Group A, which consists of France, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay, is one of the most open groups in the World Cup, not because they are all good, but each of them has issues that made them evenly matched.
It remains to be seen if France has overcome the retirement of Zinedine Zidane, but the bigger problem is their coach Raymond Domenech. He has presided over a series of listless displays in their matches, and rumours of experienced players running the team instead of him. Their recent one nil loss to China in a friendly is likely to dampen team morale further.
Mexico always produces tight possession football with neat passing and weaving movements. But their problem is converting all that into goals, and they lack a star striker to do the business.
For a small nation with about three million people, Uruguay created a deep impression during the early years of the World Cup, winning the first edition in 1930 and the 1950 event. But since then, there have been no notable performances to date, with a second round appearance in the 1990 event the exception. This time, the team will be relying on a host of inexperience and young players.
The only star in the South African team is Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil. Ever since the 1994 World Cup, there have been fears of the host country being unable to reach the second round for the first time. Being the lowest ranked African team, there is a danger of South Africa achieving that feat. Much depends on how much Parreira can prepare his team in terms of fitness levels and tactics and how the intensity of the home fans can drive the team forward.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.