They say you won’t go far in a World Cup without a good goalkeeper.
When the tournament reaches the knockout stages, a game can go against your team with one mistake. But having a world-class player between the posts can get you out of all sorts of trouble.
We take a look at 10 goalkeepers worth watching at this summer’s South Africa soccer-fest, including two who might do nothing but watch.
A new signing for English Premier League side Everton, Mucha will be one to watch in South Africa.
The 27-year old was instrumental in Slovakia’s successful qualifying campaign, especially during their final crunch match in Poland.
Needing a win to top the group, Slovakia took an early lead. On a snow-covered pitch, Poland dominated the rest of the game and only a number of crucial saves from Mucha kept them at bay, as Slovakia escaped with a 1-0 victory.
Japan’s number one will be taking part in his fourth successive World Cup in South Africa.
Though he was not first choice in 1998 and 2006, Narazaki played in all of Japan’s matches when they co-hosted the tournament in 2002.
The 35-year old plays for Nagoya Grampus in the J-League.
Though Julio Cesar had to leave the field with a back problem during Brazil’s recent friendly match against Zimbabwe, Brazil fans may not have been unduly worried.
That is because Brazil’s second choice keeper Heurelho Gomes has quickly established himself among the best in the world.
Initially derided during a torrid first season with Tottenham Hotspurs, the 29-year old has now settled in to Premier League life.
His heroics this season helped Spurs qualify for the Champions League.
Carlos Kameni is widely regarded as one of Africa’s best goalkeepers.
The youngest footballer to win an Olympic gold medal as part of the Cameroon side that triumphed in Sydney in 2000, the 26-year old currently plays for Espanyol in La Liga.
Known for having a short fuse and sharp reflexes.
A veteran of Australia’s 2006 World Cup campaign, Schwarzer is likely to be busy as his team have been draw in one of the toughest groups of the first round.
Fortunately for the Socceroos, they have a goalkeeper at the top of his game. Schwarzer was part of the Fulham side that came so close to winning the UEFA Cup during a remarkable campaign.
The 37-year old is rumored to be a target for Arsenal.
Pepe Reina would probably be the number one choice for many of the competing teams at this year’s World Cup.
But the Liverpool goalkeeper is unfortunate that Spain already has one of the best in the world in Iker Casillas.
One of the few bright lights in a troubled season for his club side, Reina will be hoping this World Cup will cheer him up with a Spanish victory and at least one appearance.
The Lyon goalkeeper is one of the youngest on our list.
His performances for club and country over the past few years have quickly elevated him to one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
He helped his club side to the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League.
His heroics in the World Cup play-off matches against Ireland earned him the nickname Saint Lloris.
The veteran Italian has missed much of this season through injury and his club side Juventus has struggled in his absence.
Buffon will be hoping for a good run at the World Cup to make up for this disappointment, as well as adding to his 100 caps for his country.
His $46m transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001 remains the highest fee ever paid for a goalkeeper.
Julio Cesar looks set to finally dispel the myth that Brazil doesn’t produce great goalkeepers.
The 30-year old recently won an unprecedented treble with his club side, Inter and is currently regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the world.
After initially falling out of favor with Brazil coach Dunga, Cesar forced his way back into the team in 2007 and has been first choice ever since.
Winner of the IFFHS’s World’s Best Goalkeeper award for the past two years, Casillas has been a phenomenon in the net since his Real Madrid debut at the age of 16.
In 2000 he became the youngest goalkeeper to ever play in the Champions League final, when the then 19-year old kept a clean sheet as Madrid beat Valencia 3-0.
Established himself as first-choice Spain keeper at the 2002 World Cup, when regular stopper Santiago Canizares injured himself by dropping an aftershave bottle on his foot.