World Cup Group A Preview, Predictions, Fixtures

Group A Odds: France 11/10; Mexico 11/4; Uruguay 10/3; South Africa 13/2.
Group A Schedule/Fixtures: South Africa v Mexico, Johannesburg, June 11, 4pm
Uruguay v France, Cape Town, June 11 8.30pm
South Africa v Uruguay, Pretoria, June 16, 8.30pm
France v Mexico, Polokwane, June 17, 8.30pm
Mexico v Uruguay, Rustenburg, June 22, 4pm
France v South Africa, Bloemfontein, June 22, 4pm
*All times local

Group A Teams:
South Africa: Matthew Booth; Lance Davids; Kagisho Dikgacoi; Siboniso Gaxa; Moneeb Josephs; Thanduyise Khuboni; Bongani Khumalo; Itumeleng Khune; Reneilwe Letsholonyane; Tsepo Masilela; Teko Modise; Aaron Mokoena; Surprise Moriri; Katlego Mphela; Siyabonga Nomvethe; Anele Ngcongca; Bernard Parker; Steven Pienaar; Siyabonga Sangweni; MacBeth Sibaya; Lucas Thwala; Siphiwe Tshabalala; Shu-Aib Walters. [ad#as2]

Mexico: Paul Aguilar; Pablo Barrera; Adolfo Bautista; Cuauhtémoc Blanco; Israel Castro; Guillermo Franco; Andrés Guardado; Javier Hernández; Efraín Juárez;Jojnny Magallón; Rafael Márquez; Alberto Medina; Luis Michel; Héctor Moreno; Guillermo Ochoa; Ricardo Osorio; Oscar Perez; Franciso Rodriguez; Carlos Salcido; Giovani dos Santos;Gerardo Torrado; Jorge Torres; Nilo Carlos Vela.

Uruguay: Sebastián Abreu; Martín Cáceres; Edinson Cavani; Sebastian Eguren; Alvaro Fernández; Sebastián Fernández; Diego Forlan; Jorge Fucile; Walter Gargano; Diego Godin; Ignacio Gonzalez; Nicolas Lodeiro; Diego Lugano; Fernando Muslera; Alvaro Pereira; Maxi Pereira; Diego Perez; Egidio Arévalo Ríos; Andrés Scotti; Martin Silva; Luis Suarez; Mauricio Victorino.

France: Eric Abidal; Nicolas Anelka; Cedric Carrasso; Djibril Cisse; Gael Clichy; Abou Diaby; Alou Diarra; Patrice Evra; William Gallas; Andre-Pierre Gignac; Yoann Gourcuff;Sidney Govou; Thierry Henry; Hugo Lloris; Florent Malouda; Steve Mandanda; Marc Planus; Anthony Reveillere; Franck Ribery; Bacary Sagna; Sebastien Squillaci; Jeremy Toulalan; Mathieu Valbuena.

Group A Predictions:
Peter Howard: As an Irish-American, I feel I must pick Uruguay and South Africa. It’s impossible. There’s not a chance that can ever happen. Uruguay actually could make some noise and possibly find itself in a position to advance out of this group. South Africa, however, is very much a longshot. True, home pitch advantage, but unless the thousands pour out of the stands and attack the opposing keeper with vuluzelas, it will be hard for South Africa to advance. So suggesting Uruguay and South Africa can advance is as ridiculous as suggesting a nation might qualify for World Cup by scoring a goal off a blatant hand ball. It just would not ever happen. Mexico and France will advance, I’m afraid. Emotion aside, those two nations are the strongest in this group.

Alex Michaels: It didn’t take a dodgy handball for me to shout against the French, but I genuinely think there’s no need to worry about them at this year’s tournament. Useless in qualifying, an ageing team and dissent among the ranks with the coach, I just can’t see them fluking their way through this competition like they did four years ago. I’m expecting Uruguay to be strong here, while home advantage will do wonders for the Bofana Bofana, and I’d love the hosts to get through to the knockout stages. Mexico should not be underestimated either, and they could all cause French coach Domenech more headaches. Going with my heart in this group and predicting Uruguay and South Africa to move through to the second round, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see France and Mexico go through instead!

Frank Finnegan: My Irish blood cannot abide me picking the French to do anything in this World Cup. I have heard a few (very few) Irish argue, “No, we want them to do well – that way we can say – look how far we would have gone!” F that. I want to see absolutely no French joy in this Cup. I find it very fitting that two of the sides facing France will be wearing green uniforms against them – will make them even easier to root for (no easy task when it comes to me cheering for Mexico). Besides, I want all those French Gunners out of the tournament nice and early and back to London to get some rest before the season begins. Three games and out. And beyond all that, I think they’re crap. I’m not impressed at all. There is talent there, but it’s a mess with an idiot at the helm. I would love to see South Africa use the crowd’s passion to rise above and advance, but I just can’t see it. In the “Group of Draws” as I’ve dubbed it, I’m going with Uruguay and Mexico to advance. 5 points will win this group. 4 might even win this group. I had a very difficult time figuring this group out, and could literally change it each day, but that’s my final answer.

Ron Patel: When the draw came out, I picked France and Uruguay. Now, I’m not so sure. I think Mexico and Uruguay can finish 1-2 and take out the French. French boss Raymond Domenech made the bold move of taking Thierry Henry out of the starting lineup, mainly using the inconsistent Nicolas Anelka. Team chemistry apparently isn’t all that great, key defender William Gallas is a question mark, and holding midfielder Lassana Diarra succumb to the injury curse. Further, golden boy Yoann Gourcuff for Bordeaux the second half of the season. Mexico has a young, attacking side and recently topped Italy in a friendly, while Uruguay has serious talent up front in Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. I hope the host gets a point, but I don’t think they will. Mexico and Uruguay to go through.

Greg Neville: I still find myself rooting against the French. In the past it has either been the Italians or Germans that I love to hate but 2010 World Cup will all be about Irish redemption. I’ll be cheering for Uruguay to at least draw if not pull an upset in the opening day clash but unfortunately I believe France will have too much attack for the South Americans. The host nation will also be up against it and the loss of striker Benni McCarthy really hurts Bafana Bafana. The key clash of this group is Mexico v Uruguay on June 22. I’ll stick with my predictions when the draw came out … France and Mexico advance but France lose in the quarter-finals and it is finally au revoir to Raymond Domenech.

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