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Guide to the Group

France coach Raymond Domenech has somehow held on to his job in the face of fierce criticism from the media and supporters and even within his own federation, but surely even he can steer Les Bleus through this group in top spot. Less certain in Group A is who will win the battle to the runners-up place. South Africa have a whole nation willing them on but could buckle under the pressure to progress, with no host nation in World Cup history having ever failed to reach at least the last 16. On paper Mexico and Uruguay’s squads are far stronger than the hosts. Uruguay look to be the best of the rest with the ‘three Diegos’ - Lugano, Perez and Forlan - forming the spine of the team. Luis Suarez has been scoring goals galore for Ajax this season and young starlet Nicolas Lodeiro has joined him in Amsterdam and looks poised to impress in South Africa.

Qualifiers: France, Uruguay


World Cup play-off regulars in recent years, Uruguay will be tough opponents for anyone and will be targeting a place in the last 16 though a revitalised Mexico and group 'big guns' France will be favourites to progress.

Strange but true
The country played a huge role in the development of the sport in the early 20th Century and their great teams of 1930 and 1950 changed the way the game was played. To get any Uruguayan excited, ask about that......

South Africa

'Bafana Bafana' need to ride the wave of enthusiasm that is sure to greet their World Cup hosting because their form in the build-up has been pretty dire, with Parreira returning to the post after compatriot Joel Santana......

Strange but true
South Africa were one of four nations who founded the Confederation of African Football in 1956 only to be expelled two years later because of their insistence on separate teams for blacks and whites. They regained......


Aguirre revived El Tricolor's qualifying campaign after the disastrous reign of Sven-Goran Eriksson, but they have never been beyond the second round outside Mexico, and the conditions in South Africa are hardly likely......

Strange but true
Mexico has hosted two FIFA World Cups: in 1970 and just 16 years later in 1986 when original host nation Colombia withdrew. Miners from Cornwall in England are credited with introducing football to Mexico early last......


Struggled through qualifying and secured their place thanks to Thierry Henry's handball in the play-off victory against the Republic of Ireland. Coach Domenech continues to make mystifying tactical decisions and it......

Strange but true
Both Thierry Henry and William Gallas, who respectively had a hand and head in the killer goal against Ireland, were born in Paris on August 17, 1977. They were later in the same class at the famous French football......

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