World Cup Countdown: Gallas starts tonight to prove fitness
Wednesday 26 May 2010
France defender William Gallas is set to start against Costa Rica in tonight's friendly in Paris. The 32-year-old looks to have overcome a calf injury, which has sidelined the Arsenal player since March. Coach Raymond Domenech, however, has stressed he is still not a certainty to make his final World Cup squad: "He proved he could cope in critical situations and that's reassuring but his calf is a question mark," he said.
Netherlands winger Ryan Babel is struggling to prove his fitness following a hamstring injury the Liverpool player sustained at the national side's training camp last week. Coach Bert van Marwijk is expected to select his final 23-man squad following tonight's friendly in Amsterdam against Mexico. The Dutch trio of Wesley Sneijder, Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben, who all featured in Saturday's Champions League final, will start training tomorrow.
Algeria midfielder Mourad Meghni has been forced to pull out of the finals with a knee injury. The 26-year-old Lazio playmaker is a key part of Rabah Saadane's team but will now undergo surgery to help heal the problem. Speaking of his disappointment, he said: "It would have been risky for me to play [at the World Cup] and things could have gotten worse."
Italy's Vincenzo Iaquinta has returned to the squad after injuring his back in training on Monday. The 30-year-old Juventus forward was a a doubt for the World Cup following problems in the lumbar region of his back, but was able to return to training in Austria yesterday.
Japan coach Takeshi Okada offered to resign last night after his team lost to rivals South Korea. The moral sapping 2-0 defeat to a Korean side inspired by Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung has left the Japanese preparations in tatters. Following the result Okada asked the JFA president if he should resign. "To lose twice to South Korea in one year, I'm deeply sorry," he said. "I just asked if he wanted me to stay and warned him he will take a lot of criticism if he sticks with me [as manager]."
In other fixtures tonight, Turkey face Northern Ireland in Istanbul. England's Group C opponents on 12 June, USA, play Czech Republic and Uruguay take on Israel.
Highlights of the day
Quote of the day
"We can't afford to think 'Ah, we have Drogba, Dindane, Kalou – they'll make things happen'." Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba is not resting on his laurels
Realisation of the day
"Bayern are not the Oranje." The Netherlands coach, Bert van Marwijk, states the obvious explaining why Arjen Robben may be played out of position on the left-wing at the finals
Analogy of the day
"In a band if I have Jimi Hendrix on guitar I would say, 'Don't go off and do a 40-second solo, even if you're the best in the world'." The former Japan coach Philip Troussier on why the talented Shunsuke Nakamura shouldn't have to carry the side
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