World Cup Countdown: 31/05/2010

11 days to go
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Prandelli agrees deal to succeed Lippi

The Fiorentina coach, Cesare Prandelli, yesterday signed a four-year contract to succeed Marcello Lippi as manger of holders Italy after the finals. Speculation over Lippi's successor had threatened to overshadow their efforts to retain the trophy, with the Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete calling for a solution before the start in South Africa.

"Prandelli will be coach for four years," a federation spokesman said. "Prandelli will be officially presented after the World Cup." The 52-year-old had been one of the front-runners for the job after guiding Fiorentina to the last 16 of the Champions League last season, including two group stage victories over Liverpool.

Lippi, who had never stated publicly that he was quitting, previously stepped down after leading Italy to their 2006 triumph before returning two years ago. "The Federation has found the right person," Lippi said.

England were not the only ones struggling to impress in Austria yesterday - South Korea stumbled to a surprising 1-0 defeat against Belarus. Mexico overwhelmed Gambia 5-1 in Germany, with two goals from new Manchester United signing Javier Hernandez, while Paraguay struck twice in the last 15 minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw with Sven Goran Eriksson's Ivory Coast in France. Chelsea's Didier Drogba scored the opener for the Elephants.

Highlights of the day

Quote of the day

"It's like a beachball. It's sad that a competition as important as a World Cup has a ball with such abysmal characteristics." - Spain's Iker Casillas is not overly impressed with the Jabulani ball.

Strop of the day

"To cut me off in a quick chat in January, without any official fare-well, that hurt, and still hurts now." - Torsten Frings finds it hard to get over his exclusion from Joachim Löw's Germany squad.