Cape Town — South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana face a difficult first round in the 2010 World Cup soccer finals, while Nigeria will contend with familiar opponents and Cameroon can probably count themselves luckier than their African counterparts.
This emerged from the glamour and glitz of the World Cup draw held in the Cape Town International Conference Centre tonight.
South Africa, the hosts, will play against Mexico in the opening game of the tournament on June 11 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, after being drawn in a tough Group A. Also paired with Bafana Bafana are European giants France and South American side Uruguay, two-time winners of the tournament.
South Africa will play their second game against Uruguay at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on June 16, before rounding out the pool with what could possibly be a decider against France in Bloemfontein on June 22.
It is a desperately tough grouping for Carlos Alberto Parreira and his side, with all three matches considered very difficult against established international nations with a fine World Cup pedigree.
Côte d'Ivoire have once again been paired in a tough pool, having been in the Group of Death in their maiden World Cup showing in Germany 2006. They will open their tournament against Portugal in Group G on June 15, before also taking on the might of Brazil (June 20) and then minnows North Korea (June 25). They will be hoping they are not out of the running by then.
Nigeria will have a feeling of déjà vu as they face Argentina and Greece in Group B, the same teams they played in their maiden World Cup in 1994. Also in their pool is South Korea, a very good side.
They open up against Argentina on June 12 at Ellis Park, before taking on Greece on June 27 and then Korea Republic on June 22.
North Africans Algeria will feel they have a chance as they meet England, the United States and Slovenia. It is not an easy pool for sure, but if they can get something from the games against the USA and Slovenia they will stand a chance.
Algeria's first match is on June 13 against Slovenia, before they face England in Cape Town on June 18 and the USA on June 23.
Ghana are not so lucky, having been pooled in Group D along with Germany, Serbia and Australia, three very tough matches for the Black Stars. They open their tournament against Serbia on June 13, before meeting Australia on June 19 and then four-time winners Germany on June 23.
Cameroon will be quietly confident with their pool, which also includes Holland, Denmark and Japan. They start with a meeting against the Japanese on June 14, before tackling Denmark on June 19 and then Netherlands on June 24.
In the two pools without African sides, Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia meet in Group F, while Spain, Switzerland, Honduras and Chile are together in Group H.
Report updated with dates of matches.