Stanislav Cherchesov | Russia
The star goalkeeper for Spartak Moscow in the late 1980s and early 90s, Cherchesov won two Soviet league titles and then another two Russian crowns after the USSR’s collapse. He was even given the honour of being Russia’s first ever national team captain and featured at the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1995.
Success followed him outside Russia, too. After a brief spell in Germany he ended up in Austria and helped Tyrol Innsbruck end their 10-year title drought. It soon became three in a row with a cup final and two super cup victories to add to the mix.
Despite ending his career with a fourth spell at Spartak, he took his first coaching steps in Austria’s regional leagues before heading back to Innsbruck, where newly-formed Wacker had replaced his now-bankrupt former side.
Lasting just two years there, he returned to Moscow as Spartak’s sporting director, but quickly found himself in the dugout and leading their title challenge. They missed out on the last day of the season, however, and he was sacked after a year in the role.
He drifted around Russia for a while, but coaching success has only come to him recently. The former shot-stopper ended up at Legia Warsaw in 2015 and won the domestic double at the first time of asking with the Polish side.
The national team came calling just over a year into his Legia reign and he could not resist the chance to lead his side’s World Cup campaign on home soil.
Juan Antonio Pizzi | Saudi Arabia
Juan Antonio Pizzi walked into a bizarre situation when he took the Saudi Arabia job in November 2017.
The Argentine was their third coach in just a few months, having seen compatriot Edgardo Bauza sacked two months and five games into his reign after replacing Bert van Marwijk, who navigated two qualifying rounds to seal a spot in Russia and left days later.
Pizzi, though, will feel he has what it takes to make their first World Cup in 12 years a good one. The former Barcelona player took Chile to Copa America success in his last job, beating Argentina on penalties on the final.
A journey to the Confederations Cup final the following year set La Roja up for a good World Cup qualifying campaign, but they were still not sure of a spot when the last game came around and a win over Brazil proved too big a challenge and Pizzi resigned in the wake of their failure.
Just six weeks later, he made the jump to Arabian Peninsula to ensure he does indeed get a ticket to Russia.
Hector Cuper | Egypt
In Hector Cuper, Egypt are under the guardianship of a man who has a talent for taking teams far in competitions but buckling on the big stage.
Since winning the Copa CONMEBOL with Argentine side Lanus, he has made it to the final of Champions League on consecutive occasions, Cup Winners’ Cup, Copa del Rey, Greek Cup and even Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and lost them all.
He did, however, claim the Supercopa de Espana in 1998 with Mallorca and again the following year with Valencia. His spell at Los Che has been the most successful of his career, as he earned continental acclaim despite the crushing European final defeats to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
He then took charge at Inter and lost another final of sorts, seeing the title slip out of their hands on the last day of the season in 2002 and end up at Juventus. They then made it to the last four of the Champions League, losing to AC Milan.
Brief and obscure reigns have been the main theme of Cuper’s career since then, but he has shown promise with Egypt. Since their AFCON 2017 final loss to Cameroon, however, they have been on shaky form and the Argentine will be hoping Mohamed Salah is fit enough to help him go far on the big stage again.
Oscar Tabarez | Uruguay
The 71-year-old has been in charge of Uruguay for 12 years now and has earned the world’s respect for his role in bringing the national team back to great heights.
La Celeste were in ruin when he took over for the second time in 2006, but his reign saw the introduction of a new style that swept from the senior side down through the youth teams.
Four years later, a Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan-led side reached the semi-finals of the tournament, aided by the ever-controversial Suarez’s handball on the line. The following year, they beat Paraguay in the final to win the Copa America for the first time in 16 years.
Since then, Tabarez’s men have underwhelmed in competitions and their place in Russia this year was in doubt until the last qualifying game as they hit a worrying run of form, but Tabarez has made it through the worst part of it. He came close to leaving during that bad patch, but was persuaded to stay and will be hoping to restore his reputation by taking them back among the big guns.
Fernando Santos | Portugal
After positive showings at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup with Greece, Fernando Santos returned to Portugal to see what he could do with his own national team. Quite a lot, it turned out.
The ex-Estoril player and coach made Portugal a frustrating team for opponents and freed up Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference. Although they won just one game in normal time, Santos had turned the Seleccao into unfancied Euro 2016 finalists, upsetting hosts France in extra-time to win their first ever international title.
They then sailed through the World Cup qualifying round with nine wins from 10 games and conceded just four goals, beating Switzerland to first place on goal difference. With the current Ballon d’Or holder and European champion Ronaldo still on form, Santos is aiming to establish a golden era for Portugal this summer.
Julen Lopetegui | Spain
The Real Madrid-Barcelona divide in the squad has caused problems in the Spain squad down the years, but in Julen Lopetegui they have a coach who understands both sides. The 51-year-old represented both Clasico sides during his playing days in between more notable spells at Logrones and Rayo Vallecano.
Lopetegui’s international career lasted just 30 minutes, but the RFEF are more than aware of his coaching ability through his work overseeing the Under 21s, 20s and 19s after he began his time in the dugout as an assistant at the U13s.
After taking Porto to the Champions League quarter-finals, he was sacked halfway through his second season and eventually replaced Vicente del Bosque in the wake of Euro 2016. La Roja made it through the qualifiers unbeaten and Lopetegui will be confident of at least improving on their humiliating 2010 group stage exit.
Herve Renard | Morocco
After realising again that club level does not quite suit him after a brief and dismal time at Lille, Renard returned to Africa to take charge of Morocco and helped seal a spot at the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.
With Medhi Benatia as captain and Younes Belhanda in attack, Morocco have talent to work with and Renard made sure to bring Ajax’s creative machine Hakim Ziyech back into the fold after holding talks to settle his rift with the national team.
Carlos Queiroz | Iran
The 65-year-old has amassed a great deal of experience in coaching since bringing an end to an underwhelming playing career. He assisted Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, spent a season in charge of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and David Beckham at Real Madrid, coached clubs in United States and Japan and guided Portugal, South Africa and Iran to World Cups.
Seven years into his spell in charge of Iran, he is looking to build on the considerable impact he has had on the national team. The former Manchester United assistant enhanced the pool of players available when he started calling up Iranians playing abroad and led them to the 2014 World Cup.
Their group stage exit saw the coach offer his resignation, only to turn back and extend his stay and was vindicated by their quarter-final finish at the Asia Cup and early qualification for this year’s World Cup.
He has turned Iran into a solid side, taking advantage of their varied attack with Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun performing well for a side beaten just once in the past 12 months.
Didier Deschamps | France
He captained Les Bleus to 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 success and is aiming to add to his national legend by replicating that success as a coach after their Euro 2016 final loss to Portugal.
Deschamps enjoyed a storied career as a player, winning two of the five Champions League finals he featured in with three different teams. He was a star for a Marseille side that won two league titles and the European crown and returned as a coach after making a great impression as Monaco boss to claim more domestic success with the Stade Velodrome team.
His time at Juventus was truly sensational as they dominated Italy and became a force in European football. Again, he returned as coach to lead them back to Serie A in the wake of their relegation in the Calciopoli scandal but left immediately after winning Serie B in his only season.
Contracted to the national team until 2020, he has the faith of the French Football Federation and a strong squad - and he’ll prove he is more than worth his French Legion of Honour.
Bert van Marwijk | Australia
The former Netherlands coach will compete in the World Cup with a different country than the one he qualified with. Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia through the preliminary rounds but quit shortly afterwards. A few months later, the Australia job became available when Ange Postecoglu quit a week after the Socceroos booked their spot in Russia due to the toll of the job.
In turning to Van Marwijk and his assistant Mark van Bommel, Australia are hoping to draw on his experience in cup competitions. Van Marwijk coached Feyenoord to UEFA Cup and KNVB Beker success. He went on to lead Oranje to the third World Cup final in their history, but his physical and much-maligned side lost to Spain in extra-time.
His time with the Dutch ended in disaster as they lost all three games at Euro 2012. He then lasted just a few months at Hamburg before two years at Saudi Arabia.
Returning to the big stage with the Group C hopefuls, he has a point to prove after his recent struggles.
Ricardo Gareca | Peru
If many in Peru had got their way, Ricardo Gareca would have been sacked just a few months into his tenure at the helm of the national team.
The former Argentina international forward arrived in 2015 to lead the South American nation to the Copa America semi-finals, but a disastrous start to the World Cup qualifying campaign saw him come under huge pressure. Peru bounced back soon enough to rescue a play-off spot and beat New Zealand to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 36 years.
The 60-year-old heads into the tournament with a lot of experience, having spent almost two decades coaching clubs in his homeland, Colombia and Peru before taking on his current role. Gareca enjoyed his most notable spells at Talleres, with a side that will go down in the club’s history after following their second division win with a first ever international title in the Copa CONMEBOL, and Velez Sarsfield, who he led to three Primera Division titles.
He has overcome a shaky spell to justify his place at the Blanquirroja and has been given a big boost recently when it was declared that striker Paolo Guerrero is available to play after having a ban for failing a drugs test overturned.
Age Hareide | Denmark
The former Manchester City manager has proved a success at club level in three countries but his previous foray into international football ended in disaster 10 years ago. He has already improved on his five-year spell at Norway by leading Denmark to the 2018 World Cup through a 5-1 playoff win over Republic of Ireland and recently talked up his side’s chances of beating Group C’s big-guns France.
“I don’t believe in this [France] team,” he told France Football recently. “I’ll be damned if we don’t give a hard time to this team which, frankly, has nothing special!"
He went on to say N’Golo Kante lacks leadership, Paul Pogba is too focused on looking good as Les Bleus lack a galvanising star.
With the likes of Christian Eriksen, Andreas Christensen, Pione Sisto, Nicklas Bendtner and Nicolai Jorgensen in the team, he has talent to work with and the trophies he lifted with Molde, Rosenborg, Helsingborgs, Malmo and Brondby suggest he knows how to work with it.
Jorge Sampaoli | Argentina
The former Chile boss took over amid a hectic period at the Argentina team. The Albiceleste started their qualifying campaign under Gerardo Martino but he left amid issues with the Argentine Football Association. Those problems continued when his successor, Edgardo Bauza, was sacked. Sampaoli brought an early end to his time at Sevilla to step in and guide them through a bad patch and on the plane Russia.
Still, with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain leading the attack, Argentina are hoping Sampaoli can build on his 2015 Copa America success with Chile by taking his country all the way this year.
The 58-year-old won worldwide acclaim for his fast-paced attacking style of play and was voted the continent’s best coach for his success with La Roja, which followed a prosperous two years at Universidad de Chile.
Heimir Hallgrimsson | Iceland
After serving as joint-manager alongside Lars Lagerback to guide Iceland through their first major finals at Euro 2016, the 50-year-old took a step back from his dentistry work to take on become the sole boss. He has proved more than worthy of the role since, taking them to a first ever World Cup by finishing top of their group.
When he and Lagerback started, Hallgrimsson worked to bridge the gap between the fans and squad by meeting the supporters’ group at a pub and shared the team line-up and showed them videos before every home game, a tradition he has kept up.
“When Lars left, I did think, ‘Should I still be doing this?’ But I kept it up for the home [wins] against Finland and Turkey and I just feel, ‘Why stop it?’ Really, I just see going to the pub with the fans and then meeting the team at the stadium as my pre-match routine now,” he told FIFA’s website.
“And I enjoy it. It gives me a good feeling to go there, I’m not missing out on anything I should be doing with the team, and I think the fans really appreciate it.”
Results have been kind to him since. They have won just one of their last five matches but did get the better of Group D rivals Croatia when they met most recently in qualifying. They’ll be hoping to upset Argentina and Nigeria too.
Zlatko Dalic | Croatia
The ex-Hajduk Split midfielder impressed in three successful seasons in United Arab Emirates with Al-Ain before returning home to take over Croatia at the tail-end of the qualifying campaign. He replaced the sacked Ante Cacic with just one group game left and managed to beat Ukraine before getting through the playoff with a 4-1 win over Greece.
By handing him a contract until 2020, Croatia have put their faith in a man already experienced within the national set-up, having assisted at the Under 21s for five years before heading to the Middle East.
The 51-year-old fancies his side’s chances of causing an upset this summer and is eager to take on one of “the best teams in the world” when they meet Argentina, saying it will be one of his side’s easiest ties because they have “nothing to lose”.
Gernot Rohr | Nigeria
The German coach has been coaching for almost 30 years, spending the majority of his career in France, but he is eight years into an African adventure that has taken him from Gabon to Nigeria via Niger and Burkina Faso.
The Super Eagles navigated Africa´s group of death in World Cup qualifying, finishing five points clear with four wins from six games, including a 4-1 win over Cameroon. Since then they have even upset Argentina and Poland. However, after a recent 2-0 loss to Serbia and a disappointing 1-1 draw with DR Congo saw Rohr attract criticism from supporters.
Rohr, 64, still has a good record after 13 games in charge and will be hoping to at least match their second-round finish in 2014.
Tite | Brazil
The former Corinthians boss stepped in to replace Dunga following Brazil’s group-stage exit at the Copa America Centenario in 2016 and led an incredible turnaround that sees them head to Russia as one of the tournament favourites.
Tite immediately brought stars like Thiago Silva and Marcelo back into the fold after they had been sidelined by Dunga. Brazil won their first nine games and the 1-0 defeat to Argentina that ended that run is the only one they have suffered in his near-two-year spell. The 57-year-old has even avoided building a dependence on star attacker Neymar, as Gabriel Jesus has been shining up front while Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho have chipped in with a good number of goals.
Tite has instilled great unity within the Selecao squad from the beginning of his reign that was inspired by NBA star LeBron James and it may give them a big boost in Russia. Describing the mood after his first game against Ecuador, he said: "After the match [a 3-0 win], we were all in the changing room, and the players came close together and we started to pray to God.
"I noticed that some of the staff and even the security guards were leaving the room, and I said, 'No, this is for everyone. Let us all pray.' Everyone came together to pray, even the security guards. That was an incredible moment of emotion for all of us."
Neymar & Co. will be hoping to provide many more great moments for Tite this summer.
Vladimir Petkovic | Switzerland
The Sarajevo native spent the majority of his playing and coaching days in Switzerland and has proved a great fit for the Nati since taking charge in 2014.
Returning from a two-year spell at Lazio, where he won the Coppa Italia, the ex-Sion midfielder took Switzerland through Euro 2016 qualifying and into the second round of the tournament, losing out to Poland in a 5-4 penalty shootout loss.
A strong World Cup preliminary round saw them finish level on points with Portugal but missed out on first place because of the latter’s goal record, forcing Petkovic’s men to scrape through to the finals through the play-offs.
Petkovic is renowned for his hard work and has developed a pragmatic style with his side, which will come in handy against group favourites Brazil.
Oscar Ramirez | Costa Rica
When Oscar Ramirez left a successful stint at Alajuelense and agreed to join Costa Rica as Paulo Wanchope’s assistant, he may have had eyes on taking the top job eventually, but he could not have imagined he’d be handed a promotion within a week.
Wanchope left the national team after getting involved in a fight after an Under 23s game in Panama and Ramirez stepped up. He kept results stable until their 2016 Copa America group stage exit but then put together a great string of wins that compensated for a shaky end to the World Cup qualifying campaign and allowed them to get through to the finals.
Costa Rica have lost three of their four friendlies – a 1-0 win over Scotland the exception – and face England in their last game before the finals begin, meaning there is a lot of work to be done if they are to improve on their 2014 quarter-final finish.
Mladen Krstajic | Serbia
The former Werder Bremen and Schalke player walked into an ideal first coaching role when he took on a Serbia side that had already qualified for the World Cup. Slavoljub Muslin was sacked just a few weeks after a decisive win over Georgia amid an argument with the Football Association of Serbia.
Krstajic was given the job on a caretaker role initially but was handed a full contract after a win over China and draw with South Korea. Serbia have lost to Morocco and beaten Nigeria since then, making for an impressive start for the one-time Bundesliga-winning defender before a tough group in Russia.
Joachim Low | Germany
The 58-year-old is 14 years into his tenure at the helm of Die Mannschaft and is aiming to continue his glorious work with a second straight World Cup.
Germany are still looking strong in the wake of that final victory over Argentina four years ago and Low showed he can work with their embarrassment of talent when they won the 2017 Confederations Cup without the likes of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Jerome Boateng.
They finished the qualifying campaign with a perfect record but are winless in four since. Low will have few concerns, however, with a wealth of stars available and his future guaranteed after signing a new contract until 2022.
Having played a key role in the revolution that led to this success, he expects another to be part of another after this tournament.
“It’s quite possible that there will be a change after the World Cup, depending on the team - you will see that,” he said recently. “Over a period of four years, you can prepare a team of young players for another tournament. That’s fun.”
Juan Carlos Osorio | Mexico
Juan Carlos Osorio has come a long way since his four years as Kevin Keegan’s assistant at Manchester City. The former Internacional midfielder has toured the Americas since his departure from England in 2005, taking on clubs in the United States, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico before taking over at El Tri three years ago.
Mexico won their first nine games under the Colombian, but the party came to an end with a 7-0 defeat to Chile in the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario in 2016.
Carlos Osorio apologised to fans in the wake of that crushing loss but bounced back immediately as Mexico sailed through the qualifiers and finished top of the group. He has suffered just seven losses in his 46 games in charge and has turned Mexico into a big threat for this summer.
Janne Andersson | Sweden
In the wake of their dismal Euro 2016 showing the Swedish FA turned to Andersson after seeing the 55-year-old take Norrkoping to a first Allsvenskan title in 23 years near the end of his long term in charge.
The new coach turned things around and a good run including wins over both Euro 2016 finalists followed. Sweden beat Netherlands to third place and kept the good times going when they got the better of Italy in the play-offs.
Sweden’s iconic former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have teased fans by hinting that he could return for the World Cup, but Andersson was hardly impressed by his antics and says they have “moved on”. He must be confident of his team if he doesn’t need the enigmatic miracle worker.
Shin-Tae Yong | South Korea
The former Queensland Roar attacking midfielder was already well acquainted with the South Korea national team set up before his appointment last year.
A former South Korea international, he guided Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma to Champions League and Korean FA Cup titles before taking on the national youth teams and oversaw a quarter-final finish at the Olympic Games in 2016.
Shin then took over from Uli Stielike in 2017 and was able to save their World Cup hopes and seal a late ticket to the tournament in Russia and is aiming to replicate their semi-final finish of 2002.
Known as the “Fox on the ground” in Korea, Shin prefers to watch games from the stand to get a better view of the action and will likely keep up his habit as he gives directions to the dugout from above.
Roberto Martinez | Belgium
However, the Spaniard seems to have the Belgian FA’s backing beyond the tournament in Russia, having signed a two-year extension in May.
He started his reign with a 2-0 friendly defeat to Spain but his side is unbeaten since then, scoring 57 times in the next 16 matches to finish top of their qualifying group.
With a golden generation to work with, Martinez must get Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne firing together on all cylinders, and has shown progress in getting the key attackers playing together.
The Belgians were slammed as a group of great individuals but a poor team for some of their displays in recent years, but Martinez has been working hard to turn that around since replacing Marc Wilmots at the helm.
Hernán Darío Gómez | Panama
“It was a dream come true” for Hernan Dario Gomez and his Panama team when the final whistle blew on their last World Cup qualifier, calling time on a vital win over Costa Rica that carried them through to their first ever finals.
Although the Central American country journey into new ground when they kick their tournament in Russia off against Belgium, it is a familiar scene for their Colombian manager, who is heading for his third finals tournament.
The 62-year-old former Guatemala boss will be determined to improve on those group stage exits this time when Panama come up against Belgium, England and Tunisia. Indeed, the coach feels ending the tournament with three points would be a positive.
“People are very happy to be at the World Cup but, if we have a good tournament, we would celebrate it the same. To win a game would be lovely,” he said.
Nabil Maaloul | Tunisia
The former Tunisia star has been involved in the national set-ups many times throughout his career, and is out to enhance his reputation with a first showing at the World Cup.
The ex-midfielder played over 70 matches for his country ahead of taking an assistant role for their 2006 World Cup campaign in the early stages of his career before enjoying a brief stint in the top job. Although he was unbeaten in his five games, Maaloul saw his first spell at the Eagles of Carthage end in failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but he returned after a few years to have another crack at getting on to the big stage.
The 55-year-old is still to taste defeat in charge of his homeland, having won five and drawn three since his return, thanks to the defensive discipline he has introduced. Even Euro 2016 champions Portugal could not get the better of Maaloul’s men, and England may face a difficult opening test.
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Gareth Southgate | England
Southgate spent three seasons in charge of the England Under 21s and lost just three of his 33 matches. He has been similarly impressive with the senior team, as friendly games against Germany and France remain his only losses so far, while his open and informative answers in media conferences and interviews have endeared him to the press.
After topping their group, there is a healthy optimism around England this year, and a huge part of that is down to Southgate’s involvement.
A member of the England side that competed at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments, he will be determined to make a good showing as the favourites of the group this time around.
Adam Nawalka | Poland
The former Poland international made a big impression in the early stages of his international career and was just a 20-year-old midfielder when he made his first trip to the World Cup in 1978. He returned to assist Leo Beenhakker in the dugout 30 years later.
It came as no surprise then when Nawalka was the one to replace Waldemar Fornalik and his wealth of experience within the organisation and around Poland has proven invaluable in the five years since his appointment.
He guided Robert Lewandowski and Co. to their first ever Euro quarter-finals two years ago, losing out to Portugal on penalties, but has only improved his standing since then by leading them to a top table finish with just one defeat from 10 matches.
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Aliou Cisse | Senegal
Ex-Paris Saint-Germain, Birmingham City and Portsmouth player Cisse has graduated from assisting at Senegal’s Under 23s to the coaching the first-team within the space of three years and guided them to a first World Cup in 16 years. Cisse has developed a good reputation in his first senior coaching role, finishing top of their qualifying group with an unbeaten record.
"It is through consistency that we can achieve our goals,” he said. “Zinedine Zidane demonstrated this with Real Madrid. He has a group that has been there for six or seven years.”
Replicating Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. may be a tall order for Cisse, but another quarter-final finish would be a remarkable achievement.
Akira Nishino | Japan
The former Japan international midfielder coached Gamba Osaka, Vissel Kobe and Nagoya Grampus, winning a J League title, two J League Cups and the Champions League, even reaching a Club World Cup semi-final along the way.
The 63-year-old only took over the national team in April, having been involved in the national team hierarchy until Vahid Halilhodzic left and subsequently ordered a lawsuit against the association.
Nishino oversaw his first game in May, but it was not a happy debut as they went down 2-0 to Ghana and he only has one more game to get them into shape ahead of the tournament.
- NELSON ALMEIDA
Jose Pekerman | Colombia
The Argentine has guided Los Cafeteros to a second consecutive World Cup after taking them to their best-ever finish in the tournament as they won their first four games before being knocked out by Brazil at the quarter-finals.
Colombia’s place in Russia was put at risk towards the end of the qualifying campaign as they failed to win any of their last four matches, managing to beat final opponents Peru to the last qualifying spot by just one point, having drawn 1-1.
With the likes of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado at his disposal, Pekerman will be determined to take put in a strong display this summer.