12/6/09 – With FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, football ace David Beckham, film star Charlize Theron and a host of other celebrities in the city, Cape Town was in festive mood Friday as thousands thronged the main streets to watch the big-screen team draw ceremony on a vast and elaborate television set.
Screened live around the world to an estimated 150 million viewers, the glitzy event underlined just how popular the beautiful game is, especially when national pride is at stake in competitons like the World Cup, which next year will take place in Africa for the first time.
English commentators seemed pleased with the results of the draw, where England will face the USA, Algeria and Slovenia in their three Group C games, giving the team a relatively risk-free start.
Bookies cut England's odds of winning the World Cup. Coral's David Stevens said England are worthy second favourites to lift the trophy and expects a flurry of bets.
"Patriotic punters will be delighted with the draw as, on paper at least, England should have few problems qualifying from their group, and although they will then face tougher tasks if they are to progress further, we regard [coach and manager] Fabio Capello's men as leading contenders for glory in South Africa, an outcome that would cost the bookies millions," said Stevens.
Coral cut England to 6-1 (from 13-2) to win the tournament, making them third favourites behind Spain (4-1) and Brazil (5-1), whilst William Hill make England second favourites at 5-1, behind Spain (4-1).
Brazil have drifted in the betting after being drawn in the Group of Death with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea.
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