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ANGOLA
How they qualified: The Black Antelopes topped African Group 4 ahead of continental heavyweights Nigeria to reach their first World Cup finals.
Coach: Luis Goncalves Oliveira, Angola-born and previously in charge of the country’s Olympic and youth teams.
Key men: Benfica starlet Pedro Mantorras, injured for much of the qualifiers; midfielder Paulo Figueiredo; captain and goalscoring midfielder Akwa.
Talking point: Will Oliveira stick with his squad of largely Angola-based players, or try to unearth more Portugal-based players with Angolan heritage?

ARGENTINA
How they qualified: With a comfortable cruise through the marathon South American section, eventually finishing second to Brazil.
Coach: Jose Pekerman. He oversaw a string of successes at Under-17 and Under-20 level when Argentina’s youth team boss.
Key men: Juan Roman Riquelme, a classic midfield playmaker around whom Pekerman has built the side; Juan Pablo Sorin, successor to Juan Veron as captain; Hernan Crespo, first-choice striker despite a lack of games at Chelsea.
Talking points: There are raging debates over Riquelme – many feel he is not pacy enough – and whether Veron should be given another chance. Will Barcelona wonderkid Lionel Messi be fast-tracked into the starting XI in time for the finals?

AUSTRALIA
How they qualified: In dramatic style, beating Uruguay 4-2 on penalties in the Oceania-South America play-off after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Coach: Guus Hiddink. The charismatic Dutchman, who is still in charge of PSV Eindhoven, was parachuted in ahead of the play-offs. Will now oversee the World Cup preparations.
Key men: Oceania Player of the Year Tim Cahill; Liverpool winger Harry Kewell; keeper and penalty shoot-out hero Mark Schwarzer.
Talking point: How much time will Hiddink be able to give to his international commitments while also in charge at PSV?

BRAZIL
How they qualified: With relative ease, compared to the struggles of four years ago, topping the South American group and losing only to Argentina in Buenos Aires and Ecuador at altitude in Quito.
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira, the winning coach in 1994 and now in his third spell in charge.
Key men: The Famous Five – Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Robinho and Kaka – get all the attention, but Emerson plays a crucial role in midfield.
Talking point: How to fit all the Famous Five into the starting XI; at least one of them is likely to be disappointed.

COSTA RICA
How they qualified: After a slow start, the Ticos finished third behind the United States and Mexico in the CONCACAF final stage group.
Coach: Brazil-born Alexandre Guimaraes, who played in Costa Rica’s Italia 90 side and was coach four years ago in Korea/Japan.
Key man: Paulo Wanchope, Costa Rica’s all-time top scorer. Now playing in Qatar, he will retire from international football after the World Cup.
Talking point: Guimaraes was recalled to take charge of the national side in mid-campaign, replacing Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto.

CROATIA
How they qualified: As winners of European Group 8, ahead of Sweden and Bulgaria.
Coach: Zlatko Kranjcar, a former Rapid Wien striker and Croatian title-winning coach with Dinamo Zagreb and NK Zagreb. Succeeded Otto Baric last year and gave a debut to his son, Niko, in his first game.
Key men: Versatile defender/midfielder Niko Kovac; Rangers striker Dado Prso.
Talking point: The 2006 finals will be a home from home for the Croats. Half their first-choice side once played or do play in the Bundesliga (Niko and Robert Kovac, Josip Simunic, Marko Babic, Ivan Klasnic and Jurica Vranjes).

CZECH REPUBLIC
How they qualified: By beating Norway 2-0 on aggregate in the play-offs after finishing second to Holland in European Group 1.
Coach: Karel Bruckner, a former boss of the
Under-21s who took charge of the senior side in December 2001 and has not looked back.
Key men: Midfielder Tomas Rosicky; keeper Petr Cech; Pavel Nedved.
Talking point: Can Nedved, who came out of international retirement for the play-offs, be persuaded to stay on for the World Cup?

ECUADOR
How they qualified: By finishing third in the South American table.
Coach: Luis Suarez, a Colombian who succeeded compatriot Hernan Dario Gomez after the team’s disastrous showing at the 2004 Copa America.
Key man: Agustin Delgado. The former
Southampton striker is now much happier playing his club football back in Ecuador, for Barcelona.
Talking point: Ecuador secured 23 of their 28 points in qualifying when playing at home in Quito, 1,850m above sea level.

ENGLAND
How they qualified: By topping European Group 6, ahead of Poland and Austria.
Coach: Sven Goran Eriksson, the world’s highest-paid national coach and now preparing for his third major tournament.
Key men: Wayne Rooney, already a talismanic figure having just turned 20; fast-improving midfielder Frank Lampard; John Terry, now Eriksson’s first-choice centre-back.
Talking points: Can Lampard and Steven Gerrard both play in central midfield? Why
won’t Eriksson even countenance a 3-5-2 formation, which would solve so many problems? Has the recent friendly victory over Argentina led to over-confidence?

FRANCE
How they qualified: As winners of European Group 4, despite a shaky start. The return of Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram sparked the revival.
Coach: Raymond Domenech, a former nationalUnder-21 boss who succeeded Jacques Santini
after Euro 2004.
Key men: Zidane; striker Thierry Henry; midfielder Makelele.
Talking points: Can Zidane, at 33, still carry France through a whole tournament? Who is first-choice keeper, Fabien Barthez or Gregory Coupet? Who partners Henry?

GERMANY
How they qualified: As hosts.
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann, the former national team striker who, famously, has continued to live in California while Germany boss.
Key men: Midfielder and captain Michael Ballack; young Koln striker Lukas Podolski.
Talking points: How long can Klinsmann continue to live Stateside before he bows to pressure
to move to Germany? Will he continue his controversial policy of rotating his feuding goalkeepers, Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann? Will the team play a more attacking game at the finals to keep the home crowd on their side?

GHANA
How they qualified: Won African Group 2 ahead of DR Congo and South Africa to reach their first World Cup finals.
Coach: Serbian Ratomir Dujkovic, who steered Rwanda to the 2004 African Nations Cup finals.
Key men: Dynamic midfield duo Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah; Roma defender Samuel Kuffour.
Talking point: How will Kuffour be welcomed by his team-mates after missing most of the qualifying campaign having fallen out with Dujkovic?

HOLLAND
How they qualified: As winners of European Group 1, ahead of the Czech Republic and Romania.
Coach: Marco Van Basten, legendary former Ajax and Milan striker in his first senior coaching role. Previously in charge of Ajax reserves.
Key men: Hamburg midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart; Man Utd striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy; Ajax midfielder Wesley Sneijder.
Talking point: How many of the youngsters blooded by Van Basten, such as Ryan Babel, will make the World Cup cut at the expense of established players such as Edgar Davids, Mark
Van Bommel and Clarence Seedorf?

IRAN
How they qualified: By taking second place in one of Asia’s final stage groups, behind Japan.
Coach: Branko Ivankovic, a Croatian who was appointed in February 2002.
Key men: Asian Player of the Year Ali Karimi,
who joined Bayern Munich last summer; Javad Nekounam, the rising star of the Iranian League.
Talking point: Will the German crowds get behind the Bundesliga based trio of Karimi, Vahid Hashemian and Mehdi Mahdavikia?

ITALY
How they qualified: As comfortable winners of European Group 5, ahead of Norway.
Coach: Marcello Lippi. The former Juventus and Inter boss succeeded Giovanni Trapattoni after
Euro 2004.
Key men: Roma forward Francesco Totti; Milan defender Alessandro Nesta; Milan midfielder and free-kick specialist Andrea Pirlo.
Talking point: Lippi has an abundance of attacking riches – Totti, Alex Del Piero, Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino – but faces a very un-Italian problem: who provides cover for Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro in defence?

IVORY COAST
How they qualified: As winners of African Group 3, surprisingly finishing ahead of Cameroon.
Coach: Henri Michel, a former coach of France.
Key men: Chelsea striker Didier Drogba (nine goals in qualifying); his strike partner Aruna Dindane; Arsenal defender Kolo Toure.
Talking point: The parallels with 2002 surprise package Senegal, who also made full use of their France-born players with African parentage.

JAPAN
How they qualified: As winners of their Asian final stage group, ahead of Iran.
Coach: Zico. The former Brazil star has spent a number of years in Japan as player and then coach.
Key man: Playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura.
Talking point: Japan continue to grow in stature, having won the 2004 Asian Cup and beaten European champions Greece and drawn with world champions Brazil at this year’s Confederations Cup.

MEXICO
How they qualified: By finishing second in the final CONCACAF group, behind rivals USA.
Coach: Ricardo Lavolpe, a former Argentina keeper who was appointed in October 2002 after a spell with Mexican club side Toluca.
Key men: Bolton striker and all-time national team top scorer Jared Borgetti; Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez.
Talking point: Lavolpe has attracted much criticism for his decision to field naturalised overseas-born players such as Guillermo Franco, a native of Argentina.

PARAGUAY
How they qualified: By finishing fourth in the South American group.
Coach: Anibal Ruiz, a Paraguayan who was in charge for the whole of the marathon qualifying campaign.
Key man: Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz.
Talking point: Will Santa Cruz, who postponed a knee operation to attend his daughter’s birth, be fit in time for the World Cup?

POLAND
How they qualified: As one of the two best runners-up in the European section. They finished second to England in Group 6.
Coach: Pawel Janas, a former Poland defender and Legia Warsaw coach who succeeded Zbigniew Boniek as national boss in December 2002.
Key men: Celtic striker Maciej Zurawski; Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek; captain Tomasz Hajto.
Talking point: The jury is out on Zurawski and strike partner Tomasz Frankowski. It’s one thing piling up the goals against Azerbaijan, Wales, Northern Ireland and Austria, quite another to do it against the world’s best defences.

PORTUGAL
How they qualified: As comfortable winners of European Group 3, ahead of Slovakia and Russia.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to triumph in Korea/Japan in 2002.
Key men: Record cap-holder Luis Figo; Barcelona midfielder Deco; Man Utd winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
Talking point: Is Figo a spent force? Portugal’s captain has been mediocre this term for Inter and was jeered by national team fans when substituted in Portugal’s final qualifier against Latvia in Porto.

SAUDI ARABIA
How they qualified: By winning their final stage group in Asia, ahead of South Korea, to reach their fourth successive finals.
Coach: Gabriel Calderon, a former Argentina international and self-confessed international “novice” in coaching terms.
Key man: Striker Sami Al-Jaber.
Talking point: Will Calderon be dropped in favour of a big-name coach, as has happened before with the Saudis?

SERBIA & MONTENEGRO
How they qualified: As winners of European Group 7, ahead of Spain.
Coach: Ilija Petkovic, a former Yugoslavia international who replaced Dejan Savicevic
in July 2003. Was previously in charge of the national side for two months in 2001 before taking a job in China.
Key man: Atletico Madrid striker Mateja Kezman.
Talking point: The team conceded only one goal in the qualifiers, the lowest number in the European section. But can they keep up the good work in Germany against much tougher opponents?

SOUTH KOREA
How they qualified: By taking second place in one of Asia’s final stage groups, behind Saudi Arabia.
Coach: Dick Advocaat, the former Rangers and Holland boss, who replaced his beleaguered Dutch compatriot Jo Bonfrere earlier this year.
Key man: Man Utd midfielder Park Ji-sung.
Talking point: The Koreans have again gone Dutch with the appointment of Advocaat, but the chances of him emulating compatriot Guus Hiddink’s achievements of four years ago are slim.

SPAIN
How they qualified: With an emphatic play-off victory against Slovakia after finishing a disappointing second to Serbia & Montenegro in European Group 7.
Coach: Luis Aragones. The 67-year-old coached numerous club sides before succeeding Inaki Saez at the national team helm in July 2004.
Key men: Strikers Raul and Fernando Torres; Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Talking point: The Spanish have already forgotten the fact they qualified via the play-
offs, but is the optimism – Marca’s headline on the day after qualification was “The World Cup is ours” – justified?

SWEDEN
How they qualified: As one of the two best runners-up in the European section, having finished level on points with Group 8 winners Croatia.
Coach: Lars Lagerback, now in sole charge after Tommy Soderberg’s retirement.
Key men: Juventus forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson; Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
Talking point: The attacking trio of Ibrahimovic, Larsson and Ljungberg offer Sweden a chance of emulating the 1994 team’s feat of reaching the semi-finals.

SWITZERLAND
How they qualified: On away goals in a fiery play-off against Turkey, having finished second behind France and ahead of Israel and the Republic of Ireland in European Group 4.
Coach: Kobi Kuhn, a former Swiss international.
Key man: Alex Frei, top scorer in qualifying.
Talking point: Will the Swiss be punished for the post-match brawl with Turkish players after the play-off second leg in Istanbul?

TOGO
How they qualified: The Hawks upset the odds by finishing top of African Group 1, ahead of Senegal, to reach their first World Cup finals.
Coach: Stephen Keshi, Nigeria’s captain at the 1994 World Cup.
Key man: Monaco striker Emmanuel Adebayor, one of only a handful of overseas-based players in the squad.
Talking point: The poor travel arrangements of the Togolese FA, who were criticised by Keshi after the recent friendly defeats by Paraguay and Iran.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
How they qualified: By beating Bahrain in the CONCACAF-Asia play-off after finishing fourth in the final CONCACAF group. Now heading for their first World Cup finals.
Coach: Leo Beenhakker, coach of Holland at the 1990 World Cup, who was brought in halfway through the qualifying campaign.
Key men: Former Man Utd and Aston Villa forward Dwight Yorke, who plays in midfield for
his country; Birmingham striker Stern John; Port Vale midfielder Chris Birchall, whose mother was born in Trinidad.
Talking point: Trinidad’s squad in Germany is likely to feature a record number of players from the English Football League.

TUNISIA
How they qualified: As winners of African Group 5, ahead of north African rivals Morocco.
Coach: Roger Lemerre, coach of France at Euro 2000, which they won, and the 2002 World Cup.
Key men: Goalscoring sensation Haikel Gmamdia; Francileudo dos Santos, Brazil-born star of Tunisia’s 2004 African Nations Cup triumph.
Talking point: Lemerre became the first coach to win continental titles in Europe and Africa when Tunisia won the Nations Cup last year.

UKRAINE
How they qualified: By winning the tough European Group 2, ahead of Turkey, Denmark and European champions Greece, to reach their first major finals.
Coach: Oleh Blokhin, 1975 European Footballer of the Year and now also a Ukrainian MP.
Key man: Andrii Shevchenko, reigning European Footballer of the Year.
Talking point: Can Ukraine show that they are more than just a one-man show? They are well-organised, hard to break down, and don’t score that many goals…shades of Greece 2004.

UNITED STATES
How they qualified: As winners of the CONCACAF final group section, ahead of Mexico on head-to-head record.
Coach: Bruce Arena, who will be the longest-serving of all 32 coaches in Germany.
Key men: Manchester City midfielder Claudio Reyna; San Jose star Landon Donovan; PSV winger DaMarcus Beasley.
Talking point: Can injury-prone captain Reyna, now 31, stay fit for the finals?

Compiled by Gavin Hamilton & Nick Bidwell

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