HERE is my guide to the 32 countries set to battle it out for the World Cup over the next month.
ALGERIA have about as much chance of winning as a dinghy in the Boat Race. Let’s hope they don’t sink England with a once-in-a-lifetime display in Cape Town.
Man to watch: Faouzi Chaouchi who was sent off against Egypt for head-butting the ref.
ARGENTINA have best the attack in the world in Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Milito, Aguero – and Maradona is so hair-brained he could play the lot.
Man to watch: Diego Maradona will make Mourinho look like a statue on the touchline.
AUSTRALIA could go down under in less than a week. They face Germany, then Ghana, which might make their third game against Serbia academic. Not even Thomson and Lillee could dig them out of this one.
Man to watch: Harry Kewell who has a dodgy groin. Even the coach says he’s a gamble.
BRAZIL are the team we’d all pay to watch, even if they do play like Barnsley. Dazzling in attack, tough in defence, they even have a decent keeper in Julio Cesar this time.
Man to watch: Robinho didn’t produce in Manchester and it could rain just as much in Cape Town.
CAMEROON don’t have 42-year-old Roger Milla to call on – so far as we know – and Samuel Eto’o has thrown a wobbly because Milla says he’s done nothing for his country. Can’t see them being better than Holland, Denmark or Japan.
Man to watch: Joel Matip, provided he turns up, as he failed to show at African Cup of Nations.
CHILE have an Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa who is treated like a God in Santiago simply because they’ve qualified. Not won a match in finals since 1962 – they might put that right against Honduras or the Swiss.
Man to watch: Pablo Contreras was suspended for three years for using fake Italian passport, and 20 matches for indiscipline.
DENMARK are always just happy to be there. No pretensions of winning it, but always good to watch under coach Morten Olsen who advertises hearing aids. He’s deaf but certainly not daft.
Man to watch: Nicklas Bendtner has backed himself to be top scorer in the World Cup, but then he also backed himself to be top scorer in the Premier League last season with Arsenal and we all know what happened there.
ENGLAND expects. As always we go in trumpeting the fact we can win it for the first time since 1966. Still, Italy won it last time and our coach is Don Fabio, so who knows.
Man to watch: Peter Crouch never gets a mention without his height, but he’ll be a true giant if he heads the winner on July 11.
FRANCE have a manager who’s madder than Maradona. Monsieur Domenech took the squad round museums and art galleries in Germany, this time they’ve been go-karting. Needless to say Les Bleus are fighting amongst themselves. Doesn’t augur well.
Man to watch: Thierry Henry can handle anything in the box and is auditioning for a season at West Ham.
GERMANY usually finish first, second or third. It would be nice to see them pick a different number. There’s no Ballack, their top scorers Podolski and Klose can’t hit a pumpernickel at the moment so they can’t win. Can they?
Man to watch: Mesut Ozil who sounds Turkish to me. He is but his Christian name means “Happy” which he is after switching allegiance.
GHANA were the first Africans to win Olympic gold in football. Could they repeat the feat in the World Cup? They won the World Under 20 last year and could be the continent’s best bet.
Man to watch: Kevin Prince Boateng who missed a penalty in the Cup Final for Portsmouth but might be spot on in South Africa.
GREECE have about as much chance as Algeria. Not only have they never won, but never even scored a goal in the finals. They have a chance of making history against South Korea then.
Man to watch: Sokrates Papastathopoulos has to be worth watching with a name like that.
HOLLAND are always worth a bob or two yet somehow always seem to self-implode.
Man to watch: Wesley Sneijder could be top scoring midfielder after a great season at Inter Milan.
HONDURAS are in their first finals for 28 years and then have to draw Spain. Tough luck but they have a player called Welcome who might make a few headlines.
Man to watch: There’s been a costly injury in the build-up, but Honduras have found a welcome replacement. Carlos Costly is out and Georgie Welcome is in.
ITALY don’t look as formidable as they did four years ago, but they can still do a job on anyone. Lippi will want to go out on a high.
Man to watch: No WAG’s for England and no Totti for Italy, so I’ll go for Daniele De Rossi, who disgraced himself four years ago with an assassination attempt on Brian McBride (USA) and has to redeem himself.
IVORY COAST should be taken seriously with Drogba, Kalou and the Toure brothers. Shame they’re in with Brazil and Portugal for starters.
Man to watch: Has to be Didier Drogba. Plays bass guitar in a band and will be drumming up a beat on his own continent – despite a broken arm.
JAPAN almost embarrassed England in the final warm-up and looked better than expected. Coach Okada says they can reach semi-finals. Personally I doubt it.
Man to watch: Shinji Okazaki scored 14 in 18 last year, but you don’t play Togo and Hong Kong every week.
KOREA DPR or to you and me North Korea, caused a stir by beating Italy in 1966, and nothing has been heard of them since – until now. Might not hear of them for another 44 years after being paired with Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal.
Man to watch: An ChoI Hyok scored four in 9-1 v Guam. If he scores four against Brazil he’ll win the freedom of Pyongyang.
KOREA REPUBLIC or to you and me South Korea. Habitual finalists who have never reached the second round outside their own country.
Man to watch: Kim or Lee. Take your pick.
MEXICO impressed at Wembley recently, but somehow they flop short on the big occasion and will probably do so again.
Man to watch: Javier Herndandez is set to join Manchester United but don’t tell Fergie his nickname “Little Pea”.
NEW ZEALAND will be plucky losers, great blokes, but sadly there for the ride. Can’t see them making waves with a squad drawn from Halifax, Barnsley, Scunthorpe and Rochdale.
Man to watch: Mark Paston used to be between the sticks for Bradford City. He wasn’t as busy then as he will be in South Africa.
NIGERIA tend to shoot themselves in the foot, and changing coach a month before the event doesn’t help.
Man to watch: Obafemi Martins had his car sprayed with bullets recently. He’ll be hoping to do the firing here.
PARAGUAY are without Salvador Cabanas, their star striker who was shot in the head recently, and although he’s recovering, the team isn’t and will miss him badly.
Man to watch: Roque Santa Cruz had almost the whole season off at Manchester City so at least he should be fit and raring to go.
PORTUGAL salvaged a draw with the Cape Verde Islands recently, still they’ve only got Brazil and the Ivory Coast to deal with. Ronaldo says he’s under more pressure with country than club.
Man to watch: Ronaldo has ditched Paris Hilton for a Russian super model. Mustn’t let football get in the way.
SERBIA are tipped to be dark horses. First they have to get past Ghana, Germany and Australia. If they do that it could be England next.
Man to watch: Coach Radomir Antic he was tutored by David Pleat.
SLOVAKIA are the only team to be making their World Cup debut and could be overawed, especially against Italy in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park.
Man to watch: Marek Hamsik described by his coach as “our Frank Lampard”. Let’s hope he doesn’t take penalties.
SLOVENIA has the smallest population of the competing nations, only two million, so they shouldn’t have too many players to call upon, at least they known one another.
Man to watch: Rene Krhin likened by his coach to Frank Lampard!
SOUTH AFRICA could freeze on opening night against Mexico, or be totally inspired to the tune of the vuvazelas. At least they haven’t fallen for picking fatty McCarthy.
Man to watch: Katlegoi Mphela scores with scorching shots and could be on his way to Birmingham City – ‘nuff said’.
SPAIN coach Vicente Del Bosque says being favourites is “a terrible trap”. How else would you rate a team that’s won 34 out of 35?
Man to watch: David Villa has just joined Barcelona and “The Kid” could be the man if her outscores Fernando Torres.
SWITZERLAND can climb a mountain by qualifying for the round of 16, and the way they yodelled to the World Under 17 title in November suggests they’re on the up.
Man to watch: Blaise Nkufo was born in Zaire and is FC Twente’s top scorer of all-time in Holland.
USA have a game with England to kick-off with, and with spies in the camp like Donovan, Howard, DeMerit, Spector, Dempsey and Altidore are not lacking in knowledge.
Man to watch: Michael Bradley is son of coach Bob, but any father would pick him. He’s that good.
URUGUAY rarely finish a game with 11 men. If they can add a dash of discipline to South American flair they might just guillotine the French.
Man to watch: Diego Forlan has developed into a bit of a Gary Lineker – just ask Fulham.