After the recent criticism aimed at a number of England players following their
After the recent criticism aimed at a number of England players following their decision not to travel to Johannesburg for the meeting with Nelson Mandela on Wednesday, England Head Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has today expressed his surprise and disappointment over the comments and defended his players.
Eriksson insisted he understood their decision to rest ahead of the friendly against South Africa, rather than making the early-morning return flight to meet Mandela on the eve of the match.
"I'm very unhappy and quite frankly astonished at the criticism that has been levelled at some of the England players in recent days as they chose not to make the trip to meet Nelson Mandela," said Sven.
He added: "Their decision was made with my full support.
"We had just travelled to South Africa on a long-haul flight 24 hours earlier and we have had a very demanding schedule in Durban.
"As the visit to meet Mr Mandela was the day before the game, it is obvious that some of the players felt it might affect their pre-match preparation.
"I understand that completely and the players must be given the right to prepare for the game entirely as they see fit.
"These players are top-class professionals who have conducted themselves as fine ambassadors for England while I have been coach.
"I feel they deserve more respect than the criticism which has been levelled at them."