Group A

France
Les Bleus (The Blues)
A blatant handball from Monsieur ‘Va Va Voom’ Thierry Henry denied the Irish qualification, so you’ll hear the cheer from Dublin if the French bomb out early.
South Africa
Bafana Bafana (The Boys)
Listen out for the home supporters blowing their 3ft-long vuvuzela horns, which can sound like
a herd of trumpeting elephants or a swarm of angry bees.
Mexico
El Tri (The Tricolour)
The green-shirted Mexicans are some of the most stylish on show, led by pony-tailed warrior Rafael Marquez: a cross between Pancho Villa and Gael García Bernal.
Uruguay
Los Charrúas (after the indigenous people)
The sky-blues spend half the match adjusting their alice bands, but they’re a popular team with the ladies, as they like to strip off their shirts when they score.

Group B

Argentina
La Albiceleste (the white-and-sky-blue)
If their impulsive manager Diego Maradona (hand of God, and so on) keeps a grip of his emotions, then his skilled assassins could once more gun down England in the later stages.
Nigeria
The Super Eagles
One of the brightest lights from the Dark Continent, Nigeria’s green-and-white shirted fans will rock the stadia with bells, drums, trumpets and their dancing feet.
Greece
To Piratiko (The Pirate Ship)
How many Greek government ministers will be seen lording it up in South Africa this summer, now that their pockets are bulging with Euros?
Korea Republic
The Red Devils
The South Koreans take pride in their spiky, brightly  dyed barnets, so expect some exotic creations as they attempt to outdo their drab North Korean neighbours.
 
Group C

England

The Three Lions
Can England’s lustful footballers cope without their WAGs? Joking apart, they could win this time. Just in case, we suggest you book a holiday in July to avoid the hysteria.
USA
The Yanks
Bill Clinton had his soccer moms, but the US is still not a soccer superpower. ‘It’s a sport for girls with long hair,’ say the college jocks (in their matching frat sweaters).
Slovenia
Igralci (The Team)
This young country, with her sprawling forests and mountains, is well worth a visit if you’re in the north of Italy. Her footballers are also decent, so England beware!
Algeria
Les Fennecs
(The Desert Foxes)
The Algerians are a passionate bunch, who came through a violent showdown with arch-rivals Egypt to qualify. England will hold no fear for them.

Group D

Germany
Die Mannschaft (The Team)
With players such as Mertesacker, Trochowski and Schweinsteiger, you don’t want to sit in front of the commentators if the Germans play well. Which they usually do.
Serbia
Beli Orlovi
(The White Eagles)
The classy Serbs are competing under their own flag again, so they will be brimful of national fervour in their all-white strips. Don’t be surprised if they make the semis.
Australia
The Socceroos
Having lost the Ashes and the Twenty20 final, the Aussies will be looking for revenge. However, a clash with England in the second round could prove a slippery banana skin.
Ghana
The Black Stars
The Ghanaian supporters will be resplendent in the Pan-African colours of red, gold and green. The black star signifies freedom (from the British, as it happens).

Group E

Netherlands
De Oranje (The Orangemen)
The future could indeed be orange, as the Dutch are heavily fancied. Their supporters are a seething mass of bright orange. But will their Afrikaaner cousins join in the party?
Cameroon
The Indomitable Lions
Bedecked in green, red and yellow, the Cameroonians will match the Dutch for colour and talent. Their followers have a penchant for green body paint and frenzied dance.
Japan
Samurai Blue
The Japanese faithful, in their dark blue shirts, are enthusiastic, well-behaved and expertly choreo-graphed. Loud, too. Here’s hoping they make the long journey.
Denmark
The Danish Dynamite
The dark red Danish ‘roligans’, who were founded in the 1980s as an antidote to hooliganism (rolig means calm), are often voted the world’s most popular fans.

Group F

Italy
Azzurri (Blue)
The defending champions are masters of the pouting gesticulation, with a rich lexicon of out-
raged phrases including ‘it wasn’t me’, ‘that was a penalty’ and ‘he dived, ref!’.
Paraguay
La Albirroja (The white-and-red)
If you like your footballers to hug, kiss, cry and throw wobblies, then the Paraguayans could be the team to follow-although they won’t be alone.
Slovakia
The Fighting Jondas
Slovakia knocked out the Czech Republic and Poland to qualify, so their genial supporters in their dark blue shirts have already enjoyed a fine World Cup.
New Zealand
The All Whites
This could be a bloodbath. The All Blacks routinely thrash the Italians in rugby, but the tables will be turned in June. Don’t be shocked if the Azzurri slot 10 past them.

Group G

Brazil
The Samba Kings
Music, dancing, beautiful women and gorgeous football: they are everybody’s second-favourite team. Their famous canary-yellow shirts will light up the Group of Death.
Côte d’Ivoire
The Elephants
Arguably Africa’s best hope of winning the whole shooting match, the Ivorians need Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and chums to cut out the diving, histrionics and sulking.
Portugal
Selecção das Quinas
(Team of the Five Shields)
As the home economy struggles, patience will wear thin if Cristiano Ronaldo fails to inspire his team of millionaires. We predict tears and tantrums, not tea and medals.
Korea DPR
Chollima (A mythical winged horse)
The team tactics are thought to come from Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader himself. No pressure,
then! Expect plenty of close-up shots of sinister-looking supporters in the stands.

Group H

Spain
La Furia Roja (The Red Fury)
The stadia of South Africa will be awash with red and yellow, as thousands of Spaniards risk financial ruin to support their team of superstars. Our tip for the title.
Chile
La Roja (The Red)
Chilean emotions can and do overspill, so don’t bank on them finishing every match with 11 men on the pitch. Besides, an early bath means first use of the hairdryer…
Honduras
Los Catrachos (After
Gen Florencio Xatruch)
The Hondurans once went to war with El Salvador over a football match, but the only battle for these blue-and-white shirted ‘Bicolors’ will be escaping the group.
Switzerland
La Nati (as in ‘national’)
Banking, watch-making and neutrality: it’s hardly a surprise that the national football team is dull. Expect cow bells and plenty of them. Watch the highlights later, if there are any.

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