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Be careful of what you ask for
by Paul Kennedy, December 5th, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP 2010 DRAW] Friday's World Cup 2010 draw delighted American and English fans. There was consternation in Brazil and Portugal that the World Cup dream might end quickly. Either way, Friday's draw served its purpose, giving fans around the world six months to build up their hopes or bury them before the show begins on June 11.

WINNERS

USA. The other day, Clint Dempsey warned to be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it, and that's what the USA got. A dream draw. There's no other way to look at it. After Mexico was drawn in South Africa's group, the USA was sure to get one of the serious seeds, and it got that in England. After that? Algeria, arguably the weakest of the Africa teams in Pot 3. And Slovenia, one of the last European teams to qualify, in Pot 4. On top of that, the three venues are all in the same part of South Africa, meaning the USA also got a dream draw in terms of logistics. (Just like 2002 when the Americans were based in Seoul for their entire stay in Korea.)

ENGLAND. Predictably, the British press loved England's draw. The Sun called it the "best English group since The Beatles." The Daily Mirror led England World Cup 2010 champion bandwagon, headlining: "The Dream is On!"

ITALY. Besides England, the European seed with the easiest group is the Azzurri, who drew New Zealand, the weakest team besides South Africa in the field, Slovakia, the only first-time entrant and Paraguay. Cautioned Marcello Lippi, the coach of the defending champions, "The more you think a group will be easy the more difficult it become."

LOSERS

BRAZIL, PORTUGAL and IVORY COAST. Could it get any better or worse, depending on your point of view? Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba all in the same group. One of the three Group G  teams will be out after the first round, and it only gets worse after that. The second-place team will probably get Spain in the round of 16. For Ivory Coast, the draw brings back memories of '06. The Elephants drew Argentina and the Netherlands and were eliminated after two games. They open against Brazil and Portugal in 2010 and could be gone again after two games.

SOUTH AFRICA. You have to feel sorry for the Bafana Bafana. South Africa, the weakest host country -- by a long shot -- in the history of the World Cup, was assured of getting a South American team (Uruguay) and after that got one of the two toughest teams in Pot 2 (Mexico) and Pot 4 (France).



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