The International Football Federation, FIFA, says six African countries have formally expressed interest in hosting the first World Cup finals in Africa in 2010.

They are Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia. All six met a December 31, 2002 FIFA deadline to turn in their preliminary bids. They will each receive a list of FIFA requirements by the end of January. Then the bidding countries have until the end of April to officially confirm or withdraw their bids.

FIFA officials are planning to visit Africa later this year to inspect hotels, stadiums and transportation systems in the bidding countries. FIFA's 24-man executive committee is expected to announce the winner of the 2010 World Cup in May, 2004. The committee decided last September that the World Cup will be held in Africa for the first time in 2010.

FIFA says South Africa was the first African country to declare its interest in the 2010 World Cup, officially entering November 5, 2002. The South Africans lost by one vote to Germany in controversial balloting for the 2006 World Cup.

Morocco registered its bid with FIFA November 13, 2002. This is the fourth time Morocco has tried to host the World Cup. FIFA says the four other African candidates all registered their bids in December of 2002.

Two of the African candidates, Tunisia and Egypt, will stage the next two editions of Africa's premier soccer tournament, the Nations Cup -- Tunisia in 2004 and Egypt in 2006.