CAPE TOWN (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'.
"It's the most difficult of the groups," Brazilian midfield star Kaka told Spanish TV. "The Group of Death."
"But that's okay we just have to do our job."
England coach Fabio Capello had reason to be happy as his men drew a relatively lightweight trio of the United States, Algeria and Slovenia.
Ironically it was David Beckham, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, that 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.
"It's an even group, we've already played against the United States and Slovenia and struggled," Capello told Italian TV.
"Algeria will be dangerous not least given what they did to Egypt. The first game will be tough as the US will have far more time than us to prepare.
"I remember some groups that looked easy in the draw and then proved to be anything but. Like all World Cup matches they won't be easy but we have to win if we want to advance."
Hosts South Africa were given a tough assignment, getting 1998 winners France, Central America powerhouse Mexico and Uruguay.
"We have landed the hosts and that is never easy. We will be playing away from home," French coach Raymond Domenech said.
"The groups are well balanced though. There really isn't a Group of Death as such this time around."
Group B has Diego Maradona's Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria and Greece, with Germany, Australia, Ghana and Serbia making up an open Group D.
German team manager Oliver Bierhoff said: "We are glad we did not draw France or Portugal, but Australia, Serbia and Ghana will also not be easy.
Coach Joachim Loew agreed: "We are quite happy with this draw, it's an interesting group."
The Netherlands fared well getting Japan, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E. defending champions Italy also blew a sigh of relief bagging New Zealand, Paraguay and rookies Slovakia in Group F while in the final Group H, European champions Spain go up against Honduras, Chile and Switzerland.
Italian coach Marcello Lippi though warned that appearances can be deceptive.
"The more you think a group will be easy the more difficult it becomes," he said.
"I'm neither satisfied nor upset. They are all difficult opponents but then we will also cast an eye on the (possible) second round and quarter-final (opponents)."
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 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.
|Sevilla reject director´s request to leave|
|Austria 2 Malta 1: Arnautovic and Schopf seal warm-up win|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Belarus 2: O´Neill´s side beaten in final Euros warm-up|
|Argentina not pulling out of Copa America - AFA chief|
|Halilovic left out of final Croatia squad|
|Eder included in Italy squad as Jorginho misses out|
|Luxembourg 1 Nigeria 3: Iheanacho strikes again for Super Eagles|
|Stuttgart midfielder Maxim among five cut from Romania´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Buffon: Italy not among Euro 2016 favourites|
|Lucas replaces injured Rafinha in Brazil Copa squad|
|PSG confirm Aurier will face trial after police altercation|
|Rosicky included in final Czech Republic squad for Euro 2016|
|Ireland 1-2 Belarus: O'Neill's men's Euro 2016 preparations take a blow|
|Reus snub ´unbelievably difficult´ - Howedes|
|AFA holding meeting to discuss Copa withdrawal|
|England v Portugal: Santos confident despite Ronaldo absence|
|Isco, Saul out of Spain Euro 2016 squad|
|Florentino Perez touts revamp of Champions League format|
|Hazard headlines Belgium squad for Euro 2016|
|Zinchenko handed Ukraine call-up|
|Morata: Improving on Spain´s Euro feats is impossible|
|Injured duo return to make Hungary Euro 2016 squad|
|Mourinho: I will not be distracted by Guardiola battle|
|Ledley passed fit for Wales Euro 2016 squad|
|Turan, Sahin and Calhanoglu lead Turkey´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Shevchenko tells AC Milan to sign Yarmolenko|
|Rashford, Sturridge make England´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Schweinsteiger set for return to Germany training|
|Pato: I expected more games at Chelsea|
|Real Madrid may go for Pogba - Perez|
|World Cup Qualifying Review: New Zealand march on|
|Carvajal furious at missing Euro 2016|
|Mkhitaryan in no rush to sign Borussia Dortmund renewal|
|Pele to auction off memorabilia|
|Reus left out of Germany´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Blind determined to fight for his place under Mourinho|
|Aulas open to PSG bid for Lacazette|
|Giroud does not understand France booing|
|Four places up for grabs as Del Bosque closes on final Spain squad|
|Messi tax trial begins in Barcelona|
|Hart: England can be surprise package at Euro 2016|
|Ancelotti will not push out Gotze - Khedira|
|Ibrahimovic hints at Malmo return|
|Depay not blaming Van Gaal for his Manchester United struggles|
|Deschamps unhappy with ´unfair´ Giroud boos|
|Juventus adamant no Olympics for Dybala|
|Navas ruled out of Copa America|
|Iniesta: Madrid will be disappointed not to win La Liga|
|Messi on track in recovery|
|Morata: I want to succeed at Madrid, but would consider Premier League|
|Lewandowski headlines expected Poland squad|
|France boss Deschamps ´surprised´ by Cameroon performance|
|Payet: I´m expected to score every free-kick now|
|Bashful Rami admits to mistakes against Cameroon|
|Peseiro to leave Porto|
|France 3 Cameroon 2: Payet stunner snatches victory|
|Laxalt for Rodriguez in Uruguay´s Copa squad|
|Guingamp unveil Kombouare as new head coach|
|Real Madrid confirm Achilles problem for Navas|
|Wilmots´ woes worsen as Belgium lose Lombaerts, Boyata|
|Marotta: Juventus optimistic on Dani Alves deal|
|Berlusconi: I courted Guardiola at Barcelona|
|Berlusconi: Donnarumma not for sale, even for €80m|
|Ginola back at home following heart surgery|
|Departing City boss Pellegrini could quit management|
|Ayestaran prepared to fight to keep Gomes at Valencia|
|Sagna hopes to remain at City under Guardiola|
|France 3-2 Cameroon: Payet nets dramatic late winner for Euro 2016 hosts|
|Roma complete permanent Rudiger deal|
|Senderos left out of final Switzerland squad for Euro 2016|
|AFC Wimbledon 2 Plymouth Argyle 0: Dons reach the third tier|
|Spain v South Korea: Pedro wants goalscoring momentum|
|Reus demands Dortmund transfers|
|Poland v Netherlands: Lewandowski out to make the most of set pieces|
|Low still waiting on Germany fitness news|
|Juanfran promises Champions League success in heartfelt letter to fans|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Skriniar joins Skrtel, Hamsik in Slovakia squad|
|Scholl: Gotze and Lewandowski dealings strange|
|Terry: Chelsea must learn from mistakes and fight for trophies again|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Injury comeback on track, says Germany´s Khedira|
|Victor Sanchez sacked by Depor|
|Rashford signs Manchester United renewal|
|Sturridge resumes England training|
|Pellegrini rues decision to go public with Guardiola appointment|
|Luxembourg v Nigeria: Yusuf set for latest audition|
|Icardi, Perisic not for sale at any price - Inter|
|Carvajal to miss Euro 2016, replaced by Bellerin|
|Terry certain of Mourinho success at Manchester United|
|Pirlo not bitter towards Conte over Euro 2016 snub|
|Dortmund rule out Sokratis exit amid Atletico Madrid links|
|Barcelona revert to tradition with new kit|
|Robben and Ribery in line for Bayern renewals|
|King backs Wales to ´do a Leicester´ at Euro 2016|
|Deschamps: Zidane´s Champions League win is amazing|
|Pulido rescued by Mexican authorities|
|Alaves secure La Liga promotion|
|Gabriel´s childhood dream becomes a reality|
|Mexico v Chile: Vidal set for return|
|Boateng left ´sad´ after politician´s controversial comments|
|Mooy undecided on future|
|Gotze not concentrated on club future|
|Panama 0 Brazil 2: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Postecoglou pleased with additions ahead of Greece clashes|
|Panama 0-2 Brazil: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Ter Stegen laments ´unlucky´ error in Germany defeat|
|Santos hoping for Portugal improvement ahead of Euro 2016|
|Ronaldo dismisses critics after Champions League win|
|Uruguayan side complete Leicester-style championship win|
|New York City 2 Orlando City 2: Molino salvages late point|
|Colombia 3 Haiti 1: Cuadrado helps Pekerman´s side to win|
|Strachan hits out at wayward passing|
|Conte focusing on positives after Scotland victory|
|Colombia 3-1 Haiti: Cuadrado helps Pekerman's side to win|