BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Star-studded Argentina is likely to dominate Group B, while Nigeria, Greece and South Korea may compete for another ticket to advance to next stage in the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
Although the qualifying campaign for the finals is full of twists, Argentina is still among the favorites to contend for the World Cup trophy. Coach Diego Maradona may find it hard to pick up the ideal starting eleven, as there are so many outstanding players within the team. And Maradona's ability to combine the great players may decide Argentina's fate.
La Albiceleste boasts a luxurious forward line that could be possibly made up of Diego Milito, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, and the substitutes are Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Martin Palermo. Veteran Juan Sebastian Veron will marshal the midfield and captain Javier Mascherano formed a solid barrier, Jonas Gutierrez and Di Maria are likely to threaten the rival from two flanks. Walter Samuel, Martin Demichelis, Gabriel Heinze, Nicolas Otamendi are the defensive choices, and Sergio Romero may be at the goal.
Argentina's biggest problem is that Maradona hasn't figured out a reasonable system to make the whole side run well, especially in the midfield. After Juan Roman Riquelme left the team, no one could do as well as Riquelme in controlling the rhythm and keeping order of the passes and moves. Maradona now relies too much on Veron, and the latter's form will determine the performance of the whole side. Maradona needs to fix his tactics and formation as quickly as possible.
Argentina will meet Nigeria, before playing South Korea and Greece. The first game is the toughest one. With a win, the Argentines may feel easy to get past the group stage.
For the rest three teams, Nigeria enjoys big advantage in individual technique, South Korea and Greece both are good at disciplined play. Nigeria is more experienced and skillful in the competition.
After a disappointing CAF African Cup of Nations tour, Nigeria invited Lars Lagerback to take Amodu Shaibu's coach position. The Swede is asked to teach the Nigerian players, who always lacks sense of responsibility and honor for the national team, to learn how to play heart and soul under united teamwork.. Lagerback has vowed to only use those who really want to play for the national side, and will make use of the Nigerians' technical edge to full extent.
Super Eagles has sharp shooters like Chinedu Obasi, Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, Osaze Odemwigie and veteran Nwankwo Kanu. In the midfield, Chelsea's Mikel Obi will play the key role. Joseph Yobo and Taiye Taiwo lead the back line.
Nigeria's individual play up front may pose big trouble for the Greeks and the South Koreans.
Greece has been regressing since their Euro 2004 myth, with some key players retired, the Greeks had to rebuild their defensive system.
The 71-year-old Otto Rehhagel adopts a system of well-organized defense and sharp counter-attacks. Liverpool's Sotiris Kyrgiakos will be the rock in the central back, while Cltic's Giorgos Samaras, Hertha Berlin's Theofanis Gekas and tall Angelos Charisteas make the forward line. Georgios Karagounis is the playmaker in the midfield, and his long range blast is a deadly weapon.
South Korea will fight for a ticket with the excellence of their European-based stars. Manchester United's multifunctional winger Park Ji-Sung will play an influential role in the midfield, Celtic's Ki Sung-Yong and Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong and Kim Nam-Il give strong support for their captain.
In the front, AS Monaco's Park Ju-Young, Lee Dong-Guk and veteran Ahn Jung-Hwan may produce the gunpowder.
Huh Jung-Moo's "Taeguk Warriors" always display a high-intensity style. Their strong mentality and super stamina may cause trouble for the other teams. But the South Koreans will need enough luck to get through to last 16.