The draw for the 2010 World Cup finals takes place today at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The ceremony, which gets under way at 1700 GMT at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre, will be watched by millions of fans around the world.
By the end of the draw, nations will know the identity of their group-stage rivals and the date of every game.
Former South Africa president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela will address the audience by video message. On Thursday, Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his executive committee staged a symbolic meeting on Robben Island, the location for the infamous apartheid-era prison in Table Bay off Cape Town, where Mandela was held for many years.
Jacob Zuma, one of his successors as president, will start proceedings alongside Blatter, with former president FW de Klerk and archbishop Desmond Tutu also in attendance.
South Africa’s Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron will be present alongside England midfielder David Beckham, Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie and Springboks rugby union captain John Smit.
Theron told Fifa.com on Friday: “I’m one proud South African today. This is a magical moment for all of us; for this young democracy and for all the people who have worked hard to make this country a better place.”
Makhaya Ntini, the first black cricketer to play for South Africa, and World Cup legends Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Eusebio and Roger Milla will also be in attendance.
The World Cup trophy arrived in Cape Town on Thursday after a 83,274-mile global journey that took in every African country.
“The trophy is home,” said Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the tournament organising committee.
“This is the end of a long dream and the beginning of a new dream. We have been dreaming that one day countries would come here and compete for this trophy on the African continent – and that dream was dismissed.
“Now as we say welcome to this trophy, we announce the death of doubt. There can no longer be any doubt.”
The 32 qualifiers will be assembled into eight groups, with the eight seeds comprising Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, England, Holland, holders Italy and hosts South Africa all in pot one, while the remaining three pots have been drawn on regional boundaries.
Each seeded nation will face one team in pot two – a side from Asia, north or central America, or Oceania – one from pot three, which has five African and three South American sides, and one from the exclusively European pot four.
Pot 1 – South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain.
Pot 2 – Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, USA, New Zealand.
Pot 3 – Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay.
Pot 4 – Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland.
Live footage of the handover of the official World Cup ball to the local organizing committee, will be available on the site from 14:45 (BST).