World Cup Countdown: 25/05/2010

17 Days to go
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The Independent Football

Mikel 'will be fit' in time for finals

Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel (left) should return to action in time for the tournament. The Chelsea player, 23, underwent knee surgery on 15 May, and looked doubtful for the finals. However, Nigeria Football Federation media officer Idah Peterside has refuted any suggestion that he might miss out. "He is nearing the end of his rehabilitation," he said. "We're confident he will be okay."

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles coach Lars Lagerback claims his side can foil Argentina in their Group B opening match on 12 June. Lagerback's Sweden held the Argentinians to a 1-1 draw in the 2002 World Cup, and he believes a similar result is achievable. "I think I know how to stifle Argentina," he said.

Brazil defender Thiago Silva says the defensive partnership of Juan and Lucio will be the best at the competition. "The pair of centre-backs in the Brazil team are the best in the world," he said.

The Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis has told his team-mates to ignore media pressure ahead of the finals. "Let's go to the World Cup to have fun and a good time," he said. His side face North Korea tonight in Austria.

USA forward Clint Dempsey believes playing in the Premier League has prepared him for the match against England on 12 June. "I've done well in three consecutive seasons over there so I'll take that confidence with me into the game," the Fulham player said.

Quote of the day

"We can give anyone a good fight, a footballing fight. This squad are similar to that of '86 because they have hunger for glory."

Diego Maradona's passion has not faded since becoming a manager.

Broken promise of the day

"No one has seen them yet!"

Cameroon defender Andre Bikey on team-mate Samuel Eto'o's promise to give watches worth £29,000 to each player that helped Cameroon qualify.