Flavour of 2010 World Cup finals begins to emerge

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Durban, Nov 24: The outlines of the 2010 World Cup will begin to be coloured in on Saturday when the fixture timetable and ticket pricing plan for the finals and the seedings for the preliminary round tournament are announced.

The qualifying round draw will take centre stage tomorrw when a 90-minute television show will be broadcast live to 173 countries around the world.

Before that happens, FIFA's World Cup organising committee will announce the basic timetable for the finals which start on June 11 and end on July 11 2010.

They should also confirm that the finals will open and close at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. The semi-finals are expected to be staged in Cape Town and Durban.

FIFA will also announce their ticketing pricing plan and the method fans can use to purchase tickets today.

A cheap category of tickets only for South African residents to watch the finals has also been agreed, the Local Organising Committee said yesterday

EUROPEAN SEEDINGS

The other key announcement on Saturday concerns the seedings for the European qualifiers.

FIFA meet to ratify the seedings system on Saturday but a spokesman told Reuters on Friday that it was ''99 percent certain'' the latest rankings would be used to determine them.

They were issued yesterday and contain few surprises apart from England dropping out of the top group of seeds following their 3-2 loss to Croatia in their Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday.

The rankings only affect the European section of tomorrow's draw since the other continental federations are using earlier rankings or, in South America's case, a league format.

Apart from the distinction of becoming the first African nation to stage one of the two greatest sporting festivals -- the World Cup and the Summer Olympics -- South Africa will also become the first host to be included in the preliminary draw.

However, unlike all the other nations in the draw, South Africa is guaranteed its place in 2010. It will be included only because the process is doubling as the draw for the Africa Nations Cup earlier the same year.

The draw, which starts at 1500 GMT, will include 169 countries vying for the 31 available places in the finals and be conducted by new FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Asia will be the first confederation to be drawn, followed by CONCACAF, Europe and then Africa. The draw for Oceania has already taken place and that competition is in its early stages as is qualifying in Asia and South America.

UNI

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