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Group of Death gets into live action

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 00:35 IST

No World Cup worthy of the title can be staged without the dreaded Group of Death casting its long shadow over the tournament.

When the draw was made back in December for the 2010 World Cup the label was immediately attached to Group G containing five-time champions Brazil, 2006 semi-finalists Portugal, Didier Drogba's multi-talented Ivory Coast, and unknown packages, North Korea.

The term may be hackneyed but like all cliches it has its basis in truth — no more so than in South Africa.

The first shots in this year's Group of Death were fired in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday with Portugal, the third-ranked team in the world, splitting points with African superpower Ivory Coast.

Portugal's manager Carlos Queiroz, speaking at the eve of match press conference alluded to the phenomenon. “The press have dubbed this the ‘Group of Death’. With all due respect to North Korea three teams are chasing two places. It doesn’t matter if one of the trio plays the best soccer in the world, only two can go through.”