US SoccerUS Soccer

June 12 Game Previews

South Africa v Spain
Daejeon World Cup Stadium (Capacity: 42,176)
Daejeon – Group B - 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET

Spain, who have not played up to their talented billing in recent tournaments, are one of just two teams to grab six points from their first two games.  Although they have posted back-to-back 3-1 wins, Spain have not been as impressive as the scores suggest. 

Spain scored twice in the final 16 minutes, including a Fernando Hierro penalty, for a 3-1 win over winless Slovenia.  Paraguay scored first in Spain’s second match, before giving way to three second-half Spain goals, including another later Hierro penalty. 

The pressure for Spain to perform up to their talent is huge after flaming out in 1998.  They have qualified for seven straight World Cups, but in that span have advanced to the quarterfinals just twice.   

South Africa used a two-goal second half comeback to earn a 2-2 draw with Paraguay, with  Quinton Fortune converting a 90th minute penalty to give South Africa a cherished point.  They then posted an unimpressive 1-0 win over Slovenia in their second game to put them in a position to move onto the second round.  Now all South Africa needs to advance is a draw against a Spain team that has looked solid, but not invincible through two games. 

South Africa
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
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

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
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.

Slovenia v Paraguay
Jeju Stadium (capacity: 42,256)
Seogwipo – Group B – 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m. ET

Paraguay is a touch unlucky to be sitting on one point after the two games they have played. Paraguay has led in each game, giving up a two-goal lead to South Africa and giving up three second half goals to Spain after leading 1-0 at half.  Now, in desperate need of a win, the play a winless Slovenia team that has already been eliminated from the tournament. 

Paraguay collapsed in the final 30 minutes against South Africa, giving up two goals – incluing a 90th minute penalty - and settling fro a 2-2 draw.  Paraguay jumped on top of Spain, but this time gave up three unanswered goals in the second half for a 3-1 loss. 

Paraguay’s headline-grabbing, free kick-taking goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert returned against Spain, but did little to help the South Americans.  He nearly scored with a free kick, but was at fault on Spain’s second goal. 

Even with Chilavert’s presence, Paraguay had a porous defense in qualifying, allowing 1.28 goals per game (and 23 overall goals) across 18 qualifiers, both the worst of all 29 qualifying nations.

Slovenia fought hard against Spain in a 3-1 loss, and were then eliminated with a 1-0 loss to South Africa.  Slovenia’s biggest loss may have come off the field, where they lost their star player Zlatko Zahovic as a result of a row with head coach Srecko Katanec after the Spain loss. 

Segastjan Cimirotic has scored Slovenia’s only goal in the tournament.

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)
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: 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
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 lvarenga, 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.

Sweden v Argentina
Miyagi Stadium (Capacity: 49,133)
Miyagi – Group F – 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 2:25 a.m. ET

The question surrounding this game is whether tournament favorites Argentina will join pre-tournament co-favorites France on the outside looking in when the Round of 16 kicks off. 

The South Americans, who cruised through CONMEBOL qualifying, need a win against an undefeated Sweden team to secure their spot in the next round.  The thought that Argentina could be 90 minutes from elimination at this point in the tournament is almost as surprising as the fact that they have only scored one goal in two games.

Sweden was the better team in their draw with England, but were only able to notch one goal – and therefore one point - from their constant second-half pressure.  Against Nigeria, Sweden was able to get the second goal they deserved.  But now because of their failure to secure three points against England, Sweden now needs at least a draw against the extremely talented Argentina team to secure a spot in the next round.    

Henrik Larsson scored both goals for Sweden against Nigeria and will be looked to to provide needed offense as they battle one on the top offenses in the World Cup.

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)
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

FIFA Ranking: 2nd (tied)
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
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-Ariel Ortega, 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 Caniggia, 22-Jose Chamot, 23-Roberto Bonano
Nigeria v England
Nagai Stadium (Capacity: 50,000)
Osaka, Japan – Group F –3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 2:25 a.m. ET

England’s 1-0 win against Argentina didn’t put them at the top of Group A, but it did put them in the best position.  Whereas group leaders Sweden still have to play an Argentina side that desperately needs a win, England is playing a Nigerian side that is eliminated from the competition. 

A win or a draw will see England through, while they can also still advance with a loss pending the result in Sweden – Argentina.

England is expecting another 90-minute performance from captain David Beckham, who ahs been at the heart of both of England’s goals this tournament.  He assisted on Sol Campbell’s goal against Sweden and then scored from the penalty spot in the 1-0 win against Argentina.  Michael Owen has also been dangerous for England, but is yet to find the net.

Nigeria held Argentina to one goal in their opening loss, but had no answer for Sweden’s Henrik Larsson, who scored both goals in Sweden’s 2-1 win.  Nigeria has been somewhat of a disappointment this year, after this African side qualified for the Round of 16 in 1994 (9th place) and 1998 (12th place).

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
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

FIFA 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 (SW
Championship Honors: 1966 World Cup Champions
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