U.S. To Play World Champions Italy, Brazil and Egypt in Group B of 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa
CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2008) – The United States has been drawn into a powerful Group B along with reigning world champions Italy, five-time World Cup winners Brazil, and reigning African Cup of Nations winners Egypt for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be played from June 14-28, 2009, in South Africa. The U.S. kicks off action against Italy on June 15 at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria, and then faces Brazil on June 18 in the same venue. The United States finishes group play on June 21 against Egypt at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Tournament hosts South Africa will open the event against Iraq on June 14 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The two teams were drawn into Group A along with current European Champions Spain and OFC Champions New Zealand. Played in four venues during two weeks, the tournament will serve as excellent preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. opens Group B play against Italy, in what will be the fourth time the teams have met in a major international tournament. Most recently, the U.S. and Italy faced off the thrilling 1-1 draw in the second match of group play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2006, in Kaiserslautern. One of the finest performances in team history, that match is as memorable for the massive support of U.S. fans as for the team holding off the Italians after being reduced to nine men. The United States has never beaten the current world champions, holding a lifetime record of 0-3-3. Italy, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is participating in their first Confederations Cup.
Next up is a clash with two-time Confederations Cup winners Brazil, who qualified for the tournament after blanking favored Argentina 3-0 in the final of the 2007 Copa America. The U.S. and Brazil are meeting for the third time in Confederations Cup play, having met previously in the middle group matches both in 1999 in Mexico and the 2003 edition in France. Brazil captured 1-0 victories in both contests, Ronaldinho getting the winner in Guadalajara in 1999 and Adriano in Lyon four years later. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-12-0 lifetime record against the five-time world champions, the lone victory coming Feb. 10, 1998, a 1-0 win in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The teams faced off last year in Chicago, goals by Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey putting the U.S. level before Ronaldinho broke the draw en route to a 4-2 win for Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007 in front of 43,543 at Soldier Field.
The U.S. closes out group play against Egypt on June 21 in Rustenburg. They teams have only played once before, Egypt going out 3-1 winners on June 8, 1987, in Seoul, Korea Republic. The Pharaohs have been one of the dominant sides on the African continent, claiming a record six Africa Cup of Nations titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2008. Egypt is playing in their second FIFA Confederations Cup, having participated in the 1999 event in Mexico.
The U.S. will play its first two matches at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria. The stadium currently has a seating capacity of 45,000. Opened in 1903, the ground hosted matches for the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.
The match against Egypt will be held at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg. The stadium is named after the Bafokeng people who live in the area. Upon completion, the stadium will seat 42,000. The South African national team played a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in the venue against Bakino Faso in 2001.
The U.S. is playing in its fourth FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, having appeared most recently in the 2003 event in a group with Brazil, Turkey and Cameroon. The team reached the semifinals of the 1999 tournament, beating Germany and New Zealand in group play before losing to hosts Mexico in the semifinals. The matches next year will represent the USA’s second time playing on South African soil, the team having defeated South Africa 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2007, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
Group B Schedule
|June 15||Brazil-Egypt||Mangaung/Bloemfontein||4 p.m. / 10 a.m.|
|USA-Italy||Tshwane/Pretoria||8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.|
|June 18||USA-Brazil||Tshwane/Pretoria||4 p.m. / 10 a.m.|
|Egypt-Italy||Johannesburg||8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.|
|June 21||Italy-Brazil||Tshwane/Pretoria||8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.|
|Egypt-USA||Rustenburg||8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.|