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England manager Fabio Capello happy with World Cup draw

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England's group 'not so bad' - Capello

England coach Fabio Capello is pleased with his side's draw for the group stage of the 2010 World Cup finals but is not expecting any easy matches.

The United States, Algeria and Slovenia are England's opponents in Group C.

Capello told BBC Sport: "It's not so bad. We've played the US and Slovenia at home, and played well and won.

"But when we have to play here in June it will be different. Algeria beat Egypt and they have a really good team now. Every opponent will be strong."

England are ninth in Fifa's world rankings, with the United States ranked 14th, Algeria 28th and Slovenia 33rd.

Capello's side begin their campaign in South Africa against the US in Rustenburg on 12 June, then play Algeria in Cape Town on 18 June and Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on 23 June.

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They have never met Algeria before but have played the US and Slovenia in friendlies during Capello's two-year reign as national boss, beating the US 2-0 in May 2008 and overcoming Slovenia 2-1 in September of this year.

England hope to set up a friendly against Egypt, who lost out to rivals Algeria in a play-off to reach the World Cup, on 3 March 2010.

"I think it's a nice choice to know the style of these North African players," said Capello.

The venue of England's first group game is 1500m above sea level, and close to their planned World Cup base at the Bafokeng Sports Campus but, for their next two games, Capello's men will have to travel further afield.

They must make the 861-mile (1,385 km) trip to Cape Town for the game against Algeria six days after their opening fixture and face another 687-mile (1,105 km) journey to Port Elizabeth to face Slovenia.

But if England win Group C, they have the added incentive of returning to Rustenburg for their second-round match when they would face the runners-up in Group D, which contains Germany, Serbia, Australia and Ghana.

Mabbutt tips England to triumph

Capello added: "It's good we don't have to move from the place we will be staying at for our first game. But the US are a good team, they always play very well in the World Cup.

"Then we play our last two group games at sea level - which will be different. It will be more humid and windy, but we still have to win and have to go forward. You have to respect all the teams.

"I remember our game against Slovenia very well because in the second half we suffered because Slovenia are a team with really good organisation and their style is to play with a lot of passes. Technically they are very good."

England captain John Terry, who watched the draw in Manchester ahead of Chelsea's Premier League game at Manchester City on Saturday, is already looking forward to his side's opening group game against the US.

Terry told the FA's website: "As far as England are concerned we are familiar with two of our opponents - the US and Slovenia - and know their players well. Hopefully this will help us prepare for those games.

"But for me, it's all about that first game and getting off to a good start. Every team's opening group match is important and we're no different - it's a big game."

Former England striker Alan Shearer feels that, privately, Capello will be delighted with the draw, explaining: "Fabio will have a broad smile and quietly, will be very confident. I can see England doing well in all of their group games.

"If you'd offered that group to Fabio this morning, he would have bitten your hand off. Everyone will be talking now that England have got a great group but it really does look good for them - they should qualify.

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"In the later rounds, looking at the teams England could play next, then that will be a little bit tougher as you'd expect but, overall, it's been a very, very pleasing day for Capello."

If England progress from Group C, they will play one of the top two in Group D - which contains Germany, Serbia, Ghana or Australia - for a place in the quarter-finals.

Asked if England could win the World Cup, Capello replied with a smile: "We have to win."

Shearer feels England have an excellent chance of progressing deep into the tournament, adding: "The pressure starts now - the easy bit was qualifying, now comes the hard bit.

"A lot of managers have done what Fabio has done and failed at the finals - but he seems different and, dare I say it, we're not going to have a better chance.

"Capello has instilled a fear factor and confidence in England that hasn't been there for a while. If England have all their players firing and fit - particularly Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard - we have a good chance of winning it."

Depending on where I play, playing against Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in a midfield against those guys is going to be pretty fun

US star Landon Donovan

England's only previous meeting with the United States at a World Cup finals saw the US clinch a shock 1-0 win in Brazil in 1950.

Asked if he feared England, US coach Bob Bradley told BBC Sport: "No, not at all. What is it like to play them first? It's big. It's exciting to start the World Cup by playing England."

And the US's all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan, a team-mate of England star David Beckham at Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy, welcomed the draw.

"It could have been worse," Donovan said after watching the draw from New York. "Depending on where I play, playing against Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in a midfield against those guys is going to be pretty fun. I can't think of a better match-up personally."

Wolves' former United States goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann added on BBC Radio 5 live: "I know as an American, everyone there 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 all the English players. 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."

Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovic, who plays for German side FC Koln, is also confident of making progress, saying: "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."

Algeria are regarded as the weakest of the five African teams at the tournament but qualified for their first finals since Mexico in 1986 by beating Egypt in a play-off.

Algeria coach Rabah Saadane
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane has already managed at the World Cup

Capello may travel to the Cup of Nations in January to watch them.

The Desert Foxes are managed by Rabah Saadane, who was in charge of the 1986 side who achieved a creditable draw with Northern Ireland.

Saadane said: "It's a group that gives England and the USA an advantage.

"England are now a team that can go far in the World Cup because they've always had individual quality but now they have got rigour thanks to their Italian coach Capello."

Saadane insisted Algeria would not fear England striker Rooney, but respected him.

"As for Rooney it's not so much that we're afraid of him - he's just one of a heap of excellent players. England are as good nowadays defensively as in attack, they are very balanced," he said.



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see also
World Cup draw & reaction as it happened
04 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
England enjoy kind World Cup draw
04 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup 2010 group draw and fixtures
04 Dec 09 |  Football
Chronological World Cup fixtures
05 Dec 09 |  Football
Inside South Africa's Soccer City
03 Dec 09 |  Business
England's road to World Cup 2010
09 Sep 09 |  Football
World Cup map
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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