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World Cup draw: US, England, France get good slots in South Africa

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FIFA settled the 2010 World Cup draw today in Cape Town, the dazzling coastal city of South Africa, which next summer will play host to hoards of soccer fans who come from around the world to see the tournament.

The draw, which divides the 32 participating countries into groups of four, is based on a convoluted process whose results this time around are likely to raise some eyebrows. (The top seven seeded teams plus host South Africa are split among the eight groups, with two teams advancing to the next round from each group.)

France, a former world champion, limped into South Africa after struggling to qualify – only making it thanks to a Thierry Henry hand-ball assisted goal in its last qualifying match against Ireland. Nevertheless, it got a wonderful draw – placed in a group with host South Africa, the weakest of the top seeds, and Mexico and Uruguay.

The United States should be reasonably happy as well, only needing to beat Algeria and Slovenia to advance to the next round. Algeria was the last African team to qualify after a violence-marred playoff with Egypt, while Slovenia was knocked out in the first round in its only other World Cup appearance.

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