And now we know

2009-12-05 00:00

SO much for a friendly draw for the struggling hosts!

John Smit started it, plucking Mexico instead of the rich pickings of Honduras and the Kiwis, before the smiling assassin, Haile Gebresellaise, served the hosts with the most testing of groups.

Well, at least we know now what Bafana Bafana will face in just over five months time.

Mexico, Uruguay and France. Heck, Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men will need every vuvuzela to blow them into the next stage, and it starts with Mexico on June 11.

But this is football, and many fascinating things have happened at World Cups. We can only hope that France sail through their first two matches, and take it easy in their final group game against Bafana.

Right!

The draw itself was largely kind to the big boys, but Brazil will be very worried about the prospect of Ivory Coast and Portugal in group G.

Group of death?

Perhaps, but Australia, Ghana, Serbia and the Germans in Group D certainly look more closely matched.

The Socceroos are not shy of the odd upset, and they will certainly hold their own in this company.

Ghana, with so much hope on their shoulders, will have to do it the hard way — but this is the World Cup, after all.

Perhaps Africa’s strongest hope at this stage are Nigeria and Cameroon, who avoided any immediately sticky-looking matchups.

England, who never fail to attract attention when grown men like David Beckham adopt ludicrous hairstyles such as the one on display yesterday, got a very favourable draw — even if it means that Becks will have to put up with more Americans even in his off-season.

Other perennial under-achievers like Spain and the Netherlands must surely feel that this is their time, particularly the Barcelona-laden Iberians.

There are just so many mouthwatering prospects now that the cat is out of the bag, and one can safely say that it will be very entertaining.

The added bonus of playing in our winter has been touched on, and the result will surely be slicker action than some of the previous, laboured editions!

The world’s best will certainly not need any extra reason to get busy running around in Bloemfontein, for the mercury will dip mercilessly when the sun sets.

But, there is a lot to get through before the world’s most watched event kicks off at the incomparable Soccer City.

Finally, though, we can start scribbling dates into diaries and plot our lives around TV schedules for a month.

By all accounts, the country is ready.

Last night’s draw will surely be the touch paper around the country that says the world really is coming!

 

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