Champions Spain up for French test | sports | Hindustan Times
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Champions Spain up for French test

World champions Spain will play former world champions France in their qualifying campaign to reach the finals in Brazil in 2014 following Saturday's preliminary round draw. Spain were the last name drawn in the European qualifying group and will also play Belarus, Georgia and Finland. Tracking the window

sports Updated: Aug 01, 2011 02:32 IST

World champions Spain will play former world champions France in their qualifying campaign to reach the finals in Brazil in 2014 following Saturday's preliminary round draw. Spain were the last name drawn in the European qualifying group and will also play Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Fortune shone on England as they were drawn with Euro 2012 rivals Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland and makeweights Moldova and San Marino in Group H. The Netherlands, who lost last year's final to Spain in South Africa, will face Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra as they bid to return to South America where they lost the 1978 final in Argentina.

Hosts Brazil have qualified automatically for the finals.

Tough job for Japan
Japan faces a challenging qualifying path to the 2014 World Cup finals against rivals who will be looking to upset the Asian champions.

Alberto Zaccheroni's team was drawn Saturday with Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea in Group C of the third round of Asian qualifying. The Blue Samurai will be bidding for their fifth straight appearance in the World Cup finals.

Pele finally invited
Pele enjoyed the World Cup draw with a box seat in Rio's Marina - but only after President Dilma Rousseff issued an official invitation after the organising committee failed to do so. Pele has long had less than cordial relations with the head of the 2014 organising committee Ricardo Teixeira.

Pele had said Friday that "I don't go where I'm not invited," despite having a backseat role as an honorary ambassador for the tournament.

Croatia-Serbia war
The coaches of bitter Balkan rivals Serbia and Croatia were confident their teams would reach Brazil after they were drawn together in a tough European qualifying Group A.

The two states that emerged from a bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s will lock horns for the first time as independent nations, having been drawn alongside Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia and Wales.

Tracking the window