It is almost time for the party to begin as
looks forward to hosting the World Cup and the 32 participating nations await their first matches. Predicting the outcome of a World Cup is futile but fun, as there are bound to be unexpected result adding to the excitement of the tournament, but looking at how the teams are ranked in rankfootball.com and their recent forms can help with predictions. South Africa
The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4 with the top 2 of each group going through to the next round. The number after each team shows its Ziaian ranking position at the start of the World Cup. The Ziaian rankings will be updated at the end of every World Cup day.
Group A – a well balanced group with the weakest team on paper enjoying home advantage.
South Africa (52) who would not have qualified through the usual channels have grabbed automatic qualification as hosts with both hands and among the participating teams have been the most improved this year, hoping that they will pass the big test and the sound of the vuvuzelas will continue to be heard in force after their group matches.
Uruguay (12) who needed the play-offs to qualify have only played 2 friendly matches since the turn of the year and despite confident boosting victories will need to be on their toes so as not to be intimidated by the South African crowd, out-played by the brave Mexican or out-shun by the French stars.
France (18) who got the better of the Irish in a controversial play-off match in Paris are in many minds the top team in this group, but the fading French stars have been finding it difficult to gel and based on recent form could find it difficult to get out of this group.
Group B – a group from the past.
South Korea (21), the top Asian team at the moment, have enjoyed good results inconsistently this year and could do well in the World Cup if they can remain focused.
Group C – an easy group.
(4) have been difficult to beat and are expected to move into the next stage with a realistic possibility of a medal. England
Group D – a group of hopefuls.
Ghana (45) once again on the up in Africa have been disappointing in their friendly matches in Europe but will be hoping to show their true pedigree on African soil to avoid an unexpected early elimination.
Group E – the attractive group.
Group F – the weakest group.
Italy (10) have been less than convincing in their friendly matches this year and are unlikely to improve sufficiently on the big stage to retain the cup.
Group G – dubbed the group of death.
Portugal (9) have enough talent to go far if they find their feet on the night, but are unlikely to progress far beyond the group stage.
North Korea (68) are ranked lower than several Asian teams that did not qualify, but will be hoping to prove that they are worthy of their place in the finals though an early flight back home is the most likely outcome.
Group H – the strongest group.
Honduras (38) who qualified thanks to an American equaliser against Costa Rica 4 minutes into stoppage time will be happy to show what they can do, but it will probably not be enough to prevent them finishing bottom of their group.
(28) are able to carve out good results but they will need to be at their very best to progress from this group. Switzerland