[QODLink]
World Cup 2010
Group C
England face tricky task in negotiating past United States, Algeria and Slovenia.
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2010 13:03 GMT
Glasgow Rangers' Madjid Bougherra will be a key player for Algeria [GALLO/GETTY]

The English Premier League has turned the national team into one of the most-followed sides by neutrals around the world – meaning it will not just be expectant fans and media in the United Kingdom watching their progress.

Perennial underachievers, England face a group that coach Fabio Capello expressed himself satisfied with, but which will nevertheless prove difficult to navigate.

The United States have a good World Cup record, Algeria have North African bragging rights to assert, while innocent-sounding Slovenia could be the surprise package. 

England

The Three Lions go into nearly every tournament tipped as one of the favourites, only to disappoint in the final stages.

But with Italian master Fabio Capello at the helm, England's mix of flair and pragmatism has boosted hopes as they chase a World Cup win that would banish constant references to their only previous success in 1966.

Striker Wayne Rooney can claim to be one of the best players in the world, while a midfield featuring Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard has promised much but failed to ultimately deliver.

United States

As a former British colony – and now dominant political partner – the States are a team alongside Australia that the English hate to lose to at their national sport. England v USA on June 12 could be the setting for an upset.

Ranked 14th, Bob Bradley heads a side that has become used to dominating the Concacaf qualifying zone and which contains players from top sides around the world – including Europa League finalist Clint Dempsey and Villarreal youngster Jozy Altidore.

Group C fixtures

Saturday June 12

 England v USA

Sunday June 13

 
Algeria v Slovenia

Friday June 18

 
Slovenia v USA
 England v Algeria 

Wednesday June 23

 
Slovenia v England 
 USA v Algeria

South Africa 2010 is the States' sixth-straight finals appearance, with their best showing in that run coming when they exited the quarter-finals in 2002.

Algeria

No team qualified for South Africa 2010 with as much drama as Les Fennecs, whose bus was attacked on arrival for a qualifier in Cairo and who beat North African heavyweights Egypt in a subsequent playoff in Khartoum, sparking a diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

Egypt got their revenge at the Africa Cup of Nations but it is Algeria, with their smattering of Europe-based stars like Karim Ziani and Madjid Bougherra, who fly south this summer.  

Coach Rabah Saadane led the team at their second World Cup appearance in 1986 and has positioned his players firmly in the underdog category – which may well suit their proud and combative style.

Slovenia

Formerly members of the Yugoslav team, Slovenia – population: 2 million – qualified for the first time since their debut in 2002 courtesy of an away-goals playoff win over Russia (pop: 142 million).

Having also knocked out East European big guns Poland and the Czech Republic on their way to South Africa, 25th-ranked Slovenia have every chance of making the knockout rounds.

Slovenia's teamsheet reads like a who's-not of European football, but coach Matjaz Kek has built his side around a formidable defence, with goals coming from Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.