Alexa

Brazil, Argentina and Chile get tough draws

Brazil, Argentina and Chile get tough draws

Although favored to win a record sixth World Cup at this year's tournament in South Africa, the draw has not been kind to Brazil.
The South Americans, who are likely to be loaded with stars like Kaka, Adriano and Robinho, are in Group G with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea. Three of the teams seem like potential candidates for the second round _ and little is known about North Korea.
"It's the toughest draw," Ivory Coast coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "But we will prepare to create an upset."
Argentina, despite its many stumbles under mercurial coach Diego Maradona, is the continent's other favorite. But the two-time champions also have a problematic draw with Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in Group B. Chile, which finished second in the continental qualifying tournament, ended up with European champion Spain, Switzerland and Honduras.
Conversely, the continent's two least-favored teams _ Paraguay and Uruguay _ have been drawn in groups which could see both advancing to the second round.
Argentina, under Maradona, has none of the consistentcy of Brazil. The former national team star has used more than 100 players since he took over in late 2008, and that should give every World Cup opponent hope of ousting Argentina in the first round _ just like at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Chile is appearing in its first World Cup since 1998. It could be a short appearance, which would be bad luck for Argentine-born coach Marcelo Bielsa, regarded as one of the continent's best. It would also be bad luck for an exciting, attacking team. Bielsa had the misfortune of coaching Argentina in 2002 when it was knocked out in the group stage.
In the "Latin group," Spain is heavily favored to reach the knockout stage, which leaves room for only one more. Switzerland and even little-known Honduras seem as qualified as Chile.
Paraguay looks like the South American team with the clearest path to the second round, despite the likely absence of top striker Salvador Cabanas, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in January in a Mexico City bar. Paraguay defends well, but may have problems scoring without Cabanas.
Paraguay is in its fourth straight World Cup, and reached the second round in 1998 and 2002. The country has been drawn in Group E with defending champion Italy, and two seemingly weak teams _ New Zealand and Slovakia. Paraguay is the top choice for second.
Uruguay was the last of the 32 teams to qualify. However, the draw has been kind, placing the Uruguayans in Group A with host South Africa, France and Mexico. Despite being the home team, South Africa is the lowest ranked team in the championship. France has struggled and against Mexico, Uruguay will find a familiar Latin style of play.
If Argentina wins its group and Uruguay ends up second in Group B, the River Plate neighbors would meet in the second round _ a match Uruguay would relish more than bitter rival Argentina.


Updated : 2021-01-22 16:30 GMT+08:00