African soccer fest for 2009, 2010
 April 2007



The world will be treated to a spectacular soccer experience in Africa in 2009 and 2010, with Fifa announcing that Egypt and Nigeria will host world cup youth soccer tournaments in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Fifa announced last week that Egypt would host the Fifa Under-20 World Cup and Nigeria the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in 2009.

"With South Africa hosting the Fifa Confederations Cup in the same year, it promises to be a busy one for the African continent, but also an extremely exciting one," the world football governing body said on its website.

Nigeria and Egypt have both hosted Fifa junior events in the past. Brazil, inspired by a young Ronaldinho, won the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Egypt in 1997.

Two years later, in Nigeria, Spain took the under-20 laurels, with many of the stars of the 2006 World Cup on display, including Esteban Cambiasso, Rafael Marquez, Xavi and the irrepressible Ronaldinho.

A record 204 national teams have entered the preliminary competition for the 2010 World Cup, Fifa said on its website on the weekend.

The previous record was set by the preliminary competition for the 2002 World Cup, in which 199 teams entered and 193 teams participated. For the 2006 World Cup, 198 teams were registered and 194 participated.

The first qualifying matches took place in August 2007.

With the allocation of places for 2010 being the same as for 2006 - and with South Africa granted an automatic berth as the host country - Africa will have one extra team at the tournament.

Thirteen of the teams taking part in 2010 will be from Europe, five from Asia and Oceania, eight from South America and the Concacaf region (North and Central America and the Caribbean), and five from Africa, plus the automatic spot granted to South Africa.