Sabtu, 12 Juni 2010


OK, we admit it, it's not quite the same as a few years back when the World Cup meant a feast of unknown players ready to dazzle with their phenomenal skills, but here at AskMen we don't think that element of surprise has fully evaporated.

You're a knowledgeable bunch, so what we thought we'd do is identify the lesser-known names who may well come on and blow the odd team away with a stunning goal or a mesmerizing attacking performance.

These names might not mean much to you now, but we bet these players will have the Premier League managers reaching for their chequebooks once the World Cup is over.

Start with No.10

No.10 - Juan Mata

Country: Spain
Club:  Valencia

Breaking into the Spanish squad after their Euro 2008 win was never going to be easy, but Valencia's Juan Mata has done just that and could prove the ace up boss Vicente del Bosque's sleeve this summer. The winger has been in exceptional form for Valencia for the last two years, striking up an excellent understanding with David Silva and David Villa, which has helped him transfer his talent to the national setup since his debut in March 2009.

Threat Level: Unlikely to start for Spain as the tournament begins, but he could be increasingly important as things progress.

No.9 - Keisuke Honda

Country: Japan   
Club: CSKA Moscow

After a run of high-quality performances for CSKA in this season's Champions League, Honda is perhaps not as secret a weapon as he could have been for the Japanese. He only made the move to the Russian capital in January, but wasted no time in making his mark, scoring against Sevilla to put the Muscovites into the Champions League quarterfinals.

Threat Level: Honda's incisive play and goal threat could be the perfect inspiration for a Japan side that has struggled to score at times. Coach Takeshi Okada may have to forget his egocentricity and find Honda a starting berth.

No.8 - Javier Hernandez

Country: Mexico   
Club: Guadalajara/Manchester United

Hernandez is another who is a little more famous today than a month ago after Manchester United announced they had agreed a deal to sign the Mexican striker from next season. Early indications at international are positive. Hernandez only made his debut on February 24, 2010, but less than a month later he had four goals in four appearances after grabbing two in his second game against Bolivia and adding single strikes against New Zealand and North Korea.

Threat Level: Not guaranteed a squad place, but the backing amongst the fans for his application and "never say die" attitude is growing.

No.7 - Chu-Young Park

Country: South Korea   
Club: Monaco

The "Asian Baggio" was found wanting at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and spent much of the tournament restricted to the bench. But with European experience behind him he could be South Korean's trump card this summer. Playing upfront for Monaco, the striker's movement and desire has seen him become a fan-favourite and his regular goal-scoring hasn't done any harm either.

Threat Level: Now 24, Chu-Young Park's fame is nowhere near the level of his countryman Ji-Sung in the Premier League -- this World Cup could be about to change all of that.

No.6 - Teko Modise

Country: South Africa   
Club: Orlando Pirates

You've heard the one about the home nation who could possibly suffer the embarrassing fate of being the first host to exit at the group stage? But there must be some bright spots for South Africa, right? Well, there is Teko Modise. Winger Modise has often been touted as a bright young thing, attracting the attention of both Milan clubs in the past, but has often flattered to deceive.

Threat Level: Now at 27, the attacker proved at the Confederations Cup that he is ready to live with the burden of expectation and could be the star man for the Bafana Bafana.

No.5 - Choe Myong-Ho

Country: North Korea     
Club: Pyongyang City

Let's face it, so little is known about the North Korean side that selecting their secret weapon would be a little like sticking a pin in the squad list -- if only we had one! However, when a former Asian Player of the Year is dubbed the North Korean Cristiano Ronaldo then you realise you might be on to something.

Threat Level: It's safe to say that the attacker will lack the gelled hair, bright boots, pouting, and pretty-boy natural flamboyance of Ronaldo, but will he be able to impose his skills in a hardworking team-centric unit?

No.4 - Dominic Adiyiah

Country: Ghana     
Club: AC Milan

Ghana's success at the U20 championship at the tail end of last year had a huge impact on the career of Dominic Adiyiah. At the time the young striker was struggling to get a game at Norwegian side Fredrikstad, but after impressing in the tournament with eight goals in seven matches and landing the player of the tournament gong, AC Milan swooped.

Threat Level: Owing to a raft of injuries, Ghana was forced to use a number of the U20 stars in the African Cup of Nations in January and Adiyiah further impressed in two sub appearances. Could he be Ghana's wild card?

No.3 - Toni Kroos

Country: Germany     
Club: Bayer Leverkusen/Bayern Munich

As a youngster coming through the ranks at Bayern Munich, Kroos was marked out as one to watch with the Bayern management staff reportedly reserving the No.10 shirt specifically for him. The playmaker didn't manage to nail down a starting place in the Munich lineup and so went on loan to Leverkusen last summer and has spearheaded their title chase this campaign.

Threat Level: His performances saw him make the step up to the international arena in a friendly against Argentina in March and he could prove Joachim Low's ace in the pack in South Africa.

No.2 - Nicolas Lodeiro

Country: Uruguay   
Club: Ajax

Another relative new boy to the international scene, Lodeiro only made his debut in the World Cup playoff against Costa Rica in November. Nervous? Not this playmaker, who was named Man of the Match in some quarters for his performance in the second leg at home. The Lodeiro-inspired Uruguay secured a 1-1 draw to see them through to South Africa. Ajax jumped on the potential and swooped, instantly signing the 21-year-old in January.

Threat Level: Loading the bullets for Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez to fire in Group A could see the youngster's star rise immeasurably in June.

No.1 - Humberto Suazo

Country: Chile   
Club: Real Zaragoza

Suazo is another striker not renowned on these shores, but just like his nation Chile, he's not one to be underestimated this summer. Suazo bagged a mightily impressive 10 goals in the South America qualifying group, leaving him one ahead of Brazil's Luis Fabiano as top scorer. Since a January move to Zaragoza in Spain, Suazo has rapidly proved that he can cut it in top company with performances and goals that have helped drag his new team off the bottom of the table and on the way to safety.

Threat Level: A confident Suazo will be a huge danger this summer.

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