Nani yesterday became the second Manchester United player to exit the World Cup before a ball has been kicked when he withdrew from the Portugal squad with a shoulder injury.
The 23-year-old winger sustained a fracture to his collarbone in training on Friday before Carlos Queiroz's squad flew to South Africa to complete their World Cup preparations with a 3-0 win over Mozambique yesterday. Despite treatment, Queiroz, who had been instrumental in bringing him to Old Trafford, concluded that he would not be fit for the tournament. His departure follows Rio Ferdinand's withdrawal from the England squad with a knee injury, also sustained in training.
Initially, it was thought Nani's shoulder would respond. However, in a statement yesterday the Portuguese FA announced: "Following the injury sustained to the left clavicle by Nani, a daily assessment of the damage and the completion of medical tests, we concluded that he was unable to be competitive. The file will be passed to the medical department of Manchester United."
The Benfica midfielder, Ruben Amorim, who had yet to play internationally, has been named as a replacement, flying out in time to face Mozambique – the country of Queiroz's birth – at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
The Wanderers, the spiritual home of South African cricket, saw Portugal ease to victory after a tepid first half with goals from Danny and two from Hugo Almeida. In the absence of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, who played the last half hour, Queiroz began with Deco and Amorim on the flanks. Nani's loss puts increased pressure on Ronaldo's shoulders.
Having played only a peripheral part in Portugal's Euro 2008 campaign, which ended with a 3-2 defeat by Germany, this was to have been the tournament in which the boy from the Cape Verde Islands proved his international pedigree. However, that will now have to wait.
Meanwhile, Fernando Torres made a scoring return from injury as Spain thrashed Poland 6-0 in Murcia last night in their last warm-up match before departing for South Africa.
Torres came on after 66 minutes and showed no ill effects from the injury which had seen him miss the end of the season with Liverpool, but Andres Iniesta went off with a thigh problem, the Barcelona midfielder's fitness was the only concern for coach Vicente del Bosque.
Iniesta was involved as Spain cruised to a comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time. He brilliantly set up Spain's first two goals in the opening 15 minutes for David Villa and David Silva, and was in a class of his own for much of the first half, but was forced to depart before the interval after feeling a teak in his thigh. It looked to be just a precaution, but with just over a week until Spain's opening game, Del Bosque was not prepared to take any risks.
Del Bosque had opted for a dynamic 4-3-3 formation, with Villa up front, flanked by Iniesta on the left and David Silva on the right. Torres, still recovering from a knee injury which required surgery in April, was kept in reserve, but the attacking quality on display was still impressive.
Xabi Alonso scored a third for Spain with a deflected effort early in the second half. Del Bosque rang the changes after that, with Jesus Navas, Sergio Ramos and Fabregas all coming on. Fabregas was quickly involved, slotting home the fourth two minutes later with an angled drive past Manchester United's Tomasz Kuszczak in the Poland goal.
Torres then came on to huge cheers and was also on the scoresheet within nine minutes, slotting home Pedro's low cross from close range to make it 5-0. Pedro make it six with a lobbed effort with nine minutes left which Kuszczak tried to palm away but the ball had already crossed the line. The keeper denied Navas a seventh Spain goal shortly afterwards.