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Swiss to face Spain first at 2010 Fifa World Cup

(Keystone)

Switzerland's football squad will face defending Euro 2008 champions Spain in their first match at the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

The game, which will take place in Durban on June 16, will be followed by matches against Chile on June 21 in Port Elizabeth and against Honduras on June 25 at Bloemfontein.

The draw took place on Friday evening at a 90-minute ceremony in Capetown.

"We feel privileged and humbled that South Africa that has been given the singular honor of being the African host country," former South African President Mandela said in a video message to a draw ceremony that mixed glamour and sport with the sights and sounds of Africa.

The opening game, on June 11, will feature South Africa against Mexico at Johannesburg.

The United States will face England on June 12 at Rustenburg. Italy, winners of the 2006 World Cup, will play their first match against Paraguay on June 14 in Capetown.

Switzerland came out ahead of Greece, Latvia, Israel, Luxembourg and Moldova in their Group B qualification round in October to secure a place in the world tournament. The team is coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, a German.

Switzerland have never won a major championship although the country's Under 17 team defeated Nigeria in November to become world champions.

South Africa was awarded the World Cup in 2004 but the initial euphoria has been dampened by concerns over rising stadium construction costs, building delays, rampant crime and lack of transportation.

President Jacob Zuma said the country was ready to host one of the best World Cups ever.

"We believe the world is going to be surprised," he said during the ceremony. "Because this cup that has come to Africa at the end of the tournament will remain here in Africa."

The country is also hoping for a tourism boom with some 500,000 tourists expected to descend upon South Africa and spend about $850 million (SFr850 million) during the month-long tournament.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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