Australia have drawn a very tough group for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
We have decided to give the readers a quick look at who the Socceroos will face in Group D – Germany, Serbia and Ghana - when the tournament kicks off in June 2010.
Ranked 6th in the world and 5th in Europe
Qualification – Germany finished on top of their group in UEFA qualifying with eight wins and two draws from ten matches. In their group they faced Russia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein, scoring 26 goals and letting in just 5.
They drew both times against Finland who did not qualify and their biggest win in qualifying was a 6-0 away demolition of Liechtenstein.
Scorers – Germany was served well during qualifying with the usual suspects in Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Michael Ballack knocking in a majority of the goals.
7 Miroslav Klose
6 Lukas Podolski
4 Michael Ballack
3 Bastian Schweinsteiger
Stats – Only Mario Gomez and Philipp Lahm played all ten games in qualifying with the Bayern Munich wingback clocking up full minutes in every game. 27 players were used during the qualifying rounds.
South Africa 2010 will be Germany’s 17th appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals. They have won the tournament three times – in 1954, 1974 and 1990 - have finished runners-up on four occasions – 1966, 1982, 1986 and 2002 – and third three times – 1934, 1970 and 2006.
Manager - The German national team is managed by Joachim Löw who has been in charge since 2006.
Key players - Michael Ballack (Chelsea midfielder and captain), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich winger), Lukas Podolski (FC Cologne striker), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich striker – Golden Boot winner 2002 World Cup)
Ranked 20th in the world and 12th in Europe
Qualification - Serbia qualified for South Africa by finishing on top of their European group, winning seven, drawing one and losing two matches from their ten. Serbia faced France, Austria, Lithuania, Romania and the Faroe Islands in qualifying, scoring 22 goals and copping 8.
They lost to France and Lithuania and also drew with the French and their biggest win was a 5-0 home victory over Romania.
Scorers - Serbia’s goals were well spread throughout their squad but Milan Jovanovic was the main hitman, netting on five occasions.
5 Milan Jovanovic
3 Nikola Zigic
3 Branislav Ivanovic
2 Nenad Milijas
2 Milos Krasic
Stats - Attacking midfielder Milos Krasic was the only player to appear in all ten qualifying matches but defender Branislav Ivanovic played the most minutes. 28 players were used throughout qualifying.
The nation has qualified for the World Cup finals 11 times – 8 as Kingdom of Yugoslavia and SFR Yugsolavia and twice as Serbia and Montenegro – they were disqualified from the 1994 tournament because of international sanctions imposed due to Yugoslav wars.
Their best result is fourth place, achieved twice – in 1930 and 1962.
Manager - The Serbian national team is managed by Radomir Antic who has been at the helm since August 2008.
Ranked 37th in the world and 6th in Africa
Qualification - Ghana qualified by topping their group in both rounds 2 and 3 of African, winning eight matches whilst drawing one and losing two from 12 total. They scored 20 goals and let in 8 against Gabon, Libya and Lesotho (Round 2) and Benin, Mali and Sudan (Round 3).
They scored two 3-0 wins, one over Libya and one over Lesotho. They lost to Gabon and Libya and drew with Mali.
Scorers - Ghana had a lot of scoring input with nine players netting their 20 goals. Matthew Amoah led the way with five.
5 Matthew Amoah
4 Manuel Agogo
3 Prince Tagoe
2 Sulley Muntari
2 Laryea Kingston
Stats - Goalkeeper Richard Kingson was the only player to play all 12 matches and played every minute of every game during qualifying. Amoah’s five goals came in just seven appearances. 30 players were used.
The Black Stars have appeared in just one World Cup, making the second round of the 2006 tournament in Germany.
Manager - The manager of the Ghana national team is Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac who has been in charge since August 2008.