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Sport

France to play South African hosts at 2010 World Cup

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-05

France have been drawn to play the Bafana Bafana in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, while Fabio Capello's England enjoyed a kind draw.

Click here for full results of the World Cup draw

AFP - Brazil and Portugal were sent on a World Cup collision course when the final draw was made here Friday while Lady Luck smiled on England.

The Brazilians and Portuguese will clash in Group G and will be joined by top African side Ivory Coast and unknown quantities North Korea in what will inevitably be dubbed the 'group of death'.

England coach Fabio Capello had reason to be happy as his men drew the United States, Algeria and Slovenia.

Ironically it was David Beckham, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, who pulled out the ball which paired up the Americans with England in the World Cup for the first time since 1950 when the United States pulled off a shock 1-0 win.

Hosts South Africa were given a tough assignment, getting 1998 winners France, Central America powerhouse Mexico and Uruguay.

Group B has Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria and Greece, with Germany, Australia, Ghana and Serbia making up Group D.

The Netherlands have Japan, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E. Italy has New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia in Group F while in the final Group H, European champions Spain go up against Honduras, Chile and Switzerland.

The draw, which saw the 32 qualified teams split into eight groups of four for the first round stage of the June 11-July 11 tournament, laid down the battle lines for what will be the first World Cup to be played on African soil.

With the eyes of the footballing world firmly focused on this historic city perched on the southern tip of the continent, it was an evening full of symbolic significance both for Africa and for South Africa, coming as it did just 15 years after the end of the apartheid era.

After a show that featured both traditional and modern African music, the stage was handed over to South African-born Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron who took on the duties of main presenter to be joined on stage later by other sporting celebrities including Beckham.

First, as pre-arranged, out of the seeded Pot 1 were hosts South Africa who will be playing in just their third World Cup and who, at 86th in the world, are the lowest-ranking team in the competition.

They were followed in turn by heavyweights Argentina, England, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil and Spain.

It was then a question of who would go up against them from the three remaining pots which had been carefully assembled to ensure that teams from the same continent would be kept apart as far as possible.

The four Asian qualifiers, three North and Central American teams and minnows New Zealand, representing Oceania, came out of Pot 2. First out was Mexico putting them into the opening match against South Africa in Johannesburg on June 11.

The five remaining African sides and three remaining South Americans were allocated from out of Pot 3 leaving the remaining eight European teams from the final Pot 4.

The latter contained the two most dangerous floaters in the draw - France and Portugal - and when Portugal were flung in with Brazil the atmosphere turned electric in the main auditorium of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Date created : 2009-12-04

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