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Profiles - World Cup Teams (Countries)

Argentina Argentina, rather than four-times champions Brazil, are set to lead South America's challenge at the 2002 World Cup.
They swept through the marathon qualifying competition with 13 wins in 18 games, a record which makes it clear that they must be considered among the title favourites ... MORE

BelgiumBelgium, a small country with few big-name soccer stars and lacking a money-spinning league, have defied the odds again to reach the World Cup finals for the sixth consecutive time. Belgium, who usually reach the World Cup the hard way, qualified by beating the Czech Republic 2-0 ... MORE

BrazilBrazil's exuberant attacking play has illuminated past World Cups but the unique skills of players such as Pele, Garrincha, Leonidas, Rivelino, Zico and Socrates have been replaced by the bone-crunching tackle of a new breed of midfield hard-men. In the last decade, Brazilian football has become ... MORE

CameroonCameroon will set a record for Africa when they make their fifth World Cup finals appearance this summer. With Morocco's surprise failure to qualify, they have now progressed to the World Cup finals more times than any other African country. Already, they have achieved the distinction of going ... MORE

China PR
China PRFor China, the most satisfying part of the World Cup - getting to the finals for the first time after a series of heartbreaking near-misses - is over. Overcoming a 44-year-long jinx with a convincing run through the qualifiers for the finals in South Korea and Japan has sent the world's most populous nation ... MORE

Costa Rica
Costa RicaIt has been 12 years since Costa Rica last appeared in the World Cup finals, but if any nation can benefit from such a prolonged absence it is the Ticos. The 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan marks only the second time Costa Rica has qualified for the finals following their ... MORE

CroatiaSurprise semi-finalists in their first World Cup in France, Croatia's 'Fiery Eleven' of 1998 have set a tough standard for the current team. However, the side heading for Japan and South Korea, a blend of experience and youth, are forging their own reputation and manager Mirko Jozic says ... MORE

DenmarkA rejuvenated Denmark swept past Iceland 6-0 and into their third World Cup finals with a style and aggression that is fast becoming their signature.That victory, which secured Denmark first place in group three and a ticket to South Korea and Japan, underlined the return to form of the 1992 ... MORE

EcuadorEcuador first became involved in international football in 1938. Until November 2001 the story been one of 63 years of almost non-stop frustration. They managed only four wins in their first 25 years of internationals - against Colombia (1938, 1949 and 1963) and Paraguay in 1959 ... MORE

EnglandFrom Geoff Hurst's hat-trick in the Final to images of captain Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley, the 1966 World Cup remains the ultimate moment of triumph in English sporting history. Yet the real story surrounding England's route to glory against Germany in one of the ... MORE

FranceComplacency could be France's biggest obstacle at the World Cup finals. Roger Lemerre's side, who will start as favourites together with Argentina, have nothing to prove. Success at Euro 2000 has been added to their triumph at France '98 and even FIFA's hard-to-climb ... MORE

GermanyIn the end Germany qualified emphatically for the World Cup finals with a 5-2 demolition of Ukraine in the play-offs. But their achievement has not masked their real fears that they could have missed out on the World Cup for the first time since 1950. A goalless draw with Finland following ... MORE

IrelandIreland will not feature among the favourites to lift the 2002 World Cup but the fighting qualities they displayed in the qualifying campaign make them a side no one will relish facing. Unbeaten away from home since September 1999 until Iran scored an academic last-minute winner against ... MORE

ItalyAfter disappointing at France '98, Italy head for Japan and South Korea with the firm belief that they have a real chance of claiming their fourth World Cup. An exit on penalties in the quarter-finals to hosts and eventual winners France four years ago was no disgrace for the side then coached ... MORE

JapanWhile Japan are unlikely to add the World Cup to their Asian Cup title, the co-hosts proved by reaching the final of the 2001 Confederations Cup that have come a long way under Philippe Troussier.The Frenchman has moulded the Japan team into a cohesive unit capable of winning big matches even ... MORE

Korea Republic
Korea RepublicOf all the emotions felt by South Koreans in the run-up to the biggest event ever staged in their country, the strongest is anxiety. While there is a large measure of pride in the privilege of opening Asia's first-ever World Cup soccer finals, this is balanced by a pervading feeling that the team may not do justice to the magnificent facilities being provided ... MORE

MexicoMexico boasts a football-mad population of nearly 100 million, one of Latin America's richest domestic leagues and has staged two of the best-organised, most memorable World Cups in history. Yet the national team remains one of the great enigmas of international football ... MORE

NigeriaNigeria's dismal semi-final exit in the African Nations in Mali came amid mutterings of player rebellion, while senior squad members have talked about the worst-ever preparations they can recall. And should the Super Eagles really go from good to better to best, soaring to the heights they're capable of in ... MORE

ParaguayAt first glance there are not too many similarities between the Irish and the Paraguayan soccer teams. But in one respect they do have something in common. Neither can be considered among the favourites to win the 2002 World Cup but anyone who underestimates them is likely to get a very ... MORE

PolandAfter 16 years in the football wilderness, a restyled Poland return to the 2002 World Cup with the tough task of recapturing at least some of the glory of a generation ago. Poland's best spell in international soccer spanned the early 1970s and 1980s when they finished third in the World Cups of ... MORE

Portugal'We must stop being the best and come first instead', Portuguese coach Antonio Oliveira said of his side's preparations for their third crack at the World Cup in 2002. With a side full of big names playing in Europe's top clubs, and dubbed the Brazilians of Europe by fan and foe ... MORE

RussiaUntil a favourable draw grouped them with Belgium, Tunisia and Japan, Russia seemed to be facing an uphill battle just to avoid a first-round exit this summer. Many Russian experts doubt their team's ability to make any impact on the world stage, pointing to problems in almost every aspect of the game: physical, tactical and mental ... MORE

Saudi Arabia
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia overcame a miserable start to the qualifiers to seal a place in the World Cup finals thanks to Bahrain's humbling of regional rival Iran and a new confidence in homegrown coaching talent. But a team rated by William Hill least likely to lift the trophy will have to display unusual ... MORE

SenegalSenegal produced a surprise performance to book their first trip to the World Cup finals, emerging not only from the ranks of the unfancied but through arguably the toughest of the African qualifying groups. The Lions of west Africa edged out four-time World Cup finalists Morocco on goal difference ... MORE


When Slovenia gained independence in 1991, its soccer team was considered the weakest of all the former Yugoslav republics. A decade later, while Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Macedonia sit at home, Srecko Katanec's side along with Croatia are on their way to South Korea and Japan to take part in the World Cup in ... MORE

South Africa
South AfricaSouth Africa have made clear their aims for the World Cup finals - progress past the first round and into the knockout phase. South Africa were disappointing in their only previous World Cup finals appearance, failing to get past the opening round at France '98 despite only one defeat ... MORE

SpainWhatever problems Spain face in the World Cup finals in June, at least they should not be weighed down by the burden of expectation this time. Coach Jose Antonio Camacho should be able to assemble one of the most talented squads on show in South Korea and Japan, drawn largely from ... MORE

SwedenDull but efficient Sweden are nobody's first choice as soccer's most spectacular side - but neither are they anybody's choice to be humiliated in the World Cup finals. The Swedes conceded just three goals and remained unbeaten on their way to the top spot in Europe's qualifying group four ... MORE

TunisiaThe only North African team to make it to this year's football festival, Tunisia remained unbeaten throughout an admittedly weak qualifying section, clinching a berth at the World Cup finals for the second straight time. Considered by many as the weakest team to take part in this summer's ... MORE

TurkeyThe last time Turkey met a real world footballing power, the results were not pretty. Powerful French midfielders sent their smaller Turkish opposite numbers sprawling into the mud of a rainy Istanbul night late in 2000 as the World and European champions swept to an all too easy 4-0 friendly win ... MORE

Uruguay, who played a pivotal role in turning soccer into an international game, make a welcome return to the World Cup after watching the last two tournaments from the sidelines. The smallest nation to have won the trophy claimed the 32nd and final place when they beat Australia 3-1 on aggregate in a play-off after finishing fifth in the ... MORE

USAThe one positive aspect the United States can take from a thoroughly miserable last place at the 1998 World Cup is that they couldn't possibly perform any worse at this summer's tournament. While the U.S. defense has always been relatively solid, if somewhat pedestrian, creativity in forward areas is ... MORE
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