Class acts to headline Confed Cup

BRAZIL, Italy and Spain headline the Fifa 2009 Confederations Cup with some of the biggest names in the game looking to claim bragging rights ahead of next year's World Cup.

BRAZIL, Italy and Spain headline the Fifa 2009 Confederations Cup with some of the biggest names in the game looking to claim bragging rights ahead of next year's World Cup.

The tournament of continental champions, the traditional dress rehearsal for the World Cup, gets under way on Sunday when hosts South Africa take on Asian Cup winners Iraq.

New Zealand, Egypt and the United States are also playing in the June 14-28 spectacle but it is the presence of the big three that has whetted appetites.

The trio are bringing mostly full-strength squads to South Africa, and that means the likes of Kaka, Robinho, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele De Rossi in full cry.

Organisers are hoping for full houses and remain confident that preparations in the four host cities - Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein - will live up to expectations.

As well as being a football carnival, the tournament will be a crucial test of South Africa's readiness for next year, and the infrastructure and security works will be closely watched.

Brazil go into the tournament as defending champions, having beaten Argentina 4-1 in the final four years ago in Germany, and coach Dunga has high expectations of his glamorous stars.

The South American giant's are drawn in Group B alongside world champions Italy and the United States with their first taste of action on Monday in Bloemfontein against Egypt.

Italy play the US on the same day in Pretoria.

The top two from each of the two groups will qualify for the semi-finals, ahead of the final on June 28. - Sapa-AFP

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