After all the speculation worldwide, Monday's May 15 roster deadline set by FIFA came and went with plenty of intrigue.
The only shuffling of the Bruce Arena's squad came the day after he announced his 23 on ESPN, when LA Galaxy fullback Chris Albright replaced Frankie Heyduk, who had injured knee ligaments...
But Monday was a big day for the American's opposition. Despite the revelations of his gambling history, which came out during the investigation of the Juventus match-fixing scandal, Gianlugi Buffon was selected by Italy coach Marcello Lippi. Lippi also chose Milan striker Pippo Insaghi and Udinese forward Vincenzo Iaquinta over Real Madrid's Antonio Cassano.
Like so many of his peers, including England's Sven Goren Eriksson, Czech Republic manager Karel Bruckner elected to include the names of several injury worries, including attacking midfielder Vladimir Smicer (torn leg tendon).
The Czechs got good news over the weekend when 6-foot-6 striker Jan Koller, who had missed much of the club season with a knee injury, not only played 90 minutes for the first time since his injury, but scored twice with his head in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-3 draw with Bundeliga champion Bayern Munich.
Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic provided the real surprises of the Group E quartet, electing to retain less than half the squad from the team that failed to make it out of the group stage in January’s African Cup of Nations.
Dujkovic included seven players who hadn’t suited up for the Black Stars in more than two years and a defender, Habib Mohamed, who has yet to make his debut.
Needless to say, the people had a mixed reaction. It was reported that captain Stephen Appiah wasn't happy with the selections, but the former Juventus wide man released this statement in hopes to clearing up his comments.
The head-shaking decisions began last week, when Eriksson selected 17-year-old Arsenal forward Theo Walcott — over such settled quality as Tottenham's Jermain Defoe, who scored a key goal at Poland in qualifying, and Charlton's Darren Bent, the English Premiership's leading English scorer this season — without seeing him play a game.
The announcement shocked Walcott, who just a few months older than American wonderboy Freddy Adu, yet much more well known worldwide, and polarized the football world.
Eriksson admitted he had taken a gamble, but that didn't stop such names as
former England captain Alan Mullery, former England manager Bobby Robson, Tottenham manager Martin Jol and Pele, who was in the Santos first team when he became a star at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
Names that have come out supporting the Walcott choice include his manager at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger,
Liverpool forward Peter Crouch, who played with Walcott briefly at Southampton and is a potential his striking partner in Germany,
Barcelona stars Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o,
Seeing a trend, German coach Jurgen Klinsman also took a chance on an uncapped speedster, including 22-year-old David Odonkor, who had a goal and five assists in 33 games with Borussia Dortmund.
"He gives us something we need badly: speed and an element of surprise. He can break down the flanks quickly," Klinsmann said. "We've been watching him a long time, and he is a great talent. He was really surprised, to say the least, when I called him this morning."
Odonkor's inclusion meant Klinsmann dropped Kevin Kuranyi.
"This is almost incredible," Odonkor said in a statement posted on the German soccer federation's Web site. "The coach has been watching out for young players this season, and that's why I managed to get into the World Cup at the last moment."
Other interesting names on Klinsmann's list included 32-year-old defender Jens Nowotny, who hasn't played for Germany under Klinsmann, forward Mike Hanke, who is suspended for the first two World Cup matches because of a red card he received in last summer's Confederations Cup. Also included were two injured players, defender Christoph Metzelder (torn calf muscle) and midfielder Sebastian Kehl (ankle).
Other selection news
Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira selected Lyon defender Cris over injured Roque Junior and Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni over Marcos, who backstopped the Samba Boys to the trophy four years ago ... Spain coach Luis Aragones dropped Liverpool veteran Fernando Morientes in favor of a strike force of Raul Gonzalez, Jose Antonio Reyes, Fernando Torres and David Villa... Facing some difficult decisions, Argentina coach Jose Pekerman dropped Inter midfielders Juan Sebastian Veron and Javier Zanetti, Bayern Munich stopper Martin Demichelis and Real Madrid defender Walter Samuel in favor of young attackers Rodrigo Palacio and Julio Cruz, who scored two more goals for Inter Milan than Brazil star Adriano...Costa Rica coach Alexandre Guimaraes cited a lack of versatility when asked why he will left young midfielder Roy Miller home. He did take three other youngsters — Gabriel Badilla, Randall Azofeifa and Cristian Bolanos... One year after winning the European Cup on penalty kicks, Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek officially lost his Poland place Monday when he was left off the World Cup roster by coach Pawel Janas of Lukasz Fabianski of Legia Warsaw and Tomasz Kuszcza of West Bromwich Albion, who a combined five caps. That means Glasgow Celtic's Artur Boruc is the likely starter...
Click below for a list of the rosters of all 32 teams.