170 countries for Sunday's World Cup draw

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DURBAN, Nov 22 (Reuters) A total of 170 countries will go into Sunday's draw for the 2010 World Cup preliminary competition being held in Durban, FIFA said today.

The teams will be chasing 31 places at the World Cup finals to be hosted by South Africa in 30 months' time.

A total of 205 countries entered the preliminaries but five have since withdrawn and a further 30 were eliminated in pre-preliminary matches played in the Africa, Asia and Oceania confederations.

The draw comes four months after the 2010 preliminary campaign kicked off in Samoa in August.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said the seeding for qualifying groups in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Concacaf region, made up of countries in central and north America and the Caribbean, had been determined.

However, he added that it needed to be ratified by the competition's organising committee, which meets in Durban on Saturday, before being announced.

The FIFA rankings are being used to determine the seeds for the various continental qualification groups.

Sunday's draw will see Asia's groups drawn first, followed by those in the Concacaf region, Europe and then Africa. There is no draw for South America and the Oceania region, who have already started their preliminary competition.

A total of 861 qualifying matches will be played to determine the lineup for the 2010 World Cup finals.

REUTERS RAR RN1833

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