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.
|Los Angeles Galaxy 4 DC United 1: Arena´s side show quality|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: River Plate, Libertad among teams to progress|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Pachuca in seventh heaven, Leon held|
|LDU Quito 3 Deportivo Quito 0: Hosts earn bragging rights against rivals|
|Johnson calm over future|
|Kiessling hails Leverkusen|
|Benitez: Mistakes cost Napoli Champions League spot|
|K. League Preview: Seoul eyeing winning streak|
|Liga MX Preview: Monterrey looking to build momentum|
|Valverde hails ´historic day´ for Bilbao|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Mixed results for Europe´s big guns, Moti the hero for Ludogorets|
|Atletico announce Velazquez capture|
|Giroud set for lengthy absence - Wenger|
|Holders City handed home clash with Wednesday|
|La Liga Preview: Saul not worried by Simeone absence, Barca face tough Villarreal test|
|Eto´o retires from Cameroon duty|
|Aston Villa 0 Leyton Orient 1: Late Vincelot winner sends underdogs through|
|Birmingham City 0 Sunderland 3: Late strikes stun hosts|
|Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0 (1-0 agg): Alexis strike takes Wenger´s men through|
|Stoke City 3 Portsmouth 0: Walters brace sees hosts into League Cup third round|
|Burton Albion 1 QPR 0: Late strike seals upset for fourth-tier hosts|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Bordeaux look to maintain 100 per cent start|
|Dunga: No one guaranteed a place in Brazil squad|
|Serie A Preview: Juve´s Allegri era starts at Chievo|
|Mazzarri calls for professional Inter|
|Utrecht swoop for Peterson|
|Deeney extends Watford stay|
|Alonso calls time on international career|
|Bundesliga Preview: Schalke captain Howedes issues rallying cry, Leverkusen face Hertha|
|Fazio joins Spurs from Sevilla|
|Warnock will control transfers - Parish|
|Pochettino wants Soldado and Townsend to stay at Spurs|
|Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller returns for wobbling visitors|
|Celtic complete Wakaso deal|
|Seoul 0 Pohang Steelers 0 (aet, 3-0 on penalties): Yu heroics send Seoul through|
|Guangzhou Evergrande 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 1: Wanderers squeeze through on away goals|
|I´m the future, Benatia´s the past - Manolas|
|Osotspa 3 Chiangrai United 3: Visitors secure point with late rally|
|Israel versus Belgium fixture postponed|
|Fernandes reveals Redknapp contract talks|
|Warnock makes Palace return|
|Eto´o grateful to Mourinho|
|Maiga loaned to Metz|
|Pearson rues ´poor´ Leicester display|
|Bruce: Rhodes deal dead and buried|
|Balotelli set to face Tottenham|
|Di Maria wanted Real stay|
|Dyche wary of inflated transfer market|
|Celtic didn´t deserve Champions League, concedes Deila|
|Game of two halves for Koeman|
|Allardyce hails ´inspired´ Howard|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Red Bulls up and running, Rodriguez stars for Saprissa|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: Gimenez double helps Emelec through|
|Eredivisie Preview: Guardado set for PSV bow, Ajax eye recovery|
|Van Gaal ´not shocked´ by Dons defeat|
|Deila: Celtic deserved Champions League exit|
|Barca agree deal for Pereira|
|Lopetegui lauds Porto progression|
|League Cup Review: United hammered by MK Dons, West Ham lose on penalties|
|West Brom 1 Oxford United 1 (aet, 7-6 on penalties): Hosts avoid cup shock|
|Manchester United win ´something dreams are made of´ - Robinson|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Celtic out again, Porto safely through|
|United rebuild will take time - Van Gaal|
|Erbil 2 Ha Noi T&T 0 (agg 3-0): Iraqi side comfortably into the AFC Cup semis|
|West Ham 1 Sheffield United 1 (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Valencia miss proves crucial in shootout defe|
|Millwall 0 Southampton 2: Koeman claims first win|
|MK Dons 4 Manchester United 0: Humiliation for Van Gaal|
|Swansea City 1 Rotherham United 0: Gomis off the mark in League Cup clash|
|Leicester City 0 Shrewsbury Town 1: Mangan seals shock win for Shrewsbury|
|Burnley 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1: Visitors dump Dyche´s men out of League Cup|
|Walsall 0 Crystal Palace 3: Gayle treble lifts Palace gloom|
|Gillingham 0 Newcastle United 1: Egan own goal secures Newcastle triumph|
|Coupe de la Ligue Review: Auxerre, Ajaccio secure big wins|
|Al Ittihad 1 Al Ain 3: Gyan helps visitors secure semi-final spot|
|Hull City v Lokeren: Elmohamady calls for vocal support|
|Al Sadd 0 Al Hilal 0 (agg 0-1): Visitors hang on to progress|
|Tottenham v AEL: Pochettino eyes continuation of good form|
|Benitez: The pressure is on Athletic|
|Eto´o completes Goodison Park move|
|Reus nets in Dortmund friendly win|
|Roma secure Manolas signing|
|Aduriz: We can´t play for a draw|
|Al Hadd 2 Al Qadsia 2 (agg 3-3): Last-gasp leveller seals away-goal victory for visitors|
|United break transfer record for Di Maria|
|Hull announce Dawson signing|
|Moses set for Stoke debut|
|Hodgson pays tribute to Lampard|
|UEFA Europa League Play-Off Preview: Lyon look to reverse upset, Inter defend three-goal lead|
|Lukimya pens new Bremen deal|
|Bayern complete Benatia swoop|
|Bayern complete Benatia swoop|
|M´Bia replaces Eto´o as Cameroon captain|
|Palermo complete double defensive deal|
|Bakambu claims Swansea and Freiburg interest|
|Inter v Stjarnan: Mazzarri may tinker for Europa League test|
|Kitchee 0 Ninh Binh 1 (agg 4-3): Hosts hold off strong challenge to reach last four|
|Guardado pens PSV loan deal|
|Lampard announces international retirement|
|Wenger unsure on severity of Giroud injury|
|Mascherano signs new Barca contract|
|Basanta seized Europe chance with Fiorentina|
|Marchisio: Allegri´s philosophy will boost Juve´s Europe hopes|
|Persipura 6 Al Kuwait 1 (agg 8-4): Hosts romp holders to make history|
|Cahill thrilled with Chelsea start|
|Gardner completes Brighton loan|
|Pienaar out of Chelsea clash, Lukaku faces assessment|
|Seoul v Pohang Steelers: Korean rivals battle for AFC Champions League semi spot|
|Lamela keen to add goals|
|Jovetic refuses to take plaudits|
|Henderson tips Balotelli for success|
|Moya takes positives from defensive showing|
|Pepe unperturbed by scrappy showing|
|New youngsters will adapt, says Rodgers|
|Girard confident of Lille progression|
|Riise fears for Fulham under Magath|
|Balotelli: ´It was a mistake´ to leave England|
|Simeone: My suspension made no difference|
|Guangzhou Evergrande v Western Sydney Wanderers: Aussies braced for hostile reception|
|Bayern need time - Alaba|
|Ancelotti: Fatigue behind lacklustre display|
|Pellegrini delighted with Premier League start|
|Moreirense 0 Sporting Braga 0: Conceicao´s men held in Moreira|
|Liverpool will bounce back - Rodgers|