This month the world’s biggest football tournament is coming to Africa. We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in South Africa by looking at the top ten danger men competing in this year’s competition for their respective nations.
Currently one of South Africa’s most recognized players and with 46 international caps the attacking midfielder will be a key component in Bafana Bafana’s push for glory this summer, not to mention the added pressure of playing in front of the home faithful.
9. Michael Essien (Ghana)
Although the powerful midfielder has been injured for the majority of this season with a knee problem the fact that manager Milovan Rajevac included him in his preliminary 30 man squad says a lot about how influential he could be to Ghana’s progress this year. Essien is expected to recover in time for Ghana’s first game against Serbia on the 13th of June.
8. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)
Obi Mikel is another that has recently suffered an injury but that hasn’t prevented him from getting a call up to the national team. The efficient defensive midfielder could be key against the more prolific opposition in their group like Argentina.
7. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)
With an impressive 44 goals in 94 appearances for his country Eto’o is sure to be one of the contenders for the tournaments Golden Boot. Crucial in their qualifying campaign, Cameroon will be looking to their target man to provide the goals once more as they come up against opposition like Netherlands and Denmark in the group stages.
6. Xavi (Spain)
Xavi’s admirers have been in awe in recent seasons as his range of passing and ability to unlock opposition defenses have spearheaded Barcelona FC’s recent European and domestic successes. And the influential midfield maestro is sure to be at the heart of a team expected by many to reach the final this year.
5. Kaka (Brazil)
With the likes of Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo and the 17 year old wonder kid Neymar left out of this year’s squad, the 5 time World Champions will be looking to the experienced and skilled attacking midfielder Kaka to stand up and be counted. They have been drawn in the “group of death” which see’s them come up against Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea.
4. Wayne Rooney (England)
Coming off the back of his most successful season in professional football with 34 goals in 44 appearances for Manchester United this season much is expected of the gifted forward at this year’s competition. Even though a recent groin injury had the nation holding its breath many feel he will recover to full fitness and could be the difference between winning the World Cup or not.
3. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)
Leading scorer in the English Premiership at Chelsea with 36 goals in all competitions Côte d’Ivoire will be looking for the recently named 2009 African Player of the Year to carry his recent good form into the World Cup. An influential figure in their qualifying campaign having scored 6 goals in 5 qualification matches his goals will be crucial to their progress this year.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Captain of the national team and effective goal scoring and skillful attacking midfielder has almost single handedly carried his club Real Madrid forward this season with a sensational 33 goals in 34 games. He will be the key man as Portugal push for glory this year as one of the favorites to progress to the semi final stage.
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
He has been in scintillating form this year for Barcelona with 45 goals in 52 appearances and his skillful performances have drawn comparisons with Argentinean legend Diego Maradona and attracted even more admiration from plaudits that regard him as the best player of his generation. It is widely reported that Argentina labored through their qualifying campaign but with Messi at the heart of this team fans will be thinking anything is possible.
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