Capello: England base camp is not up to scratch

Preparations for finals disrupted as manager admits concern over poor quality of training pitches at chosen venue in Rustenburg

Fabio Capello admitted yesterday that England's World Cup finals preparations have been hit by the discovery that the training pitches at the squad's prospective base in the north-western region of South Africa are not up to standard.

Capello has delayed the Football Association officially booking England's base, outside the city of Rustenburg, because of fears over the playing surfaces of the six training pitches at the Royal Bafokeng sports campus. On the eve of this afternoon's final draw for the World Cup finals, Capello said that he may wait until February before making up his mind.

The exacting Italian coach visited the Royal Bafokeng campus for the second time yesterday to look at the state of the pitches before travelling to Cape Town for today's draw. Capello said: "The facilities are really, really good but the problem is the pitches. The pitches are not great. We are working a lot. I think we will find the solution.

"It's the training ground, the standard of the pitch that is most important. The pitches are very important with the training – to have the same [kind of] pitches we'll play matches on [during the World Cup]. We have another option [for a different training complex]. But we have time. We found a solution for Wembley's pitch, we will find a solution for this."

The FA is still hopeful that the problem will be resolved in time to give it the peace of mind that the complex in Phokeng will meet Capello's standards, but it is not ruling out a last-minute change of venue. The FA's fear is that the pitches, which the FA believes are seeded with jungle grass, are growing in a patchy fashion and will not withstand up to three weeks of the players training on them everyday.

Small details such as these are fundamental to Capello's approach: he even has the grass at Wembley cut to a particular length. The FA has never before left it so late to book a training venue for a tournament: it had decided upon the Bühlerhohe Schlosshotel outside Baden-Baden, and the Mittelberg training ground in Bühlertal, well in advance of the last World Cup finals.

Last night a spokesman for the Royal Bafokeng sports campus said that they were confident that the pitches were in "pristine" condition. Martin Bekker said that the six pitches at Royal Bafokeng had been laid and maintained by the same company responsible for the Rustenburg stadium pitch, which was voted the best playing surface at the Confederations Cup last summer.

"The pitches are looking pristine," Bekker said. "We know all the hard work that has gone in there and everyone has trust in the guys who did the stadium pitch. If anything the biggest pressure on us is to make sure the [finishing touches to the] hotel [building] is on schedule. The pitches have not been a big fear for us."

Bekker said that the training pitches are built on a base of silica and river sand, overlaid with soil and finally a special mesh that allows the grassroots to grip and develop. He said that the Bafokeng campus uses two different types of grass – rye and kikuyu – in order to make sure that if one dries, the other will sustain the quality of the pitch.

"Of all the factors that will persuade people to come here, the quality of the pitch is one that we can control," Bekker said. "We have been lucky with the altitude and the fact that we are close to a lot of the World Cup venues in Rustenburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The quality of the pitches we can certainly control and it is very straightforward, we have the same guys who got the thumbs up for the best pitch at the Confederations Cup."

The campus has been built by the Royal Bafokeng tribe, who will use it as a base for their rugby franchise, the Platinum Leopards and South Africa Premier League football club Platinum Stars. As well as a gym and medical department, the complex will also have a dental surgery for the England players' use.

The draw: How it works

The draw ceremony starts at 5pm and is televised on BBC2 (17.15 - 18.35) and Sky Sports News. Eight groups (A-H) of four will be drawn, with each group first allocated a seed (taking up position one). Teams from Pots Two, Three and Four will then be drawn into groups and positions.

Brazil and Argentina can not be drawn with any of the remaining South American nations, while hosts South Africa will not be paired with any other African nation. There will be no more than two European sides in any group.

Pot One (seeds)

South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England.

Pot Two (Asia, Oceania, North and Central America)

Japan (danger rating: 2), South Korea (2), North Korea (1), Australia (3), New Zealand (1), United States (3), Mexico (3), Honduras (2).

Pot Three (Africa and South America)

Ivory Coast (4), Ghana (4), Cameroon (3), Nigeria (3), Algeria (2), Paraguay (3), Chile (3), Uruguay (2).

Pot Four (Europe)

France (3), Portugal (4), Slovenia (2), Switzerland (2), Greece (2), Serbia (3), Denmark (3), Slovakia (2).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt

Life and Style

The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game