2010 FIFA World Cup: A Definitive Guide To the Coaches
So much media attention and column inches have been devoted to the nations participating in the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa: the nations that did not make it, the players playing for those nations, the WAGs of the players that are going to feature, and even of those that are not!
But what of the coaches and managers who have led and/or will lead these qualified nations at the world's greatest sports extravaganza?
Pitting their wits against each other are some of the greatest club and international coaches in football today.
World Cup winners, veterans, and debutantes will rub shoulders at the top tier of world football. Who will have the honour, fame, and fortune of having led his squad to victory at South Africa 2010?
The definitive guide to all the coaches at this year's competition sheds a little light on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their personalities and styles.
Whoever it is that watches his captain raise the World Cup trophy aloft come mid July will go down in history as a coaching legend.
Who will be victorious at South Africa 2010?
Algeria : Rabah Saadane
Manager : Rabah Saadane.
Date of Birth : 3 May 1946 – age 64.
Place of Birth : Batna, Algeria.
Notable International Honours: None.
Rabah Saadane managed the Algerians, nicknamed the "Desert Foxes," when they last made a World Cup Finals appearance in Mexico in 1986.
In total, the father figure of Algerian football has managed his nation’s footballers on no less than five separate occasions, as far back as 1981.
Saadane’s latest episode at the helm saw the Desert Foxes take fourth place at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.
The former defender boasts a wealth of experience and has the complete trust of his players and staff in matters both on and off the pitch.
His man management skills are second to none and his respect throughout North African football is unparalleled.
However, this vast experience has been limited to football within the African continent. And, particularly, in its northern part.
His lack of experience against nations outside of Africa could see his tactics come unstuck.
The approachable Algerian tends to play a 3-5-2 formation, where he attempts to flood the midfield and stop the opponents from playing their football.
He sets up his teams with pacey counter attacking forwards and looks to hit teams on the break.
Algeria has failed to make it through the group stages in their previous two World Cup Finals appearances.
And, with the likes of England, USA, and Slovenia as Group opponents, it's unlikely that Saadane can change that statistic in South Africa this time around.
Argentina : Diego Maradona
Manager : Diego Maradona.
Date of Birth : 30 October 1960 – age 49.
Place of Birth : Lanús, Argentina.
Notable International Honours: None.
Quite possibly the most famous, and arguably the most talented, footballer ever to grace the World Cup Finals, Diego Maradona has become one of the game’s most controversial international coaches.
Worshiped as god in his native Argentina, Maradona was always destined to lead his beloved nation at some stage following his retirement from football.
However, disgraced with expulsion from the 1994 Finals in the USA, his appointment as national team coach in October 2008 was a surprise to many.
With little previous experience of coaching and managing, Maradona’s record with the national team is poor.
And the South American giants were in danger of not making it to South Africa at all. Were it not for a late goal against Uruguay in their final game, Argentina would have faced the humiliation of having to endure a play-off match.
With little tactical awareness and strategic planning, the little Argentine master relies on his iconic status within Argentine football to inspire his players to perform for him.
And with the wealth of talent that he has at his disposal, his managerial naivety has not yet been heavily exposed.
From the enormous number of players used in his qualifying campaign, to those he left out. From his notorious confrontations with the media, to his foul mouthed statements at press conferences.
Controversy is never far when Maradona is concerned.
What tactical awareness he does possess is instilled in his 4-4-2 formation. With fantastically skillful forwards, rock solid midfielders, and hard tackling defenders, Maradona has the players to pull his questionable tactics through games.
Players like Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuaín, Alberto Milito, Sergio Agüero, Juan Veron, Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Martin Demichelis, Walter Samuel, and Gabriel Heinze will surely pull their inexperienced coach out of a tight spot.
With the ridiculously talented squad Maradona has at his disposal, it would not be a surprise to see him win the World Cup despite his lack of coaching acumen.
Australia : Pim Verbeek
Manager : Pim Verbeek
Date of Birth : 12 March 1956 – age 54.
Place of Birth : Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Notable International Honours: None.
This unassuming Dutchman is no stranger to the World Cup Finals, having been the assistant to Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat in the 2002 and 2006 Finals, respectively.
Under Hiddink and Verbeek, South Korea famously made it to the semi-finals in 2002, where they narrowly lost 1-0 to Germany.
Having earned his spurs under these two Dutch masters, Verbeek was handed the reins for South Korea’s Asian Cup campaign. He guided them to a respectable third place.
Since Australia was shifted to the Asian confederation for the qualifying stages, they appointed Verbeek for the combination of his knowledge of the Asian game and his Dutch tactical expertise.
It has proved to be a wise choice, as the ‘Socceroos’ have successfully made it to South Africa.
The Dutchman developed his Australian team into a frugal outfit, whose defensive style was not to the approval of the Australian media. The scribes labeled Australia a boring team.
However, the Socceroos only conceded the first goal of their qualifying campaign after they had already booked their ticket to the Finals.
As per his mentors, Verbeek believes in diligent preparation, organization, and consistency. His tactics reflect this careful approach.
Usually employing a 4-2-3-1 formation, the two holding mid-fielders allow the fullback to overlap down the flanks, with crosses and balls into the box from wide positions being a feature of their play.
Verbeek’s Socceroos may not set the tournament on fire with their attacking play, but they will certainly be difficult to break down with their stubborn and well drilled defence.
But progression out of the group stages may well depend upon Verbeek allowing some of his flair players, such as Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell, the opportunity to play outside his rigid formation.
Brazil : Dunga
Manager : Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, more commonly known as Dunga
Date of Birth : 31 October 1963 – age 46.
Place of Birth : Ijui, Brazil
Notable International Honours: Copa América 2007; FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
As a player, Dunga was the most "un-Brazilian" of Brazilian players. There were no silky samba skills, no Brazilian magic, or South American flamboyance. What there was, though, was a ferocious tackle, untamed aggression, and ‘a never say die’ attitude.
He was the rock of the Brazilian teams that finally understood that the modern game had evolved and, if they were to remain a powerhouse of world football, they to had to evolve. His captaincy and commanding performances were the linchpin of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup triumph in the USA.
After retirement from football in 2000, Dunga was named as the new coach of Brazil in 2006, with no previous managerial experience whatsoever. This posed an immediate problem as he possessed neither a coaching nor a physical education professional license and, hence, was breaking his country’s employment laws!
His coaching ethics and principles were those that he had successfully employed as a player. However, although Brazilians did not mind if one player played in an ‘un-Brazilian’ manner, for their national team to adopt such tactics was almost blasphemous.
With his team struggling to find its feet within his more disciplined regime, Dunga faced scathing criticism from all walks of Brazilian life. Even the nation’s president waded in with comments of the ex-captain’s overly exacting tactics that was stifling the creative players.
But Dunga was not to be swayed and stuck to his guns and, slowly but surely, his new look Brazil began to reflect not only his regimented style, but also their beloved samba style football.
In 2007, Dunga led his regimented samba stars to the final of the Copa América, where they hammered arch rivals Argentina 3-0 and, slowly, the quiet Brazilian was finding his way into the football obsessed population’s hearts.
The 2009 Confederations Cup held in South Africa once again showed how Dunga’s revolution had evolved further. In the group stages, they won all three matches, scoring ten goals and conceding only three. In the semi-finals, they eased past hosts South Africa, 1-0 and won the final against a spirited USA, 3-2.
Dunga's formations usually revolve around a lone striker supported by three gifted midfielders. The two holding midfielders are the key to his style and provide the foil for attacking fullbacks, allowing the team to be solid as well as creative.
Ronaldinho and Adriano are notable absentees from his 2010 squad, once again illustrating that Dunga is not afraid to make sweeping changes when he feels they are required.
With the likes of Kaká, Luis Fabiano, Robinho, Danny Alves, Lucio, and Maicon, Brazil will once again be one of the firm favourites to lift the World Cup. They have the added advantage of having played in South Africa only last year when winning the Confederation Cup.
If Brazil do once again become world champions, it will be as a result of the discipline that Dunga has instilled into their game and continues to incorporate into their style, without snuffing out the renowned Brazilian flamboyance.
Cameroon : Paul Le Guen
Manager : Paul Le Guen
Date of Birth : 1 March 1964 - 46
Place of Birth : Pencran, France
Notable International Honours: None.
Paul Le Guen has a reputation for bringing professionalism to all of the clubs that he has managed, such as Olympique Lyonnais, where he took the club to three successive French titles. At Paris Saint-Germain, he turned the fortunes of a former giant of French football after years in the wilderness.
But taking over the reins of Cameroon from German veteran coach Otto Pfister in July last year was always going to be a tough act to follow and, indeed, qualifying got off to a slow start.
But in his relatively short managerial career, Le Guen has never been shy to make controversial decisions. Removing long term ‘Indomitable Lions’ captain Rigobert Song and handing the arm-band to striker Samuel Eto’o was certainly contentious.
But it proved to be an inspired move as results began to improve and the team began to gel. Even Song’s performances improved leading to him winning back his first team place.
The young Frenchman has the ability to pull a team together and to get all the players singing from the same hymn sheet. His tough work ethic and demands for the highest standards of conduct from his players have proved to be exactly what the ‘Lions’ needed.
Le Guen favours a 4-4-2 formation with captain Eto’o spearheading his attack and all the others behind him pressing the opposition when they are not in possession. His physical, powerful, and pressing style has been the perfect fit to the attributes of the Cameroon players.
Getting through the group stages will certainly be in the cards for Le Guen and, if his inspirational captain Eto’o can perform to his abilities, then the ‘Lions’ will surely be tough opponents for any team at the Finals.
Chile : Marcelo Bielsa
Manager : Marcelo Bielsa
Date of Birth : 21 July 1955 - 54
Place of Birth : Rosario, Argentina
Notable International Honours: Olympic Champions 2004 (Argentina).
This Argentine, nicknamed “Madman” Bielsa, is a coach held in the highest esteem in South America and regarded as a true innovator in coaching circles.
Most famously known for his unusual and innovative coaching tactics and methods, Madman Bielsa has turned Chilean football on its head, transforming the mentality of players and returning ‘La Roja’ to the World Cup Finals for the first time in 12 years.
After a short injury hampered playing career ended in 1980, Bielsa was given the job of coaching his native Argentina in 1998 following a successful stint in club management in his homeland and Spain.
Although Argentina gained their place in the Finals of 2002 in Korea and Japan with an impressive qualification campaign, they did not make it past the group stages and the team returned home in disgrace.
Despite this, Bielsa retained his job and made amends of some sort by guiding Argentina to Olympic Gold at the 2004 Games in Athens, the only major honour that Argentina, till then, had not won.
Just as it seemed that he would become one of Argentina’s greatest managers, Bielsa surprised everyone by stepping down at the end of 2004, claiming to be exhausted and lacking in energy.
He returned to football as coach of Chile in 2007 and has revolutionized Chilean football, leading them to their first ever victory over Argentina in 2008, which led to the resignation of the Argentine coach Alfio Basile.
He brought in young, uncapped talent to the national side and played with a buccaneer, all-out attacking style that is loved in Chile. Their qualification to South Africa 2010 has given the Argentine an idol-like status in Chile.
The ‘Madman’ is known to have marathon press conferences where he answers each and every question posed to him.
His tactics centre around a studious, almost obsessive, analysis of the opponents and the venue. On occasions, he has verified pitch measurement by pacing them out and adapting his strategies accordingly. Bielsa often separates out his defense, midfield, and strikers and devises independent training methods and locations for them. At times, the different parts of the team do not see each other at all during training sessions.
Bielsa loves to attack and uses a unique 3-3-1-3 formation, with three defenders, a diamond mid-field, two wide men and a central striker. He is quoted as saying “Attacking football is the simplest way to victory and success…..”
Finishing second, only a point behind Brazil, Chile’s coach is one of the games’ true innovators. His ultra-attacking style and employment of unproven young talent will surely unsettle opponents and advancing from the groups stages is a real possibility. Anything more from there, will only go further in cementing the Madman’s rising reputation in Chile and football in general.
Denmark : Morten Olsen
Manager : Morten Olsen
Date of Birth : 14 August 1949 - 60
Place of Birth : Vordingborg, Denmark
Notable International Honours: None.
Morten Olsen is one of the longest serving international coaches, having led Denmark for over 10 years.
He took sole charge of the Danish national team after a poor European Championships in 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands and successfully guided them to the World Cup Finals in Korea and Japan.
There, the Danes progressed through the group stages by topping Group A, but were beaten in the Round of 16 by England.
Olsen took Denmark to the next major international tournament: the European Championships held in Portugal in 2004. Once again he successfully guided them through the group stages, but failed once again to go any further.
The Danes then suffered the setbacks of failing to qualify for the next World Cup in 2006 and the European Championships of 2008.
Qualification for South Africa 2010 was secured by topping their group, despite Portugal and Sweden being the same group.
The Danes play a very technical game, focused around a rigid 4-3-3 formation. Olsen’s strict adherence to his formation has led to players knowing exactly what is expected from them. But this also has the disadvantage of opponents also knowing exactly what they will be up against.
Olsen will be expected to, once again, guide the Danes through the group stages. But with the lack of flexibility of Olsen then becoming a disability, progressing further may well prove tough and they may well fall again at their usual hurdle.
England : Fabio Capello
Manager : Fabio Capello
Date of Birth : 18 June 1946 - 63
Place of Birth : San Canzian d’Isonzo, Italy
Notable International Honours: UEFA Champions League 1994 (AC Milan), European Super Cup (AC Milan).
Having won domestic honours throughout his club coaching career, Fabio Capello was appointed as England coach in 2008 and was roundly welcomed by the fans.
The successful Italian is a strict disciplinarian and it was thought that this was exactly what the England team and set up so badly needed.
Having compiled talented squads in the past, England teams were never able to transfer this talent onto the playing field and it was hoped that Capello would instill a winning mentality and control over the star names in the England squad.
Capello came with the reputation of not pandering to any stars, having managed the squads of AC Milan and Real Madrid. He was renowned for never shying away from tough decisions and had a policy of only picking players that were on form and not past reputations.
One of his first controversial decisions was to drop former captain and world superstar, David Beckham, citing fitness issues. However, Beckham did feature in several of the Italian’s early squads and even captained the side briefly in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.
However, it was John Terry that Capello appointed as his long term captain. But again the Italian showed no mercy. Following an off the field liaison, Capello stripped Terry of the captaincy without a shred of leniency.
Capello commands the respect of his players and they have, in turn, reacted positively to his strict methods. Many have described him as the best coach they have ever played under.
The demanding Italian led England to the Finals in South Africa with a perfect record, winning every game. Finally, entering a major championship, England have a coach that could well fulfill the demands of a success-starved public.
Capello has brought his own brand of football to England and the players have relished it. Under the Italian’s guidance, Wayne Rooney has been able to transfer his club form to the international arena. Playing off a ‘big man’, most often Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch, Rooney has excelled and goes into the Finals as one of the world’s most feared international strikers.
The Italian plays a holding midfielder with a diamond formation in front of him. He has also solved the so called ‘Gerrard–Lampard dilemma’, by successfully finding a place for both in his midfield where both are effective.
Steven Gerrard usually starts in a wide position on the left under Capello, but has the license to roam and hence wreck havoc on opposition defences, as he then plays in no predetermined position. Rooney has also benefited hugely from a roaming Gerrard, with the two forming a formidable international partnership.
Capello’s mastery of the strategic side and his man management skills have turned a talented England squad from ‘also-rans’ into genuine World Cup contenders. Come the end of the tournament, Capello may have ended England’s long wait to regain the trophy they last won more than 40 years ago.
France : Raymond Domenech
Manager : Raymond Domenech
Date of Birth : 24 January 1952 - 58
Place of Birth : Lyon, France
Notable International Honours: None.
Raymond Domenech is, without doubt, the most disliked coach in football. Fans, former players, and even current members of his squad have publicly expressed their disdain for the Frenchman.
Since becoming the surprise choice to succeed Jacques Santini in 2004, his stock has been on a steady slide downwards.
His aging side struggled in the qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, even though they were the seeded team in the group which included international minnows such as Israel and Switzerland.
However, they defied the odds and reached the Final and could possibly have gone on to raise the trophy were it not for Zinedine Zidane’s infamous rush of blood and subsequent head butt of Italian defender Marco Materazzi.
But even this was not enough to raise Domenech’s profile with his players and fans and his appeal continued its steady decline.
Domenech’s French squad gave a pitiful performance in the European Championships of 2008 where, without the players of their ‘Golden Generation’, the French only picked up one point from their group matches and returned home humiliated and disgraced.
Even with public pressure mounting, the French FA refused to sack him and endured an uncertain qualification campaign for South Africa 2010. Finishing second in their group to Serbia, Les Bleus had the embarrassment of having to secure their passage via a play-off. And it even took a hand ball as blatant as the famous ‘Hand of God’ to finally ensure the French a place in South Africa.
It is difficult to predict which formation the unpredictable Frenchman will favour, but it usually revolves around a holding midfielder and a lone striker. Skillful and matching winning individuals may well pull him through the group stages, but it would be yet another surprise if France were to proceed any further.
Domenech’s erratic behaviour, questionable selection procedure, and tactics have alienated him from fans and senior players and another disappointing showing at a major championship could well see the guillotine finally drop on his neck.
Germany - Joachim Löw
Manager : Joachim Löw
Date of Birth : 3 February 1960 - 50
Place of Birth : Schönau, Germany
Notable International Honours: 3rd Place Confederation Cup 2005, 3rd Place World Cup 2006, 2nd Place European Championships 2008 (all with Germany).
Joachim Löw is without doubt one of the true tacticians coaching in the game today. His superb strategic understanding of football, along with his strict preparations for matches and tournaments, ranks him up there with some of the best coaches at the World Cup.
The low profile German was brought into the national set up by Jürgen Klinsmann as his assistant in late 2004 to provide the inspirational former captain with a tactical and coaching foil. The two had met in coaching school and Klinsmann knew that his tactical shortcomings could be overcome by appointing Löw as his assistant.
They became Germany’s dynamic duo, with Klinsmann the inspirational high octane figure head supported by the tactical and strategic thinking of Löw.
They proved that they could work well together by leading Germany to 3rd place in the Confederation Cup in 2005 in Germany, where they lost only to Brazil in the semi-finals.
As host nation for the 2006 World Cup Finals, Germany did not have to go through the qualifications and hence played only meaningless friendly matches. But Löw’s careful coaching and attention to detail was obvious even in these encounters.
With the eyes and hopes of the whole nation, Klinsmann and Löw almost delivered the perfect response to the nations’ dreams. They guided their squad to 3rd Place, but deserved far more.
With Klinsmann understanding that inspirational team talks had a finite life and could not be delivered again and again and, also, that he lacked the tactical prowess needed to take the team to the next level, he stepped down as coach and Löw took over.
The new coach led his troops through qualification for the European Championships in 2008 without any major hiccups. At the tournament, Germany reached the finals, where it took a sublime goal from Fernando Torres to beat them.
Löw had very quickly emerged from Klinsmann’s shadow and stamped his own authority on the squad. His attention to detail and strict fitness regime have reestablished Germany as the well oiled football match it was in its glory days.
Qualification to South Africa was routine and Löw’s squad left the others in their group trailing, including the talented Russians led by Guus Hiddink.
Löw sets up his team in a solid 4-4-2 formation with a strong midfield, which was anchored by Micheal Ballack. But with injury keeping him out, Löw will have to re-shuffle his pack and find another midfield general to position his team around.
His strict training programmes and game plans have come under fire from some in the German game, but Löw has results on his side.
The Germans are a ‘tournament team’ and seem to gain strength as they progress. With the expert guidance of one of the game's top coaches, it is a sure thing that they will feature strongly in the later stages of these World Cup Finals.
Ghana - Milovan Rajevac
Manager : Milovan Rajevac
Date of Birth : 2 January 1954 - 56
Place of Birth : Cajetina, SFR Yugoslavia
Notable International Honours: 2nd Place African Nations Cup 2010 (Ghana).
Milovan Rajevac was an unpopular and surprising appointment, with the nation looking for a more established and recognised figure of the world game. His poor English required him to use a translator, questioning his suitability even further.
However, since his appointment in 2008, Rajevac has quickly proved his critics wrong. He led the ‘Black Stars’ to the final of this year’s African Nations Cup, where they were narrowly beaten by a solid Egyptian side.
Qualification to this year’s World Cup Finals has also been smooth, where they won their first 4 games without conceding a goal.
The Yugoslavian’s strict tactics and game plans have made Ghana a tough team to score against and, hence, to beat. But there have been some bumps along the way, with results taking priority over playing attractive football.
Rajevac’s defensive style is epitomised by his defensive formations, where he commonly fields a 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1. He plays to the strengths of his squad, where strong defensive players such as Michael Essien, Stephan Appiah, and Sulley Muntari are prominent.
However, being drawn in a tough group with Germany, Serbia, and Australia, Rajevac will need all his defensive skill if he is to guide the ‘Black Stars’ to the round of 16, particularly as he will be without the services of Essien.
Greece - Otto Rehhagel
Manager : Otto Rehhagel
Date of Birth : 9 August 1938 - 71
Place of Birth : Essen, Germany
Notable International Honours: European Cup Winners’ Cup 1992 (Werder Bremen), European Championships 2004 (Greece).
One of the true characters of the game, Otto Rehhagel has spurred controversy wherever he has coached. He is a coach set in his ways who is often at odds with his employers, players, and fans.
But as one of the most successful German coaches ever and longest serving manager of Greece, there are few that could, or ever would, argue with his methods, no matter how unorthodox they may be.
After a successful managerial career in Germany, it was in 2001 that he was appointed the coach of Greece. Before his time, the Greeks had only ever qualified for a solitary World Cup Final and a single European Championship.
But under Rehhagel, the Greeks qualified for the 2004 European Championship and were rank outsiders at 100-1. However, in a sensational tournament, Greece set new standards in defensive tactics and defeated the hosts Portugal, the holders France, and the favourites the Czech Republic to reach the final. Once there, they again beat Portugal to be crowned the most unlikely European Champions.
After such a fantastic victory, Greece nose dived and, following poor showings in the 2005 Confederations Cup and the 2008 Euros, they failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2006. It seemed the Greek bubble had burst.
But Rehhagel once again produced an ultra defensive master class in the playoff against the Ukraine, where they won 1-0 on aggregate to book their place in South Africa.
The dominant German’s management style has been labeled as ‘Ottocracy’, with Rehhagel being king, emperor, and dictator. He has complete control over all aspects of his team.
His ultra defensive strategies are now legendary. He usually adopts a rigid 4-5-1 formation, with a 5-4-1 often being used against the top teams.
Rehhagel makes no apologies for his unattractive style, citing his triumphs as proof that his methods, though ugly, do bring success.
His Greek team relies on big, tall, strong, no-nonsense defenders, with a lone striker left up field to feed off scraps. As his teams are physical and robust, they pose great danger at set pieces and it is from these that they score most of their few goals.
If Rehhagel can get his team playing to their defensive strengths, opponents will find it very hard to break them down. And if scoring against the Greeks is tough, then beating them will be tough. Such stifling tactics may well frustrate teams and, if the gods are with them, Greece should advance from the group stages.
Honduras - Reinaldo Rueda
Manager : Reinaldo Rueda
Date of Birth : 3 February 1957 - 53
Place of Birth : Cali, Colombia
Notable International Honours : None.
This highly educated Colombian holds a Physical Education undergraduate degree, a Masters from Colonia University in Germany, and has been a University professor.
After a highly successful time as the Under-21 coach for Colombia, Rueda took over the reins at Honduras and has taken them to only their second World Cup Finals in South Africa and their first in 28 years.
Most Hondurans credit Rueda for bringing this success to their national team by the skills he continues to develop by regularly attending FIFA and UEFA coaching courses in Europe.
For all the courses he has attended, Rueda’s preference is to stick to the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation. There are not too many experimental selections and strategies from this educated coach, but more of a partiality to adhere to the traditional and pure form of the game.
Simply being at the Finals is considered a success for Honduras and progression from the group stage is unlikely. But this will not be considered as a failure of Rueda; he has shown his metal by just getting them there.
Italy - Marcello Lippi
Manager : Marcello Lippi
Date of Birth : 12 April 1948 - 62
Place of Birth : Viareggio, Italy
Notable International Honours : UEFA Champions League 1996 (Juventus), European Super Cup 1996 (Juventus), Intercontinental Cup 1996 (Juventus), FIFA World Cup 2006.
One of only two coaches at these World Cup Finals to have led a nation to World Cup glory, Marcello Lippi is the reigning World Cup champions’ coach and a super-heavyweight of international coaches.
This World Cup winner is a tactical and strategic genius and, in the old fashioned sense, your quintessential Italian coach.
Following a disappointing showing at the European Championships in 2004, the Italian Football Federation turned to Lippi to lead them to the Finals of 2006.
He brought back the art of Italian defending and won the tournament, having conceded only two goals in all the group stage and knock out games, including the final (which ended 1-1, only the second goal the Italians conceded; they went on to beat France in a penalty shoot out).
Having lifted the most prized trophy in world football, the Italian mastermind called it a day and retired.
His successor was Roberto Donadoni who had enormous shoes to fill and never really was able to do it. After qualifying for the 2008 European Championship, Italy lost to the eventual winners, Spain, in the quarter-finals and Donadoni was relieved of his position.
Once again, the Italian Football Federation’s ‘go to man’ was Lippi and he was lured out of retirement with the carrot of bringing Italy back to the pinnacle of world football.
Lippi proceeded to pick up where he left off and guided ‘the Azzurri’ to South Africa with a dominant qualification, wherein they topped their group by eight points.
Such is the calibre of the man: He has written and published his own coaching manual entitled “Il Gioco delle Idee: Pensieri e Passioni da Bordo Campo” (A Game of Ideas: Thoughts and Passions from the Sidelines).
In it, he cites team spirit and unity as the premium qualities of a successful squad. Lippi likens a team as a family and stresses the importance of relationships between players. A successful team is not a group of the best players, more a team of players who play for each other and not for themselves.
A formation must allow players to express themselves fully and allow them to allow their teammates to do likewise. A successful team is one that has the best players for a formation in it, but also the right formation for those players.
Lippi has used the 4-3-3 formation successfully in the past and seems likely to adopt it once again. However, this time around, he lacks a consistent and in-form striker and his team seems to lack creativity.
Despite all this, with Lippi at the helm, the Italians will once again be a threat. And with his experience of having won the World Cup and tactical expertise, he will surely take them into the very later stages of this year's competition.
Ivory Coast - Sven Goran Eriksson
Manager : Sven Goran Eriksson
Date of Birth : 5 February 1948 - 62
Place of Birth : Torsby, Sweden
Notable International Honours : European Cup Winners’ Cup 1999 (Lazio), UEFA Super Cup 1999 (Lazio)
Sven Goran Eriksson is another one of the heavyweights of European club management, with highly successful spells in Italy, Portugal, and Sweden.
The quiet Swede’s first international posting was as England’s first foreign coach in 2001. He enjoyed moderate success, leading England to the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals and 2004 European Championships.
But press and sex scandals blighted Eriksson’s England tenure and, after the 2006 World Cup Finals, he stepped down as England coach.
Not one to shout and scream and throw teacups, the Swede is a studious and careful coach who analyses the game and sets up his teams accordingly. At times, his quiet nature is mistaken for a lack of passion. This was evident in the 2002 World Cup Finals against Brazil when England were trailing at half time and the players expected a rousing and inspirational halftime talk but were famously disappointed.
However, his passion for the game should not be questioned and his obvious coaching excellence never doubted.
In 2008, Eriksson was appointed a coach of Mexico with a mandate to lead them to South Africa 2010. After a winning start, a poor run of results followed and, in 2009 after a defeat to Honduras, he was sacked.
With the Ivory Coast looking for a prominent coach to lead them in South Africa, they turned to the Swede and confirmed his appointment in March 2010. With three months to prepare his new squad for the finals, Eriksson has his work cut out.
But his dedicated and professional approach will no doubt mean he will be ready to lead a talented group of players in South Africa. But with such little time to experiment, it is likely that Eriksson will adopted his favourite 4-4-2 formation, with his usual air of conservatism.
In a group with Brazil, Portugal, and minnows North Korea, the key game will be how he fairs against the Portuguese. His experience and success managing Benfica should help him set up his tactics and, if he can conjure up a victory, ‘The Elephants’ could well stampede into the Round of 16.
Japan - Takeshi Okada
Manager : Takeshi Okada
Date of Birth : 25 August 1956 - 53
Place of Birth : Osaka, Japan
Notable International Honours : None.
Takeshi Okada first took charge of the Japanese national team when they were last at the World Cup Final in 1998 in France. But he stepped down shortly afterwards, as Japan lost all three of their group games.
Then in 2007, with the former coach suffering a stroke, Okada returned to comfortably guide the Japanese back to the upcoming World Cup Finals.
Despite their relative minnow status, there is confident talk in the Japanese media of Okada taking his team all the way to the semi-final.
Okada has gained a reputation for picking players based on their desire, rather than their reputations. However, not the easiest of personalities, he has found it difficult to form any real bond with his players.
During qualification, Japan’s manager did not settle on one formation, but has rotated depending on the opposition. But with the majority of their talent being in midfield, it is likely that he will play 4-5-1, with the defence adopting a zonal marking system.
The Japanese media may be hyping up Okada and his chances of reaching the semi-finals, but it is more likely that they will struggle to progress out of their group, which includes the Netherlands, Cameroon, and Denmark.
Mexico - Javier Aguirre
Manager : Javier Aguirre
Date of Birth : 1 December 1958 - 51
Place of Birth : Mexico City, Mexico
Notable International Honours : CONCACAF Gold Cup 2009 (Mexico)
Javier Aguirre is another coach taking the same nation to his second World Cup Finals in his second spell.
It was in 2001 that Aguirre’s first spell as the coach of Mexico began and he successfully guided them to the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea. He led the Mexicans to astonishing success in the group stage where, despite the likes of Italy, Croatia, and Ecuador, they topped the group.
However, they came tumbling back down to earth in the second round, where they were knocked out by rivals USA. Following their exit, the Mexican stepped down from the role.
Then in 2009, with the removal of Sven Goran Erkisson from the post, Aguirre was once again installed as coach of Mexico.
Later in the same year, Aguirre guided Mexico to controversy and victory in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The controversy came in the group encounter with Panama, when he kicked out at Panamanian Richardo Phillips when he tried to retrieve a ball that had gone out of play. The outrageous behaviour led to ugly scenes and Aguirre was banned for three games.
Since returning as coach, the Mexican has instilled a ‘total football’ type attacking style. This was evident in the recent friendly match against England at Wembley where the centre back was often seen attacking down the right wing!
Aguirre demands total commitment from his players and this has galvanised the squad and the team has strung together an impressive run of form.
In a group which includes hosts South Africa, France, and Uruguay, if Aguirre can keep his troops focused, this might be the chance he can once again led Mexico out of the group stages.
Netherlands - Bert van Marwijk
Manager : Bert van Marwijk
Date of Birth : 19 May 1952 - 58
Place of Birth : Deventer, Netherlands
Notable International Honours : UEFA Cup 2002 (Feyenoord)
With a string of big name coaches in their past, one could be forgiven to ask, “Bert van who?”
When Marwijk replaced Marco van Basten in 2008, his selection was not met with much enthusiasm from fans. But he has completely silenced all of his doubters by leading the “Oranje” to South Africa 2010 without losing a single game. His perfect record of eight wins from eight qualification tries has once again got the fans buzzing.
Realizing he was short on international experience, the Dutchman brought in former internationals Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu into his staff.
Despite being a novice national team coach, Marwijk took some gutsy decisions and stood by them. He dropped Clarence Seedof and re-selected international outcast Mark van Bommel.
Some of his selections have not been so successful, however, and his reliance on experienced former stars such as Giovanni van Bronckhorst has raised a few eyebrows.
It is pleasing for neutrals to know that Marwijk does not favour any one system but, with such attacking talent in his ranks, he allows his players to interchange their positions frequently. Harking back to the good old days of Dutch total football, he seems to have got the Oranje back on colour.
With such a wealth of experience and youthful talent in their squad, the Dutch should comfortably make it through the group stages and, if Marwijk can blend his players into a ‘total football’ team, then a first World Cup triumph would not be such a pipe dream.
New Zealand - Ricki Herbert
Manager : Ricki Herbert
Date of Birth : 10 April 1961 - 49
Place of Birth : Auckland New Zealand
Notable International Honours : OFC Nations Cup 2008 (New Zealand)
One of the youngest coaches at this year’s Finals, the 49 year old Kiwi is a survivor from the “All Whites” last World Cup Finals appearance in 1982 in Spain, where he was an accomplished defender.
In 2005, he was given the task of ensuring New Zealand’s appearance at South Africa 2010. This was heavily aided by arch rivals Australia’s shift into the Asian region, leaving the Kiwis the dominant force in Oceania.
In 2008, Herbert led the All Whites to the OFC Nations Cup, thereby qualifying for the Confederation Cup and the Oceanic/Asia World Cup playoff. The Kiwis secured their ticket to the 2010 Finals with a win over Bahrain.
But with a shallow pool of talent to delve into, Herbert pitches the best fit eleven he can and, therefore, any real preferred formation goes out of the window and is very much dependent on the players available.
Herbert brings passion and spirit to the All Whites, but both his and their lack of experience will be a major handicap. And along with the lack of quality international opponents and players to play against, Herbert will do well to notch up a win.
Nigeria - Lars Lagerback
Manager : Lars Lagerback
Date of Birth : 16 July 1948 - 61
Place of Birth : Katrineholm, Sweden
Notable International Honours : None.
Longtime coach of the Swedish national team, Lars Lagerback signed a five month, renewable contract with Nigeria that will see him coach “The Super Eagles” in South Africa 2010.
After nearly twenty years in the Swedish national team set up in one way or another, it is strange to see Lagerback in any other dugout than that of his native Sweden.
But when Sweden failed to qualify for South Africa 2010, Lagerback and Sweden parted company. But his services were not left fallow for long and his experience in international football had Nigeria knocking on his door.
Lacking a coach for the finals, Lagerback’s reputation for creating industrious teams and gaining results against better equipped teams was what the Nigerians needed. In addition, his deep understanding and knowledge of Nigerian football impressed his future employers.
Any formation that Lagerback has favoured in the past will not really be any indication as to how he will set Nigeria up on the pitch. With such a limited time for preparation, the Swede will have to quickly evaluate which of his squad fits into his strict hard work ethics.
In Lagerback, the Nigerians have a coach that is a no-nonsense man that knows his football. Personalities and players without team ethics will mean nothing to this highly experienced Swede and so called ‘star players’ will have to buckle down and show their new coach that they warrant a place in the starting line up.
With the attacking flair of The Super Eagles and the discipline that Lagerback will no doubt instill into his players, the Nigerians may not meet Lagerback’s semi-final expectation, but progress from the group stages is definitely in the cards.
North Korea - Kim Jong-Hun
Manager : Kim Jong-Hun
Date of Birth : 1 September 1956 - 54
Place of Birth : Korea
Notable International Honours : None.
Very little is actually known of Kim Jong-Hun. And, given the secretive nature of North Korea, it is impossible to know when he was appointed, or what previous experience he has.
The only real indications of the team and its strategies come from the matches they have played.
Kim has a well drilled, physically fit group of players who play for the pride of their nation, and their nation’s leader.
North Korea will be a mystery opponent for their group members. Brazil, Ivory Coast, and Portugal will have little idea of what to expect.
However, even before a ball has been kicked at this year World Cup Finals, the award for the quote of the tournament must surely go to Kim.
He is quoted as saying “Perhaps there’s no other team in the world who would be fighting with the same dedication to please the leader and to bring fame to their motherland.”
Paraguay - Gerardo Martino
Manager : Gerardo Martino
Date of Birth : 20 November 1962 - 47
Place of Birth : Rosario, Argentina
Notable International Honours : None.
This Argentinean cities Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine that led Argentina to Olympic Gold in 2004 and current coach of Chile, as his mentor.
Having played under Bielsa at Newell’s Old Boys of Rosario, he has applied his techniques to the teams he went on to coach.
Gerardo Martino leads Paraguay to South Africa 2010 on the back of a praiseworthy qualifying campaign. He matched his mentor for points and was only pushed into third place on goal difference.
What's more notable is that the winners of the group, who only won it by a point, were Brazil.
Taking over in February 2007, Martino has taken Paraguay’s traditionally strong defending and added an attacking aspect to their game.
As with his mentor, Martino carefully studies his opponents and ensures that his players work hard to follow his strict game plan.
However, Martino does have a tendency to be inflexible in his approach. And, along with his relative lack of international experience, Martino could find non-South American opposition tricky.
Like Bielsa, Martino loves to set his team up in attacking formations. But he is slightly more conservative than his mentor.
He prefers a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-1-2 formation.
Martino’s Paraguay have battled with the best sides in South America and held their own. Grouped with Italy, New Zealand, and Slovakia, the South Americans will be looking to reach the Round of 16 in South Africa 2010.
Portugal - Carlos Queiroz
Manager : Carlos Queiroz
Date of Birth : 1 March 1953 - 57
Place of Birth : Nampula, Portuguese East Africa
Notable International Honours : FIFA World Youth Championship 1991 (Portugal)
‘Always the bridesmaid never the bride’ is one way to describe Carlos Queiroz, whose most notable successes in football have been as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
However, Queiroz is arguably one of the most respected youth team coaches in the game, with a host of impressive finishes in world and European youth tournaments. The best came in 1991, when he led Portugal to the FIFA World Youth Championships.
After cutting his teeth in the big time with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and back at United, the Portuguese youth coach stepped into the big time with Portugal in July 2008.
But it has been a baptism of fire, as his talented Portuguese team could not capitalise on a good start to their qualifying campaign with disappointing home losses and draws against the likes of Denmark, Sweden, and Albania.
Were it not for a great run of form in the final stages, Portugal would not have been competing at this year's World Cup Finals and Queiroz would have lost his job.
His coaching ability is without question, but his leadership qualities are not up to the same standards. Queiroz’s strength lies in his organisation and preparation for matches, but he needs to find some way to inspire his talented squad.
His preferred formation is, not surprisingly, that which has brought Manchester United so much success; 4-5-1. He plays with a solid defence and speedy counter attacks. Queiroz has at his disposal arguably one of the most talented squads at the Finals and much will be expected of them.
But being drawn into the ‘group of death’ with Brazil, Ivory Coast, and North Korea, Queiroz will have to muster up some much needed inspiration to compliment his organizational know how if Portugal are not to find themselves on the early plane home.
Serbia - Radomir Antic
Manager : Radomir Antic
Date of Birth : 22 November 1948 - 61
Place of Birth : Zitiste, Former People’s Republic of Yugoslavia
Notable International Honours : None.
Raddy Antic is the only man to have managed Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, and Barcelona, which has given him a valuable insight into coaching under pressure.
Following successfully coaching at club level for a host of teams in Spain, Antic took over the Serbian national team affairs in August 2008 just two weeks before qualifying began, with a home game against the Faroe Islands.
Antic has shown himself to be tactically astute and well prepared. He has shown patience in his young team, which includes some of the most exciting young players at the Finals, along with solid no-nonsense defenders.
Consistency has been the key to qualification, with positive results against nations such as Romania, Austria, and Lithuania, which has seen Antic lead Serbia to the top spot in their group, ahead of former winners France.
Antic plays an attacking 4-4-2 formation with pace all over the team, along with flair and creativity in midfield and solidity in defense. But as talented as his players are, they are also young and inexperienced and it will take all of Antic’s great powers of motivation to prepare them mentally for their group games against Germany, Australia, and Ghana.
If Serbia take the early lead in games, their youth and exuberance could see them through to victory, but falling behind could well see them panic and lose concentration. However, with such an experienced campaigner as Antic as coach, the youngsters of Serbia will be aiming to pass through the group stages with ease.
Slovakia - Vladimir Weiss
Manager : Vladimir Weiss
Date of Birth : 22 September 1964 - 45
Place of Birth : Bratislava, Czechoslovakia
Notable International Honours : None.
Vladimir Weiss is the youngest coach at this year’s Finals, but that is not to say that he has no World Cup experience. He played all three games for Czechoslovakia at Italia 90.
He took over as coach of Slovakia in 2008 and has led them to their first ever appearance in any major football championship by beating Poland away in the final game of qualification.
As befits his young years, optimism and enthusiasm are central to Weiss’s coaching theories. He has an excellent relationship with his players and has been able to nurture fantastic team spirit.
His complete honesty has endeared him to fans too, whereby he is known to publicly apologise after poor results and displays.
This fresh approach has certainly given his squad a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and Weiss has whipped up the support from within his country.
His inexperience is his obvious weakness and, against more established coaches, his lack of depth in tactical and strategic thinking may counter his effervescence.
Playing a standard 4-4-2 with a solid spine in the team has produced dividends and it is unlikely that Weiss will change much in South Africa 2010.
Being drawn in a pretty open group with Italy, New Zealand, and Paraguay, Weiss’s open and honest approach could well see him leading his band of merry men into the Round of 16.
Slovenia - Matjaz Kek
Manager : Matjaz Kek
Date of Birth : 9 September 1961 - 48
Place of Birth : Maribor, Slovenia
Notable International Honours : None.
Another relatively young coach, Matjaz Kek has slowly but surely built his reputation as a thoughtful and intelligent coach beyond his years. After being appointed as the national coach in early 2007, Kek endured a torrid time but persevered to guide Slovenia to the World Cup Finals by finishing ahead of Poland, Northern Ireland, and the Czech Republic.
His reputation was further enhanced when he led his nation past the highly favoured Russians in the playoffs.
Kek is a highly analytical coach, studying opponents to great depths, which allows him to make intelligent strategic substitutions as the game progresses. His relatively young age also lends itself to his being able to forge strong bonds with his players, whereby instilling an excellent team spirit into his squad.
With solid tactical awareness and good communications skills, it is really only his inexperience that is thought to be his drawback.
Kek sets his team up in a standard 4-4-2 formation with a strong defence that conceded only four goals in ten qualification matches. He likes his players to play the ball along the ground and pass well. Their pace and counter attacking strategy could be the key to their winning games.
Drawn alongside England, Algeria, and the USA, Kek may be quietly confident to progress through the group stages.
South Africa - Carlos Alberto Parreira
Manager : Carlos Alberto Parreira
Date of Birth : 27 February 1943 - 67
Place of Birth : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Notable International Honours : World Cup 1994 (Brazil)
One of only two coaches at this year's World Cup Finals that knows what it takes to win the trophy, Carlos Alberto Parreira won the World Cup with his native Brazil in 1994.
This Brazilian is amongst the super heavyweights of international coaching. He's coached four different teams at an astonishing five World Cup Finals. He has led Kuwait (1982), the United Arab Emirates (1990), Saudi Arabia (1998), and Brazil (1994 and 2006).
And now with South Africa, it is five teams at six Finals.
In 1994, Parreira led a talented group of players to Brazil’s first World Cup triumph in a staggering twenty four years.
Many believed their coach had thwarted his gifted players, and sacrificed style for the triumph.
But he ended this great footballing nation’s long wait to regain the trophy they won so magnificently in 1970.
After winning the World Cup with Brazil in 1994, Parreira turned down numerous public calls to return to the post that he left shortly after winning the trophy.
But he eventually heeded these calls and again took over the South American giants. Parreira led them to the Finals in 2006.
It was at these Finals in Germany that Parreira unveiled a formation called the “Magic Square”, which saw four great offensive players playing in the same team: Ronaldo, Adriano, Kaká, and Ronaldinho.
After a promising start to the Finals, the Magic Square started to lose its shape and was abandoned. In its place, Parreira rang the changes and was initially rewarded. But Brazil lost to France in the quarter-finals and he resigned as coach.
Parreira made a return to international coaching with South Africa in 2007, but stepped down due to his wife’s health problems a year later.
But in October 2009, he was back as South Africa’s coach and will be looking forward to leading the host nation at this year's Finals.
The unspectacular, yet effective, Brazilian will most likely employ a system which sees two holding midfielders with penetrating wingers.
This suits his South African squad, which is not overflowing with creativity and flair, but is more workmanlike and solid.
His vast experience, coupled with a professional approach and his phenomenal ability to motivate his players, should allow him to cope with the pressure of being the coach of the host nation.
Unlikely to be lifting the trophy again this year, Parreira will no doubt be hoping his experience, coupled with the euphoria of being the hosts, will be sufficient in guiding his side well into the later stages on the competition.
South Korea - Huh Jung-Moo
Manager : Huh Jung-Moo
Date of Birth : 13 January 1955 - 55
Place of Birth : Jindo, Jeonnam, Republic of Korea
Notable International Honours : None
Huh Jung-Moo has been coach of South Korea on two previous occasions. The first was only a temporary appointment in 1995 for a single match and the second a more permanent position in 1998.
During his permanent stint in charge, Huh led South Korea to a third place finish at the 2000 Asian Games, but without much success following that, he was replaced by Guus Hiddink.
In December 2007, with some higher profile names turning down the position, the Korean was once again turned to and accepted the post for a third time.
Huh has turned to some emerging stars from the K-League as well as the more established names playing in the European leagues for his squad.
With fans becoming disenchanted with some lacklustre displays, Huh was criticised for not bringing in any new and fresh ideas after the disappointing coaches that followed Hiddink. But qualification to the Finals in South Africa has gone some way to bringing the supporters back onto his side.
Huh has reverted to a 4-4-2, while early on in the qualifying campaign he employed a more adventurous 3-4-1-2. But with his relatively inexperienced defenders, a more secure and steady formation has served him better.
South Korea have been an ever present in World Cup Finals since 1986 and famously reached the semi-finals when they co-hosted with Japan in 2002.
This time around, they will be fortunate to progress past the group stages, as Huh’s relatively young team will struggle.
Spain - Vicente del Bosque
Manager : Vicente Del Bosque
Date of Birth : 23 December 1950 - 59
Place of Birth : Salamanca, Spain
Notable International Honours : UEFA Champions League 2000 & 2002 , UEFA Super Cup 2002, Intercontinental Cup 2002 all with Real Madrid.
Leading Spain into this World Cup Finals is a coach of world class stature. After finally winning a major competition, Spain and Luis Aragones parted company and into his shoes stepped Vicente Del Bosque.
Having enjoyed great success with Real Madrid, Del Bosque has all the tools in his locker to take the step up to international level.
A Real Madrid man through and through, he represented them as a player as well as a highly accomplished coach. This quiet and sometimes shy Spaniard had the respect of a dressing room that included the likes of Zinedine Zidance, Luis Figo, Raul, and many other galacticos.
His unsurpassed man management skills and ability to control the personalities under his charge took him to two UEFA Champions League titles, a UEFA Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup.
But having secured his second UEFA Champions League title, Del Bosque was shockingly sacked just 24 hours later.
Taking over the reins of Spain after their victory in the last European Championships, the soft spoken Spaniard had the unenviable task of continuing the winning ways and leading Spain to the World Cup Finals in South Africa.
Del Bosque not only accomplished his goal, but did it in style. Spain steamrolled into the Finals without losing a single game.
Once again, as in his days at Real, Del Bosque takes on a dressing room filled with world class talent in every position. But as then, this has not fazed him in the slightest and his superb man management has pulled him through.
Initially, the Spaniard tried to bring more width to his formation, but he soon realised that if it is not broken, why fix it!? So rather than tinkering with an already wonderful squad and system, he has simply done what he does best, and managed them into an even more formidable squad.
Del Bosque has kept faith with the formation and style that brought Spain success at the European Championships. His team also passes and passes and passes and with David Villa and Fernando Torres in attack, this build up play usually culminates in a scoring chance.
In addition to the most frightening attack at the tournament, Del Bosque also has enough top quality midfielders to spoil him for choice. Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, David Silva, and Cesc Fabregas are available for him to choose from.
Not only is he spoiled in midfield, but he also has three of the best goalkeepers in the world to pick from and a host of top defenders.
All in all, this is the best squad Spain has taken to the World Cup Finals and their tags as favourites is not surprising. The weight of expectation will mostly likely be their toughest opponent. However, with Del Bosque guiding them, it is highly likely that he will take them all the way.
Switzerland - Ottmar Hitzfeld
Manager : Ottmar Hitzfeld
Date of Birth : 12 January 1949 - 61
Place of Birth : Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Notable International Honours : UEFA Champions League 1997 & 2001, Intercontinental Cup 1997.
Ottmar Hitzfeld must go down as one of the most successful club coaches in history, with 18 club titles and cups to his name.
Having had a successful period of management in Switzerland, the German returned to his homeland in 1991 to coach Borussia Dortmund and begin his reign in the Bundesliga. In 1995, he led Dortmund to the German Championship and successfully defended their title the following year.
But it was in 1997 that Hitzfeld first tasted European glory when he coached his Dortmund under-dogs in the UEFA Champions League final against the mighty Juventus. Even with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, and Christian Vieri against him, his underdogs came out on top and lifted the cup against all odds.
In 1998, German giants Bayern Munich hired his services and he went on to become the most successful coach in their history.
Having given away a winning lead in the final minutes of the UEFA Champions League final to Manchester United a few years earlier, Hitzfeld finally landed his second European Cup in 2001 when Bayern overcame Valencia in the final.
This trained mathematics and sports teacher turned down offers from the world’s top team to take charge of Switzerland in 2008.
His aim was to get to the World Cup Finals in 2010 and that he has done. After an embarrassing loss in the early days of qualifying to Luxembourg, he led the Swiss on an unbeaten run through the rest of qualifying. They topped their group ahead of Greece, Latvia, and Israel to book their automatic place in South Africa 2010.
This analytical German uses the latest computer models and aids to supplement his own vast knowledge and statistical database. As with all good German teams, Hitzfeld has drilled discipline, hard work, fitness, and excellent positional play into the Swiss.
This top German coach is a master tactician and has brought the most out of the limited resources within his Swiss squad. He favours a solid looking, no nonsense 4-4-2, with the emphasis on possession and solidity, rather than flair.
Hitzfeld does not have the world class talent available that other coaches have, but his formidable presence alone is enough to bring the most out of his players. He has the talent to make the Swiss a greater team than the sum of their parts.
Grouped with Spain, Chile, and Honduras, Hitzfeld will be looking further than just the group stages and, with his experience, the Swiss may well slip into the Round of 16.
USA - Bob Bradley
Manager : Bob Bradley
Date of Birth : 3 March 1958 - 52
Place of Birth : Montclair, USA
Notable International Honours : CONCACAF 2007 (USA), 2nd Place Confederation Cup (2009), both with USA.
Following a poor showing by the USA at the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, Bob Bradley replaced Bruce Arena as head coach.
Success came relatively quickly for Bradley. He oversaw the USA to victory in the CONCACAF tournament in 2007, where they defeated arch rivals Mexico.
Bradley understood that if the USA were to become stronger on the world stage, they would need to experience playing against world class opposition. So, in 2008, Bradley arranged some friendlies against quality teams.
Despite losing away to both England and Spain, and drawing at home with Argentina, Bradley and his squad took heart from the experience.
By playing in the 2009 Confederations Cup, which took place in South Africa as a trial run for the country to host the World Cup the following year, the USA received valuable experience where others have not.
They will hope that this can give them an edge over their group opponents: England, Algeria, and Slovenia.
USA finished runners up at the 2009 Confederations Cup, narrowly losing to Brazil. And they gained a sizable scalp along the way by ending Spain’s 35 match unbeaten run.
Bradley favors a flat 4-4-2, with two holding midfielders, and likes to play with pace up front and on the flanks.
Having faced quality opposition in the past, and with experience of the conditions in South Africa, Bradley should be leading his team into the Round of 16 fairly comfortably.
Uruguay - Oscar Tabárez
Manager : Oscar Tabárez
Date of Birth : 3 March 1947 - 63
Place of Birth : Montevideo, Uruguay
Notable International Honours : Copa Libertadores 1987 (Penarol), 2003 (Boca Juniors)
The coach nicknamed ‘El Maestro’ will lead Uruguay in the World Cup Finals for the second time. In 1998 he took over the post for the first time and led them to the Finals in Italy in 1990, where they made it to the second round but were then beaten by the hosts, Italy.
El Maestro returned to club coaching where he had a successful spell in Argentina, Italy, and Spain.
Tabárez was again appointed to the national side in 2006 and charged with leading the Uruguayans to South Africa 2010.
Qualifying was tough and Uruguay could only finish fifth, facing Costa Rica in a playoff. Once again, they made hard work of the game and only booked their tickets to South Africa courtesy of a blatant offside goal that should have been disallowed.
Having coached internationally, Tabárez brings experience to the squad. But in a wavering qualifying campaign, he showed uncertainty in selection and tactics. He has also been criticized for not being able to motivate and inspire a talented squad.
Tabárez’s lack of a preferred formation is testimony to his uncertainty. However, he would argue that this is due to his assessing the opponents’ set up, rather than uncertainty on his part.
Group opponents include hosts South Africa, France, and Mexico and it will be a tall order for El Maestro to led his team out of the group stages.
Will This Be The Scene Again in South Africa?
In 2006, Marcello Lippi coached his native Italy to become world champions.
He leads them again in South Africa 2010. Will we be witnessing the same scene? And can Lippi make it back to back World Cup wins?
All the coaches of the 32 nations participating should take pride just in leading their teams to the finals.
Whoever leads his team to victory will have achieved something that all have dreamed of, but a very selective few have ever actually experienced.
To be the coach of the winner of the greatest football competition on earth.
GOOD LUCK TO EACH AND EVERY ONE.