England have been named as one of the eight top seeds for next summer's World Cup but France miss out.
FIFA's World Cup organising committee announced the seeds today based on October's FIFA world rankings.
The host country South Africa plus Brazil, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany and Argentina were named as the other seeds.
Fabio Capello will be glad that his side will avoid the real big hitters such as Spain and Brazil but will be acutely aware that England could still end up in a tough group in Friday's draw.
There will be four pots in the draw - one containing the top seeds, pot two with countries from Asia, Oceania and north/central America, the third pot with the five other African nations and three South American countries, and a fourth pot containing the other eight European countries.
A worst-case scenario would see England drawn in a group with France or Portugal from the European pot, an Ivory Coast side boasting Didier Drogba and the USA, beaten finalists in the Confederations Cup last summer.
The best scenario would see England take on Slovenia, Algeria and North Korea.
The decision to use world rankings alone breaks with FIFA's previous formulas when they used a combination of rankings with performances in previous final tournaments.
Had they used the old formula France would have been one of the top seeds and Holland would have missed out.
Rankings alone have not been used in the past but FIFA relaunched the system with much fanfare a couple of years ago, boasting the new-look rankings were much more indicative of a country's current position in world football.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke insisted there was no agenda against France as a result of the play-off controversy from their game with the Republic of Ireland.
Valcke said: "In the past the seedings have been determined by a mixture of world rankings and performances in past World Cups but this time the feeling was the October rankings most closely represented the best teams in the tournament."
Had the November rankings been used then England would have missed out and France been seeded.
Valcke added: "We made the decision last month that the October rankings would be used because they were fairer - countries who had been involved in the play-offs would have had an unfair advantages because they would have played more games and that affects their rankings.
"This is not a case of wanting Holland to be seeded in France, just that the feeling was the October seedings represented the best teams."
Pots for Friday's draw
Eight groups of four countries to be drawn, each group containing one country from each pot.
Pot 1 (seeds); South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England.
Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and North/Central America): Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Honduras.
Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay.
Pot 4 (Europe): France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia.Reuse content