Africa will have a record six representatives at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, but just how will they fare amongst a field that is the strongest ever put together for the global showpiece?
AllAfrica World Cup correspondent Nick Said weighs up their chances:
13 June v Slovenia (Polokwane)
18 June v England (Cape Town)
23 June v USA (Pretoria)
That Algeria were surprise qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, there is no doubt, but few would argue that they don't deserve to be there.
The "Desert Foxes" claimed their place at the expense of the more fancied Egyptian side, winners of the last three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and a country that has dominated African football over the past eight or so years.
And the manner in which Algeria qualified was something straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster: a play-off decider was required in the neutral venue of Khartoum, Sudan, where a stunning strike from Antar Yahia was enough to win the game.
It is Algeria's first World Cup appearance since Mexico '86 when they were coached by the same man, Rabah Saadane. Amazingly, he is in his fifth spell with the side, a real 'go-to' guy for the Algerian Football Association over the years.
What is unusual about the side is that more players in the current set-up were born in France than in Algeria. The north African country was, of course, once an outpost for the French and ties between the countries remain strong.
As a result, they have been amongst the biggest beneficiaries of a new FIFA ruling that allows players to switch allegiances if they have played junior football for another country. Yahia, for example, was born and raised in France and played for their national Under-18 side before deciding to turn out for Algeria instead.
Devoid of genuine global stars, the side have players who are competing in the top leagues of Europe, among them Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth, England), Yahia (Bochum, Germany), Madjid Bougherra (Rangers, Scotland), Karim Matmour (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany) and Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, Germany).
Faced with the prospect of England, the United States and Slovenia in their pool at the World Cup, the Algerians will know they need positive results against the Americans and Slovenians to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages. It is not impossible, but I wouldn't put the mortgage on it.
Likely finish: First Round
14 June v Japan (Mangaung/Bloemfontein)
19 June v Denmark (Pretoria)
24 June v Netherlands (Cape Town)
The "Indomitable Lions" are almost synonymous with the World Cup after their exploits at the 1990 tournament in Italy, where they captured the hearts of the world. A team dubbed "no-hopers", they reached the quarterfinals before unluckily losing out to England 3-2.
Since then they have become a favourite with the neutrals, who will once again be backing the west Africans in South Africa, not least because many feel this outfit has a genuine shot at reaching the semifinals at least.
A lot has changed for Cameroon football since that memorable showing at Italia '90. The proliferation of their players in the big European leagues has meant a general raising of the standard as they get better coaching at a younger age.
They are led by their talisman, Samuel Eto'o, who is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. Having made his name at Real Mallorca in Spain, he enhanced his reputation at the mighty Barcelona, and continued to flourish following a move to Inter Milan in Italy, where he lifted the Serie A title and the UEFA Campions League this season.
His goals will be key to his team's chances of progressing out of a pool that also includes the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan, but so too will be the contributions of the up-and-coming young crop of stars in the side.
These include Arsenal midfielder Alex Song, Monaco centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou, who has taken over from Song's cousin, Rigobert, in the heart of the Cameroon defence, midfielder Stephane Mbia from Marseille, and Ajax Amsterdam defensive midfielder Eyong Enoh, who is no stranger to South African fans, having cut his teeth at Ajax Cape Town.
The side are coached by Frenchman Paul Le Guen and will be quietly confident of emerging from their group. They have the beating of Denmark and Japan, of that there is no doubt, but the team have flattered to deceive in the past, not least at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Angola where they exited in the quarterfinals.
Likely finish: Second Round
15 June v Portugal (Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth)
20 June v Brazil (Johannesburg)
25 June v Korea DPR (Nelspruit)
Cote d'Ivoire were regarded by many as the most likely of the African sides to succeed at the 2010 World Cup, but for the second competition in a row have been pooled in what has been termed the "Group of Death".
In Germany four years ago they had to contend with Netherlands and Argentina in the first round, and this time they have Brazil and Portugal to look forward to after an unkind draw.
It is most certainly the toughest draw faced by an African side, but if there is one team who can pull off victory, it is The Elephants, whose so-called "Golden Generation" of players should be at their peak.
Many of the current squad members came through the fabled ASEC academy in the capital, Abidjan, and have been playing together since they were in their early teens. They are spread across Europe now, mostly in England, France, Spain and Germany.
Like Cameroon, they have a talismanic forward to lead them in Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, though his fitness has been thrown into doubt after fracturing his arm in a friendly against Japan at the weekend. After successful surgery, there there is a chance he may able to play later in the group stages, or possibly the second round if Cote d'Ivoire makes it through.
His loss would be a massive blow for new coach Sven-Goran Riksson though. Such is the power of football in Africa that he is more revered than politicians, top businessmen and even clergy in his own country, where he has consistently pumped in large amounts of the money he earns into charitable work.
The Elephants are strong across the park. Aside from Drogba they have a fantastic emerging talent in the form of striker Gervinho, who is set to become a global superstar, while the likes of Salomon Kalou (Chelsea, England), Didier Zokora, (Sevilla, Spain), Emmanuel Eboué (Arsenal, England), Yaya Touré (Barcelona, Spain), Kolo Toure (Manchester City, England) and Siaka Tiéné (Valenciennes, France) are all household names.
Likely finish: First Round
13 June v Serbia (Pretoria)
19 June v Australia (Rustenburg)
23 June v Germany (Johannesburg)
Ghanaian football is going through one of its most successful periods in many a year on the back of the "feel-good" factor of having qualified for the World Cup finals for a second time in a row.
The country claimed the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt last October, while the senior side reached the final of their continental show-piece, the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. Even the ladies have been getting in on the act with the female side booking their place in the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in Germany in 2011.
Many of that successful men's Under-20 side have begun to filter into the senior national side, evidence that it is not just in the "now" where the outlook is good for the Black Stars.
Coached by the Serb Milovan Rajevac, they are particularly strong in midfield when everybody is fit, which has been an issue in recent years.
They have lost their most prized possession in Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, who is a genuine global star but will miss the tournament with a knee injury that also kept him out of most of the team's Nations Cup campaign in January.
Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari is an important cog in the centre of the park, as is Bologna star Stephan Appiah, if he can overcome the chronic knee injuries that have plagued him for the best part of three years now.
The forward line is also well led by Asamoah Gyan, who plays for Stade Rennes in France.
With his Ghanaian players, Rajevac will have to plot the downfall of his own native country - the Black Stars have been drawn in the same pool as Serbia, along with Australia and the big fish, Germany.
Ghana will be hoping to repeat their debut performance at the World Cup four years ago, when they won through to the second round before losing out to Brazil in the knockout stages.
Likely finish: Second Round
12 June v Argentina (Johannesburg)
17 June v Greece (Manguang/Bloemfontein)
22 June v Korea Republic (Durban)
Nigerian football is never without its dramas and so it proved when the country's football federation sacked their coach, Shaibu Amodu, only months before the start of the World Cup.
They have replaced him with the Swede Lars Lagerback, who took his native country to both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup tournaments, giving him recent experience in the competition.
On paper Nigeria have a strong unit, but as the old saying goes, "football is played on grass, not paper," and the side have under-performed in the recent past.
Part of the problem is that they have a number of key players who have battled to stay fit. The Everton duo of defender Joseph Yobo and striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni are world-class when fit and firing, as is striker Obafemi Martins from Wolfsburg in Germany.
Like so many of the other African sides, they too have lost an influential player in the form of Chelsea defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel, who is a top player, but also misses out with a knee complaint.
Peter Odemwingie, who has a Russian mother and Nigerian father, and plays for CSKA Moscow, is the chief playmaker in midfield, but look out for the talents of Victor Obinna Nsofor, who is on loan at Malaga in Spain from Inter Milan.
The "Super Eagles" would have seen drawing Argentina and Greece in the 2010 pool stages as a good omen. They faced the same two sides in the 1994 World Cup in the USA and emerged from that group to take their place in the knockout stages, where they were unlucky to lose to eventual finalists Italy.
South Korea are the fourth side in their 2010 pool, which Nigeria have every chance of getting out of. Should they do so they are potential second-round opponents for South Africa in what would be a titanic all-Africa clash.
Likely finish: Second Round
11 June v Mexico (Johannesburg)
16 June v Uruguay (Pretoria)
22 June v France (Manguang/Bloemfontein)
The expectations weighing on the shoulders of South Africa going into the 2010 World Cup are immense and just how this will affect the players is an ongoing debate.
They started the 2009 Confederations Cup in nervy fashion but made it to the semifinals, improving as the tournament went on, but having drawn heavyweights Mexico, Uruguay and France in their pool at the World Cup, they cannot afford any slow starts this time round.
Indeed, if they are to make it to the knockout stages and avoid an unwanted first in history by being the only host country ever to drop out in the first round, you feel they need to win the tournament opener against the Mexicans to give them the momentum and confidence they will need.
Brazilian tactician Carlos Alberto Parreira will be coaching at a record sixth World Cup, having won the trophy at USA '94, and counting in his favour is that he knows Bafana Bafana's opponents inside out after 30 years of coaching against them.
He has led South Africa to a 12-game unbeaten run since taking over the reins for his second spell in November 2009, and their form in recent weeks has been very encouraging.
But if South Africa are to succeed they will rely heavily on the creative genius of Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, by far the best player in the side, who in the past 12 months has developed into one of the best midfielders in Europe.
They also appear to have found a regular goal-scorer in striker Katlego Mphela, who must carry the hopes of the nation on his shoulders after the axing of Benni McCarthy from the 23-man squad.
Parreira will also be praying that Orlando Pirates playmaker Teko Modise rediscovers his touch before the tournament starts. Modise is a gifted footballer, but has lost confidence and with few others able to assist Pienaar in the playmaking role, he could be the key to them winning a place in the knockout stages.
Can they realistically make it beyond the first round? Yes they can, but defeat in the opener against Mexico would be catastrophic to those chances.
Likely finish: Second Round