Teams - Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic
- Qualified easily from one of the weaker UEFA groups, lacking, as it did, the might of Bahrain or Chad.
- Three-time winners Italy are one of the World Cup's heavy hitters, although they did slip up against North Korea in the 1966 tournament, which was won by hosts England.
- Italy's cuisine is world famous, boasting a fabulous range of delicious pastas, chicken dishes, pizzas, risottos and pastry based desserts. However, their chips are rotten.
- Italy once led the world at organised crime, which it invented, but now lags well behind the USA, Russia, Nigeria and Switzerland.
- Italy is a devout Catholic nation, which is a religion that it is fairly safe to mock. The catholic idiots with their "No blobs thank you, I'll just empty me bins on her tummy" birth control techniques.
- Player to watch - Gennaro Gattusos. Pint-sized ex-Rangers midfield dynamo, looks like Juninho might if he drank some "Jekyll and Hyde" potion.
- Qualified ahead of South Africa in a competitive African section.
- This is Ghana's first ever World Cup, exactly forty years to the year after England's red-shirted lions scooped the jackpot against West Germany.
- An environmental crisis is brewing in Ghana where an area of rainforest the size of Wales has been felled to make way for a life-size, full-scale replica model of Wales.
- The Ghanaian language, Fante, has no word for "the feeling of shame experienced by one who realizes he has just spent a hot summer day indoors with the curtains closed, pouring a series of decreasingly satisfactory hand shandies".
- As a teenager, Ghana was excluded from high school for flushing Zimbabwe's head down the toilet.
- Player to watch - Michael Essiens. The Master of Horror-tackles. A leg-biting, bone-snapping combative midfielder in the Hannibal Lecter mould.
- Qualified from the ludicrously uncompetitive CONCACAF section. Fuckers.
- Twice Quarter-finalists, including once at the expense of England in 1950. Where were they in 1966 though, when England were dancing around the Wembley turf with the World Cup? Stuck at home watching Bilko, that's where.
- American has no real cuisine to speak of, instead choosing to serve food from other nations in ludicrously large portions. With a yarking big steak on top.
- Americans speak a version of English, but with the spellings altered to reflect the way a div kid just learning to read and write would spell them.
- Football, or soccerball, as they call it, is the forty-eighth most popular sport on that side of the pond, behind such olympian pursuits as NASCAR, foxy boxing, canine freestyle and whooping.
- Player to watch - Kasey Kellers. Shot-stopper with a penchant for colourful knitwear and late-night television chart rundowns.
- Qualified by beating Norway in a play-off after finishing second to Holland in a tough UEFA group.
- Twice runners-up, maintaining a 100% losing record in World Cup finals, the polar opposite to that of England, who humped the Jerries 4-2 in their only final appearance. In 1966.
- Czechs are the big-hearted, big-livered boozehounds of Europe. Every man, woman and teenager in the Czech Republic knocks back 2,500 litres of premium strength lager every year. Enough to fill four thousand olympic-sized swimming pools the height of a double-deckers bus. Twice over.
- An Oxfam survey in 1999 reported that the Czech Republic was still plagued with virulent outbreaks of mullets. One area was so devastated by the eighties hairstyle that experts predict it will be the year 2034 before Czech hairdressing enters the 1990s.
- Czech women, on the other hand, giddy up, eh? Oof!
- Player to watch - Pavel Nedved. Ageing Rick Parfitt lookeylikey, the wizard of the dribble and a rocket shot in both boots. Marvellous.
Official World Cup Epithets
Czech Republic: Longhairs
Prediction: Italy and USA qualify amid Mobster allegations. Red cards aplenty.