[QODLink]
World Cup 2010
Group A
World Cup Group A sees hosts South Africa battle against Mexico, France and Uruguay.
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2010 12:41 GMT
Cape Town horn: A Bafana Bafana fan blasts a vuvuzela in support of South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]

All eyes will be on the hosts as they bid to defy their underdog status and progress to the knockout rounds on home turf.

Up against three teams with the combined pedigree of 38 World Cups behind them, South Africa will bank on home advantage, desire and the unsettling effect of their fans' vuvuzela horns to see them progress in only their third appearance in the finals.

South Africa

Known as the Bafana Bafana, or "The Boys" to their fans, South Africa go into their home World Cup as the second-lowest ranked team – currently sandwiched at 83rd between Belarus and China.

With the help of vuvuzela-blowing home crowds, Carlos Alberto Perreira's team will hope star midfielder Steven Pienaar can fire them past the group stages of the tournament for the first time following failed attempts in 1998 and 2002.

They kick off their challenge on June 11 against Mexico at Soccer City – the Johannesburg stadium where they won their only Africa Cup of Nations title in 1996.

Mexico

Since taking over from Sven-Goran Eriksson last year, Javier Aguirre has turned around Mexico's fortunes to qualify for their fifth World Cup in a row.

Having struggled under the Swede, Mexico shot from fifth to second behind the United States in the Concacaf zone, and bring an exciting and youthful team to the finals.

Group A fixtures

Friday June 11

 South Africa v Mexico  
 Uruguay v France 

Wednesday June 16


 
South Africa v Uruguay 

Thursday June 17

 
France v Mexico 

Tuesday June 22

 
Mexico v Uruguay  
 France v South Africa

Led by Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, 17th-ranked Mexico will be confident of kicking off their bid for a first quarter-finals appearance since 1986 with a win against the hosts.

Uruguay

One of the storied names in football, Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930 by beating Argentina – and repeated the feat against Brazil 20 years later.

Few give Oscar Tabarez's troops a chance of repeating that feat, but Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan is sure to give opposition defences a headache.

Ranked 16th in the world ahead of the likes of Cote d'Ivoire, Australia and Africa Cup of Nations finalists Ghana, the inaugural world champions could prove to be dark horses this summer.

France

Les Bleus qualification for South Africa 2010 was steeped in controversy after striker Thierry Henry's handball against the Republic of Ireland.

But despite the unpopularity at home of outgoing coach Raymond Domenech and many of their players, the French have been a force to reckon with since they won the World Cup in 1998.

Having lost out to Italy in the 2006 final after Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Marco Materazzi, France rarely fail to provide excitement whether in victory or defeat.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.

Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.