For the first time in the event’s 80 year history, the FIFA World Cup will be played on the continent of Africa. The 64 match tournament will get underway on June 11 at Johannesburg’s Soccer City with a Group A matchup between Mexico and host nation South Africa. The same venue will also play host to the championship match on the night of July 11 at 8:30 (local time).
Each of the 32 qualifying nations in the World Cup field is guaranteed three group play matches. The top two nations from each of the eight groups will earn a spot in the round of 16 and the single elimination tournament that will determine the top four squads in the world.
Soccer City is among 10 venues in the nation of South Africa that will serve as sites for FIFA World Cup matches. The other nine sites are Durban Stadium, Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium, Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium, Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium, Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium, Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium and Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Joining Mexico and South Africa in Group A will be Uruguay and France, which will begin 2010 FIFA World Cup play against each other in Cape Town on June 11. Pretoria, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein will play host to the other four Group A matches from June 16 June 22.
Each of the four teams in Group B will start play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup on June 12. South Korea and Greece will play the first Group B match at Nelson Mandela Stadium, while Argentina and Nigeria will meet a little more than two hours after the start of the South Korea Greece matchup at Ellis Park. The other four Group B matches will be played in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg at Soccer City, Durban and Polokwane.
Rustenburg will serve as the host city of the first Group C match between England and the United States on June 12. Joining Polokwane, which will serve as the site for Algeria and Slovenia’s first Group C match on June 13, as sites for Group C matches are Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and Pretoria.
The six matches featuring the four Group D teams of Germany, Australia, Serbia and Ghana will be played in Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Johannesburg at Soccer City and Nelspruit.
The Netherlands and Denmark will kick off Group E play at Soccer City on June 14, while Japan and Cameroon are scheduled to play their Group E opener in Bloemfontein two and half hours after the start of the Netherlands Denmark match. Other Group E match sites are Durban, Pretoria, Rustenburg and Cape Town.
The first Group F match, which will pit defending FIFA World Cup champion Italy against Paraguay, is scheduled to be played in Cape Town on June 14. The following day will see New Zealand and Slovakia begin Group F play in Rustenburg. A pair of Group F matches will be played on June 20 in Bloemfontein and Nelspruit, respectively, while Ellis Park and Polokwane will host the final two Group F matches on June 24.
Group G play will kick off on June 15 with a match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium between Ivory Coast and Portugal and a match at Ellis Park between North Korea and Brazil. The other four Group G matches will be played at Soccer City, Cape Town, Durban and Nelspruit.