World Cup  World CupWorld CupWorld Cup

World Cup schedule, results

World Cup group standings

World Cup team rosters

World Cup capsules: A detailed look at 32 participating nations.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Wednesday, June 3, 1998) -- The final rosters have been submitted by the 32 nations participating in the World Cup in France.

If form holds true in the early rounds, the quarterfinals would be:
* Italy vs. France.
* Brazil vs. Nigeria or Spain.
* Netherlands vs. Argentina.
* Germany vs. England.

The semifinals might then pair juggernauts Brazil and Argentina, with European powers vying for the other finals slot -- setting up South America versus Europe for the crown.

Among top second-round pairings, if favorites win in the first round:
* France vs. Nigeria.
* Germany vs. Belgium or Mexico (runnerup in Group E).
* Netherlands vs. Yugoslavia or United States (runnerup in Group F).
* England vs. Croatia.

Jerry Langdon is the Gannett News Service sports editor and can be e-mailed at

Here are updated capsules of the 32 participating nations:

Team by team capsules by group

(Key: F - forward; M - midfielder; D - defender; GK - goalkeeper)

Group A (Brazil, Morocco, Norway, Scotland)
Group B (Austria, Cameroon, Chile, Italy)
Group C (Denmark, France, Saudi Arabia, South Africa)
Group D (Bulgaria, Nigeria, Paraguay, Spain)
Group E (Belgium, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea)
Group F (Germany, Iran, United States, Yugoslavia)
Group G (Columbia, England, Romania, Tunisia)
Group H (Argentina, Croatia, Jamaica, Japan)



Coach:Mario Zagallo.
Key players: F Ronaldo (Inter Milan, Italy), M Leonardo (AC Milan, Italy), M Dunga (Jubilo Iwata, Japan), M Giovanni (Barcelona, Spain), D Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Spain).
Previous appearances: (15) 1930 - 94. Won in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994.
Analysis: One of the top favorites, but no longer the unquestioned choice. Loss of Romario (calf) will allow rivals to concentrate much more on striker Ronaldo. Questions abound at playmaker, with Denilson (Sao Paulo) out of favor and Juninho (Atletico Madrid, Spain) not judged fully recovered from broken leg suffered three months ago. Lack of organization on defense a problem. Zagallo in sixth World Cup, won twice as player in 1958 and 1962, was coach of the victorious 1970 team and unsuccessful 1974 squad and was assistant on the 1994 champions.


Coach: Henri Michel.
Key players: F Salaheddine Bassir (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), M Mustapha Hadji (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), D Noureddine Naybet (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), D Abdelkrim El Hadrioui (Benfica, Portugal).
Previous appearances: (3) 1970, 1986, 1994.
Analysis: Speedy counterattack is main offensive weapon from cautious, defensively oriented team that has problems at goalkeeper. Key is the return to good health of Bassir. The hub of the offense is Hadji, a native of France who played eight years at Nancy. First-round elimination is expected.


Coach: Egil Olsen.
Key players: F Tore Andre Flo (Chelsea, England), F Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United, England), D Henning Berg (Manchester United, England), D Ronnie Johnsen (Manchester United, England).
Previous appearances: (2) 1938, 1994.
Analysis: This is a team not afraid of Brazil, witness its 4-2 rout of the world champions in Oslo a year ago. Known for long-ball attack and tireless running, Norway has improved attacking options. Favored to make second round and could go further.


Coach: Craig Brown.
Key players: F Kevin Gallacher (Blackburn, England), M John Collins (Monaco, France), M Paul Lambert (Glasgow Celtic), D Colin Hendry (Blackburn, England).
Previous appearances: (7) 1954, 1958, 1974 - 90.
Analysis: "I don't think too many (teams) will relish playing our defense," Coach Craig Brown said. Punch-less offense is a big problem, though Gallacher is an above-average scorer. Getting him the ball is the question. Loss of M Gary McAllister (knee) was serious.

Group B


Coach: Herbert Prohaska.
Key players: F Toni Polster (Cologne, Germany), M Andreas Herzog (Werder Bremen, Germany), D Wolfgang Feiersinger (Dortmund, Germany).
Previous appearances: (6) 1934, 1954, 1958, 1978, 1982, 1990.
Analysis: Team struggled in homefield losses to Hungary and the United States. Polster is a key threat on attack. GK Michael Konsel has been slowed by injuries. Despite problems, wins against Cameroon and Chile not inconceivable.


Coach: Claude Le Roy.
Key players: D Rigobert Song (Metz, France), F Patrick Mboma (Gamba Osaka, Japan), F Oman Biyik (Sampdoria, Italy), F Alphonse Tchami (Hertha Berlin, Germany).
Previous appearances: (3) 1982, 1990, 1994,
Analysis: Lacks cohesion. Quarterfinalist in '90, but a mess four years later in United States. Loss of M Marc Foe due to broken left leg major problem. Song is superstar on defense. Not much is expected in France, though this is a modest bracket aside from Italy.


Coach: Nelson Acosta.
Key players: F Ivan Zamorano (Inter Milan, Italy), F Marcelo Salas (River Plate, Argentina), D Javier Margas (Universidad Catolica), D Pedro Reyes (Colo Colo).
Previous appearances: (6) 1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982.
Analysis: Two brilliant strikers, but they need to be more aggressive and get creative service from M Jose Luis Sierra (Colo Colo) and M Marcelo Vega (New York/New Jersey, MLS). Defense is more than adequate. This is a team that should advance to the second round.


Coach: Cesare Maldini.
Key players: D Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), M Dino Baggio (Parma), M Demetrio Albertini (AC Milan), F Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), F Christian Vieri (Atletico Madrid, Spain).
Previous appearances: (13) 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962 - 94. Won in 1934, 1938, 1982.
Analysis: Del Piero is close to superstar status at 23 and expects to have hamstring OK soon. Italy has the goal-scorers at forward; getting them the ball is another question. Midfield depth and creativity lacking. Veteran defense solid, though AC Milan club play of Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta was erratic in last month of season. 1994 goalkeeper starter Gianluca Pagliuca replaces injured Angelo Peruzzi (calf). Heavy favorite to win group.

Group C


Coach: Bo Johansson.
Key players: GK Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United, England), D Marc Rieper (Glasgow Celtic, Scotland), D Michael Schjoenberg (Kaiserslautern, Germany), M Michael Laudrup (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), F Brian Laudrop (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland).
Previous appearance: (1) 1986.
Analysis: Denmark hasn't been in World Cup since 1986. Has switched from cautious 3-5-2 to more aggressive 4-4-2. Peter Schmeichel is brilliant veteran in goal. Late loss in Sweden discouraging. Expected to battle South Africa and Saudi Arabia for second advancement slot, behind France.


Coach: Aime Jacquet.
Key players: M Zinedine Zidane (Juventus, Italy), M Marcel Desailly (AC Milan, Italy), M Youri Djorkaeff (Inter Milan, Italy), M Didier Deschamps (Juventus, Italy), D Laurent Blanc (Marseille),
Previous appearances: (9) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986.
Analysis: Pressure is on the home side. French have gone to a more attacking mode in recent months. Zidane, slowed occasionally by ankle injury, carries the offensive load with extraordinary playmaking. Lack an overpowering striker. No problems expected in first round.

Saudi Arabia

Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Key players: F Sami-Al-Jaber (Al-Hilal), M Khalid Al-Muwallid (Al-Ahli), D Hussein Sulimani (Al-Ahli), D Mohammed Al-Khilawi (Al-Ittihad), GK Mohammed Al-Deayea (Al-Tae).
Previous appearance: (1) 1994.
Analysis: Defense is big question for Saudi Arabia. Top players eschewed going abroad to high-level leagues and instead remained home. Will '94 star M Saeed Owairan regain form? He ran afoul of Islamic law authorities for partying exploits in 1996, spending some time in a detention center. Parreira, who won with Brazil four years ago, is in fourth World Cup with fourth different team.

South Africa

Coach: Philippe Troussier.
Key players: D Mark Fish (Bolton, England), M/D Lucas Radebe (Leeds, England), M John Moshoeu (Fenerbahce, Turkey), F Phil Masinga (Bari, Italy), F Benedict McCarthy (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands).
Previous appearance: First.
Analysis: Team has had three different coaches in six months. One question involves role of playmaker Doctor Khumalo, formerly a star but in decline the past year after two mediocre seasons in United States. Another former Major League Soccer player, F Shaun Bartlett, also is in the mix. Talent is there to contend for No. 2 spot in group.

Group D


Coach: Hristo Bonev.
Key players: D Trifon Ivanov (CSKA Sofia), M Krassimir Balakov (Stuttgart, Germany), F Hristo Stoichkov (CSKA Sofia), F Lyuboslav Penev (Compostela, Spain), F Emil Kostadinov (CSKA Sofia).
Previous appearances: (6) 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1994.
Analysis: Aging team will find difficulty approaching stunning fourth-place finish in 1994. In fact, it probably won't survive the first round. Team likely to rely more on midfield attack than traditional emphasis on forwards. Left out in squad selection was '94 mainstay midfielder Yordan Lechkov, who has not played since February when he walked out on Turkish club Besiktas.


Coach: Bora Milutinovic.
Key players: D Uche Okechukwu (Fenerbahce, Turkey), M Finidi George (Real Betis, Spain), M Sunday Oliseh (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), F Daniel Amokachi (Besiktas, Turkey), F Victoir Ikpeba (Monaco, France), M/F Nwankwo Kanu (Inter Milan, Italy).
Previous appearance: (1) 1994.
Analysis: Can fired Mexico coach, in fourth World Cup with fourth different team, organize explosive offensive Super Eagles into coherent, two-way team that also plays consistent defense? Loss of goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu, 30, with fractured right arm doesn't help. Unimpressive in 3-0 loss at Yugoslavia. Favored to advance to second round but not a sure bet anymore.


Coach: Paolo Cesar Carpeggiani.
Key players: GK Jose Luis Chilavert (Velez Sarsfield, Argentina), D Francisco Arce (Palmeiras, Brazil), D Celso Ayala (River Plate, Argentina), M Roberto Acuna (Real Zaragoza, Spain).
Previous appearances: (4) 1930, 1950, 1958, 1986.
Analysis: Dominant is combative goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, who takes his team's penalty kicks and most free kicks of less than 35 yards. F Aristides Rojas is a modest attacking threat. Big question is midfield; can Acuna get the team going in the right direction? Not expected to get out of group.


Coach: Javier Clemente.
Key players: M Raul Gonzales (Real Madrid), M Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid), M Luis Enrique Martinez (Barcelona), D Sergi Barjuan (Barcelona).
Previous appearances: (9) 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978 - 94.
Analysis: Loss of M Josep Guardiola due to persistent leg muscle problems a blow. Veteran goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta struggling with left calf injury. Gonzales is one of the best young strikers in the sport. Barjuan is an excellent defender and long-range shooter. Scoring punch needed. Spain should advance to second round.

Group E


Coach: Georges Leekens.
Key players: F Luc Nilis (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), M Enzo Scifo (Anderlecht, Belgium), M Marc Wilmots (Schalke, Germany), M Franky Van der Elst (Club Bruges), F Luis Oliveira (Fiorentina, Italy).
Previous appearances: (9) 1930-1938, 1954, 1970, 1982-94.
Analysis: Defense may be a problem on team that has tried to shed conservative image by stressing attack. "If you pull up the bedsheets, you expose your feet," Leekens said. Scifo, 32, and Van der Elst, 37, are set for fourth World Cup. Probably must beat Mexico to advance to second round.


Coach: Manuel Lapuente.
Key players: D Claudio Suarez (Guadalajara), D/M Ramon Ramirez (Guadalajara), M/F Luis Garcia (Atlante), F Luis Hernandez (Necaxa).
Previous appearances: (10) 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994.
Analysis: Bora Milutinovic was sacked after finishing qualifying round with four straight ties. Team has not played well this spring. Refusal to select high-scoring Carlos Hermosillo (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS) has been controversial. Can goalkeeper Jorge Campos (Chicago Fire, MLS) come up big despite 5-9 height and tendency to leave his line?


Coach: Guus Hiddink.
Key players: D Jaap Stam (PSV Eindhoven), D Frank de Boer (Ajax Amsterdam), M Clarence Seedorf (Real Madrid, Spain), M Marc Overmars (Arsenal, England), F Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal, England), F Patrick Kluivert (AC Milan, Italy).
Previous appearances: (6) 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994.
Analysis: Awesome attacking talent both up front and on the wings, but fingers are crossed on F Bergkamp, held out of recent matches due to hamstring. Midfield not consistent on defense, but Edgar Davids (Juventus, Italy) should be big help. He was called up despite being absent nearly two years due to feud with coach. Lack of mental toughness cited by some Dutch critics who say team has talent to go a long way in France.

South Korea

Coach: Bum-Kun Cha
Key players: D Hong Myung-bo (Bellmare Hiratsuka, Japan), F Choi Young-su (Sangmoo), F Hwang Sun-hong (Pohang Steelers).
Previous appearances: (4) 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994.
Analysis: Hard-working and athletic, South Korea has been the dominant team in Asia and did well in '94 though not advancing. Yet to win in 10 matches past three World Cups. Midfield consistency is the big question. The winless string may continue in the deepest group in France.

Group F


Coach: Berti Vogts.
Key players: D Juergen Kohler (Dortmund), M Andreas Moeller (Dortmund), M Thomas Haessler (Karlsruhe), F Oliver Bierhoff (Udinese, Italy), F Ulf Kirsten (Bayer Leverkusen), F Juergen Klinsmann (Tottenham, England).
Previous appearances: (13) 1934, 1938, 1954 - 94. Won in 1954, 1974, 1990.
Analysis: Germany is feared due to its methodical, tenacious play. It lacks flair but persistence wears down rivals. Defender Thomas Helmer questionable with thigh muscle tear. Aging team. Tough decision at loaded striker position, with four stars for two slots. Must get leadership at midfield. Question at libero (sweeper), where Olaf Thon is questionable, forcing callup of Lothar Mattheaus, 37, for his fifth World Cup, tying him with former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal (1950-66) for the most in history. One of the elite teams. Vogts played on 1974 World Cup-title team.


Coach: Jahal Talebi.
Key players: F Ali Daei (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), F Khodadad Azizi (Cologne, Germany), M Karim Bagheri (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany).
Previous appearance: (1) 1978.
Analysis: Little chance given defensively challenged team with fourth coach since September. Might put all its marbles on historic second game, against arch-political rival United States. Daei recently was purchased by German power Bayern Munich.

United States

Coach: Steve Sampson.
Key players: GK Kasey Keller (Leicester, England), D Eddie Pope (D.C. United), D/M Thomas Dooley (Columbus Crew), D David Regis (Karlsruhe, Germany), M Claudio Reyna (Wolfsburg, Germany), M Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy).
Previous appearances: (5) 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994.
Analysis: Martinique native D David Regis became citizen in mid-May, quickly nailed down starting slot. Biggest problems are single striker position - all-time scoring leader Eric Wynalda (San Jose Clash) is recovering from knee injury - and right wing midfield slot, where newcomer Frankie Hejduk (Tampa Bay Mutiny) is recovering from hamstring. Heavy responsibility on playmaker Reyna, who has speed to burn with Jones and Hejduk (if healthy) on flanks and in front with M Ernie Stewart (NAC Breda, Netherlands). Can Brian Maissonneuve (Columbus Crew) and Chad Deering (Wolfsburg, Germany) hold up at defensive midfield?


Coach: Slobodan Santrac.
Key players: D Sinisa Mihaljovic (Sampdoria, Italy), M Dragan Stojkovic (Grampus Eight, Japan), M Vladimir Jugovic (Lazio, Italy), F/M Dejan Savicevic (AC Milan, Italy), F Predrag Mijatovic (Real Madrid, Spain), F Dejan Stankovic (Red Star, Belgrade).
Previous appearances: (8) 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1990.
Analysis: War in the Balkans robbed banned Yugoslavia of a possible peak performance in 1994. "We are aware of our qualities and have been waiting for six years for some sort of colossal success," Mijatovic said. "We think we're among the best two or three teams who will be in France." That's a reach, but maybe not by much. Yugoslavia is strongly favored to advance, at the expense of third-game opponent United States.

Group G


Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez.
Key players: D Jorge Bermudez (Boca Juniors, Argentina), M Carlos Valderrama (Miami Fusion, MLS), M Freddy Rincon (Corinthians, Brazil), F Faustino Asprilla (Parma, Italy).
Previous appearances: (3) 1962, 1990, 1994.
Analysis: Biggest flop of 1994, this team is aging. Valderrama is 36 but still the hub of offense. Asprilla appears to have overcome long-term groin injury. More emphasis on defense has occurred but there are still holes. Not a sure thing to advance even with Romania and Tunisia included in group.


Coach: Glenn Hoddle.
Key players: GK David Seaman (Arsenal), D Gary Neville (Manchester United), Tony Adams (Arsenal), M Paul Ince (Liverpool), M David Beckham (Manchester United), F Alan Shearer (Newcastle).
Previous appearances: (9) 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990. Won in 1966.
Analysis: England is capable of winning the World Cup, and the dropping of injury-plauged M Paul Gascoigne may help improve the team focus. F Michael Owen (Liverpool), 18, is a deadly finisher. "We're a very confident squad," Shearer said. "... A lot of teams fear England now, that's the important thing."


Coach: Anghel Iordanescu.
Key players: D Dan Petrescu (Chelsea, England), M Gheorghe Popescu (Galatasaray, Turkey), M Gheorge Hagi (Galatasaray, Turkey), F Adrian Ilie (Valencia, Spain).
Previous appearances: (6) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1970, 1990, 1994.
Analysis: Team has changed little since 1990, which is the problem. Benefitted by easy European qualifying group. One of the surprises in 1994, losing to Sweden in a quarterfinal shootout. Coach to leave afterwards for a two-year contract with Greece.


Coach: Henry Kasperczak.
Key players: M Zoubier Beya (Freiburg, Germany), M Adel Sellimi (Jaen, Spain), F Skander Souayah (CSS Faxien).
Previous appearance: (1) 1978.
Analysis: Once the doormats of African soccer, Tunisia has improved considerably in recent years. Strong support from large French immigrant base is expected. Strength in central midfield, but finishing is poor. Injury to high-scoring attacking M Hassan Gabsi has hurt attack. Longshot to win a game.

Group H


Coach: Daniel Passarella.
Key players: F Gabriel Batistuta (Fiorentina, Italy), M Ariel Ortega (Valencia, Spain), M Diego Simeone (Inter Milan, Italy), D Nestor Sensini (Parma, Italy), D Roberto Ayala (Napoli, Italy).
Previous appearances: (11) 1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994. Won in 1978, 1986.
Analysis: Strong, balanced side, capable of winning the World Cup as shown by recent triumph in Brazil. Batistuta could be the scoring star. First time since 1974 without legendary playmaker Diego Maradona in uniform for World Cup. M Sergio Berti (River Plate) questionable due to leg injury. Depth at striker position. Brilliant long-haired M Fernando Redondo (Real Madrid, Spain) absent; has longstanding feud with coach.


Coach: Miroslav Blasovic.
Key players: F Davor Suker (Real Madrid, Spain), M Zvonimir Boban (AC Milan, Italy), M Robert Prosinecki (Croatia Zagreb).
Previous appearance: First.
Analysis: No team suffered more losses in May. Star F Alen Boksic (Lazio, Italy) is out due to knee surgery. F Igor Cvitanovic (Real Sociedad, Spain) was dropped when he refused to run post-practice laps. Defense is inexperienced, and team is not odds-on favorite anymore to advance. Boban was banned from the 1990 Yugoslavia World Cup team. While playing with Dynamo Zagreb in an aborted league match against Red Star Belgrade, he kicked a policeman to protect a fan, he said, from baton-charging police - and became a hero in Croatia, which won independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.


Coach: Rene Simoes.
Key players: GK Warren Barrett (Violet Kickers), D Ian Goodison (Olympic Gardens), D Linval Dixon (Hazard FC), M Theodore Whitmore (Seba), M Robbie Earle (Wimbledon, England), M Paul Hall (Portsmouth, England), F Deon Burton (Derby, England), F Andrew Williams (Columbus Crew, MLS).
Previous appearance: First.
Analysis: The style of soccer is free-flowing and attractive, but the Reggae Boyz have failed to score much in an ambitious spring schedule. British-born players of Jamaican descent helped the team qualify, and more have been added. "They play with a very Brazilian philosophy - confident with the ball, calm and looking for space," Simoes said of the natives. "(However), no one plays hard (rough) in Jamaica. I have to look to the players from England for that."


Coach: Takeshi Okada.
Key players: D Masami Ihara, (Yokohama Marinos), M Hidetoshi Nakata (Bellmare Hiratsuka), F Wagner Lopes (Bellmare Hiratsuka), F Masashi Nakayama (Jubilo Iwata).
Previous appearance: First.
Analysis: Japan lacks muscle and international experience, but it has good speed. Nakata, the playmaker, is budding superstar. Lopes is a naturalized Brazilian. Nakayama had four hat-tricks in J-League this spring. Huge crowd support from thousands of countrymen traveling to France is expected. Not likely to win a game.