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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
World Cup debutants: Meet the panel
Six countries are making their full debut at the World Cup. Two more are taking part for the first time under their current names, Czech Republic and Serbia and Montenegro.

Eight people - one from each of the debutant nations - will regularly give us updates on the build-up, anticipation, and excitement in their countries throughout the tournament. Here they outline their plans and rate their team's chances of success or failure.

Nylah Ali
Trinidad and Tobago

Lamisi Dabire
Accra, Ghana

Kahumba Pedro
Luanda, Angola

Erick Kaglan
Lome, Togo

Alfred Jaovi
Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Tom Zivanovic
Serbia & Montenegro

Andriy Hunder
Kiev, Ukraine

V Diestlova
Czech Republic


Nyla Ali
It's crazy here at the moment. Everyone is busy getting their work done as the country prepares to shut down for the first match on Saturday.

This is about more than just football for us. It's an opportunity for us to market ourselves on the world stage.

But we are football people deep down and everyone is super-excited.

Many people are dressed in red. There are stickers on car windshields and commemorative coins have almost sold out.

Trinidad shirts have also reportedly sold out and flags are in short supply.

If Trinidad and Tobago achieves the highly unlikely and qualifies for the second round of the competition, all work will come to a standstill
There will be a lot of overpowering emotions here over the coming weeks. I intend to watch the action at clubs and the many parties that will be held in the streets. Win or lose, we will be partying!

For our last game against Paraguay, I will hang out with friends so we can all support each other when we bow out with pride.

I'm sure we will still raise our glasses and party in the streets regardless.

Of course, if Trinidad and Tobago achieves the highly unlikely and qualifies for the second round of the competition, all work will come to a standstill and the government may have to declare another public holiday, which they did when we qualified - to give us more time to sober up, I guess!

Go Soca Warriors! The fighting spirit of the Caribbean!


Lamisi Dabire
Everyone here is very excited.

World Cup fever has really caught on.

People everywhere are wearing replica jerseys and hats.

Our national flag is also visible on the streets everywhere.

We really believe that Ghana can do well.

We have a tough group, but we believe in our team and our players.

Shirt stall in Accra, Ghana (Pic: Lamisi Dabire)
Shirts are selling fast across Ghana
If our top players - the likes of Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien - perform well, we should at least be able to make it beyond the group stage.

We have put televisions in our offices to watch the games during the day.

Our first two matches, against Italy and Czech Republic, will be in the evening so I will be watching with my friends in some of the local pubs, where they have already put up big screens.

Everything is ready to go.


Kahumba Pedro
I am planning to watch the first appearance of Angola at the World Cup on Sunday against Portugal in a pub surrounded by friends.

This is a very important match for the team and for the Angolan people, especially as Angola is a former Portuguese colony.

We have only had peace here for four years after many years of fighting.

The government is trying to rebuild the country and our national sports arena, and the team's performance in Germany is central to that.

The players are more mature now and are motivated by the memorable farewell they received from the Angolan fans before they departed

It will be a tough group however.

Portugal, the Euro 2004 runners-up, are very well prepared and are making every effort to try and win the cup.

Mexico are also strong candidates for the title and the other team in the group, Iran, are one of the best teams in Asia with good home-based players.

So it will not be easy for the Palancas Negras [the nickname of the Angolan team - translated as the Sable Antelopes].

However, although the team had a poor performance at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, the players are expecting to put in a good performance at the World Cup.

They are more mature now and are motivated by the memorable farewell they received from the Angolan fans in Luanda before they departed for Germany.

There are also big screens being erected in public areas in the centre of Luanda, so I will watch some of the games there.


Erick Kaglan

I can't remember a more exciting time in Togo. People are really ecstatic.

Every street is covered in the national colours of yellow, green and red.

The football federation has put up huge billboards all over Lome with pictures of the national team and slogans such as 'To believe is to win' and 'Victory is in belief'.

I will watch our first match on Tuesday against South Korea in an area called Deckon, which is a square in the heart of Lome.

There will be about 5,000 people there in the bars and watching big screens outside.

If anyone talks about defeat they are considered to be unpatriotic
This is where the true atmosphere will be. I will be going in and out of the many bars to get a real sense of the excitement during the match.

People here are very optimistic. Some say Togo will qualify for the second round, others are talking about going even further.

People see it as a national duty to support the team. If anyone talks about defeat they are considered to be unpatriotic.

I personally think we have nothing to lose. People expect us to be defeated so if we win then we will upset people's expectations.

If we play well and if we are lucky we can win our games. We are not in the hardest group either.

But if we only win one match we will still have a festival. Nothing will stop us from enjoying the experience.


Alfred Jaovi
I will be watching the matches with my friends from my running club in a local bar.

We will have a celebration all day on Saturday to mark 25 years of our club, the Abidjan Hash House Harriers, and then we will go to a bar to watch our first match against Argentina.

We should be in a very good mood by that time!

There is a lot of excitement in Ivory Coast. Everyone wants our team to do really well.

We have had so much fighting here that it will be good to see everyone together following the team in solidarity
There is colour everywhere here, there are many stalls selling shirts.

It will be good for the country if our team can succeed.

We have had so much fighting here that it will be good to see everyone together following the team in solidarity.

The further they go in the tournament, the better chance we have of maintaining peace here in the short term.

It could really change things.

We have a good team - it's not just all about Didier Drogba [Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker], there are many other good players in there who play all over Europe.

Hopefully we can go far.


Tom Zivanovic
I will be watching the World Cup in various towns around Serbia and Montenegro, so I will have a unique perspective on how people in different areas are watching the tournament.

On Sunday I will watch our opening game against Holland in Montenegro in the coastal town of Budva.

I will be with friends and we will watch it on big screens in the bars near the beach.

I am expecting a lot of celebrations and jumping into the sea when we win.

The Montenegrin people know that because they recently voted for independence it may be a long time before they are in the World Cup again
In Montenegro, the people are really getting behind the side.

Even though there are only two players in the squad from Montenegro, the Montenegrin people know that because they recently voted for independence it may be a long time before they are in the World Cup again.

I will also watch some of the matches with my three kids, who are unique in that they will be supporting three teams - Serbia and Montenegro, France and England, as we have lived in all three countries.

I live in the true cauldron of football in Serbia - right in between the Red Star Belgrade stadium and the Partisan Belgrade stadium, the homes of two great footballing rivals.

I think we can be a huge success in Germany and I am expecting a lot of celebrations here in the coming weeks!


Andriy Hunder

I will be watching Ukraine's games on big screens in squares in Kiev where I also took part in the Orange Revolution in November 2004.

This is very symbolic and shows how well our country has done since then in qualifying for the World Cup finals.

We expect to go all the way.

Everyone is wearing yellow and blue, the colours of the national team, and we can't wait for it to start.

We've got a great team, led by Andriy Shevchenko, who just joined Chelsea.

I've got my money on a Ukraine-England final.

I'll be watching with great anticipation, together with the rest of the 48 million people across our nation.

The champagne and caviar are on ice!


Veronika Diestlova
I will watch our country's first match against the USA on Monday with my boyfriend, who also loves football.

I'll divide the rest of my time between watching with friends in sports bars, on big screens outdoors and in the Irish bar where I work in Wenceslas Square, one of the main squares in Prague.

So there will be plenty of noise and atmosphere wherever I'll be watching!

We are very confident here as the Czech Republic is ranked second in the world heading into the tournament.

We hope we can win the competition and if our top players perform as well we know they can, we will win.

We're in a tough group with Italy, Ghana and the USA, but once we get out of that we can go far.

There is a good atmosphere here in the build-up to the tournament.

There are big screens everywhere. We are all ready for a successful World Cup.

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