Manager: Vladimir Weiss
Best: No previous appearances
Slovakia may be one of Europe's Cinderella teams, but the achievement of qualifying for their first World Cup at the expense of the more fancied sides such as Poland and the Czech Republic ought not be sniffed at. Coach Vladimir Weiss has built a side that's difficult to break down, with its defensive grit personified by Liverpool hard man Martin Skrtel. But a midfield featuring Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik, young Miroslav Stoch, who starred this season for FC Twente Enschede on their way to the Dutch league title, and prolific scorer Stanislav Sestak offers plenty of attacking threat. A young nation established in 1993, and fighting to establish a reputation on and off the football field, Slovakia are not to be underestimated.
Player to watch: Marek Hamsik. The captain and Napoli midfield supremo could well find himself on the roster of Europe's bigger teams after the World Cup.