Paraguay v South Africa - Busan, Korea – 4:30 p.m. local time
Spain v Slovenia - Gwangju, Korea – 8:30 p.m. local time
Argentina v Nigeria - Ibaraki, Japan – 2:30 p.m. local time
Sweden v England - Saitama, Japan – 6:30 p.m. local time
Paraguay v South Africa
Busan Asian Stadium (capacity: 55,982)
Group B – Busan, Korea – 4:30 p.m. local time
U.S. Television Information: Live on ESPN at 3:25 a.m. ET
This game is more talked about because of who won’t be playing – Jose Luis Chilavert – rather than who is playing – Paraguay and South Africa. Even with the stellar Chilavert in goal during qualifying, the South American side allowed 1.28 goals per game – the most among any qualifying nation. Parguay finished last year with an unimpressive 4-6-4 record, including one draw and two losses in their last three qualifiers. Paraguay used all of Chilavert's ability to get to the second round in 1998, allowing only two goals (one in overtime) in four games. As solid as there defense was, Paraguay offense was that bad. The South Americans were shutout in three of the four matches they played in France, and must improve if they have any hopes of playing in the Round of 16. South Africa has played in just one prior World Cup, qualifying for France ’98 – where they finished with two draws and a loss (to eventual champion France). South Africa shined in qualifying, posting a 7-0-1 record and allowing only three goals against. In the recent African Nations Cup in Mali, South Africa posted one win and two draws in group play, before falling to hosts Mali in the quarterfinals.
FIFA Ranking: 14th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished fourth in CONMEBOL Final Group (9-6-3; 29 GF, 23 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 6– 1930 (9th), 1950 (11th), 1958 (12th), 1986 (13th), 1998 (14th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 4-5-6
Manager: Cesare Maldini (ITA)
Championship Honors: 1953 Copa America champions
Fast Facts: Led by headline grabbing goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, Paraguay have qualified for their second consecutive World Cup … Despite Chilavert’s presence, Paraguay allowed 1.28 goals per game (and 23 overall goals) across 18 qualifiers, both the worst of all 29 qualifying nations.
World Cup Roster
1-José Luis Chilavert, 12-Justo Villar, 22-Ricardo Olimpia Tavarelli, 2-Francisco Arce, 3-Pedro Sarabia, 4-Carlos Gamarra, 5-Celso Ayala, 18-Julio César Cáceres, 19-Daniel Sanabria, 21-Denis Ramón Caniza, 6-Estanislao Struway, 8-Guido Alvarenga, 10-Roberto Miguel Acuña, 11-Jorge Campos, 13-Carlos Humberto Paredes, 14-Diego Gavilán, 15-Carlos Bonet, 16-Gustavo Morínigo, 17-Juan Carlos Franco, 7-Richart Báez, 9-Roque Santa Cruz, 20-José Saturnino Cardozo, 23-Nelson Cuevas.
FIFA Ranking: 36th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 5” (5-0-1; 10 GF, 3 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 2 – 1998 (24th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 0-1-2
Manager: Jomo Sono (RSA)
Championship Honors: 1996 African Nations Cup champions
Fast Facts: Best known for their return to the international stage in winning the 1996 African Nations Cup at home. … The team is nicknamed “Bafana Bafana”, which means “the boys” in Zulu.
World Cup Roster
1-Johannes Vonk, 16-Andre Arendse, 20-Calvin Marlin, 2-Cyril Nzama, 3-Bradley Carnell, 4-Aaron Mokoena, 5-Jacob Lekgetho, 13-Pierre Issa, 19-Lucas Radebe, 22-Thabang Molefe, 6-Ntuthuko Sibaya, 7-Quinton Fortune, 8-Thabo Mngomeni, 9-McDonald Mukansi, 10-Bennett Mnguni, 11-Jabu Pule, 12-Tebeho Mokoena, 15-Sibusiso Zuma, 18-Delron Buckley, 21-Steven Pienaar, 14-Siyabonga Nomvete, 17-Benedict McCarthy, 23-George Koumantarkis
Spain v Slovenia
Gwangju World Cup Stadium (capacity: 42,880)
Group B – Gwangju, Korea – 8:30 p.m. local time
U.S. Television Information: Live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET
The final match in Korea tomorrow (June 2) is a study in countries with contrasting soccer histories. Slovenia will be playing in their first World Cup in 2002, while Spain is playing in their 11th tournament. Both teams went undefeated in qualifying for this World Cup, although Slovenia posted as many wins as it did draws (six). Spain’s roster ensures that the Spanish will be the favored side in this group, but the team has a history of underachieving in the world’s largest sporting event. In 1998, Spain failed to advance out of their group.
FIFA Ranking: 28th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in UEFA “Group 1” (5-0-5; 17 GF, 9 GA); defeated Romania in home-and-home playoff 3-2 on aggregate score.
World Cup final appearances: 1 – 2002
Overall Record in WC: First appearance
Manager: Sreckok Katanec (SVN)
Fast Facts: Went undefeated in surviving a group with Russia, Switzerland and Yugoslavia, and a playoff with Romania. … Opened with just one win and four draws, before finishing with four wins and one draw … In their first attempt to qualify for the World Cup in 1998, they failed to win a match in eight games. … Team is led by forward and leading scorer Zlatko Zahovic.
World Cup Roster
1-Marko Simeunovic, 12-Mladen Dabanovic, 22-Dejan Nemec, 2-Goran Sankovic, 3-Zeljko Milinovic, 4-Maumer Vugdalic, 5-Marinko Galic, 6-Aleksander Knavs, 23-Spasoje Bulajic, 7-Dzoni Novak, 8-Ales Ceh, 11-Miran Pavlin, 14-Sasa Gajser, 15-Rajko Tavcar, 17-Zoran Pavlovic, 18-Milenko Acimovic, 19-Amir Karic, 20-Nastja Ceh, 9-Milan Osterc, 10-Zlatko Zahovic, 13-Mladen Rudonja, 16-Senad Tiganj, 21-Segastjan Cimirotic
FIFA Ranking: 7th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 7” (6-0-2; 21 GF, 4 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1934 (5th), 1950 (4th), 1962 (13th), 1966 (10th), 1978 (10th), 1982 (12th), 1986 (7th), 1990 (10th), 1994 (8th), 1998 (17th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 16-14-10
Manager: Jose Antonio Camacho (ESP)
Championship Honors: 1964 European Cup champions; 1992 Olympic champions
Fast Facts: Have qualified for 11 World Cups, but their best finish is just fourth place in 1950. … Have qualified for seven straight World Cups, but in that span have advanced to the quarterfinals just twice. … Swept through qualifying with an undefeated record and a plus-17 goal differential.
World Cup Roster
1-Iker Casillas, 13 Ricardo Lopez Felipe, 23 Pedro Contreras, 2-Curro Torres, 3-Juan Francisco Garcia, 5-Carles Puyol, 6-Fernando Hierro, 15-Enrique Fernandez Romero, 20-Miguel Angel Nadal, 4-Ivan Helguera, 8-Ruben Baraja, 11-Francisco De Pedro, 14-David Albelda, 16-Gaizka Mendieta, 17-Juan Carlos Valerón, 18-Sergio Gonzalez, 19-Xavi Hernandez, 21-Luis Enrique Martínez, 22-Joaquin Sanchez, 7- Raúl González, 9-Fernando Morientes, 10-Diego Tristán, 12-Alberto Luque Martos.
Argentina v Nigeria
Group F – Ibaraki, Japan – 2:30 p.m. local time
Prefectural Kashima Stadium (capacity: 41,800)
U.S. Television Information: Live on ESPN2 at 1:25 a.m. ET
The “Group of Death” kicks off with a match between one of South America’s and one of Africa’s top teams. The two teams met in the first round at USA ’94, and produced an amazing half of soccer and a 2-1 Argentina win. Many of the faces have changed, but the expectations remain the same in each country. Argentina cruised through qualifying, and come to Japan with one of the most talented, deepest squads of any team. Generally regarded as one of the favorites to lift the Cup on June 30, Argentina will be tested immediately in this group. Nigeria has advanced to the second round in the only two World Cups they have played in. But they will have their work cut out to advance from this supergroup.
FIFA Ranking: 3rd
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished first in CONMEBOL Final Group (13-1-4; 42 GF, 15 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 13 – 1930 (2nd), 1934 (9th), 1958 (13th), 1962 (10th), 1966 (5th), 1974 (8th), 1978 (1st), 1982 (11th), 1986 (1st), 1990 (2nd), 1994 (10th), 1998 (6th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 29-18-10
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa (ARG)
Championship Honors: 1978 & 1986 World Cup champions; 1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1957, 1959, 1991, & 1993 Copa America Champions (13 times); 1992 Confederations Cup champions
Fast Facts: Were led in qualifying by Hernan Crespo’s nine goals. … Easily won CONMEBOL’s 10-team group phase, clinching a spot with four games remaining on their schedule. … Argentina have won three of the last four World Youth Championships.
World Cup Roster
1-German Burgos, 2-Roberto Ayala, 3-Juan Sorin, 4-Mauricio Pochettino, 5-Matias Almeyda, 6-Walter Samuel, 7-Claudio Lopez, 8-Javier Zanetti, 9-Gabriel Batistuta, 10-Roberto Bonano, 11-Juan Veron, 12-Pablo Cavallero, 13-Diego Placente, 14-Diego Simeone, 15-Claudio Husain, 16-Pablo Aimar, 17-Gustavo Lopez, 18-Kily Gonzalez, 19-Hernan Crespo, 20-Marcelo Gallardo, 21-Claudio Cannigia, 22-Jose Chamot, 23-Ariel Ortega
FIFA Ranking: 29th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 2” (5-2-1; 15 GF, 3 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 3 – 1994 (9th), 1998 (12th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 4-4-0
Manager: Amodu Shaibu (NGA)
Championship Honors: 1996 Olympic champions; 1980 & 1994 African Nations Cup champions
Fast Facts: Were led in qualifying by forward Victor Agali’s four goals … Among the most respected African soccer nations, they are making their third consecutive appearance in the World Cup.
World Cup Roster
1-Ike Shorunmu, 2-Joseph Yobo, 3-Celestine Babayaro, 4-Nwankwo Kanu, 5-Isaac Okoronkwo, 6-Taribo West, 7-Pius Ikedia, 8-Mutiu Adepoju, 9-Bartholomew Ogbeche, 10-Jay Jay Okocha, 11-Garba Lawal, 12-Austin Ejide, 13-Rabiu Afolabi, 14-Ifeanyi Udeze, 15-Justice Christopher, 16-Efetobore Sodje, 17-Julius Aghahowa, 18-Benedict Akwuegbu, 19-Eric Ejiofor, 20-James Obiorah, 21-John Utaka, 22-Vincent Enyeama, 23-Femi Opabunmi
England v Sweden
Group F - – Saitama, Japan – 6:30 p.m. local time
Saitama Stadium (capacity: 63,700)
U.S. Television Information: Delayed on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET
The two European members of the “Group of Death” square off in one of the most eagerly anticipated European match-ups of round one. Both teams are struggling with injuries, and this match could potentially be played without one of each side's top guns. Freddie Ljunberg limped out of practice twice this week, and the injury woes of England are even more well-known, with captain David Beckham producing the biggest worry. Sweden’s offense is led by Celtic’s Henrik Larsson, who has been one Europe's top goalscorers over the past two seasons. England’s Michael Owen unexpected rise to stardom was one of the stories of the 1998 World Cup, and how he deals with the added pressure of being a team's star this year could well prove to be a story of 2002. Each team still has Argentina and Nigeria on the schedule, so an early loss could prove to be fatal to second round hopes.
Current FIFA World Ranking: 11th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 9” (5-1-2; 16 GF, 6 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1950 (8th), 1954 (6th), 1958 (11th), 1962 (8th), 1966 (1st), 1970 (8th), 1982 (6th), 1986 (8th), 1990 (4th), 1998 (9th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 20-12-13
Manager: Sven Goran Eriksson (SWE)
Championship Honors: 1966 World Cup Champions
Fast Facts: After a slow start (which featured a loss at home to Germany and a tie in Finland), England won their group with five straight victories (including a historic 5-1 win in Germany) and a last-gasp draw against Greece (courtesy of an injury-time free kick from star David Beckham). … Won the 1966 World Cup on home soil, but have failed to deliver in major international competitions since.
World Cup Roster
1-David Seaman, 2-Danny Mills, 3-Ashley Cole, 4-Danny Murphy, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 6-Sol Campbell, 7-David Beckham, 8-Paul Scholes, 9-Robbie Fowler, 10-Michael Owen, 11-Emile Heskey, 12-Wes Brown, 13-Nigel Martyn, 14-Wayne Bridge, 15-Martin Keown, 16-Gareth Southgate, 17-Teddy Southgate, 18-Owen Hargreaves, 19-Joe Cole, 20-Darius Vassell, 21-Nicky Butt, 22-David James, 23-Kieron Dyer
FIFA Ranking: 17th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 4” (8-0-2; 20 GF, 3 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 10 – 1934 (8th), 1938 (4th), 1950 (3rd), 1958 (2nd), 1970 (9th) 1974 (5th), 1978 (13th), 1990 (21st), 1994 (3rd), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 14-15-9
Manager: Tommy Soderberg, Lars Lagerback (SWE)
Fast Facts: Missed out on the 1998 World Cup after a sparking third-place finish at USA ’94 … In addition to their USA ’94 performance, Sweden boasts a second-place finish in the 1958 finals (losing 5-2 at home to Brazil in the finals).
World Cup Roster
1-Magnus Hedman, 2-Olof Mellberg, 3-Patrik Andersson, 4-Johan Mjallby, 5-Michael Svensson, 6-Tobias Linderoth, 7-Niclas Alexandersson, 8-Anders Svensson, 9-Freddie Ljungberg, 10-Marcus Allback, 11-Henrik Larsson, 12-Magnus Kihlstedt, 13-Tomas Antonelius, 14-Erik Edman, 15-Andreas Jakobsson, 16-Teddy Lucic, 17-Magnus Svensson, 18-Mattias Jonson, 19-Pontus Farnerud, 20-Daniel Andersson, 21-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 22-Andreas Andersson, 23-Andreas Isaksson