Group G

Five-times winners Brazil in the Group of Death with Cote d'Ivoire, Portugal and N Korea.

    Kaka is looking to take home Brazil's sixth World Cup trophy [GALLO/GETTY]

    Every World Cup has a Group of Death, and this time it contains five-times winners Brazil, Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal, African heavyweights Cote d'Ivoire and the unknown quantity from above the 38th parallel – North Korea.

    Brazil

    The definitive football team: the team of Pele, Carlos Alberto, Socrates and Jairzinho. Last time they won the World Cup in 2002, they were the team of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Cafu.

    Now, as they aim for a sixth triumph, it is time for the new guard. Real Madrid's Kaka could be the star in South Africa..

    Coached by former midfielder Dunga, the world's number one-ranked side kept up their record of appearing in every World Cup by qualifying with a 3-1 victory against Argentina.

    Not winning another trophy would be considered a failure. Not qualifying from the Group of Death would be a trip to hell for the planet's most celebrated team.

    Portugal

    After years of failure, Portugal have become one of the feared sides in football, with the Golden Generation of Luis Figo, Sergio Conceicao and Rui Costa setting the team on the way to a proud record in World Cups and European Championships in the past decade.

    Currently ranked third in the Fifa standings, they now boast former world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, who helped them reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2006.

    Group G fixtures

    Tuesday June 15

     
    Cote d'Ivoire v Portugal 
     Brazil v North Korea 

    Sunday June 20

     
    Brazil v Cote d'Ivoire 

    Monday June 21

     
    Portugal v North Korea 

    Friday June 25

     
    Portugal v Brazil 
     North Korea v Cote d'Ivoire

    Their qualifying campaign under new coach Carlos Queiroz was near-disastrous, however, sneaking into second by a point over Sweden before narrowly beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in a playoff.

    Cote d'Ivoire

    Think Cote d'Ivoire, think Didier Drogba. The newly-crowned English Premier League champion and top-scorer is a striker of terrifying strength, finishing ability and nous.

    New boss Sven-Goran Eriksson was with England at the last two World Cups and will hope to transform a faltering collection of talented individuals into a winning team.

    Their front line also includes Drogba's Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou and Lille striker Gervinho.

    Les Elephants were disappointing in January's Africa Cup of Nations, being knocked out by Algeria in the quarter-finals.

    North Korea

    Absent from the World Cup since 1966, when they reached the last eight, North Korea's footballers have only just begun to receive international exposure.

    Ranked 105th after their long absence from the top, they should be a surprise package in South Africa.

    Striker Jong Tae-Se admitted in March that the players were weak technically and tactically – but that their mental strength was unrivalled.

    Led by coach Kim Jong-Hun, they demonstrated that strength in holding out for the point they needed to qualify automatically against World Cup regulars Saudi Arabia last year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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