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World Cup Draw Results

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The World Cup draw for the United States was not even so bad when England popped out first from the magician’s hat. Then the draw kept getting better for the Yanks as Algeria and Slovenia materialized.
This means the United States has a decent chance to advance to the second round, as of now, early December. But let’s discuss this again in mid-June — or in half an hour, when more sober thoughts intrude.
There is even less doubt about the most difficult group in the World Cup. That has to be Group G, with Brazil, Ivory Coast or Portugal doomed not to advance to the second round — with all due respect to North Korea, of course.
This is a brutal group. Look at it this way: Either Kaká or Didier Drogba or Cristiano Ronaldo will be getting a longer midsummer rest for his weary body, while he jealously watches his colleagues move on. That first match between Ivory Coast and Portugal is huge because one of them could be down 3 points before even playing Brazil. Or they both could play defensively out of fear, to make sure of gaining a point. Either way, Brazil looms ahead. Group of Death, no debate.
From the first act of the draw, the luckiest team seemed destined to be France, being drawn with South Africa, the host team. No host team has ever failed to advance in 18 previous World Cups, but South Africa was — and still is — likely to be that nation.
France did not do all that badly with its two other opponents, Mexico and Uruguay. This is particularly true considering that if any of the three officials on the field in the last qualifying match had been competent or even perceptive regarding Thierry Henry’s blatant two-touch handball, then France would not be in the World Cup, and Ireland would be. This theme is not going away.
Within a few minutes, the United States wound up with even more good fortune than France. Algeria just did slip into the World Cup final tournament, getting by Egypt. And while Slovenia did escape huge and rich Russia, Slovenia is the smallest nation in this World Cup, if that means anything. Historically, the United States has trouble with sturdy, disciplined European sides. But this is a good draw for the United States.
For that matter, it was already feasible for the United States to gain a point in its opening match. England is one of those nations — Italy is another — that seem to lug a disproportionate amount of angst into the group play of the World Cup. Their lineups and dispositions just seem to take awhile to settle down. England sometimes develops the urge to make an egregious foul in plain view of the ref. So when the United States hooked up with England for the first match, I was thinking this could be the chance to steal a point. Look at what the United States did to Italy in 2006, and almost did to Italy in 1990.
Any way they look at it, the Americans cannot feel fate or nefarious plots by FIFA are against them. They have a chance to play more than three games in South Africa in six months. But they will have to earn it in the first three games, starting with England.

Source – New York Times