ESPN2 Heralds World Cup With '24-Hour Countdown To Kickoff'

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The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off from South Africa with the host nation squaring off against Mexico on June 11 at 10 a.m. (ET), but ESPN will start matters in earnest the day before.
The sports programmer will devote a 24-hour pre-tournament lead-in of sorts on ESPN2, beginning at 10 a.m. on June 10. The "24-Hour Countdown to Kickoff" will precede ESPN's live presentation of the aforementioned opening match from Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, which begins with a preview at 9:30 a.m. on June 11.
There will be six hours -- from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- of daytime coverage from South Africa, highlighted by a three-hour live World Cup preview show, hosted by Chris Fowler, Bob Ley and Mike Tirico from ESPN's studio location inside the International Broadcast Center overlooking Soccer City in Johannesburg.
They will be joined by ESPN World Cup studio analysts Shaun Bartlett, Ruud Gullit, Jurgen Klinsmann, Alexi Lalas and Roberto Martinez. There also will be reports from human-interest correspondent Sal Masekela and general assignment reporters Julie Foudy, Allen Hopkins and Rob Stone, plus recaps from team camps via Darrell Currie (England), Andrew Orsatti (Australia), John Sutcliffe (Mexico), Dan Williams (South Africa) and Jeremy Schaap (United States).
Speaking of Sam's Army, the U.S. national team will have their own dedicated preview from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
That will be followed by a three-hour "World Cup Kick-off Celebration Concert," featuring Alicia Keys, the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend and Shakira and African artists Angélique, Hugh Masekela, Juanes, K'Naan and Lira.
Other highlights include the final Major League Soccer match before the domestic futbol circuit takes a World Cup pitting DC United at Seattle Sounders FC at 10 p.m.; a Homecoming with Rick Reilly on U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan at 2:30 a.m.; and ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning simulcast from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on June 11, focusing on the tournament with guests and previews.
"ESPN is committed to providing the most comprehensive 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage, and this collection of soccer-themed programs over a 24-hour span in advance of the opening match will help build the excitement for this historic event and give fans a glimpse of what to expect from South Africa during the month ahead," said Scott Guglielmino, vice president, ESPN programming and acquisitions, in a statement.

The complete schedule is as follows:
Date Time Programming
Thur., 6/10 10 a.m. 2010 FIFA World Cup Preview
1 p.m. 2010 U.S. National Team Preview
2 p.m. 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off Celebration Concert
5 p.m. SportsNation Presented by Toyota
6 p.m. Outside the Lines: Robben Island - A Greater Goal
6:30 p.m. E:60
7 p.m. Re-air - 2010 FIFA World Cup Preview
10 p.m. MLS Game of the Week (DC United at Seattle Sounders)
Fri., 6/11 12:30 a.m. Re-air - SportsNation Presented by Toyota
1:30 a.m. Re-air - 2010 U.S. National Team Preview
2:30 a.m. Homecoming with Rick Reilly: Landon Donovan
3:30 a.m. The 2006 World Cup Film - The Grand Finale
6 - 9:30 a.m. Mike and Mike in the Morning Presented by Progressive Insurance
9:30 - 10 a.m. SportsCenter