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Cup pots announced

Costa do Sauipe: Fifa will go ahead with its controversial decision to stage World Cup matches at midday in tropical venues, president Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday as soccer's governing body announced a bafflingly complex procedure for Friday's draw.

General secretary Jerome Valcke caused general bewilderment as he tried to explain the workings of the draw, which will decide which teams comprise the eight first-round groups at next year's tournament. “It’s not easy to understand it the first time, I agree with you,” he said.

Each group will consist of one team from each of four pots with Pot 1 featuring the top seeds: Brazil, the host nation, alongside Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.

The other pots will be based on geographical criteria so that countries from the same confederations are kept apart. Valcke revealed that a pre-draw will be held to move one of the nine European teams into Pot 2 where they would then be drawn against one of the four seeded South American teams to preserve the geographical balance of the draw.

To complicate matters further, the four South American seeds would form a temporary Pot X and the three not drawn against the European team in Pot 2 will return to the main draw.

A seeded team’s place in the draw will determine how much travelling around the vast hinterland of Brazil, the world's fifth largest country by area, will be involved and may therefore not be so beneficial as in the past. The seeded team in Group H will have a relatively easy first round schedule with matches in the milder conditions of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

But the seeds in Group G will play in the intense heat of northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife. The team that meet Brazil in the opening game will face a 3,880-km flight to Manaus in the Amazon for their next match before a 4,508-km flight to Recife for their third game.

The Four Pots

Pot 1 (top eight seeds): Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland, Uruguay

Pot 2: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador.

Pot 3: Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras.

Pot 4: Bosnia, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, France.

(Note: A pre-draw will be held to move one of the nine European teams into Pot 2. That European team will then be drawn against one of the four seeded South American teams to preserve the geographical balance of the draw.

The four South American seeds: Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina will form a temporary Pot X. The three teams not drawn against the European team in Pot 2 will return to the main draw.)