Essien set to learn World Cup fate

22 days to go
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Ghana midfielder Michael Essien will find out later this week whether he will be involved in the Black Stars' campaign. The 27-year-old Chelsea player has not featured since December due to knee and ankle injuries. "The plan is to have a detailed meeting with the FA and Chelsea in the next few days," he said. "I have to keep working hard to be fit. I need games before the real thing starts."

Netherlands midfielder Ryan Babel has admitted his uncertainty over his position in Bert van Marwijk's finals squad. "I am still not sure if I'm going to be in but [the] aim [is] for me to play in the World Cup," said the 23-year-old, who completed 90 minutes for Liverpool just seven times last season. "The World Cup is something special for every footballer."

Five hundred Ivory Coast supporters have been selected to attend the tournament – based purely on their singing and dancing abilities. Joseph Bony, vice-president of the sports ministry's committee, said the government would pay for the fans' travel, accommodation and tickets to help ensure colourful support for Sven Goran Eriksson's Elephants. Ivorian supporters will be unable to afford to attend their sides' games with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea due to the widespread poverty in the northern African country.

Highlights of the day

Quote of the day

"There's a lot of excitement and expectation when you play at the World Cup. You feel like a child whose dream has come true." Switzerland's Stephane Grichting can't wait for the thing to start

Ritual of the day

"We are visiting our sacred forest two or three times a week to support the fight. We will be there to galvanise them until the end." Gnahouleou Emile, president of the Ivory Coast supporters' club, hopes tree-hugging will help Didier Drogba to the golden boot

Patriot of the day

"All the teams respect us. We're not going there on safari. Public opinion says that we're going on safari, that we're not the favourites. That could stir our pride. We're really hungry. We're doing this World Cup, not for the people who criticise us, but for our loved ones, for ourselves." Patrice Evra declares France will be too busy for sightseeing as they hunt the World Cup