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Spain: The tag of European champions is no guarantee of success, as La Roja know only too well after fluffing their lines at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009. The Spanish were absolutely flawless in reaching South Africa 2010, however, winning all ten of their qualifying matches. And given the fact that they have never lost to any of their three pool rivals, Vicente del Bosque’s men have every reason to be confident about their hopes of progressing.
Chile: Under the tutelage of Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, the Chileans were the revelations of the ever-demanding South American qualification group, finishing second overall, just a point behind Brazil, and well clear of the continent’s other superpower, Argentina. Humberto Chupete Suazo ended the competition as top scorer and is now aiming to impress the rest of the world with his finishing skills.
Switzerland: Eliminated in the last 16 at Germany 2006, the Helvetians had to work hard on their way to South Africa, topping Greece by one point in a taxing group. German tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld has restored the faith of the Swiss support following the team’s disappointing display on home soil at UEFA EURO 2008. With a posse of exciting youngsters set to burst on to the scene, this could be Switzerland’s time.
Honduras: Catracho fans think the world of Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda after he steered the Central Americans to only their second-ever FIFA World Cup finals appearance. The Hondurans claimed their place after a heart-stopping end to the qualification race, helping the country’s people put their political problems momentarily to one side. The talented Wilson Palacios is just one of the players the fans will be banking on to impress, while veteran Carlos Pavon is intent on ending an exceptional international career in style. Winless at Spain 1982, Honduras have their sights set on putting the record straight.
The players to watch
Xavi (ESP), Andres Iniesta (ESP), David Villa (ESP), Humberto Suazo (CHI), Matias Fernandez (CHI), Alexis Sanchez (CHI), Wilson Palacios (HON), Carlos Pavon (HON), Alexandre Frei (SUI), Blaise Nkufo (SUI), Tranquillo Bernetta (SUI).
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