtures: June 12: Ghana; June 17: USA; June 22: Czech Republic
Coach: Marcello Lippi
Player to Watch: Luca Toni (Fiorentina)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Five
World Cup record: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Winners in 1934, 1938, 1982; Runners-up in 1970, 1994

 IVORY COAST
Federation: Africa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 32
Group: C
Fixtures: June 10: Argentina; June 16: Netherlands; June 21: Serbia & Montenegro
Coach: Henri Michel
Player to Watch: Didier Drogba (Chelsea, England)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Three
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

 JAPAN
Federation: Asia
World Ranking (Feb 06): 18
Group: F
Fixtures: June 12: Australia; June 18: Croatia; June 22: Brazil
Coach: Zico
Player to Watch: Naohiro Takahara (Hamburg, Germany)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Two
World Cup record: 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Round of 16 in 2002

 MEXICO
Federation: Concacaf
World Ranking (Feb 06): 6=
Group: D
Fixtures: June 11: Iran; June 6: Angola; June 21: Portugal
Coach: Ricardo Lavolpe
Player to Watch: Jose Fonseca (Cruz Azul)
Road to finals: Runners-up in group
World Cup record: 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Quarter-finals in 1970, 1986

 NETHERLANDS
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 3
Group: C
Fixtures: June 11: Serbia & Montenegro; June 16: Ivory Coast; June 21: Argentina
Coach: Marco van Basten
Player to Watch: Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg, Germany)
Road to finals: Winners of Group One
World Cup record: 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998
Tournament best: Runners-up in 1974, 1978

torres_nfrench.jpg
GettyImages / StuartFranklinNelson Haedo Valdez in action for his Bundesliga side, Bremen

 PARAGUAY
Federation: Conmebol
World Ranking (Feb 06): 33
Group: B
Fixtures: June 10: England; June 15: Sweden; June 20: Trinidad & Tobago
Coach: Anibal Ruiz
Player to Watch: Nelson Haedo Valdez (Werder Bremen, Germany)
Road to finals: Fourth in group
World Cup record: 1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Round of 16 in 1998, 2002

 POLAND
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 26
Group: A
Fixtures: June 9: Ecuador; June 14: Germany; June 20: Costa Rica
Coach: Pawel Janas
Player to Watch: Maciej Zurawski (Celtic, Scotland)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group Six; Second best runners-up
World Cup record: 1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002
Tournament best: Third place in 1974, 1982

 PORTUGAL
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 10
Group: D
Fixtures: June 11: Angola; June 17: Iran; June 21: Mexico
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, England)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Three
World Cup record: 1966, 1986, 2002
Tournament best: Third place in 1966

 SAUDI ARABIA
Federation: Asia
World Ranking (Feb 06): 35
Group: H
Fixtures: June 14: Tunisia; June 19: Ukraine; June 23: Spain
Coach: Marcos Paqueta
Player to Watch: Hamad Al Montashari (Al Ittihad)
Road to finals: Winners of Group One
World Cup record: 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Round of 16 in 1994

 SERBIA & MONTENEGRO
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 47
Group: C
Fixtures: June 11: Netherlands; June 16: Argentina; June 21: Ivory Coast
Coach: Ilija Petkovic
Player to Watch: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan, Italy)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Seven
World Cup record: First time qualifiers*
*Yugoslavia reached the finals in 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1990, 1998. They reached the semi-finals in 1930, 1954(fourth).

 SOUTH KOREA
Federation: Asia
World Ranking (Feb 06): 31
Group: G
Fixtures: June 13: Togo; June 18: France; June 23: Switzerland
Coach: Dick Advocaat
Player to Watch: Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United, England)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group One
World Cup record: 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Fourth place in 2002

torres_nfrench.jpg
Empics / NigelFrenchFernando Torres: Youthful talent

 SPAIN
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 6=
Group: H
Fixtures: June 14: Ukraine; June 19: Tunisia; June 23: Saudi Arabia
Coach: Luis Aragones
Player to Watch: Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group Seven; Winners of play-off against Slovakia
World Cup record: 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Fourth place in 1950

 SWEDEN
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 15
Group: B
Fixtures: June 10: Trinidad & Tobago; June 15: Paraguay; June 20: England
Coach: Lars Lagerback
Player to Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Juventus, Italy)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group Eight; Best runners-up
World Cup record: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 2002
Tournament best: Runners-up in 1958

 SWITZERLAND
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 37
Group: G
Fixtures: June 13: France; June 19: Togo; June 23: South Korea
Coach: Koebi Kuhn
Player to Watch: Alexander Frei (Stade Rennais, France)
Road to finals: Runners-up in Group Four; Winners of play-off against Turkey
World Cup record: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994
Tournament best: Quarter-finals in 1934, 1938, 1954

 TOGO
Federation: Africa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 59
Group: G
Fixtures: June 13: South Korea; June 19: Switzerland; June 23: France
Coach: Otto Pfister
Player to Watch: Emmanuel Adebayo (Arsenal, England)
Road to finals: Winners of Group One
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Federation: Concacaf
World Ranking (Feb 06): 51
Group: B
Fixtures: June 10: Sweden; June 15: England; June 20: Paraguay
Coach: Leo Beenhakker
Player to Watch: Chris Birchall (Port Vale, England)
Road to finals: Fourth in Concacaf group; Winners of Concacaf/Asia play-off against Bahrain
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

 TUNISIA
Federation: Africa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 23=
Group: H
Fixtures: June 14: Saudi Arabia; June 19: Spain; June 23: Ukraine
Coach: Roger Lemerre
Player to Watch: Francileudo dos Santos Silva (Toulouse, France)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Five
World Cup record: 1978, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Group stage in 1978, 1998, 2002

 UKRAINE
Federation: Uefa
World Ranking (Feb 06): 41
Group: H
Fixtures: June 14: Spain; June 19: Saudi Arabia; June 23: Tunisia
Coach: Oleh Blokhin
Player to Watch: Andrei Shevchenko (AC Milan, Italy)
Road to finals: Winners of Group Two
World Cup record: First time qualifiers

 UNITED STATES
Federation: Concacaf
World Ranking (Feb 06): 6=
Group: E
Fixtures: June 12: Czech Republic; June 17: Italy; June 22: Ghana
Coach: Bruce Arena
Player to Watch: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Road to finals: Winners of group
World Cup record: 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Tournament best: Semi-finals in 1930

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