Camp Capello: luxury ice baths, high-tech scanners and perfect turf

A first look around England's World Cup base reveals a pitch that puts Wembley to shame
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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello will not take one of the presidential suites at England's £327m World Cup training camp hotel and will instead sleep in the same kind of standard room his players are assigned in keeping with his policy of austerity around the squad.

The Royal Bafokeng sports campus was officially opened yesterday to allay fears that the complex would not be ready for the England team when they arrive on 3 June. The site looked in a chaotic state when Capello last visited in February but the main building is now completed and work on the clubhouse area of the site is expected to be done by the end of next week.

The presidential suites were designed for King Leruo Molotlegi, the leader of the Bafokeng nation which has been built and financed the campus on their platinum rich-lands. However, unlike previous England World Cup headquarters, when managers and leading players have been given the biggest rooms, Capello has opted to stay in one of the campus's standard 72 rooms.

The Royal Bafokeng's general manager Paulo Marchio said he was instructed by an Football Association delegation that visited earlier this week that the presidential suites would not be used. He said: "We have received no special instructions regarding sleeping arrangements – it's up to England to decide that when they arrive. The four suites are ready but the coach and all his players and staff will be staying in identical rooms to avoid any arguments."

The Royal Bafokeng also claimed yesterday that the quality of the training pitches had been approved by the FA. There were major concerns that they would not be ready when Capello inspected the site in Phokeng, near Rustenburg in the North West province, in December during his visit for the World Cup draw. "It was really just a few teething problems with the pitch but fortunately we got people on board with the correct knowledge and it has worked out well," said George Khunou, the Royal Bafokeng managing director.

The FA sent a delegation from the Sports Turf Research Institute who have worked on Wembley's problematic playing surface in order to make sure that the new pitches were up to standard for England's players. They were approved by Capello's general manager Franco Baldini, who visited this week.

England's three pitches on the campus are located less than 50 metres away from the medical centre, with seating for 150 media representatives alongside the top field. A new layer of rye-grass has been laid to ensure the turf is identical to that used in South Africa's World Cup stadiums. Despite recent flash floods, the pitches are said to have held up well.

The campus medical centre and gym were completed at the end of last month and there are no X-ray facilities on-site, which means that injured players will have to travel to a clinic 15 minutes away for scans, although state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment and a specialised head-scanner are in place. The England squad will have access to a hydro-pool complete with viewing deck, three jacuzzis that can double as ice-baths, a sauna and designated facilities for a dentist and psychologist – if required.

"There has been pressure on us but all the facilities the players will use are now ready," said Gary Parker, Bafokeng's director of sport infrastructure. "We did have a visit from the FA earlier in the week and they are particularly confident of what they see at present. Now it's up to us to finish it off." All the main facilities are virtually completed. The areas behind the medical centre and the main road to the accommodation still need to be finished.

Capello warned yesterday that he would give his injured players just a few days to prove their fitness but could not afford to pick players in his 30-man squad who would need two weeks to be ready. He is waiting on the fitness of up to 11 players who are under consideration for the 30-man provisional squad that will be named on Tuesday.

Capello said: "When I was a club manager I would speak with the doctor to see who would start and who would be on the bench or not fit. Here it is the same. I speak with the players and also the medical staff to see who is fit. If they are not fit they will stay at home because I prefer a fit player to one who is not fit, unless it is a small injury. The doctor might say in two or three days this player can be fit, but if it is two weeks, then no.

"We will wait to choose the first list of 30 players and then the final 23 for the squad. I don't know what will happen. Some players might miss two games, some will be injured and some will be fit. I hope that the best players will be fit for the World Cup because without good players it's impossible."

Speaking on behalf of the England team sponsors Nationwide, Capello repeated his belief that his team could win the World Cup. He said: "Why not? My target is to play the final, because I think our team is very good. Always we have to improve, but I think if all the players are fit for the World Cup, we can beat all the teams."

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