We are now just minutes away from the grouping draw for World Cup 2010. Millions of people will watch from across the world and we will be with you every step of the way to comment on the drama that unfolds. If you are by a TV you can watch live on ESPN2. In not, stay with us as we will continually keep you updated on proceedings.
9:30 am: The excitement has nearly reached its climax. The traditional African dance and song is nice, but lets get to the pots!
9:35 am: Chelsea fan Charlize Theron takes the stage and expresses her South African pride, but strangely she sounds completely American.
9:40 am: Zakumi the official leopard mascot of the World Cup 2010 shyly takes the stage.
9:45 am: Ke Nako, means “It’s Time” to get started! Charlize holds the official match ball “jabulani”. It really is a stunningly beautiful soccer ball.
9:55 am: The president of the organizing committee has the microphone, but is speaking French. People clap, but both Charlize and the rest of us non French speakers are clueless. We are now being explained how the draw will take place. Eight top seeds are top ranked in each group. The remaining 24 teams are split into three pots based on geographic location.
10:00 am: The famous African athletes who will be helping with the draw are being introduced including marathon runners, rugby players, and footballers.
10:05 am: The draw has began with South Africa to Group A. Argentina to Group B. England to Group C. Germany to Group D. Netherlands to Group E. Italy is in Group F and will play their first match in Cape Town. Group G’s top seed is Brazil. Spain rounds things out in Group H.
10:08 am: Mexico lucks out drawing South Africa in Group A. The host of the 2002 World Cup Korea Republic will face Argentina in Group B. USA WILL FACE ENGLAND in Group C. What a draw! Australia will face the Germans in Group D. Group E will see Japan face Netherlands for the first time ever. New Zealand’s second trip to the World Cup will see them face Cup holders Italy in Group F. North Korea will face soccer powerhouse Brazil in Group G. The final team from pot 2 is Honduras to face Spain in Group H.
10:15 am: Things get complicated now because of the rules of the draw keeping teams from the same region from matching up in the group stage. Nigeria will be placed in Group B with Argentina and Korea due to South Africa already being in Group A. Ivory Coast has been drawn to Group G with North Korea and Brazil. Algeria has been drawn into Group C with USA and England. The draw is setting up quite well so far for the USA!!!!!! Uruguay has been drawn to face hosts South Africa and Mexico in Group A. Cameroon to Group E, with Netherlands and Japan. Paraguay will join Italy and New Zealand in Group F. Chile seems to get a tough draw with fellow Spanish speaking countries Spain and Honduras.
10:20 am: On to pot 4 to finish out each group. France has luckily drawn into Group A. Group B sees Greece added to Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea. Finishing out Group C with USA, England and Algeria is Slovenia. Serbia will join Group D to play Germany Australia and Ghana. Denmark and Nicklas Bendtner will face Netherlands, Japan and Cameroon. Now who will face the defending champs? It is Slovakia to face Italy, Paraguay and New Zealand. Possible Group of Death? Portugal joins Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea in Group G. The last team drawn is Switzerland joining Spain, Honduras and Chile in Group H.
WOW what a whirlwind of events. Upon first glance there doesn’t seem to be any blaring “Group of Death” except maybe Group G with Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal. The USA looks to have been gifted a relatively easy road to the knockout stages if they can handle their business with the 28th and 33rd ranked teams in the world, Algeria and Slovenia.
We will have more reaction to come regarding today’s draw.