Today sees the start of the football World Cup in South Africa. This is the 19th staging of the event and the first time it has been held on the African continent. The month long competition culminates on 11th July when the original 32 nations will be reduced to the two finalists.
These are the finals of the competition that began in August 2007 with 204 hopeful nations starting out. The first part of the finals sees 8 groups or leagues of 4 teams play each other. The top two teams from each group go on to what is known as the knockout stage. Although there is a structure already in place (for example winners of group A play runners up of group B etc), it will not be known until the teams have (or have not) progressed to the knockout phase, who will play who.
It is customary for the host nation to open the competition with the first game and this time it is South Africa versus Mexico that gets things underway. Naturally there are favourites to win the competition before it gets underway and no doubt, as in previous competitions, there will be shocks as fancied teams go out early. But this makes the competition all the more exciting and increases the anticipation. If the country you support is taking part good luck, if not we hope you enjoy it anyway.