England base is building site with just months to go

Capello to find pitches and medical centre far from complete at World Cup camp
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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello flies into South Africa this morning with England's training camp for the World Cup finals in the small North West province town of Phokeng still resembling a building-site, little more than three months before the squad is due to arrive there.

Capello will be in Sun City, the resort town north of Johannesburg today for a Fifa coaching conference, but his main purpose is to check on the Royal Bafokeng sports campus where England will be based during the World Cup. He will find that the medical centre and clubhouse are still far from complete as are half of the 72 rooms and much of the campus' roads and communal areas.

The Independent visited Royal Bafokeng yesterday. Some of the bedrooms, the dining area and the video analysis suite have been completed to a high standard. However, the England manager's biggest worries will be the two "grade A" training pitches that the team will use every day. They have been worked on by groundsmen from the Sports Turf Institute, Wembley's pitch consultants, to get them up to standard.

Other training pitches in the complex that the Independent saw were not up to the standards expected of a Premier League training ground. Privately the Football Association is confident that the Royal Bafokeng campus will be ready in time for their arrival in early June. They are still yet to confirm officially that they will be staying there but yesterday there was an FA delegation at the hotel.

The FA believe that contracts are in place to ensure the completion of Royal Bafokeng on time. Yesterday in the dining rooms and 36 of the 72 rooms the hotel resembled the kind of five-star treatment England's players are accustomed to. However, part of the medical centre was still missing a roof, many of the access roads and car parks were unfinished and there was a major building site to the rear between the main building and the two key training pitches.

There were still many workers on the site and it is expected that work will continue right up to the date that the England squad arrive in South Africa. In the town of Phokeng there is great pride at the prospect of Wayne Rooney, David Beckham an Capello coming to stay.

The campus' reception manager, Riaan Welman, said that the workers could fit a room in half a day. The complex is owned by the Royal Bafokeng nation – their hereditary ruler, King Kgosi Molotlegi, is also chairman of the nation's commercial company. He is yet to decide the fittings for his suite in the campus, which is by far the biggest. Welman said that they were taking no risks when it came to security during the World Cup and there would be more chance 'of a man falling pregnant' than anyone being able to break in.

The campus is extremely isolated and a good 20-minute drive from Sun City where it is expected that some of the players' families will base themselves. Capello has discouraged the players from having their families there for the whole tournament because he does not want a repeat of the WAGs fiasco in Baden-Baden in 2006. However, it is inevitable that many will stay there before England first game against the United States on 12 June which is at the nearby Rustenburg stadium.

While the England players under Sven Goran Eriksson were permitted days off to meet their families in Baden-Baden at the last World Cup, the Royal Bafokeng experience promises to be much more austere. It seems inconceivable that Capello will allow them to visit Sun City and there is little else in the area that could offer the usual diversions for an England footballer.

Luckily for the recently sacked England captain John Terry he will be able to use the campus's paintballing facilities – a team-bonding activity he uses frequently at Chelsea. Failing that he could use the archery range. It is unlikely that the players will be able to use the quad bikes on the site.

Capello and the FA have been key to the planning of the Royal Bafokeng campus and have made many recommendations which have been incorporated into the design. However, it was not their first choice. That was the University of Pretoria's high performance centre which was secured by Argentina – they dispatched their ambassador to Pretoria to seal the deal with the university's administrators.

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