Group A in the FIFA World Cup South Africa is one filled with interesting opponents; the host nation coached by a former champion, a nation with help of a lucky handball and lost without their talisman, a young-fiesty nation looking to build from their youth championship and a nation struggles with their past glory.
First, the Bafana Bafana as they are called by their fans, the host nation South Africa is lead by one of two men who has coached Five different nations in the World Cup. Parreira's sixth World Cup, as he coached Brazil twice, is faced with the prospect of a possible elimination during the group stage. But the fans of the Bafana Bafana are not to worry, with home-field advantage, wisdom of a winning coach and the luck of the home nation, getting to the group stage is far from a dream.
But they must face the stiff competition, although in poor form at the moment, of Les Bleus or the French National Team. No one can argue the deep heritage of great football of France. Platini and Zidane are walking legends, but that is the core of the problem, their best players are retired and with no one to fill the void left. With poor form during qualification, Serbia won the group, France faced a give-no-inch Irish team on a playoff. At the end of it all, the French stole the World Cup birth by a blown non-called Henry handball. The French team are cursed to be ousted within group round and without a talisman to ward the bad mojo away.
For the Mexican community, the 2005 Youth World Cup victory was the rally cry for the youth to push the once-chiseled stalwarts to move on, and they have. Donning a black jersey, a rarity of Mexican soccer, the team has the swagger, the speed and the leadership in their coach Aguirre. A team mix with veterans, but fueled by youth, Mexico is one of my surprise tickets to make a semifinal birth, a la Bulgaria in '94, '98 Croatia, Turkey and South Korea in '02. If El Tri does well in the tournament, the black jersey may become the form rather the colors of the flag (See Italy).
The Uruguayans are the older cousins no one remembers about in South American Football. Them with Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Columbia all seem to battle for the final birth. And battle they did, although Argentina had to beat Uruguay for the fourth spot, it was the Uruguayans who fought Costa Rica tooth and nail for the World Cup birth. La Celeste will need a goals, and lots of them, if they are to dream of their past glory.