The latest news headlines from the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
Saturday 26 June
Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez is looking forward to coming up against his former boss Javier Aguirre when they face Mexico in Sunday’s last 16 clash. Rodriguez worked with Aguirre at Atletico Madrid, but now they will be on opposite sides in Soccer City. “El Vasco (Aguirre) is very intelligent and real motivator,” Rodriguez told FIFA.com. “We worked together for several years and I know what he can do. He’s very good at preparing his players and he’s also got a team under his command that play very good football.”
Paraguay boss Gerardo Martino has told his side they need to pose more of an attacking threat if they are to beat Japan and reach the World Cup quarter-finals. “We were not very mobile and we were quite inaccurate against New Zealand (which finished 0-0)," he said. "We had a lot of problems in an area where we didn't expect, and that was in attack. However, I think Paraguay had an excellent defensive aspect in the three matches, we were very good defensively (conceding only one goal)."
Spain defender Joan Capdevila believes his side are stronger than ever after they bounced back from the shock of losing their opening World Cup game to reach the last 16. Defeat to Switzerland was followed by victories over Honduras and Chile to set up a mouthwatering clash with Portugal. "We've done well to be able to win and get through as group winners. Now we are playing Portugal, which will be a very nice tie,” said the full-back. "We've recovered from the psychological blow, which was the hardest thing to do. We didn't have any doubts about our play or our quality, but it was crucial for us to recover mentally and now we're strong."
Slovakia skipper Marek Hamsik admits he is upset that Italy, the country where he earns a living, have been knocked out of the World Cup. The Napoli midfielder was outstanding as Slovakia shocked the world champions on Thursday, and he has admitted to having mixed feelings. "Few people expected the Italians to be bottom and exit so early. It is sad that they lost,” said Hamsik. “Messages that have come to me from Italy, though, is that they will now root for Slovakia. This is a big failure for them, but it's football. But we are very happy now."
Incoming Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has been told he has four years to build a side that can challenge for glory after Marcello Lippi’s side crashed out of the World Cup at the Group Stage. "There's the need, the duty to start again, knowing how important this national team is for millions of fans,” said Italy Football Federation President Giancarlo Abete after confirming Prandelli will succeed Lippi on 1 July. "Prandelli has been chosen because of his technical quality, his capacity to work with youngsters. We want him to remain for a long time that will end after the next World Cup. He has signed a four-year contract."
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso is confident of being fit for his side’s World Cup last 16 clash with Portugal despite being forced off against Chile with an ankle injury. "The first x-ray confirmed that he had sprained his right ankle when he was violently tackled," said Spain team doctor Oscar Luis Celada. "But we are optimistic that he will be fit for the second round match."
Ledley King has recovered from a groin injury and could play in England’s last 16 clash with Germany on Sunday. The Tottenham centre-back went off at half-time of England’s first game of the World Cup, a 1-1 draw with the USA, and there were fears his tournament was over. But he has recovered from the injury and trained on Saturday to give Fabio Capello a selection headache.
FIFA say they will oppose any interference in the French football team by the country’s government. France president Nicolas Sarkozy has reportedly demanded an investigation into why Les Bleus endured such a horrific tournament, which saw player strikes, Nicolas Anelka sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech, and an early exit with one point from three games. But FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke insists politics must be kept out of football. “No one can ask anybody to resign," he said. "We want to avoid a difficult situation. I have given an information to the office of minister of sports on how the system is working. The system is in place. The FFF is under the umbrella of FIFA. We are not worried, but we are paying attention."
Switzerland boss Ottmar Hitzfeld admits nerves got the better of his side as they drew 0-0 with Honduras to go out of the World Cup. "Everyone is very disappointed as we had great ambition. We knew what we needed to do and I felt that was too much of a burden for the players,” said Hitzfeld, whose side shocked Spain in their first game before losing to Chile. "We got more nervous as the game wore on and were not accurate enough with our passes. We had some opportunities but we were not good enough going forward.”
Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque admits his side are feeling the pressure after they topped Group H with a 2-1 victory over Chile. The European champions lost their opening game to Switzerland but recovered to set up a much-anticipated clash with Portugal. "There's a lot of pressure in the World Cup," said Del Bosque. "We know what people expect in Spain and we're trying to give our all. Let's see what we achieve."
Germany striker Cacau has been ruled out of Sunday’s last 16 clash with a stomach muscle injury. Cacau started the last game against Ghana as Miroslav Klose was suspended, but he will be unable to add to the one goal he has scored so far in the competition in Bloemfontein. "The injury means he won't be available," explained Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff before the team travelled to Bloemfontein.
Jermain Defoe has hailed England team-mate Ashley Cole as ‘the best left-back in the world.’ "Ashley is brilliant. For me, he is the best left-back in the world,” said Defoe, who is being tipped for a starting spot alongside Cole in Sunday’s World Cup last 16 clash with Germany. "His energy is unbelievable - what an athlete. He is the best and he has been like that for years. To have that consistency at the top level for so long is special."
Friday 25 June
Nigeria captain Kanu has announced his retirement from international football following the Super Eagles' exit as the bottom club in Group B in his third appearance in the World Cup finals. The Portsmouth striker said: "For me it's a farewell on the same continent where it all started."
Germany duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng are injury doubts for Sunday's second round match against England. Midfielder Schweinsteiger has a thigh problem and left-back Boateng is struggling to overcome a calf injury. Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said: "Jerome has a bit of a calf strain and for both (Boateng and Schweinsteiger) it might be a bit critical for them to be in the starting line-up on Sunday, but we are optimistic."
Injured Germany captain Michael Ballack has signed for former club Bayer Leverkusen on a two-year deal. The former Chelsea player, who missed the World Cup because of an injury picked up in May's FA Cup Final win over Portsmouth, played in the Champions League final with Leverkusen in 2002. He said: "With my transfer a circle is complete. I had a beautiful and successful time here, which I like to look back on a lot."
England will wear their all-red kit when they go to Bloemfontein to play Germany on Sunday. England are the designated away team for the last 16 clash and have again elected to go for the red shorts, as opposed to the white ones, they wore in their all-important Group C victory over Slovenia on Wednesday.
Their manager has gone, but Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o has pledged to continue playing for the west African nation despite his side's poor performance at the World Cup. The Inter Milan striker, 29, scored twice in Cameroon's three Group E defeats in South Africa.
New Zealand still do not have a professional league but manager Ricki Herbert believes they have justified their place in the World Cup. The All Whites drew 0-0 with Paraguay in their final game to finish third in Group F, ahead of World Cup holders Italy. Herbert played in New Zealand's previous appearance in the Finals, in 1982, when they were comprehensively defeated in all three group games. "It's our second time at the World Cup and to completely reverse what we've done before is quite amazing," Herbert said. "A lot of people thought we shouldn't be here and that we had amateurs who were not up to it. But I think that's dead and buried now."
Departing Italy coach Marcello Lippi has deflected criticism from his players by admitting he is the reason behind the shock exit of the 2006 World Cup winners, who finished bottom of Group F after a 3-2 defeat by Slovakia on Thursday. Lippi, who will now be succeeded by Cesare Prandelli, said: "I take all responsibility for what happened. "If a team turns up with terror in their heart and legs, and is unable to express its ability, it's because the coach didn't train them as he should. I didn't think we could win the World Cup but I thought we would do better."
Holland coach Bert van Marwijk says he will not rush Arjen Robben back into the Dutch starting line-up. Robben, struggling with a troublesome hamstring injury, came off the bench for his World Cup 2010 debut in Holland's 2-1 win over Cameroon on Thursday. But ahead of Holland's last 16 clash with Slovakia, Van Marwijk has vowed to treat the winger's injury with caution. "Of course we're incredibly pleased to see that he can be so valuable to us. He was able to play for 20 minutes and everybody can see how important he's turned out to be for us," he said. "The idea is to build him up slowly and gradually. I take it he'll be able to play in the next match but I don't know if he will be part of the first XI."
Paul Le Guen has confirmed he will leave his position as Cameroon coach when his contract runs out in the summer. The Indomitable Lions lost their final World Cup game 2-1 to the Netherlands on Thursday night to finish bottom of Group E with no points. Le Guen said: "The end of my contract with Cameroon is coming up. It was planned all along that I was going to stop and I will stop. "It's the end of this mission. I'm going to think about the future now, and we'll see."
Germany coach Joachim Low insists talk over a new contract will be put on hold until after the World Cup. Low's discussions over a new deal as manager broke down last year but ahead of the last 16 showdown with England on Sunday, he insists he's putting the talks behind him for now. "It remains the case that we will talk after the tournament - whenever that will be," Low said. "But I want to emphasise again, my relationship with the president is absolutely fine. Two days ago he was with us in the hotel, we sat together and talked for a long time in the evenings. Everything is OK between us."
Thursday 24 June
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is a major doubt for the World Cup last 16 clash against England on Sunday. The 25-year-old is struggling with a thigh problem ahead of the match in Bloemfontein, while defender Jerome Boateng is suffering with a calf injury. "The team doctor says the recovery time is short. We just hope he's fit to play because he's become a key player," said Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick of Schweinsteiger. "Jerome has a bit of a calf strain and for both [Boateng and Schweinsteiger] it might be a bit critical for them to be in the starting line-up on Sunday, but we are optimistic."
Nigeria captain Kanu has retired from international football following his side’s elimination from the World Cup in South Africa. The Portsmouth striker earned 80 caps for Nigeria over a 16-year career but has called it a day after they finished bottom of Group B. Kanu said: “For me it's a farewell on the same continent it all started. It probably didn't end well for us in this tournament, nevertheless I'm happy with all I've done for the national team.”
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane is considering resigning after his side were knocked out of the World Cup following their 1-0 loss to the USA on Wednesday. The north Africans finished bottom of Group C on just one point and did not score any goals in South Africa. Saadane said: "I think there are many people who would like me to go. Let's see what the president says once we have reviewed the situation."
Argentina coach Diego Maradona thinks Lionel Messi is having the same effect on the World Cup as he did when he inspired his country to glory in 1986. Barcelona star Messi has shone for Argentina in South Africa and Maradona believes the 23-year-old is playing as well as he did in Mexico 24 years ago. Maradona said: "I think he's there. I believe he has broken the mould and is ready, let's end the comparisons. Leo is ready to go on to a pitch and leave the World Cup with the crown."
Australia coach Pim Verbeek was left ruing his side's 4-0 thrashing by Germany in their opening Group D match after they were knocked out of the World Cup on goal difference. Australia finished with four points after winning their final game 2-1 against Serbia, but finished third in the group behind Ghana on goal difference. Verbeek said: "In the end the goal difference against Germany killed us. We can't blame any of the players who did a great job and worked hard when everyone thought it was over."
Franck Ribery has flown to Munich for an operation on his groin following France's first round exit from the World Cup. It is not certain how long the 27-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder has been carrying the injury.
Roselyne Bachelot, France's Sports Minister, believes it is "inevitable" that Jean-Pierre Escalettes will leave his post as head of the French Football Federation. Escalettes has insisted he has no plans to quit his role, but Bachelot said: "The departure of Jean-Pierre Escalettes is not something I want but I find it inevitable."
Germany captain Philipp Lahm is expecting a "classic" last 16 clash against England on Sunday. The old rivalry will be renewed in Bloemfontein after the Three Lions finished second in Group C and Germany won Group B. The countries have a great history of memorable games at major tournaments, and full-back Lahm is expecting another historic fixture. Lahm said: "The duel against England is of course a classic. The anticipation ahead of it is huge. We are looking ahead with confidence. But we know that we have to do some things better."
Otto Rehhagel has resigned as Greece manager after their exit from the World Cup. Greece were knocked out of the tournament after losing their final Group B match 2-0 to Argentina on Tuesday, prompting Rehhagel to tender his resignation. The German coach, 71, was appointed in 2001 and steered Greece to the European title three years later.
Australian trio Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill will continue to play for Australia despite the Socceroos' elimination from the World Cup. The experienced players were rumoured to be considering their international futures but all insist they are now looking forward to 2014 World Cup. "I'm a very proud Australian. I'll keep playing for as long as I can," said Everton midfielder Cahill.
Deco may miss out on Portugal's clash with Brazil on Friday as he struggles to overcome a hip problem. "It's so-so. I'll try to be better for the game but we'll see. I'm still having treatment and I hope to be available," said the midfielder.
Wednesday 23 June
Mexico boss Javier Aguirre has told his side to go all-out for revenge when they take on Argentina in the World Cup's last 16 on Sunday. The game is a repeat of the last 16 match at the 2006 World Cup, which Argentina won 2-1 after extra-time. "This could be a nice opportunity to take revenge for what happened four years ago," said Aguirre.
South Korea captain Park Ji-Sung has hailed his side after they reached the World Cup's knockout stages after their 2-2 draw with Nigeria. "Our goal was to reach the last 16," said the Manchester United man. "I'm very happy we accomplished this. All of the players know how important this is."
Greece boss Otto Rehhagel has refused to confirm whether he intends to stay in his post. "My players played with their hearts and with excitement," said German Rehhagel after Greece's 2-0 loss to Argentina ended their hopes of making the World Cup's last 16. "But it was just not enough to cause Argentina much troubles."
Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okocha believes Africa must invest in youth development if they are to improve on their showing at the 2010 World Cup. There is a real chance there will be an African side in the last 16 as South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon have already been knocked out, while Ghana, Ivory Coast and Algeria battle to avoid suffering the same fate. "We (need to) go back to our drawing boards and invest in youth and start planning," Okocha told the BBC World Service."In Africa I don't think we plan enough. We always wait for an event and then get ourselves ready for just that event."
American midfielder Michael Bradley has told his side it's now-or-never as they prepare to take on Algeria in their final Group game. "We have 90 minutes to get ourselves into the next round," Bradley, whose team know they will reach the last 16 with a victory, told FIFA.com. "We know it's going to be a hard game, but it's a big game, and as a player these are the kinds of games you love to play in, with everything on the line. We have a big chance to get ourselves into the Round of 16."
The French government will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss why the country's football team under-performed so badly at the World Cup. The meeting will be chaired by president Nicolas Sarkozy, who will meet with Thierry Henry, at the striker's request. France were knocked out after taking one point from three games and their campaign was destroyed by in-fighting, with the players refusing to train on Sunday after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for abusing coach Raymond Domenech.
South Africa did their country proud despite going out of the World Cup at the Group Stages, according to Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan. "Yes they did not make it past the group stage but they did what the country asked of them - they played with pride, passion, skill and commitment, they gave their best," said Jordaan after South Africa's 2-1 win over France proved to be in vain. They did the national team jersey and every single South African proud and we want to thank them for what they've done for this country."
France captain Patrice Evra has apologised to his country for their terrible showing at the World Cup. Raymond Domenech's men finished Group A with one point from three games and their players briefly went on strike after Nicolas Anelka was sent home. "It's not the time now for the settling of scores, it's the time now for apologising and for feeling all the suffering that the millions of French are feeling," the Manchester United defender told TF1. "This apology goes directly to them. People will know how we came to this point. But I didn't come here to say that now, I came to say sorry."
David Villa is free to play in Spain's crucial clash with Chile after escaping punishment for allegedly striking Honduras defender Emilio Izaguirre. "The disciplinary committee of FIFA have examined the situation and have found no grounds to open a case against David Villa," read a FIFA statement.
Tuesday 22 June
Patrice Evra, the France captain, has been dropped for Les Bleus final group game of the World Cup by manager Raymond Domenech. Evra, who clashed with the France physio and boycotted training with the rest of the squad following their 2-0 defeat to Mexico, will not play against South Africa. Under-fire manager Domenech has now taken drastic action and dropped Evra for the Group A match against Bafana Bafana. Les Bleus have to beat the hosts comfortably and hope there is a winner in the Uruguay vs. Mexico game to advance. France have just one point in the tournament so far and have not scored a single goal.
Holland coach Bert van Marwijk insists a team does not have to be united to win the World Cup. Reports of unrest in the France camp has undermined their chances of reaching the last 16 but Van Marwijk - whose Holland team have reached the knockout stages following two wins from two group games - isn't convinced a united dressing room necessarily means a successful team. "It is just as important to have a strong team, a team that knows what it is about and does not necessarily have to be each other's friends," he said. "They have to respect each other's qualities. They need to be able to tell each other the truth. Those are usually the teams that are able to bounce back when it really matters, and I think that we are able to do that."
Brazil midfielder Elano wants the World Cup referees to be stricter when it comes to punishing fouls. The former Manchester City star was taken off with a shin injury following a tackle from Ivory Coast defender Cheik Tiote during their 3-1 victory on Sunday. "I forgive because I am not a player that feels remorse," Elano said. "But I believe referees should be much tougher because in this case the foul was committed close to where the official (Stephane Lannoy) was. I have something but it's less serious than first feared," he said. "I will do everything possible so that I can play in our next game." With maximum points from their opening two games, Brazil are through to the last 16 and will go there as winners if they beat Portugal in their final group game.
Monday 21 June
Raymond Domenech believes the French Football Federation made the right decision to send Nicolas Anelka home. Anelka was axed from the squad following his verbal attack on the France manager and Domenech said: "The sanction is justified and I support the Federation. Nobody should behave in such a way. High level sportsmen have to lead by example."
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira expects the France team to be united when they play their last group game against the host nation on Tuesday. The France camp appears to be in turmoil after Nicolas Anelka was sent home from the squad and they refused to train on Sunday. But Parreira said: "We know this crisis in France is long standing. There has been a lot of friction. But it will not affect what happens on the pitch. When the French team enter the pitch they will be seen by the whole world. I am sure they will do everything in their power to try to get a victory."
Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi fears the defending champions could be heading home after the group stages if they fail to show a dramatic improvement against Slovakia on Thursday. Italy have only taken two points from their first two games and De Rossi said: “We'll have to improve quickly, because otherwise we won't be going far. We weren't at our best and we can do a lot better than that.”
Uruguay striker Diego Forlan is hoping to avoid Argentina in the last 16 of the World Cup. Uruguay only need a point against Mexico in their last game to finish top of Group A and miss having to face Diego Maradona’s side in the next round. Forlan said: “It's not because of fear, but because the more South American teams there are later on the better. If we have to face them further down the line we will do it happily, but for one of us to be eliminated in the last 16 is a waste."
Brazil have yet to appeal against the dismissal of Kaka during their 3-1 win over Ivory Coast and he is set to miss the final group game against Portugal. Brazil coach Dunga felt the sending-off was unjustified after he received his second yellow card for an innocuous challenge with Kader Keita. Kaka said: “The images tell it all. I hope FIFA looks into this.”
Argentina coach Diego Maradona has denied reports that he will rest Lionel Messi for their final Group B game against Greece. Messi has endured a long season with Barcelona and Argentina are virtually assured a place in the last 16, but Maradona said: "Lionel Messi always wants to play and I thought I should give him a break (in training), but if you have a player as good as Leo, who is the best player in the world, I think it would be a sin not to give Messi to the people, to the team, and leave out the player who can certainly make the difference in a match."
Matthew Upson will partner John Terry in the England defence in their final group game against Slovenia on Wednesday. With Ledley King ruled out through injury and Jamie Carragher suspended, England Manager Fabio Capello revealed that Upson will play in Port Elizabeth. Capello said: "Upson will play because he always played with John Terry and I probably will change some others."
France players have returned to training on Monday morning, just 24 hours after they refused to take any part in their routine session in protest at Nicolas Anelka being sent home from the squad. France sports minister Roselyne Bachelot has now intervened and wants to meet with the key people involved. Bachelot said: "We are taking note of the indignation of the French people and...calling for dignity and responsibility. It's not yet the right time to take disciplinary action but that time will come very soon."
German referee Wolfgang Stark will take charge of England's final Group C match against Slovenia on Wednesday. The Three Lions will be assured of their place in the last 16 if they win the game in Port Elizabeth. Stark works as a banker and has been an international referee since March 2001.
Holland coach Bert van Marwijk will allow Arjen Robben to make his own decision over whether he is fit enough to face Cameroon on Thursday. Robben has missed the first two group matches with a hamstring injury and Van Marwijk said: "He knows his own body best and he will let me know when he is ready. I'd prefer that he is used only when he is fit."
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek admits his team have the belief to beat England in their final group game. Slovenia are the surprise leaders in Group C after taking four points from their first two games and they are determined to book their place in the last 16 with a victory in Port Elizabeth. Kek said: “The most important thing for such a small country as Slovenia is belief. You must believe you can achieve, then you have a chance. That goes for any team and my team believe they can beat anyone.”
Sunday 20 June
Cristiano Ronaldo believes Wayne Rooney will rediscover his best form and fire England into the World Cup knockout stages. "Wayne Rooney tried very hard, but he didn't play alone,” said Rooney’s former Manchester United team-mate. "When it's not coming, when you don't score a goal or play well, it is always the big players' fault. But Wayne is a great player and will do a good job."
Alexander Frei has trained with Switzerland ahead of their clash with Chile on Monday. The striker missed their victory over Spain with an ankle problem, but could now declare himself fit for the match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Sani Kaita has received over 1000 death threats after being sent-off in Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat to Greece. The midfielder was dismissed in the first-half with his side winning 1-0, and Lars Lagerback’s men could not hold on to their advantage. "Kaita has received more than 1,000 threats to his e-mail from Nigeria," said team spokesman Peterside Idah. "We are taking these threats very seriously. We've spoken to the Nigerian government and also written to FIFA."
Germany captain Philipp Lahm has promised his side will qualify for the World Cup’s last 16. Joachim Loew’s side are second in Group D but are only above Serbia on goal difference having taken three points from two games. But Lahm is adamant Germany’s experience will see them through. "Most of us have been in situations like this before - in 2008 at the European Championships, it was similar,” said the Bayern Munich star. "We needed a draw in the final preliminary round game, otherwise we would have gone out of the tournament. But we made it into the next round then, and we will get there this time."
France’s World Cup campaign is in chaos after their players refused to train in protest at the decision to send Nicolas Anelka home. The Chelsea striker was sent home for swearing at coach Raymond Domenech, and his fellow players told their boss they would not train – leading to the immediate resignation of French Football Federation managing director Jean-Louis Valentin. And captain Patrice Evra had to be separated from fitness coach Robert Duverne, who has also resigned. “The French Football Federation did not at any time try to protect the group,” said a statement from the players, which was read out by Domenech. "To show our opposition to the decision taken [on Anelka], all the players decided not to take part in training." France have taken one point from their opening two games against Uruguay and Mexico, and face South Africa on Tuesday.
Japan boss Takeshi Okada insists he won’t make big changes to his side for their winner-takes-all clash with Denmark. "We have no time to look back as we have to focus on our next match," said Okada, whose side were beaten 1-0 by Holland on Saturday. "Right now my players are shocked but I have no intention of making any major modifications. We have to recover physically and mentally so my team will be able to play in the best way against Denmark.”
Argentina boss Diego Maradona admits his country’s World Cup campaign is going perfectly. Argentina have been one of the best sides in the tournament so far, beating Nigeria 1-0 before trouncing South Korea 4-1. "I have to congratulate my players because everything they have done so far has worked out well. I am very happy at this World Cup," said Maradona.
France boss Raymond Domenech says he would have allowed Nicolas Anelka to stay with his squad if the striker had apologised for swearing at him. "I had another chat with him (Anelka) the next day and I left open the possibility for him to apologise, something which he did not want to do,” Domenech told TF1 after Anelka was sent home for allegedly abusing his manager at half-time during France’s 2-0 defeat to Mexico. "The decision to exclude him was the right one. I am sorry for the children for whom the French team represents something. "He (Anelka) does not have the right to say such things."
USA captain Carlos Bocanegra has told England not to underestimate Slovenia. England must beat their fellow Europeans to progress to the World Cup’s last 16 and Bocanegra, whose side drew 2-2 with Slovenia on Friday, reckons it will be a tough game for Fabio Caello’s men. "They're very good, they're strong guys. (Robert) Koren and (Valter) Birsa in the midfield did well and they had two big guys up front (Zlatan Ljubijankic and Milivoje Novakovic) who work hard,” said Bocanegra. “They defend as a team really well and they hit us on two counters. It will definitely be a tough game for England, they're a good team."
Harry Kewell has been given one-match ban after being sent-off in Australia’s 1-1 draw with Ghana on Saturday. The striker handled Jonathan Mensah’s shot on the line and was dismissed by referee Roberto Rossetti. And FIFA have given the Socceroos’ No.10 a one-match ban, meaning he will miss Australia’s final group game against Serbia and must hope his country qualifies for the last 16 if he is to play any part in the remainder of the tournament.
Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o believes his side’s early exit from the World Cup is the biggest disappointment of his career. "Is this the biggest disappointment of my career? I think so," said the Inter Milan star after Denmark’s 2-1 victory over his side ensured they were the first side to be knocked out of the tournament. "All my season was focused to be ready for this World Cup. It's the only thing I could think about. "It's hard. It's not normal for us to finish last. But there will be other days. They played better than us in the match. It's that simple."
Denmark boss Morten Olsen has told his side they need to improve dramatically if they are to have an impact at the World Cup. Saturday’s 2-1 win over Cameroon has set up a winner takes all clash with Japan and Olsen admits improvements must be made. "We showed things that we don't want to do again, that's for sure, that we need to talk to the players about over the next couple of days,” said Olsen. "But we did have a number of chances. Compared to the game with Holland there were more chances. "We had a heroic fight in defence, but there were other problems as well. It was difficult to get the ball off the opponents and we need to improve on going forward as well."
Dutch boss Bert van Marwijk believes his side are genuine World Cup contenders after they beat Japan 1-0 to reach the last 16. "Everyone could see Japan do not have a bad team," said van Marwijk, whose side have taken six points from six so far. "And then you have to be very patient. "We can do much better, but with six points from two games without conceding you can't say you're not satisfied. "We came here to win a prize, to become world champions."
Saturday 19 June
Portugal's appeal against the yellow card shown to Cristiano Ronaldo during their opening Group G game has been rejected.
Ronaldo was booked after an altercation with Guy-Roland Demel in the goalless draw against Ivory Coast and is now one caution away from a suspension. However, Fifa have backed the referee's on-field decision and refused to rescind the booking.
Carlos Vela is facing up to ten days on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury during Mexico's 2-0 victory over France on Thursday night. The Arsenal striker is now certain to miss the decisive final Group A game against Uruguay and he would also be doubtful for the last 16 clash should Mexico make it through.
Slovenia striker Nejc Pecnik will miss the rest of the World Cup after he broke his ankle during his side's 2-2 draw with the USA on Friday. Pecnik suffered the injury in a collision with Clint Dempsey after he came on as a second half substitute. The 24-year-old, whose goal in the play-off against Russia sealed Slovenia's place in South Africa, will now miss Wednesday's game against England, where a draw would be enough for Matjaz Kek's side to reach the last 16.
France have sent striker Nicolas Anelka home from the World Cup following a row with coach Raymond Domenech during Thursday night's 2-0 defeat by Mexico. The Chelsea forward, 31, missed training on Saturday after a row during half-time of the game and later refused to apologise when asked to by Jean-Pierre Escalettes, president of the French Football Federation. "Faced by the refusal of the player to publicly apologise, he [Escalettes] took the decision in total agreement with the coach and the official members of the delegation present to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the squad," said the FFF in a statement.
World Cup organisers Fifa have announced that players on one yellow card will not have that booking cleared until after the quarter-final stage of the tournament. In previous years, players booked only once in the group stages started the knock-out matches with a clean slate.
Diego Maradona is set to rest a number of key players for Argentina's final Group B match against Greece on Tuesday after already steering his side into the last 16. Right-back Jonas Gutierrez will miss out anyway through suspension and the Newcastle defender has revealed he is receiving support from the north east. He said: "I never thought I would be able to say this, but I think that Geordies are adopting Argentina as their second team."
South Africa defender Matthew Booth believes a lack of depth is costing the World Cup hosts and thinks adrenalin inspired the good performance in their opening game against Mexico. That 1-1 draw in Johannesburg to kick-off the tournament raised expectations of the Bafana Bafana, but they were then beaten 3-0 by Uruguay in their second Group A match. “I think our performance against Mexico was pure adrenalin,” said Booth, who was an unused substitute in both games. “The second and third games are always games where players tend to show their true qualities. We don't have a lot of depth.”
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz has insisted that he and Chelsea midfielder Deco have put a difference of opinions behind them. Deco criticised Queiroz's tactics following Portugal's goalless draw with the Ivory Coast in their World Cup opener. "The most important thing was to ensure that, after Deco's comments, serenity was maintained, that confidence was absolute," said Queiroz.
Nicolas Anelka was involved in a heated argument with coach Raymond Domenech during half-time of France's 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday night, according to reports. Anelka apparently reacted angrily after Domenech criticised his movement during a goalless first half, and the incident prompted the manager to substitute the Chelsea striker for Andre-Pierre Gignac before the re-start. It is the latest in a series of rumours concerning unrest in the French camp and Anelka is now expected to be disciplined.
The president of the Spanish football federation has assured coach Vicente Del Bosque that his job is safe no matter how the European Champions perform at the World Cup. Spain fell to a shock 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in their opening Group H match and now face pressure to reach the last 16 in their remaining two group games, against Chile and Honduras. But RFEF president Angel Maria Villar said: "Whatever happens at the World Cup, Del Bosque will continue as coach. I'm very sure about that."
Didier Drogba is expected to start for the Ivory Coast against Brazil on Sunday as he recovers from a fractured arm. The Chelsea striker came on as a substitute in the Ivory Coast's goalless Group G opener with Portugal and is making progress. Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said: “Do not be surprised if Drogba starts.”
France coach Raymond Domenech admits his team need “a miracle” to progress into the last 16 after their shock 2-0 loss to Mexico. Uruguay and Mexico meet in their final Group A game knowing a point will be enough for both sides to progress, knocking France out of the tournament. "We need a miracle now," said Domenech, who will step down after the World Cup. "When we are forced to rely on others, there's nothing to say. I don't have the words, it's a real disappointment for all the people who believed in us."
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will have an operation on his troublesome back after the World Cup. The surgery will rule the Juventus goalkeeper out of action for up to four months. Buffon, 32, was substituted during the World Cup holders' opening 1-1 draw with Paraguay because of a herniated disc but is hoping to play some further part in South Africa before going under the knife.
Friday 18 June
Ivory Coast defender Emmanuel Eboue believes Sven-Goran Eriksson has made his side more organised and believes they can qualify from Group G. "We are so happy to get Eriksson as our manager because now when we play we are more solid and more compact," said the Arsenal defender, whose side face Brazil on Sunday having drawn 0-0 with Portugal in their opening game of the World Cup. "Our objective is to defend well first. Every player feels very well and we've got confidence in ourselves."
Switzerland defender Reto Ziegler has told his side not to rest on their laurels despite beating European champions Spain in their opening game of the World Cup. "Now we have to concentrate on playing well against Chile because it's not good to win against Spain and then play a bad game the second time," he said. "We know we did something big and we all proud for the country but now we have to concentrate against Chile because it will be another hard game."
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain insists his side will continue to play the attacking brand of football that has seen them installed as one of the favourites to win the World Cup. The Real Madrid striker scored a hat-trick as Diego Maradona's men beat South Korea 4-1 on Thursday - and Higuain insists that attack is the best form of defence. "We played our style and that's what brought us to this victory. We won deservedly and we're going to continue to play our style," explained the 22-year-old.
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso has told his side they can afford no more mistakes if they want to reach the World Cup's last 16. The European champions were stunned by Switzerland in their opening game and are likely to have to beat both Honduras and Chile if they are to reach the second round. "We need to take it step by step. Without doubt the game against Honduras is crucial because there is no margin for error," said the Real Madrid midfielder. "We're expecting a difficult game. Honduras did not get a good result against Chile and therefore it's an important game."
Nigeria striker Kala Uche has set his sights on making history by becoming the first side in World Cup history to progress to the last 16 having lost two games in the Group Stage. "We are in a very difficult situation, it is true, but in football anything can happen...It's still very sad, but we just have to cheer up," said Uche, whose side have lost to both Argentina and Greece and play South Korea on Tuesday. "We played very well in two games and lost. We just have to keep working hard and try to be physically and mentally ready. It won't be easy."
Chile winger Mark Gonzalez admits that playing in the World Cup is a dream after his side's impressive 1-0 victory over Honduras in their opening game. "I think playing in the World Cup is the greatest thing that can happen to a soccer player," said Gonzalez, who lived in South Africa until the age of 10. "It is a dream come true. I don't know how to express how happy I feel or how we feel to be here. I have seen a few of my family, my uncle and a few cousins, but I haven't seen them all yet. They were at the game but I am looking forward to playing in Johannesburg or Pretoria so I can see more of them."
New Zealand have been boosted by the news that vice-captain Tim Brown could have recovered from a shoulder injury to face world champions Italy on Sunday. "He is progressing well," said boss Ricki Herbert."You know what players are like. They want to step out tomorrow but Tim is realistic. I am not going to put any pressure on him. If he's positive and comfortable around selection time, he will be considered."
Greece boss Otto Rehhagel admits his side are underdogs going into their crucial game against Argentina next Tuesday, despite their 2-1 victory over Nigeria. Greece and South Korea are tied on three points with South Korea, while Argentina have won both of their opening two games. "Argentina are world-class, they're clearly better than us," said Rehhagel. "We still have a chance, but it'll be very hard. We're the underdogs against Argentina, that's for sure, but we'll give it our best shot. For now, we'll just enjoy the fact we've beaten Nigeria."
Honduras defender Maynor Figueroa insists his team's self-belief has not wavered despite their 1-0 defeat to Chile on Wednesday. And the Wigan star believes Honduras can cause an upset by inflicting a second defeat on European champions Spain when the two sides meet in Johannesburg on Monday. "The morale of the team is good, I think it is nothing more than the beginning, knowing that against Spain it will be a completely different game," said Figueroa. "We have to continue working, believing in ourselves - defeats are what give the most strength to the player."
Nigerian midfielder Sani Kaita has apologised for his sending-off in his country's 2-1 defeat to Greece. The Super Eagles were winning 1-0 in Bloemfontein when Kaita was dismissed for kicking out at Vasileios Torosidis - and his side went on to lose the vital Group B game, leaving them in grave danger of exiting the World Cup at the Group Stages. "I made a mistake, he hit me with the ball and I went hard on him. I made a mistake and I want to say sorry to my players and to all Nigerians," said Kaita.
Brazilian star Robinho has backed Kaka to rediscover his best form and reckons Dunga's side will improve on their opening game of the World Cup, a 2-1 victory over North Korea. "When Kaka plays well he can decide any game. He is very important to us," Robinho told globoesporte.com ahead of Sunday's clash with Ivory Coast. "I realise that we can all improve in the coming games. It was only the first one and what happened was fairly normal. The Selecao has excellent players and if we have to replace anyone we are reassured by the quality we have."
Disgusted France captain Patrice Evra has labeled Les Bleus' World Cup campaign a 'catastrophe' and reckons they need a miracle to advance from Group A. France are on the brink of elimination at the group stage following Thursday night's 2-0 defeat to Mexico. It leaves them needing either Mexico or Uruguay to drop points against each other in their final game and for Raymond Domenech's side to rack up a big score against South Africa. "It's a catastrophe, that's all we can say. We are not a great team," said Evra, who was part of the side which suffered an early exit at Euro 2008. "I am deeply upset, I'm disgusted. We owe it to ourselves to beat South Africa. But as for miracles, I don't believe in them too much."
Thursday 17 June
Switzerland defender Philippe Senderos is set to miss the rest of the World Cup after being sidelined with an ankle injury. Senderos was forced to leave the field during the first half of their 1-0 win over Spain and has definitely been ruled out of the last two group games.
David Villa is convinced his side can reach the last 16 of the World Cup and will not change their style of play following their opening defeat against Switzerland. Villa said: “We would have preferred to have had everything going in our favour but this is a World Cup and nothing is as easy as it seems. Nevertheless, we are convinced that we will go through to the next round. We are not going to change our style just because of this defeat. It has been down to our play that we have achieved success in the past."
Brazil striker Nilmar believes Spain are still one of the strong favourites to win the World Cup, despite losing their opening group game against Switzerland. Nilmar said: "That could be a lesson for other teams - this result shows what can happen at a World Cup. But I have not changed my opinion - Spain remain one of the favourites."
Serbia coach Radomir Antic has confirmed that central defender Neven Subotic will replace the suspended Aleksandar Lukovic and is hoping he can keep the Germany strikers at bay on Friday. Antic said: "Subotic will be very motivated to play well. He is a good replacement for Lukovic. I have tried as a coach to do whatever I could so that each of my players starts the game in the best of his form."
Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is refusing to write off North Korea and believes they could still cause a major surprise in Group G. Despite suffering a 2-1 defeat against Brazil in their opening game, Eriksson said: "South Korea play good football and if I am not wrong, South Korea and North Korea were both in the same qualification group, so I think we should respect them. You never know what will happen in the next round of matches and how important the last games will be."
Cameroon 'keeper Souleymanou Hamidou is convinced his side will show a vast improvement in their next game against Denmark and show they mean business at the World Cup. After suffering a 1-0 defeat against Japan in their opening match, Hamidou said: "I think in the next game we'll see the real Cameroon. We must start well against Denmark and give everything to get all three points."
Spain's Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos are both expected to be fit for the next group game against Honduras despite picking up injuries during the 1-0 defeat against Switzerland. Iniesta had to leave the field following a hefty challenge while Ramos damaged his ribs. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is also expected to hand recalls to Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres who are both fully fit again.
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira will face no action from FIFA following his comments about Swiss referee Massimo Busacca. Parreira was criticial of his display during South Africa’s 3-0 defeat against Uruguay saying he “was very angry and disappointed in the referee and probably doesn’t deserve to be there.”
Australia midfielder Tim Cahill has been handed a major boost after he was given just a one match ban for his sending off against Germany in the opening group game. Cahill feared he would be given a three match suspension after he was shown a straight red card for a late tackle on Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger. But FIFA said the offence merited just a one match suspension and Cahill will be available for the final Group D game against Serbia.
Portugal have asked FIFA to overturn the yellow card handed out to Cristiano Ronaldo during their opening group game against Ivory Coast. The Portuguese Football Federation (PFF) have issued a statement saying the Real Madrid star was “pushed and insulted” after he was fouled by Guy Demel.
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is in danger of missing the rest of the World Cup after being ruled out of Sunday's match against New Zealand with a back injury. The Juventus player came off at half time in Italy's opening game draw with Paraguay. Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci said: "It's not easy to make a prognosis but it's a small margin and Buffon strongly wants to recuperate."
Wednesday 16 June
Gilberto Silva has backed Brazil team-mate Kaka to show his best form in the World Cup. "In every game he will improve," said Gilberto after the Real Madrid star was substituted in Brazil's 2-1 win over North Korea on Tuesday night. "It is very good to see him because he is really hungry to do well for Brazil and for himself. All the team are behind him and he has got the confidence of everyone. I am sure for the next games he will be much, much better."
Tim Cahill will find out on Thursday if he will miss the remainder of Australia's Group Stage games at the World Cup. The Everton midfielder was sent-off in the Socceroos 4-0 defeat to Germany on Sunday and Cahill is hoping to receive only a one-match ban. "We're confident that it will get a good hearing," said Football Federation Australia after filing their defence to FIFA's disciplinary committee.
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain insists he is not worried despite drawing a blank in his side's opening World Cup game against Nigeria and is confident he will open his account against South Korea on Thursday. "The most important thing for a striker is to have goalscoring opportunities and I had some," the Real Madrid striker said. "The rest is just a question of destiny. I'm sure the goals will come and I hope it's against Korea."
FIFA have rejected France's request to replace injured goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso with Stephane Ruffier. The Bordeaux stopper tore his hamstring in training on Monday but football's governing body have decided not to allow coach Raymond Domenech to call up Monaco's Ruffier as a replacement. In a statement FIFA said they "considered the situation not to be a case of force majeure."
Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to have recovered from a cold in time for Germany's game with Serbia in Port Elizabeth on Friday. The influential midfielder did not train on Tuesday or Wednesday but should be fit to take his place in Joachim Loew's side for their second Group D clash.
Milan Jovanovic, the Serbia striker, says his side are still confident of beating Germany, despite losing their opening game to Ghana. He said: "If we want to upset them, we will have to show no fear and play the best we can, because we face a better team." The Germans demolished Australia 4-0 in their opener, and appear one of the tournament's strongest teams so far, but Jovanovic remains optimistic, adding: "Defeat has influenced our mood. We have to get as many points as possible against better teams than us."
Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron will miss his country's World Cup meeting with South Korea on Thursday because of a minor leg injury. Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez will replace him. Coach Diego Maradona, who confirmed he will pick an otherwise unchanged team, admitted he did not want to risk Veron aggravating the muscle strain that would potentially rule him out of the rest of the tournament. Maradona said: "It's hard to leave Seba [Veron] out but there are also risks playing him. I don't want the World Cup to end for him, I need him. He understood it was the best thing for the squad."
Brazil forward Robinho is already setting his sights on his country's second group match against Ivory Coast, after the five times World Champions began their campaign with a 2-1 victory over North Korea. Robinho, who set up Elano for Brazil's second on the night, is confident the team will only get better in Group G. He said: "I think we will improve for the second game. I am sure of that. And people can expect us to play with a great will and that we represent our country well. What we wanted was to start with a win, and thank God we achieved it," he said.
Honduras have called up Jerry Palacios to replace injured Julio Cesar de Leon - making them the first nation in World Cup history to have three brothers in the same squad. Palacios joins brothers Wilson and Johnny in the squad for Honduras' opening game against Chile on Wednesday.
France have put Monaco goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier on standby to replace the injured Cedric Carrasso. Carrasso, Raymond Domenech's third-choice stopper, injured his thigh muscle on Monday and Carrasso has cancelled his holiday plans even though France would need special dispensation from FIFA to call him up before the tournament has started. "I cut short my holiday because I got a phone call from [France goalkeeping coach] Bruno Martini," Ruffier told L'Equipe. "For the moment I'm waiting but if they need me I'm ready."
Tuesday 15 June
Iker Casillas has challenged his Spanish team-mates to prove that they are the best team in the world by winning the World Cup. The Euro 2008 champions have lost just one of their last 48 games and Casillas, their goalkeeper and skipper, hopes that this could be his country’s time to break their World Cup duck. "We have outstanding world-class players in our team, players who are the most important at their clubs,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s opener against Switzerland. “We have a great team, but if you do not win the World Cup you have not reached your objective. Many other teams have won the World Cup before, and now we would like to win it."
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon could miss the Azzurri's next World Cup match after the world champions' team doctor admitted he did not know the extent of his leg injury. The Juventus goalkeeper was substituted during Italy's 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Monday and team doctor Enrico Castellacci said: "It's a sciatic nerve problem - we will look at exams and therapies needed for this injury. We don't know the number of days he will be out for. We need to look at what special medical machinery we need for this kind of injury."
South Korea midfielder Park Ji Sung admits he has still not made a decision over his international future. The Manchester United star has hinted he may retire from international football after the World Cup but he said: "I haven't made a firm decision on retiring from the national team. But it's very hard physically to travel from continent to continent and compete. From having gone through the process enough, I can foresee my body not being able to handle it by then."
William Gallas is an injury concern for France ahead of their match against Mexico. Gallas missed Monday's training session and was being closely monitored on Tuesday ahead of Les Bleus' second Group A match on Thursday.
Germany manager Joachim Low reckons Mesut Ozil is set for World Cup stardom. Werder Bremen playmaker Ozil was instrumental in Germany's 4-0 opening win over Australia and Low said: "He is a playmaker and can produce some passes which split defences. To be a world-class player requires a lot of development and the need to be consistent over several years. But Mesut, no doubt, has what it takes."
Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi reckons Diego Maradona's men should fear no-one at the World Cup. Messi and Argentina began the tournament in low-key style with a 1-0 win over Nigeria but the Barcelona star said: "Argentina should only be afraid of Argentina. I say this with maximum respect to all the other teams but we have quality and talent to win." Argentina face South Korea on Thursday in their second match in Group B.
Didier Drogba is fit for Ivory Coast and will wear a protective cast on his arm for the World Cup. Chelsea striker Drogba looked set to miss the tournament when he fractured his arm in a friendly match with Japan. But Sven-Goran Eriksson has been handed a big boost ahead of his side's clash with Portugal on Tuesday as FIFA have allowed Drogba to wear a cast. A FIFA spokesman said: "Regarding Didier Drogba, the referee of the match Jorge Larrionda has permitted the cast which Didier Drogba will use to play. The cast has been seen by the Portuguese delegation."
Serbia striker Nikola Zigic insists Serbia do not fear Germany despite their impressive World Cup start. Germany beat Australia 4-0 while Serbia lost 1-0 to Ghana in the opening round of Group D matches. "We need to forget about Ghana and go for it in the remaining two matches," said Birmingham City's new signing. "Germany were excellent against Australia but they had an one-man advantage for the entirety of the second half. We won't be going for four points but for all six, although there are some permutations where a draw and a win would suffice for us."
Monday 14 June
Netherlands' reserve goalkeeper Michel Vorm returned home after his side’s 2-0 win over Denmark on Monday to meet his baby son for the first time. Vorm’s wife gave birth on Sunday night and the 26-year-old was permitted to travel back to Holland. He will return to South Africa well in time for the Netherlands’ next World Cup fixture, against Japan in Durban on Saturday.
“We decided to send him home after the match, I told him that on the pitch after the match so he is flying home to be with his wife and son,” said Head Coach Bert van Marwijk.
Former France captain Zinedine Zidane has criticised coach Raymond Domenech in the wake of Les Blues' 0-0 draw with Uruguay on Friday. Domenech was in charge four years ago when Zidane was dismissed in the Final for headbutting Marco Materazzi. "They didn't play together and it was more a case of individual efforts," said Zidane. "The players must take responsibility for themselves. Domenech is not a coach. He picked his squad and he has to make them play together.”
Didier Drogba is waiting to hear from FIFA whether he will be allowed to wear a protective cast on his arm to play for Ivory Coast against Portugal on Tuesday. The Chelsea striker has started training with his team-mates with a cast on his arm and hopes to play in the Group G game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. “I don't know if he can play,” said Ivory Coast manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. “Honestly, I really don't know."
Arsenal defender William Gallas withdrew from a France training session on Monday with a sore muscle. The central defender has had problems with a calf injury and lasted just 20 minutes of the French squad's 60-minute session.
Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios looks set to recover from a thigh injury in time for Wednesday's Group H opener against Chile. The 25-year-old Tottenham star has been playing a full part in training ahead of the game in Johannesburg. Team doctor Oscar Benitez said: "Wilson is 100 per cent. He is training at high intensity and we are very happy. Look at him - he is a lion. He is ready."
Switzerland will be without Valon Behrami and their captain Alexander Frei for their first match of the World Cup against European champions Spain. Frei has not recovered from a sprained ankle while West Ham midfielder Behrami is out with a thigh injury for the match in Durban on Wednesday. "It's better to rest them so they can play against Chile," said Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi feels ready to reproduce his majestic club performances with Argentina at the World Cup finals. The 22-year-old has struggled to play for Argentina as he does at the Nou Camp, but after inspiring his side to a 1-0 win over Nigeria in their World Cup opener, Messi believes he can shine in South Africa. He said: "Ever since we arrived here, my mentality has changed. I went through difficult times with the national team when things didn't come out the way I wanted to. It wasn't pleasant to go through that but I've stood up and it was great."
Ghana hero Asamoah Gyan has dedicated his late penalty winner in the 1-0 win over Serbia to the whole of Africa. Asamoah smashed home from the spot to get Ghana off to the perfect start in Group D. He said: "Every African is behind us. I salute all you guys. We win this match for you."
Italy coach Marcello Lippi looks set to leave Antonio Di Natale out of the starting line-up for tonight's World Cup Group F opener against Paraguay. The Udinese striker was the country's top goalscorer in Serie A last season as he struck 29 goals, but Lippi left him out of what seemed to be his likely starting eleven in a practice match. The Italian boss then rounded on members of the media, saying: "If you don't understand my line-up you should change your trade."
Australia midfielder Tim Cahill has described his sending off in Australia's 4-0 defeat by Germany on Sunday night as the saddest moment of his career. The emotional Everton man broke down in tears as he spoke about his 56th minute dismissal for a challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger. Cahill said: "I'm just sad. It's probably one of the saddest moments of my footballing career to be in this position."
Ledley King will be monitored on a daily basis after he suffered a groin injury during England's 1-1 draw with the United States on Saturday. The Tottenham defender has already been ruled out of the Three Lions' second Group C encounter, against Algeria on Friday."Ledley has a groin muscle strain. He will be assessed on a day-to-day basis," said an FA spokesman.
World Cup organisers have decided not to ban vuvuzelas from stadiums in South Africa despite complaints from players and broadcasters. The din of the plastic horns has become the sound of the tournament, and World Cup spokesman Rich Mkhondo has encouraged supporters and players to embrace it. He said: "Let us not make this a South Africa instrument alone. A vuvuzela is now an international instrument. People buy them and stuff them in their suitcase to go home. Only a minority are against vuvuzelas. You either love them or hate. We in South Africa love them."
Florent Malouda has denied reports that a training ground bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech was the reason behind his omission from the France starting line-up against Uruguay. "It may appear surprising to you, but it was a defensive choice," said the Chelsea midfielder. "That's how the manager presented it to me."
Nigeria midfielder Dickson Etuhu believes his country suffered in their 1-0 defeat to Argentina because they had not completed sufficient training at altitude. He is also unhappy with the much-criticised World Cup ball. The Fulham man said: "You could tell Argentina were used to it because they'd been there for quite a while. You take five or six steps, you feel like you've just done a whole lap." Etuhu also described the adidas ball "the worst ball ever" and added: "When the 'keeper kicks the ball out, you can't head it. If the balls in the air you just don't know where it's going to go. It comes towards you and then just moves to the left or to the right."
Sunday 13 June
France defender Eric Abidal feels his side have to get a victory from their next game against Mexico if they are to stand any chance of reaching the second round of the competition. After being held to a goalless draw against Uruguay in their opening game, Abidal said: “Against Mexico we have to play for a win and nothing less. In 2006 it was the same, we began with a 0-0 draw with Switzerland, but slowly but surely victories followed victories. We have to be able to step up a gear and make it out of the first round."
Cesc Fabregas admits Spain are ‘hungry’ to win the World Cup this summer and feels they can be a match for any team in the tournament. Spain are brimming with confidence having won the European Championships back in 2008 and Fabregas said: “We are hungry for the title and we can show we are the best at this championships. We are in a very competitive group, but we are keen to show that this is our moment and we are hungry to show that Spain can be the best.”
Chile defender Mauricio Isla is praying that team coach Marcelo Bielsa stays on after the World Cup. The Argentine coach led Chile to qualification and Isla said: "If Bielsa continued it would be perfect for what he has shown in these three years. He has taken us forward and brought in players who were not in contention. Everything he has done has been absolutely positive.”
Holland coach Bert van Marwijk believes there will be ‘no secrets’ between his team and their opponents Denmark when they clash in their opening World Cup match on Monday. Van Marwijk said: “They are two teams that know each other through and through. I don't think we have any secrets from one another. We have the same ideas when it comes to football."
Brazil defender Maicon wants to cap a memorable season by helping his country win the World Cup. Maicon was part of the Inter Milan team which won the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia titles last year and said: "The main objective of my career is to win a World Cup. And now I'm taking this opportunity. When we're together we're strong."
Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa admits he is fully fit to face the Ivory Coast in their opening group game on Wednesday, but is unsure if he will be in the starting line-up. With Manchester United winger Nani pulling out of the squad, Sabrosa seems the most likely to start, but he said: “There are 23 of us here and there is no guarantee that I will start as I don't own a place on the wing, we have many players who can play there.”
World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan admits he may consider banning vuvuzelas from the competition. The trumpet-like instruments have been heard at every match so far but there are fears they are drowning out the real atmosphere from the fans. Jordaan said: "We have heard from the broadcasters and other individuals and it is something we are evaluating on an ongoing basis. This matter has been raised on many occasions and my personal view is that I would prefer singing.”
England defender Jamie Carragher admits his side can still take the positives from their 1-1 draw against the USA, but knows they need to get a victory over Algeria on Friday night. Carragher said: “If the next result doesn't go for us, then for the last game there will be a bit more pressure. A draw is not a disaster in your first game. Obviously you want to win it but it is very important not to lose as well.”
South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo believes his side can cause a major upset against Argentina in their next group game. South Korea currently top Group B following their 2-0 win over Greece and are relishing the chance to face the likes of Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Jung-moo said: "Argentina are one of the contenders for the final and they have a lot of very good players. They are a very tough team to play against. But I have told my players, we have to remain confident no matter who our opponent is.”
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is confident that influential midfielder Andres Iniesta will be fit to face Switzerland in their opening World Cup game on Wednesday. Iniesta picked up a thigh injury during the 6-0 friendly win over Poland but Del Bosque said: "Iniesta will play and he will be in the starting line-up. Tomorrow he will train with the ball and there are still 72 hours left."
Saturday 12 June
Ghana captain Stephen Appiah has admitted his team are more concerned by the threat of Serbia than World Cup regulars and Group D favourites Germany. He said: "Everybody's talking about Germany, but I'm scared about Serbia."
The infamous South African vuvuzela trumpet is reportedly being outsold by 'vuvu-stoppers' - earplugs which block out their sound - in Cape Town Shops. Vuvuzelas are being played constantly throughout matches and can noise levels of up to 130 decibels, 30 more than that produced by a chainsaw. The vuvuzelas have been banned by German municipal authorities from the big-screen venues where fans gather to watch live broadcasts.
Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta missed training on Saturday in a bid to recover from a leg injury. Spain were the last team to arrive in South Africa on Friday and the Barcelona star is expected to miss their opening game against Switzerland, but could return for their match against Honduras on 21 June.
Former Germany World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaus believes Michael Ballack's absence through injury leaves his country with almost no chance of winning this year. Matthaus, who won 150 caps for Germany, is far from impressed with Joachim Loew's squad. He said: "The problem with Germany is that they have no stars, no-one with any individual brilliance, now that Ballack is out. And their preparations have hardly been optimal."
Italian midfielder Gennaro Gattuso will retire from international football after this World Cup. The AC Milan player, who has been troubled by a knee injury, has won 72 caps since his 2000 debut and was a key man in Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph. He said: "At 33-years-old, for the role I have, it's right to give my spot to people with more energy."
Didier Drogba is still hoping to captain Ivory Coast against Portugal on Tuesday despite missing training on Saturday to receive treatment on his broken arm. Drogba had appeared at training the previous two days, sporting a cast to protect his arm and was restricted to working on his fitness and skills.
Honduras coach Carlos Velasco has insisted he will not play injured duo Wilson Palacios and striker David Suazo in Wednesday's World Cup opener against Chile - unless they are fully fit. The Honduran medical team is working overtime to solve Tottenham midfielder Palacios' muscular injury and help striker Suazo, who has a thigh problem.
Paraguay have dismissed speculation their star striker Oscar Cardozo could be out of the World Cup with an ankle injury and insist he could even start their opening game against Italy. Paraguay team doctor Manuel Aguilar said: "I must clarify that Oscar Cardozo is not out of the World Cup, as has been implied in some media. What's more, neither has he been ruled out of the first game."
Netherlands winger Arjen Robben rejoined the Dutch camp today following a hamstring injury and is likely to play against Japan next weekend, but has been ruled out of Monday's match against Denmark. Robben feared he would miss the World Cup and manager Bert van Marwijk revealed he will not rush his star winger back into action. He said: "We must avoid a relapse, as I have said in the last few days, Arjen has played virtually no football or trained in the last three weeks."
Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari has handed Ghana a boost by declaring himself on course to be fit for their opening World Cup Group D game against Serbia on Sunday. The former Portsmouth player has been training alone since sustaining a thigh injury, but a statement on the Ghana FA’s website declared: “Muntari played himself into contention for a starting place in the Ghana team against Serbia after training normally with the Black Stars squad in Rustenburg.”
Manchester United defender and France captain Patrice Evra believes his side have to beat Mexico on Thursday or risk facing “enormous pressure” to beat South Africa in their last Group A game. France are disappointed following their opening game draw with Uruguay and Evra said: “We do not want to go into our last game having to beat the home side on their turf.”
Friday 11 June
Didier Drogba could be fit for the Ivory Coast’s opening game of the World Cup against Portugal next Tuesday, less than two weeks after he broke his arm in a pre-tournament friendly. "I can't confirm that Didier Drogba will face Portugal, even though the recovery is going well," said Elephants boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. "And I have certainly thought about putting in place a plan B, but the decision to play will depend on Didier himself and the specialists that are following him."
Italy full-back Gianluca Zambrotta believes his side will prove their critics wrong and put up a strong defence of their World Cup crown. "There are 1,000 critics but we've always performed under criticism, it's not a problem" said Zambrotta, who was in the side that won the World Cup four years ago and is likely to be in the starting line-up against Paraguay on Monday. "It brings us closer together and builds our spirit."
Germany boss Joachim Loew believes his side are perfectly prepared for the World Cup and reckons they could 'embarrass' their opponents. "We want to be able to embarrass opponents with our playing skills," said Loew, whose side begin their campaign against Australia on Sunday. We couldn't have done any more up to this point. That's why my conscience is clear and I have a really good feeling about the tournament."
Argentina boss Diego Maradona has called for fair play at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. "Let there really be fair play, let the referees understand what the words fair play mean," explained the star of the 1986 World Cup.
South Korea have been boosted by the news that captain Park Ji-Sung and striker Lee Dong-Gook are both likely to have recovered from injury to start against Greece in their opening game of the World Cup. Both Manchester United midfielder Park and former Middlesbrough forward Lee have been struggling with hamstring injuries but are likely to be fit for the game in Port Elizabeth.
Nicklas Bendtner is set to miss Denmark's opening World Cup game against Holland on Monday due to a groin problem. "We'd love to have him back of course but I think I would be dreaming to have him back," said Denmark boss Morten Olsen. "I don't think he will play."
Brazil full-back Dani Alves believes his side's creativity and flair could make all the difference in the World Cup. "Although everyone knows how we play, Brazil have the capacity to surprise opponents," said the Barcelona star. "What is important is to be ready for the opportunities we get. I think what makes our national team different is the quality and creativity that it has."
South Africa figurehead Nelson Mandela has had to withdraw from attending the World Cup opening ceremony and the first match between the hosts and Mexico following the death of his great-granddaughter, Zenani. The 13-year-old died in a car crash on her way home from a concert on the eve of the World Cup. The driver of the car has been arrested and charged with drink-driving.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter offered his condolences to Mandela following the sad news. "The entire football family mourns with you and your family, and today we stand by their side," said Blatter. "It goes without saying that we fully understand that you cannot be with us at the opening ceremony and match later today. He will, however, be with us in spirit, for which we are incredibly grateful."
World Cup chief Danny Jordaan believes hosting the first World Cup is a defining moment for his country. He said: "It's a dream come true, it's like the day that we thought of going to the polls to vote for the first time, or the day we waited for the prison doors to open and Nelson Mandela to walk out. These are defining moments in our history."
Meanwhile, South Africa boss Carlos Alberto Parreira admits his side will be facing 'the most daring team' at the World Cup Finals when they play Mexico in the tournament's curtain-raiser later today. But the Brazilian insists Bafana Bafana will not be overawed in the 85,000 capacity Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. "I know it's not easy to enjoy the game when you play a team as good as Mexico. They are the most daring team in this World Cup, the way they approach the game," said Perreira. "We respect them, but we are not afraid. They have their way, we have ours and the good thing about Bafana Bafana now is this team has an identity, they are confident and they want to deliver. We want to make this country proud and we are going to give hell to any team we play."
Thursday 10 June
Fabio Capello has decided on his starting line-up for England's World Cup opener against the USA on Saturday. "Yes, I've decided, I know," he said. "I know the eleven that will play Saturday and I hope the next two days, during the training, all the players will be fit."
Algeria have dropped captain Yazid Mansouri for their World Cup Group C opener against Slovenia on Sunday. Rabah Saadane, the Algeria coach, has not been impressed by the Lorient midfielder's form and has replaced him with Medhi Lacen. "It was difficult for Mansouri because he is such an important player in this team," said Saadane. Algeria will play England in Cape Town on 18 June.
Arjen Robben should be fit enough to play in the Netherlands' World Cup opener against Denmark on Monday, according to the physiotherapist who is treating him. The Bayern Munich winger suffered a hamstring injury during a warm-up match but his physiotherapist Dick van Toorn believes the 26-year-old is ready to play. van Toorn said: "I think that he can play. If they do not play him for tactical reasons, fine, but you cannot say he would not be fit."
Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo is set to miss the holders' first two World Cup matches with a calf strain. The 31-year-old is expected to be replaced by Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo for Italy's games against Paraguay and New Zealand.
Didier Drogba believes the Ivory Coast are under even more pressure than the likes of England and France to perform well in the first World Cup on African soil. "The expectation back home is really high," said the Chelsea striker."People speak about this generation being the best in Ivory Coast for years and that is why the expectation is so high, higher than in France or England."
Denmark coach Morten Olsen was unable to conduct his press conference on Thursday because he is recovering from a virus. The 60-year-old missed two days of training because of the illness but did not want to risk infecting journalists at a news conference.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has named his side to face France in their World Cup Group A opener on Friday. Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan has overcome a foot injury and will start up front with Luis Suarez.
Former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze has warned opponents not to assume that by stopping Lionel Messi they will stop Argentina, insisting Diego Maradona's side are no one-man team. "Everybody expects something whenever Lionel touches the ball, that's normal, he's the best in the world and is in his best moment, but Argentina do not depend on him but on the group," said the Marseille man. "I believe it's the team that makes you win these very difficult tournaments."
Ghana's Sulley Muntari is eyeing a place in the last four. They meet Serbia on Sunday, before taking on Australia and Germany in Group D and the former Portsmouth midfielder believes the Black Stars can better their last-16 finish of four years ago. "After what we did in 2006, expectations are sky high," he said. "We want to get out of our group and get to the semi-finals or even further."
David Beckham is attending the 60th FIFA congress in Johannesburg to support England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Beckham was ruled out of this tournament with an Achilles injury but is in South Africa with the England squad in an ambassadorial role.
Wednesday 9 June
Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta has a minor thigh injury after he was taken off in the 39th minute of Spain's 6-0 victory over Poland on Tuesday. "As he wasn't comfortable, we made the change - it's a minor muscle injury," said Spain's team doctor Dr Oscar Celada.
Denmark goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has declared himself fit for their opening World Cup fixture against Holland on Monday. The Stoke City stopper has not played since injuring his elbow against Chelsea in April, but is confident of being ready for the Group E clash. "I've been 100% ready for a while now. I had a talk with Morten Olsen the other day and he explained to me why he didn't play me against South Africa."