Bulgaria Handed Italian Challenge for 2010 World Cup

Sports | November 25, 2007, Sunday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Handed Italian Challenge for 2010 World Cup FIFA President Joseph S Blatter and Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, at the 2010 qualifying draw. Photo by Getty Images

Bulgaria has been drawn to play against holders Italy in a tough qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Its other rivals are the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia and Montenegro.

Fifty-three countries participated in the draw, which was conducted by the FIFA general secretary JГ©rГґme Valcke with assistance from Christian Karembeu - who was in the France squad that won the World Cup in 1998 and also triumphed at the UEFA European Championship two years later - and AbГ©di PelГ©, part of the Olympique de Marseille team that won the UEFA Champions League in 1993.

The groups will be contested in a league system on a home-and-away basis, with the games to be played according to the international match calendar starting in August 2008.

The nine group winners will advance to the final tournament, while the eight best runners-up will contest four play-off matches in November 2009 to determine Europe's other four finalists.

The draw for the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying is as follows:

Group 1:
Portugal
Sweden
Denmark
Hungary
Albania
Malta

Group 2:
Greece
Israel
Switzerland
Moldova
Latvia
Luxembourg

Group 3:
Czech Republic
Poland
Northern Ireland
Slovakia
Slovenia
San Marino

Group 4:
Germany
Russia
Finland
Wales
Azerbaijan
Liechtenstein

Group 5:
Spain
Turkey
Belgium
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Armenia
Estonia

Group 6:
Croatia
England
Ukraine
Belarus
Kazakhstan
Andorra

Group 7:
France
Romania
Serbia
Lithuania
Austria
Faroe Islands

Group 8:
Italy
Bulgaria
Republic Of Ireland
Cyprus
Georgia
Montenegro

Group 9:
Holland
Scotland
Norway
FYR Macedonia
Iceland
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