England face USA opener

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England have been drawn in Group C alongside USA, Algeria and Slovenia for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, starting against the USA on June 12 in Rustenburg.

It will be a handy opening for Fabio Capello's men as that is where they intend to base themselves for the five-week tournament.

Their other matches will be played in Cape Town on Friday, June 18, against Algeria, before completing their group campaign in against Slovenia Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, June 23.

England would probably have wanted to avoid the United States. However, Capello will no doubt be pleased to be drawn with Algeria and Slovenia.

While Slovenia, who knocked Russia out of the European play-offs, are a decent side, they lost all three games on their first appearance in the competition in 2002. In addition, England beat them in a friendly at Wembley last March, when Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe scored in a 2-1 win.

England will hope to have qualification tied up by the time they meet Slovenia in Port Elizabeth - the match could yet be moved on security grounds - on Wednesday, June 23.

For that they would need to win their first meeting with Algeria, who they will face in Cape Town on Friday, June 18.

The fixture will probably get Capello scrambling to organise a friendly against north African opposition before England depart for South Africa - as well as booking a ticket for the African Nations Cup - as he bids to gain as much information on Algeria as he can, beyond the presence of Portsmouth duo Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda, as well as Madjid Bougherra from Rangers.

As Algeria needed a play-off win over Egypt to reach South Africa, they are widely viewed as the weakest of the five African teams that qualified.

It means though - for fans at least - can start drifting towards the first knock-out round, when a much harder test, against either Germany, Ghana, Australia or Serbia, would await.

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Premier League
Jermain Defoe
Nadir Belhadj
Madjid Bougherra
Hassan Yebda

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