Europe waits on Fifa seedings

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The seedings for the 53 teams will only be announced today as they will take into account the final round of 2008 European Championship qualifiers that took place this week.

That could spell bad news for some teams such as England, who failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals to be held in Switzerland and Austria, and could subsequently find themselves in a tough group in the race to be in South Africa in 2010.

The European countries will be drawn in eight round-robin, home-and-away groups of six nations, as well as one group of five.

The nine group winners qualify automatically, while the eight best second-placed teams advance to the second round, where they are paired into four home-and-away ties, from which the winners qualify.

A total of 205 countries entered the preliminaries but five have since withdrawn and a further 30 were eliminated in pre-preliminary matches played in the Africa, Asia and Oceania confederations, as with South Africa already qualified as hosts the rest of the world will be chasing the remaining 31 places.

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 tomorrow, 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.

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