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World Cup Starts In South Africa; Grief-Stricken Mandela To Miss Opening


Nelson Mandela shakes hands with South African national team player Teko Modise in Johannesburg during the lead-up to the World Cup.
The first football World Cup to be held in Africa opened today in Johannesburg.

The monthlong tournament, one of the most popular sporting events in the world, began with a two-hour opening ceremony.

The ceremony was overshadowed by the absence of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, whose 13-year-old great-grandddaughter Zenani died on June 10 in a car crash while returning from a World Cup concert in Johannesburg.

Mandela is 91 and has been in frail health.

The ceremony was followed by the Group A game between host nation South Africa and Mexico.

In today's other Group A clash, France play Uruguay in Cape Town.

Teams from 32 nations, including current world champions Italy, are divided into eight preliminary groups. Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are ranked as favorites to win it all.

compiled from agency reports