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Brazil drawn in tough group

Published:Friday | December 4, 2009 | 7:24 PM

Five-time champions Brazil were drawn into the toughest group in the first round for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The draw took place earlier this afternoon in South Africa.

Brazil have to face two of the teams from the top 16 in FIFA\'s rankings, Portugal and Ivory Coast. Also in the group is North Korea, an unknown quantity.

Defending champion Italy, who are chasing their fifth World Cup title, should be confident of reaching the next stage after drawing New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia.

European champion Spain, which have never won the World Cup, should easily make it to the knockout phase, facing lower ranked Switzerland, Honduras and Chile and avoiding the tough opponents in the 32-team draw.

After qualifying via the playoffs thanks in part to Thierry Henry\'s handball against Ireland, France face hosts South Africa with Mexico and Uruguay in Group A and have an easy task to get to the second round.

South Africa will face Mexico in the opening game on June 11 at Soccer City, one of six new or rebuilt stadiums at the tournament. Soccer City will also host the final on July 11.

England were drawn to face the United States, Algeria and Slovenia, which won a playoff to reach the competition, in Group C.

Germany, which have won the title three times, face a tough group against Australia, Serbia and Ghana.