By Jay Mwamba
Experience, quality players and a certain measure of luck. These are the ingredients widely considered essential to success in the World Cup.
And while luck is always relative and random, there won’t be a shortage of experience and quality or impact players among the teams in Japan/Korea ’02.
The following is a quick glance at the key players, and international experience, the 32 finalists are likely to bring to the World Cup.
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Coach: Roger Lemerre
Key players: World-class performers in deep squad include balding midfield m’stro Zinedine Zidane, and young quicksilver forwards with a nose for goals, Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. “Zizou” starred in the 3-0 1998 World Cup final triumph over Brazil, while sharp-shooting Trezeguet clinched Euro 2000 for French.
Experience: current World, European and FIFA Confederations Cup holders.
Coach: Morten Olsen
Key players: Ebbe Sand, probably smartest forward around with an engineering degree to boot. Quick, intelligent, strong in the air and scores goals. Thomas Helveg is Denmark’s Roy Keane, and goalie Thomas Sorenson rightful successor to great Peter Schmeichel.
Experience: Qualifiers in 1986 and 1998. Surprise Euro 92 winners when invited to replace old Yugoslavia at 11th hour.
Coach: Bruno Metsu (France)
Key Players: French-based stars include El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf, fast, skillful striker who accounted for eight of 14 goals in qualifiers. Khalilou Fadiga, Diouf’s attacking partner and hard tackling, offensive-minded defender Ferdinand Coly.
Experience: Lack thereof perhaps Africans’ Achilles heel, with no continental title or previous World Cup finals exposure.
Coach: Victor Pua
Key Players: Forward Dario Silva’s five goals caarried Uruguay in qualifiers, including key aggregate equalizer in playoff with Australia. Natural-born scorer with pace and vision. Left-footed schemer Alvaro Recoba hailed as successor to revered Enzo Francescoli.
Experience: World Cup winners in 1930 and 1938, and third finishers in 1970. Back after 12-year absence.
Coach: Cesare Maldini (Italy)
Key Players: Intimidating goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, who also doubles as set-piece and penalty expert with effect. Emerging Bayern Munich forward Roque Santa Cruz, gangly youngster with silky skills.
Experience: Seventh appearance, lost 1-0 in OT to hosts in France ’98 second round.
Coach: Srecko Katanec
Key Players: Zlatko Zahovic, hot-headed, albeit graceful midfielder with phenomenal scoring rate — goal per two games — for linkman. Milan Oster, rangy Isr’li-based striker with penchant for opportunistic strikes. Marinko Galic, seasoned defender with more than 50 caps.
Experience: First World Cup for former Yugoslav republic, and second ever major international tourney after Euro 2000.
Coach: Jomo Sono
Key Players: Benni McCarthy, streaky Spanish-based striker who when hot is hot. Mark Fish, adventurous Charlton Athletic center-half good at man marking. Dutch-based Subusiso Zuma, latest South African star with deft touch and immense dribbling skills.
Experience: Second consecutive appearance.
Coach: Jose Antonio Camacho
Key Players: Raul, much heralded 24-year-old star of Spanish soccer. Good technician and frequent scorer. Fernando Hierro, veteran defender-cum-midfielder with mucho smarts. Fernando Morientes, deadly with Raul in Real Madrid attacking tandem.
Experience: Tenth finals for Spaniards who, however, suffer from quarterfinal jinx.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Key Players: Rivaldo, brilliant left-sided Barcelona attacker yet to consistently reproduce club form for country. Ronaldo, possible star of finals if spared injuries. Roberto Carlos, diminutive overlapping left fullback with cannon shot.
Experience: Four-time winners, and France ’98 losing finalists.
Coach: Bora Milutinovic (Serbia)
Key Players: Fan Zhiyi, first Chinese pro, along with compatriot Sun Jihai, to play in Europe. Dundee United defender, 32, can play anywhere on the pitch. ‘rial force and fast both on and off the ball. Ma Mingyu, first Chinese player in Serie A, goal-scoring midfielder.
Experience: World Cup debut for planet’s most populous nation.
Coach: Alexander Guimares (Brazil)
Key Players: Paulo Wanchope, towering Manchester City forward with sublime skills who lit up 2001 Copa America. Midfielder Rolando Fonseca, master dribbler with great shot. Italia ’90 vet Hernan Medford, a still useful winger with pinpoint crossing ability.
Experience: Second finals and first in 12 years.
Coach: Senol Gunes
Key Players: Hakan Snknr, much-traveled cult hero of Turkish game possessing predatory scoring instincts. Alpay Ozalan, hulking rock solid Aston Villa defender. Leicester winger Muzzy Izzet.
Experience: First World Cup since debut in 1954.
Coach: Wladyslaw Engel
Key Players: Emmanuel Olisadebe, Nigerian-born forward shot Poles to finals with seven goals in nine qualifiers. Small, quick, and explosive. Jerzy Dudek on track for world’s best goalie title. Tomasz Hajto, uncompromising defender in air and on ground, with incredibly long throw-in.
Experience: Twice third finishers in four previous finals.
Coach: Antonio Oliveira
Key Players: Luis Figo, world-class midfielder with enormous ability. Formerly sport’s most expensive player. Rui Costa, savvy and highly experienced playmaker. Fernando Couto, cool-headed defensive anchor.
Experience: Surprisingly, only third finals appearance and first since Mexico ’86.
Coach: Gus Hiddink (Holland)
Key Players: Lee Dong-Sook, dubbed “Lion King” for flowing red mane of hair and ruthless manner in front of goal. Leading scorer in 2000 Asian Cup. J’ Won Sim, skillful German-based defender. Seol Ki-Hyeon, young upcoming striker with Anderlecht.
Experience: Fifth consecutive World Cup since Mexico ’86 debut.
Coach: Bruce Arena
Key Players: Claudio Reyna, incisive passing, ball-holding midfielder. Ernie Stewart, fast-paced Dutch-based attacker recently named 2001 U.S. Player of the Year. Kasey Keller, world-class goalie when on song. Clint Mathis, hard-nosed midfielder.
Experience: Semifinalists (1930). Sixth outing, and fourth in a row.
Coach: Winfried Sch’fer (Germany)
Key Players: Patrick Mboma, burly forward with knack for spectacular goals. Samuel Eto’o Fils, tricky and fleet-footed 21-year-old winger. Rigobert Song, powerful and experienced defender. Two World Cups on resume.
Experience: Quarterfinals (Italia ’90). Reigning African and Olympic champs making African-record fifth appearance in finals.
Coach: Rudi Voeller
Key Players: Oliver Kahn, Bayern Munich goalie regarded as best in the world today. Michael Ballack, attacking midfielder star of playoff qualification over Ukraine with three of six total German goals. Gerald Asamoah, hard-running Ghanaian-born midfielder.
Experience: Three-time winners. Never failed to qualify for finals when entered.
Coach: Mick McCarthy
Key Players: Roy Keane, inspirational midfield general and Irish icon with no comparison. Robby Keane, still developing forward with bountiful potential. Shay Given, instrumental in Irish qualification with daring saves in playoff against Iran.
Experience: Quarterfinalists on debut in Italia ’90. Third trip.
Coach: Nasser al Joha
Key Players: Sami Al Jaber, celebrated star of Saudi soccer and evergreen striker. Forward Abdullah Sheehan, netted vital goals in qualifiers. Nawaf Al Temyat, reigning Asian Player of the Year and yet another striking threat.
Experience: Third successive finals for “Sons of the Desert.” Round of 16 on debut in USA ’94 best showing.
Coach: Marcelo Bielsa
Key Players: Hernan Crespo, clinical finisher kept Gabriel Batistuta out in qualifiers. Juan Sebastian Veron, fine right-footed midfielder with laser vision and impressive free-kick repertoire. Batistuta, aging goal-getter set for last hurrah.
Experience: Two-time winners chasing third title in 13th appearance.
Coach: Sven Goran Eriksson (Sweden)
Key Players: Michael Owen, “Boy Wonder” with blistering pace, spunk and phenomenal scoring ability. Midfielder David Beckham, pop star like hero with lethal right foot that put English in finals. Sol Campbell, rugged stopper.
Experience: Victors in 1966 in 11th finals.
Coach: Festus Adegboye Onigbinde
Key Players: Austin Okocha, little eye-popping dribbler provides pulse in midfield. Celestine Babayaro, technically sound overlapping fullback from Chelsea. Nwankwo Kanu, lanky Arsenal striker with sublime touch.
Experience: Third straight finals for formidable but unpredictable Eagles.
Coaches: Tommy Soderberg and Lars Lagerback
Key Players: Henrik Larsson, Celtic goal king who could upset the form book in finals. Patrik Andersson, cultured defender and team leader. Fredrik Ljungberg, Arsenal midfielder with knack for scoring important goals.
Experience: Ninth showing, but appearances staggered.
Coach: Mirko Jozic
Key Players: Robert Jarni, veteran defender formerly capped by Yugoslavia. Alen Boksic, dependable forward and goal scorer. Davor Sukur, France ’98 top scorer on come-back trail in Germany.
Experience: Finished third in maiden appearance at France ’98.
Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez (Colombian)
Key Players: Alex Aguinaga, Mexican-based midfielder as good as any in world. Attacks, defends and set-piece specialist. Agustin Delgado, towering joint top scorer with Argentine Hernan Crespo in South American qualifiers. Shoots and headers well.
Experience: World Cup debut.
Coach: Giovanni Trappatoni
Key Players: Francesco Totti, busy and probing attacker with high workrate. Alessandro del Piero, ex-prodigy most dangerous at set pieces. His free-kick against Hungary clinched qualification for Azzurri. Paolo Maldini, veteran left fullback once considered best in business.
Experience: Triumphant in 1934, ’38 and ’82. Seeking long overdue fourth title in 15 appearance.
Coach: Javier Aguirre
Key Player: Cuauhtemoc Blanco, talismanic goal-scorer who rescued Mexican campaign on return from injury with five goals. Alberto Garcia Aspe, captain and veteran midfield workhorse. Raf’l Marquez, stylish Monaco defender.
Experience: Quarterfinals at Mexico ’86 best showing in 11 previous finals.
Coach: Robert Waseige
Key Players: Emile Mpenza, “Black Pearl” among top strikers in Bundesliga and holds promise for Belgian success. Quick, strong in the air and two-footed. Marc Wilmots, veteran central midfielder whose powerful running, tackling and long-range shooting make him stalwart.
Experience: Fourth place finish in Mexico ’86 best effort in nine previous finals.
Coach: Philippe Troussier (France)
Key Players: Hidetoshi Nakata, exceptional Italian-based playmaker and youngest man to be named Asian Footballer of the Year. Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, skipper and brilliant goalie on Portsmouth’s books. Shini Ono, busy-bee midfielder with Dutch side Feyenoord.
Experience: Debuted at France ’98 where finished 0-3.
Coach: Oleg Romantsev
Key Players: Viktor Onopko, seasoned defender and calming presence on squad with over 90 caps. Alexandre Mostovoi, midfield conductor formerly capped by former USSR. Vladimir Bestchastnykh, handy striker once based in Spain.
Experience: Second appearance at World Cup as Russian Republic.
Coach: Ammar Souayah
Key Players: Youthful Ali Zitouni bagged five goals in qualifiers and Tunisians expect more in finals. Old hand Adel Sellimi blows hot and cold but vastly experienced striker with more than 70 caps.
Experience: Only win, first by an African side, came in first of two previous finals (1978).