England start World Cup preparation with Egypt test

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Fabio Capello will launch his World Cup preparations on March 3 when England take on Egypt at Wembley.

As soon as the draw was completed in Cape Town earlier this month, Capello made it a priority to secure Egypt as the Three Lions' next opponents in the planning to face Algeria in their second Group C game in South Africa next year.

England do not have much experience of north African opposition and have never faced Algeria, who beat Egypt in a stormy play-off in Sudan to reach next summer's Final.

Capello wants to put that right and felt Egypt were the obvious side to gain it against under the circumstances.

The last meeting with Egypt came during Italia 90, when Mark Wright's single goal was enough to secure victory in Cagliari. A repeat would represent a historic 500th victory for England.

Given Capello's legendary attention to detail, it is slightly surprising he will not be at the African Nations Cup in Angola next month to watch Algeria in action personally.

However, trusted assistant Franco Baldini will be present at some point, with the Algerians set to face Malawi, Mali and Angola in the group stage.

Capello is also trying to arrange a friendly with Mexico in May, which will serve as a warm-up to the opening game against the United States, before playing a final friendly, likely to be against Japan, at the end of a pre-tournament training camp in Austria.

However, it will be January at the earliest when further friendlies - and the precise dates for the altitude training at Irdning - can be confirmed.

It is also thought Capello intends to leave for South Africa earlier than planned - on June 2 - to give his players additional time at their Rustenburg training base, although that too has not received an official seal of approval after the Italian complained about the standard of the training pitches.

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