Most of my blog entries for the next six weeks will likely focus on a certain quadrennial athletic competition they're having in Southern Africa, which kicks off in just under ten days.
I follow international soccer fairly avidly nowadays, but have always been a fan of the World Cup even before I knew any of the players or teams. It's up there with the Summer Olympics as a sports spectacle, but unlike the Olympics, average folks actually care about the World Cup.
The 32 teams in the cup (selected by regional tournaments in their respective federations) are arranged into eight groups of four, and each group plays a three match round robin against the others with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage. The knockout stage works like playoffs in every other sport, the winner advances and the loser goes home.
Here are the groups for the 2010 Cup.
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C: Algeria, Slovenia, England, USA
Group D: Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia
Group E: Cameroon, Denmark, Netherlands, Japan
Group F: Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, North Korea, Portugal
Group H: Chile, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland
Lots of notable absences! I hope to go over each one in detail before the start of the Cup, with my picks to advance and teams and players to watch. When in doubt, cheer for African teams and against European teams.