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By Jonathan Stevenson
2000: Alas, after 480 minutes, it's time to bid you farewell. I hope you have enjoyed this teeny, tiny little taster of what is to come when the 2010 World Cup takes place in South Africa next summer.
It's almost too exciting for words, isn't it?
Tomorrow, Cheesy is back in the chair as the Premier League resumes. Have a brilliant weekend.
1956: Germany coach Joachim Loew expects his side's group to be one of the toughest. "We've got an interesting group. We've played Australia, not long ago at the Confederations Cup. It'll be an important match for us, the opening match I've got a lot of respect for Serbia. They beat France and easily won their group And I wouldn't call Ghana an outsider. They're one of the stronger teams."
1954: Apparently, the odds on England winning the 2010 World Cup have been cut after the draw in Cape Town earlier today. Fabio Capello's men have moved ahead of Brazil in the list of favourites, and now only Spain are considered more likely to lift the trophy on Sunday 11 July.
From RichtheForest on 606:
"Why does everybody rate Argentina so highly?! It baffles me that people predict so much from them after they have consistently shown they are not up to it in the qualifiers."
1948: Ivory Coast manager Vahid Halilhodzic says his team has been handed the "toughest draw". [Portugal and Brazil] are the favourites but we will prepare to create an upset," he tells Eurosport France.
1945: Stevo's Predos in a nutshell...
Second round: France bt Greece; Argentina bt South Africa; England bt Serbia; Germany bt USA; Netherlands bt Slovakia; Denmark bt Italy; Brazil bt Chile; Spain bt Ivory Coast
Quarter-finals: England bt France; Argentina bt Germany; Brazil bt Netherlands; Spain bt Denmark
Semi-finals: Brazil bt England, Spain bt Argentina
World Cup Final: Brazil vs Spain goes to penalties
1942: Before I leave you to enjoy your Friday night, anyone want a special World Cup 2010 edition of Stevo's Predos...?
Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovic: "I can be happy after the draw, we got a good group, the first match (with Algeria) will be the most important and will determine our future. These are opponents that we can beat. England is a favourite but it is positive that we play with them last and that our fate will be determined before that."
1938: See 1740 - I've just shoved all that chat back in, so if you need to read anything from before 1655, please be my guest.
From Steve in Chipping Campden, via text on 81111: "England will win the World Cup by finishing top of their group with nine points! We will then beat Serbia, France, Brazil and Spain on our way to World Cup victory! Wayne Rooney will finish with the Golden Boot and the Government will declare a national holiday! Already counting down to South Africa 2010! Come on England!"
1933: Vicente Del Bosque, coach of European champions Spain, declares himself satisfied after they draw Switzerland, Honduras and Chile. "We can't complain. We can't hide the fact we are one of the favourites to win," he tells Reuters.
1931: Italy coach Marcello Lippi warns against complacency after the World Cup holders draw Paraguay, New Zealand, and Slovakia: "The more you concentrate on easy teams the more they become difficult. We've got to prepare and study these teams and their characteristics," he said.
1929: France coach Raymond Domenech said his team are in a "tough group like the others". "We would have to win at least two games to qualify. It's never easy to play against the host team but it's our third game so by then we could be qualified," he tells Reuters, adding that there were "no so-called groups of death this time".
From philmcnulty on Twitter:
"A draw Capello himself could have picked. Last 16 might be tricky but if England cannot get out of that group they will never live it down."
1924: The exact World Cup kick-off times are still to be confirmed by Fifa, but this is likely to be the schedule for England's group games (all times BST): Sat 12 June - England v USA, 1930 Fri 18 June - England v Algeria, 1930 Wed 23 June - Slovenia v England, 1500
1922: The USA's all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan, a team-mate of David Beckham at LA Galaxy, was upbeat after his side were drawn in England's group. "It could have been worse," said Donovan after watching the draw from New York. "Depending on where I play, playing against Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard is going to be pretty fun. I can't think of a better match-up personally."
1918: World Cup Macca joins the party: "There's been some chat about the potential effects of playing at altitude in South Africa. England's opening game at Rustenburg is at 1500m, then they head down to sea level for their final two group games. If all goes to plan and they win their group it will be back to Rustenburg (1500m), Johannesburg (1753m), Cape Town (sea level) and J'burg (1753m). There could be plenty of ups and downs ahead for Capello's boys."
1915: Carlos Alberto Perreira might know millions more than me about football, but he's wrong about there not being a Group of Death. I mean has he not seen that Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea have been bunched together? About time we crashed out a new graphic, then...
1912: South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira: "When you come to this point, you cannot expect easy games. But there is no 'Group of Death'. There is a good balance between all the groups. Our group is the only one containing two former world champions - France and Uruguay. This group is a challenge and we are going to face it."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "Today's World Cup draw in South Africa is a reminder of how close we are to the start of one of the world's great sporting events. I wish England all the best in their group and I will continue to give all our support to the FA bid team as they put the case for England hosting the World Cup in 2018."
From Alex, Chicago, via text on +44 7786200666: "My wish came true! England vs USA on my wedding day in the US! I'm English and my to be wife is American!!"
From Joe, via text on 81111: "Am I right in thinking that if Brazil and Spain win their groups they can't meet until the final? Mouthwatering." You are right, Joe. Consider my mouth watered
From capricornRookie on 606:
"The easiest of opposition to overcome on paper often turn out to be the most dangerous underdogs on the pitch."
1901: And yet more from the more machine than man that is
BBC Sport's Honest Frank:
"England's travelling army of supporters may find tickets hard to come by for their opener against the United States in Rustenberg on 12 June as the Royal Bafokeng Stadium only has a capacity of 42,000. The second match, against Algeria in Cape Town, will be played at the Green Point Stadium, which holds 70,000. Their group finale against Slovenia in the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, will have a maximum crowd of 48,000."
1900: Australia Coach Pim Verbeek tells the BBC: "It is a very interesting draw. We see it as a big challenge to beat those teams and go through to the next round. I don't think there are any underdogs in this group."
1859: Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz tells the BBC: "Getting Brazil, North Korea and Ivory Cost is something special for us. But I think we have a good chance. Of course, all the groups will be difficult for all the teams."
1857: I can't take credit for this. This is all the work of
BBC Sport's Honest Frank:
"After the opening match in Rustenberg, England will go on their travels. They must make the 861-mile trip (1,385km) to Cape Town for the game against Algeria on 18 June, six days after their opener. They face another 687-mile (1,105km) journey to Port Elizabeth for the final group match on 23 June against Slovenia."
Wolves' United States goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann on BBC Radio 5 live: "I know as an American, everyone loves the Premier League - it is the best in the world to watch. Everyone in the US is going to be really looking forward to this. We know everybody in England. It's a great draw for us, and from England's point of view, it could have been a lot worse. How are the US expected to do? Historically we haven't got big name players but we are used to achieving more than we are expected to."
1854: Bob Bradley, the manager of USA, tells the BBC that the draw is exciting and that he is looking forward to the challenge of playing England. "It's big," he says. "Algeria and Slovenia are teams that maybe aren't the biggest teams in some ways, but came through with great efforts to get here." Asked if he fears England, Bradley says: "No, not at all".
England manager Fabio Capello on their World Cup draw: "It's not bad. We have played against US and Slovenia recently at home, and played well and won but when we have to play here (in South Africa) in June it will be different. Algeria beat Egypt and they are a good team. Every opponent will be strong because when you play in the World Cup, every game is not easy. Are we going to win the World Cup? We have to win it!"
1849: England have won eight of their previous 10 matches against USA, scoring 38 and conceding just nine times. US have won twice, firstly and famously in 1950 when they stunned Walter Winterbottom's team and then in 1993 when they beat Graham Taylor's England at a pre-1994 World Cup tournament in June.
1848: Am I the only one who feels a little bit sad right now? I mean, that was awesome, and it's going to be unbelievable next summer (I cannot stop looking at Group G), but we've still got 188 days, three hours and 12 minutes until it all starts with South Africa v Mexico in Soccer City. What the heck am I gonna do in the meantime?
Cristos from the Netherlands tells the BBC's
World Have Your Say: "I think I like it, it's good for Holland and the Dutch have a better chance to make it to the end. I am more concerned about Cameroon than other teams."
Roberto from Portugal tells the BBC's
World Have Your Say: "Not an easy group, but we can get past Brazil and Ivory Coast."
1842: The opening match of the 2010 World Cup sees Mexico take on South Africa in Johannesburg. "I don't envy the Mexicans who are going to be subject to 90,000 vuvuzelas," said South Africa defender Matthew Booth, referring to the loud horns that Bafana Bafana fans love to use.
1840: This just in from the Press Association: England will play their first match of the 2010 World Cup against the USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday, 12 June. It will be a handy opening for Fabio Capello's men as that is where they intend to base themselves for the five-week tournament.
From Michael, via text on 81111: "Some bloke on the radio thinks Algeria will beat England because Zidane was born there... OK then."
BBC Sport's Honest Frank:
"Bookmakers in the UK reacted to the draw by cutting England's odds to win the World Cup. They are now rated a general 6-1 chance from 7-1 third favourites after being drawn in a group which includes big outsiders Slovenia (175-1) and Algeria (500-1). Brazil, despite a tricky draw, and Spain remain the tournament's leading contenders at 5-1."
BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson on England's World Cup draw: "That couldn't have gone any better. Privately, Fabio Capello will be absolutely delighted with that."
BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer: "Fabio Capello will be sat in his seat in Cape Town, and inside he will be absolutely delighted with that draw. I can see England doing well in all of their group games. I don't think anyone can be anything other than delighted with that - if you'd offered that group to Fabio this morning, he would have bitten your hand off."
1829: England's fixtures: 12 June v USA, Rustenberg 18 June v Algeria, Cape Town 23 June v Slovenia, Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth
England's David Beckham: "It's a very interesting group, you don't get easy games at the World Cup. As a country we're very honoured to be here and very honoured to play a part in such a historical time in South Africa."
1826: This, ladies and gentlemen, is the draw for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa...
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal (New Group of Death)
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana (Group of Death?)
Group C: ENGLAND, United States, Algeria, Slovenia
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group H: Spain, Honduras, Chile
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand
Group E: Netherlands, Japan, Cameroon
Group D: Germany, Australia, Ghana
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay
Group C: ENGLAND, United States, Algeria
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea
1814: So, England's first game at the 2010 World Cup will be against United States - a re-run of the 1950 tie. Fabio's men could play Germany or Australia in the last 16.
Group H: Spain, Honduras
Group G: Brazil, North Korea
Group F: Italy, New Zealand
Group E: Netherlands, Japan
Group D: Germany, Australia
Group C: ENGLAND, United States
Group B: Argentina, South Korea
Group A: South Africa, Mexico (the opening game of the 2010 World Cup)
BBC World Service's Piers Edwards in Cape Town: "A lot of people fancy Ivory Coast and Ghana, but I rather fancy Cameroon to go furthest of the African nations. They are the Germans of African football."
1749 Pot Four: France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia.
1747: Pot Two: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Mexico, Honduras.
1746: Pot One: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, ENGLAND.
1745: The ceremony is gathering pace as the draw nears. A nervous-looking audience raise a chuckle during a short sketch between the presenter and 2010 World Cup mascot Zakumi.
1744: Former South African president Nelson Mandela says in a video message at the draw: "Sport has the power to inspire and unite people. In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people. This is why it is so important that the Fifa World Cup will for the first time ever be hosted on the African Continent in 2010. We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa has been given the singular honour of being the host country."
1741: Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo takes to the stage at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. She treats the audience to a taste of west Africa. Looks like she's miming but impressive all-round performance with the help of 20 or so traditional African dancers. Now here's Hollywood actress Charlize Theron, who insists she is a football fan and has "already bought" her tickets for next summer's finals. "So you'd better do so too," says Charlize.
1740: In five minutes' time, I'm going to strip a lot of chat from this template. You might be wondering why I'm telling you, but it will improve the speed of the updates when the draw is on, and if you really want to find out what I said at 1205, I'll chuck it all back in after the draw.
Former England striker and BBC pundit Alan Shearer on England's World Cup prospects: "It's now time for England to deliver. If we keep Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard fit we will have a chance but we will have to beat Spain and Brazil along the way because they are the best teams in the world. What is stopping us? I don't think the goalkeeping position is settled yet, and a long hard season could take its toll on our players. But Rooney has to be fit and playing well - if he is, I think we have a decent chance."
1736: Addressing the crowds in Cape Town who have gathered to watch the draw on giant TV screens, Fifa president Sepp Blatter says: "Football is emotion, football is passion, football is Africa, South Africa."
From douggie1983 on Twitter:
"I for one think I would be happy to get France rather than these unknown teams. At least we know we can match them."
From no1usa on 606:
"I am going to be at South Africa to sell my Vuvuzelas, I just ordered 20,000 from china at 2.5c/pu... I have a feeling I am not going to be popular with the Europeans or Americans."
1729: BBC Two's coverage is now showing England's 1990 World Cup campaign - probably just so they can blast out Nessun Dorma again. Fair play - it's easily the greatest piece of music ever associated with sport...
BBC Sport's Alan Shearer: "I've got a funny feeling England might get France you know..."
BBC Sport's Jonathan Pearce at the World Cup draw: "Cape Town is absolutely jumping. It's just like an enormous party and the whole of the continent is so proud that South Africa will stage the World Cup next year."
Shudu a South African from Hillbrow, Johannesburg, via text on +44 7786200666: "I'm hoping we get New Zealand again, like we did in the Confed Cup. That seems to be our best chance of progressing to the next round..."
1717: God bless BBC Two for showing Diego Maradona's second goal in the 1986 quarter-final - I will never, ever be able to watch that moment of genius enough. When I was five, I didn't get to see it - dad had told me and my brother to go and play in the garden after the Hand of God four minutes earlier. Cheers dad.
1714: Uh-oh, it all kicked off in Cape Town earlier. US bid leaders reacted with fury after Luis Figo's arrival interrupted their video presentation of the their campaign for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The arrival of Figo, bid ambassador for the rival Spain/Portugal bid, led to a rush of reporters and photographers leaving the USA's video right in the middle of the presentation. "It was totally ruined," said Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber.
1711: If you manually refresh this page, at the top of your screen live coverage of the World Cup draw will appear. The programme officially starts at 1715 GMT on BBC Two and online (UK only).
1700: The BBC's Richard Connelly in Cape Town: "A crowd of around 15,000 people are expected to watch the draw on a big screen in the city. Local musicians are performing, and all around are fans blowing their vuvuzelas (air horns), and wearing beach clothes because the weather is so hot. Paramedics are standing by in case someone drinks too much - and there are a quite few candidates."
From Pearcesport on Twitter:
"Raymond Domenech in his seat. Snapper takes photo. But snapper then takes hold of Domenech's pass. Was checking who he was. RD laughed."
1655: There is approximately one hour to go until the draw for the World Cup finals.
1650: Apparently, the new World Cup football (see 1557) is the first perfectly round ball and most accurate yet. Must be hard to sell a ball, huh? "It's the tool of our trade and we want the best," said former England captain David Beckham. "Any good football player would be able to control any ball, but it's good to have a little bit of help."
The Football Association's director of Football Development Trevor Brooking on the BBC News Channel: "In pot four, France and Portugal have been mentioned as being difficult but Serbia look pretty tough too. In pot two, the US and Australia would be tricky and Ivory Coast and Ghana are both good sides too. So, in pot three, a South American side might be more favourable than an African one. But, as Fabio Capello has already said, whoever you play, it is going to be tough. How will England do? This is a very good England side. After Brazil and Spain, England are in the next class. If we have got everyone fit, we will be tough to beat - a lot of countries will be looking to avoid us today."
1644: More newspaper chat - this time the foreign press courtesy of World Cup David: "World media previewing the draw have inevitably focused on the favourites for the World Cup, the majority plumping for Spain, Brazil and Italy.
Miguel Herguedas of El Mundo
says the European Champions are trying to play down their chances, fearful of another premature World Cup exit. As for the outsiders,
Andrew Warshaw writes on ESPN.com
that there is growing concern that South Africa may become the first host nation to get eliminated before the knockout phase.
says the Socceroos are disappointed that they have been placed in the weakest pot, while
says the seeded teams are all afraid that they will draw France.
In the New York Times, Jere Longman
says there will be inevitable conspiracy theories after the draw, with television networks "seeking evidence of plots and schemes, as if this were a sporting equivalent of the Zapruder film" showing JFK's death."
From usa2010champs on 606:
"The England players right now are trembling with fear that they will be placed in the US group. If that happens, it will be just like 1950, except 4-0 this time in favour of the stars and stripes." Haha, I just almost wet myself laughing. Almost
1639: Football Association director of communications Adrian Bevington has been speaking on the red carpet. He warns England fans that buying tickets for next summer's finals on the black market could end in big trouble. Describing the demand for official tickets as "incredible",
Bevington recommends we keep an eye on the Fifa website early next week
as world football's governing body are due to release more tickets for the tournament. By then, of course, the draw and fixture list will be complete.
The Football Association's director of Football Development Trevor Brooking in Cape Town for his first World Cup draw, speaking on the BBC News Channel: "More than anything it is great to see Fabio Capello recognising the other managers and listening to their little exchanges. It's getting quite exciting here now, with the draw not far away. There is a lot of anticipation - from a South African point of view, the atmosphere in Cape Town on the waterfront is already fantastic and there will be a big party tonight too, celebrating the draw."
1635: Just a quick reminder on how to get in touch today:
Tweet me up,send those texts to 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666 (the rest of the world) and
join in the fun on 606 as well.
There's not much more than an hour to go, you know...
George, from Texas, via text on +44 7786200666: "I'm in class, our prof is preparing us for finals next week. But me, I'm constantly checking my phone for the draw!!!! I feel 10 again!!! World Cup draw, more exciting than Christmas!!! Come on Spain!!! England semi-finals vs Dutch, out on penalties. Final - Spain vs Dutch 3-1." Possibly an exclamation mark world record. Brilliant
Alan Hansen on England's World Cup hopes:
"I think England have got major problems - obviously in goal, at centre-forward and now at centre-back too, so right down the spine of the team. Unless they can eradicate those problems, it's very difficult to see how they can go on and win the World Cup."
BBC Sport's Honest Frank:
"What are the odds on England winning the World Cup for the first time in 44 years? Bookmakers in the UK rate them around 7-1 third favourites behind joint leading contenders Brazil and Spain at 5-1. The fourth favourites are Argentina, who are just 10-1 despite a stuttering qualification campaign, while hosts South Africa are 125-1 outsiders. Of course, the draw could change all that..."
Alan Shearer on David Beckham:
"I would take him for his experience. I don't think I'd start him in games, but he's a wise old head to come on in games when that experience is needed. I still think he has the ability to offer England something. Up until someone actually comes in and proves they are better than him, then I think there will always be a place for him."
1601: There are less than two hours to go until the draw for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. If I go quiet, it's because I'm
watching the Top 10 World Cup goals of all time
for the 75th time this week. Cheesy's fuming that Dennis Bergkamp's goal in only number six and it's hard to disagree. Also, where's the Dutch goal against Serbia last time around?
1557: The new World Cup match ball unveiled by Adidas is called the "jabulani", which means "to celebrate" in Zulu. There are 11 different colours on the ball, which represent the 11 players on the field for each team. It is also the 11th official Adidas World Cup match ball, and there are 11 official languages in South Africa.
From Ricki, Brighton, via text on 81111: "Just
watching the England highlights
has got me optimistic again about our chances, especially after the Brazil game. We destroyed a good Croatia side when it mattered and barring a group of death, I think England fans should look forward to a final come the summer."
1550: Pot Four: France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia.
1548: Pot Two: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Mexico, Honduras.
1547: Pot One: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, ENGLAND.
1545: Is it time for a reminder of the pots again?
1544: (By the way, please manually refresh, because otherwise, for some unexplainable reason, the video will not work) I've lost myself in memories this week - is that the best place to lose yourself? Must've watched the video of the 'Top 10 World Cup Goals' about 74 times and I always get goosebumps right the way through.
Top tingle moments: Dennis Bergkamp's control from another planet; Josimar's crazy wrists; and the first three touches from Diego Armando Maradona that really should mean number two is number one. It's nothing more than opinion, but it's quite simply the greatest goal ever scored.
1540: I HAVE A LIVE TELEVISION FEED OF THE STAGE IN CAPE TOWN. Just thought I'd mention it, that's all. It looks majestic.
1538: We mentioned it earlier, but the actress Charlize Theron, who is co-hosting the World Cup draw, reportedly pulled out a ball and said "Ireland" instead of "France" during rehearsals on Friday. Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke stressed that it was 'only a joke'.
1535: Meanwhile in South Africa, Cape Town has been transformed into carnival city as thousands of supporters hit the Long Street fan fest for one gigantic party.
From Tafara, Kenya, via text on +44 7786200666: "Wish Fifa could have a World Cup of weak football nations where my country Zimbabwe can also feature. That said, my hope is with Ivory Coast - they have one of the most feared strikers in the World in Didier Drogba and they can do well against any team they in the draw."
1515: World Cup Macca: "So we've heard all about the stars on
show for tonight's big draw
, but you probably want to know a little bit more about what exactly is happening and when. Here's some of the highlights (all times GMT): 1700: Fifa's opening sequence, followed by a warm welcome from the top of Table Mountain. 1705: Message from Nelson Mandela. 1716: Trophy hand over. 1742: The official match ball is revealed. 1755: The draw is scheduled to begin. 1823: End of draw, followed by analysis."
From madtownblue on 606:
"Never seen this much interest here in the US for the draw. Barring an completely disastrous draw, I like the Yanks' chances of making the round of 16."
1505: The head of the South African World Cup organising committee, Danny Jordaan, says his country is ready to host the finals. "This is the end of a long dream and the beginning of a new dream. Today as we say welcome to this trophy, we announce the death of doubt. There can no longer be any doubt."
1502: Fifa has
a top World Cup website, so feel free to check it out.
It's got chat, stats, facts - everything you might need. Apparently, 19.3 million fans attended the biggest qualification campaign of all time, while 5,602 players took part and 2,344 goals were scored in 853 games. It goes on, trust me.
From Dan, via text on +44 7786200666: "Following you from an international school in Canada with students from most of the 32 countries with us. All very excited. PS North Korea vs South Korea quarter-final?"
From Pearcesport on Twitter:
"Chef of media restaurant is my hero of day. Kitchen closed but he's making me sandwich. Only problem is he's made me hide in the corner."
1450: As luck would have it, the world will not see North Korea face South Korea or the United States in the group stage, because they are all in the same pot. The US famously lost to another of its longtime geopolitical rivals, Iran, in the 1998 World Cup. North Korea will be the second-lowest ranked country in the draw, after hosts South Africa.
My nephew Nathan, via email: "Uncle Jonty, I'm sure this World Cup draw is important, but have you got my Christmas present yet? PS I'd really like a Forest half-season ticket for me and my dad, if you're short of ideas."
BBC Sport football pundit Mark Lawrenson on the BBC News Channel about England being paired with Australia three times in the dress rehearsals for today's World Cup draw: "I don't think Australia would be a particularly good draw for England - most of the Australian players in the Premier League know the England players pretty well. But I think England will get a group where you will think 'they will be OK', then they will draw their first game and you will think 'hmmm, maybe not'. England should reach the semi-finals but the big issue for them will be altitude. You need so many days to adjust to that and I think how they will get on next summer will rely as much on where they have to play as where they choose to have their training base."
1438: We're very lucky to have some brilliant regulars to the live texts - crikey, we even had some top chat during
Fulham 1-0 CSKA Sofia in the Europa League last night.
That's what you call hardcore. But it'd be fantastic to get some others involved today and in the lead-up to South Africa 2010. So, regulars, this is your challenge today: spread the word of the World Cup and get your family and friends to join in the fun. I'm fully expecting my nephew to get stuck in, and he's only three.
England World Cup legend Peter Shilton: "France and Portugal are well-known countries in world football but sometimes in the game the unknown is the big danger and there are obviously quite a few unknowns in there."
From Sidler28 on Twitter:
"Give us France, give us the Aussies and any other sporting nemesis we can get. And give the Spanish Portugal and USA."
1428: A reminder that the draw is expected to start at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town at about 1745 GMT. In the meantime, why not watch highlights of how
qualified for the World Cup finals?
England manager Fabio Capello in Cape Town, asked on BBC Radio 5 live if next summer's World Cup finals will be the biggest test of his management career?: "To be a manager of England is really important and I know the expectation of the fans. And when we will be here, there will be a different pressure - it will be really, really strong."
BBC Sports news correspondent
in Cape Town: "There is real excitement in Cape Town ahead of the draw, partly from locals who are looking forward so much to next year's tournament, but also from those here as invited guests, particularly the coaches of the 32 teams to have qualified. I spoke to England manager Fabio Capello this morning and he seemed fairly relaxed. I'm sure he will be a bit more nervous when the draw is made later."
1405: Danny the Stat would love this chat that has just dropped on our wires: A study by Adidas shows that altitude at the World Cup will have an impact of up to five percent on a ball's speed. A free-kick from 20 yards during the final at the Soccer City Stadium in high-altitude Johannesburg will reach the goal line five percent faster than it would at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in sea-level Durban. Goalkeepers beware.
From Rich, Bristol, via text on 81111: "I want to have Portugal in our group. That way, we can only go to penalties with them in the final."
Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana Football Association, talks to BBC Radio 5 live about the Black Stars' chances of lifting the World Cup trophy next summer: "Ghana is capable of winning the World Cup, we have a very formidable team with most of our boys playing in Europe. These are tried and tested players who are able to face any challenge anywhere. At the 2006 finals, Ghana could have gone further in the tournament (they lost in the second round) but for a lack of experience, as well as confidence that we could do it. But, having gone through our first World Cup, I think we have enough experience now, which can push us very far and put us in contention for the ultimate title."
1357: There are qualifying highlights for your delectation
if you click on this link right here.
A word to the wise, though - the South American teams' campaigns are for UK users only and the African qualifiers are only stills. Oh and if you refresh, you'll see them gloriously lined up down the right-hand side of this very page. Feast away.
1347: Speak of the devil... here's Cameroon legend Roger Milla himself, who played for the Indomitable Lions in three World Cup finals, on the chances of seeing an African winner in 2010: "We have six good African teams in the World Cup - if they have good organisation and really good preparation there will be a big surprise from the African teams here. Today football has become simple for everyone so even an African team has the ability to win the tournament. The proof is that Ghana won the recent Under-20 World Cup, while Nigeria reached the Under-17 final, so Africa can definitely contest the World Cup final itself. The African teams just need good preparation."
Roger Milla dances around the corner flag after a goal at Italia 90
1344: There will be all sorts of celebrities and famous football-type people at the World Cup draw today. Check out this list: Charlize Theron, Desmond Tutu, FW de Clerk, Haile Gebrselassie, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Eusebio, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Ruud Gullit, Makhaya Ntini and John Smit. Oh, and a certain Roger Milla will also be present, which is a brilliant excuse to crash out a photo of him dancing around a corner flag at the 1990 World Cup.
1340: My colleague Matt has just missived me England's best/worst case scenario, statistically. Here they are...
England's Group of Life: North Korea, Ghana, Slovakia.
England's Group of Death: United States, Cameroon, Portugal.
1337: Fifa has sent us a statement on the security issue this morning. The world governing body said it received a hoax threat, evacuated and swept the area and arrested a foreign journalist after an investigation. The area was declared safe and the item found was not explosive. Also, an individual was earlier arrested at the airport in Cape Town after making two hoax calls. "This is an indication of the capacity we have to immediately identify these mischief makers and bring them to book," said the statement."
BBC Sports news correspondent
in Cape Town: "The pot that England manager Fabio Capello will fear the most is Pot Four, which contains all the unseeded European teams - including France and Portugal. In the latest practice draw, England were put in the same group as Australia, Slovakia and Cameroon - Capello would probably be quite happy with that. This is a massive day for South Africa too of course, with an estimated TV audience of around 200m people watching around the world, and this is a chance for South Africa to whet our appetites for what is to come next summer."
From Owen, Dublin, via text on 81111: "As an Irishman I'm still interested to see who gets who. Hope England do well, they are the players I've watched on MOTD since I was a wee lad and wishing I had Liam Brady's left foot! And hard as it may be to say, but good luck to the French as well - after all, they did give us Platini and Zidane."
1318: Coming up, a text that encapsulates the spirit of the World Cup. It really does, you know...
1312: Pot Two: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Mexico, Honduras.
1311: Pot One: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, ENGLAND.
1309: Wow, dunno what happened back at 1302. If you refresh, it should all be OK now. Right then - hands up at the back of the class, has anyone already forgotten
who's qualified for the World Cup?
If you got all 32, there's a bonus point if you can remember the eight seeded teams. Coming up, those four pots in full...
From henrywinter on Twitter:
"South Africans have banned sale of vuvuzuelas, noisy horns beloved by locals, in lead-up to draw. Pity. Local customs should apply."
1304: David Beckham tells the BBC that England are not wary of anybody: "As a nation you should never fear another country - you have to respect the other countries, but you can never be scared of anybody. At this point if come up against some of the best countries in the world and some of the best players in the world, then if you want to go far in a competition, you have to beat these teams."
1302: It would be remiss of me not to point you in the direction of some fabulous content on our site revolving around the World Cup. I might mention this a few times - a chat with some BBC Sport pundits about England's hopes at the tournament.
Here's Lee Dixon on Fabio Capello: "I think he's done a brilliant job, the qualification was virtually faultless. He's instilled a discipline in the team, they know who the boss is and they look forward to training, which is a great frame of mind to be in. He's given us a great opportunity to do well in the forthcoming World Cup."
1259: It could be an omen - and it could mean nothing at all. But, in the three dress rehearsals for today's draw, England have been paired with Australia three times. The last time England played the Socceroos,
they lost 3-1 in a friendly at Upton Park in 2003 -
Australia's first ever win over the English (at football).
From Kundi, via text on +44 7786200666: "Finally! An international text number! My name is Kundi and I'm from South Africa, Johannesburg. I'm especially excited cos I've got three tickets to the World Cup and want to know the teams I'll get to watch. Oh,
plus South Africa will level the ODI series today."
1252: I've just been told this is the first ever World Cup that has no debutants, which is a brilliant fact. For those Slovakian/Serbian pedants amongst you, I'm sticking with it. It's also got every single past World Cup winner in the mixer. I'm so excited I keep having to remind myself to breathe.
1248: Charlize Theron, the South Africa-born actress who will co-host the draw, says that holding the World Cup will be a "magical moment" for her country. "I think everyone who is South African is so proud at this moment and glad to be alive at this period in our history,"
the Oscar-winner told Fifa.com.
1243: The Ivory Coast are considered Africa's best hope for next summer by many pundits. Their captain, Chelsea's Didier Drogba, told the BBC: "I'm excited, but I'm also a little bit scared. In the last World Cup, we faced Argentina, Holland and Serbia, so it was really difficult." He said facing England this time would be "not good at all, because they are strong and have a big chance to go far".
From BaldwinBoy5 on 606:
"In the practice draw Charlize Theron pulled out France and read out Ireland. Beautiful and hilarious. The perfect woman?"
1233: Many South Africans are said to be worried about their team's prospects. Currently ranked 86th in the world, they have won just one match out of 11 since June, against Madagascar. But Mark Fish, the former South African captain, told the BBC he wants the supporters to be positive. "It's important that we just get behind our national team. The team hasn't changed much, it's still the same players - I think the commitment has just changed," he said.
From El_MUERkO on Twitter:
"I'd love England to get France and then stuff them so badly that Platini's hair falls out... can you tell I'm Irish?"
From Benjabi on 606:
"I'm in Copenhagen with a German, a Spaniard and of course some Danes. All watching with interest. Why the hell have you started the live updates five hours before it starts?"
From DinefwrShark, via text on 81111: "Just spotted Rafael van der Vaart outside Goodison Park... have I got the right day?"
1221: Let's see what you've got for starters, then...
1216: There's an added boost, too, for those of you who are keen to add an international flavour to proceedings. If you're outside the UK, you can send your texts to +44 7786 200666 and we will receive them as we will the 81111 ones from the UK. Happy days.
1214: I know I say this every time, but it has rarely been so important that you get in touch with the main event still easily five-plus hours away. Is my desperation too obvious? These, my friends, are the ways for you to missive your thoughts:
1209: Good, because there's another 340-odd minutes before the draw even gets under way - and we know how these things can be dragged out by now. Cape Town is our venue, there are a host of celebrities involved, and by this evening, the world will have gone wallchart mental.
to the Fifa website,
there are 188 days, nine hours and 55 minutes to go until the World Cup kicks off in South Africa on 11 June. Today, we will find out the eight groups of four, but not until about 1745 GMT. Can you wait just a little bit longer?
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