World Cup 2010 Countdown
Injured trio picked
SPAIN coach Vicente del Bosque has picked injured stars Andreas Iniesta, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas in his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup.
Iniesta and Barcelona team-mate Xavi have both been injured but the latter has recently been back in the Nou Camp club's side.
Fabregas missed the run-in to Arsenal's season and Torres has also been on the sidelines for Liverpool.
Del Bosque has included five goalkeepers in the list, with uncapped duo Victor Valdes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid youngster David De Gea joining Iker Casillas, Jose Reina and Diego Lopez.
Aside from the players who have featured regularly for the European champions in recent times, Del Bosque has also named Barca winger Pedro Rodriguez, Osasuna defender Cesar Azpilicueta and Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez in the list. However, there is no place for the likes of Bojan Krkic or Albert Riera.
FABIO Capello intends to select Jamie Carragher in England's provisional 30-man squad after the Liverpool defender indicated a willingness to come out of international retirement for the tournament in South Africa.
Carragher made himself unavailable for selection after the friendly against Brazil in the summer of 2007 having grown frustrated at a perceived lack of opportunities in his favoured centre-half role. Capello's predecessor, Steve McClaren, failed to persuade him to change his mind and the defender also politely declined when the current manager revisited the issue on his appointment over two years ago.
The 32-year-old has been sounded out over a possible return and, although the situation is still delicate, Capello is intent upon picking him for his initial 30-man party ahead of the pre-tournament training camp in Austria. Carragher's worth as a seasoned centre-half is clear and is more significant because Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King, who will also be in the squad, have struggled with injuries.
POLICE in South Africa say they have foiled a plot by white extremists to bomb black townships ahead of the World Cup.
Five suspects linked to right-wing groups were arrested in police raids that uncovered major caches of explosives, illegal guns and ammunition.
Fears of racial violence flared up last month after the murder of the white supremacist Eugene Terre'Blanche. Some members of his group, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement, or AWB), swore revenge, warning foreign tourists and footballers to think twice about their safety at next month's tournament.
Nathi Mthethwa, the police minister, said officers had "swept" a number of areas soon after the 11 April expiry of a three-month firearms amnesty.
He said arrests made in the administrative capital, Pretoria, concerned people who were "manufacturing arsenals of destruction". He added: "They were going to test some of their explosives in any black township."
Zweli Mnisi, a spokesman for Mthethwa, said the five arrests had been made in Pretoria and the western town of Worcester and had a "strong linkage to right-wing operations."
He added: "Police, through our intelligence, swooped on large cache of firearms, including explosives, illegal guns, ammunition. At this stage we won't divulge much as it may compromise investigations. We commend our members for the sterling job."
JAPAN have announced their 23-man squad with former Portsmouth goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi the only surprise call-up by coach Takeshi Okada. The 34-year-old Jubilo Iwata custodian has not featured for the national team in 18 months due to a number of lacklustre performances after recovering from a broken leg.
However, Okada has decided to include him in his squad along with fellow goalkeepers Seigo Narazaki of Nagoya Grampus and Eiji Kawashima of Kawasaki Frontale. "He can be in a difficult position as third goalkeeper," Okada said of Kawaguchi. "But he has strong leadership qualities and we need his presence for us to compete in this coming tournament."
Okada also named four Europe-based players in the squad with midfielders Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow, Makoto Hasebe of Wolfsburg, Daisuke Matsui of Grenoble and Catania forward Takayuki Morimoto all included. Yokohama F Marinos' Shunsuke Nakamura and Kawasaki Frontale's Junichi Inamoto are in the squad, justifying their decisions to return to Japan from Europe.
Japan open against Cameroon in South Africa on 14 June before playing The Netherlands and Denmark and coach Okada is unwavering in his belief that they can reach the semi-finals.
"I had a hard time making up my mind regarding certain areas of the team, but I selected those players in order to win and achieve our objective," he said. "I haven't changed the objective. In order to make that come true, however, we first have to get through the group stage and our first match against Cameroon will be the most important to us."
GERMANY will travel to the World Cup with all six strikers from their preliminary World Cup squad to keep their offensive options open, according to coach Joachim Loew.
Loew had nominated Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, both out of form this season, as well as Mario Gomez, Cacau, Stefan Kiessling and Thomas Mueller in his preliminary 27-man squad.
He must finalise a list of 23 players by 1 June.
"Our plan is to have all six strikers with us at the World Cup because we want to be flexible," Loew announced.
"With Lukas Podolski, Thomas Mueller and Cacau we have three strikers who can come from further behind and also play on the wings," Loew said.
Podolski has had the worst season of the three in his first year back in Cologne, scoring just twice compared to Cacau's and Mueller's 13 goals each.
"Klose, Gomez and Kiessling are more centre forwards. I want to have sufficient options to react if needed," he said.
Kiessling has enjoyed a successful season at Bayer Leverkusen, netting 21 times and finishing second on the scorers' list. Bayern Munich's Klose and Gomez combined for a total of only 13 goals in the league this season.
THOMAS Sorensen was included in Denmark's provisional World Cup squad despite suffering a dislocated elbow last month.
The Stoke goalkeeper sustained the injury in City's 7-0 thrashing at newly-crowned Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea on 26 April and is still not certain to be fit for South Africa but that did not prevent Denmark coach Morten Olsen from naming him in a 26-man party.
Sorensen has been the Danish number one for nine years and will be key to their hopes of progressing out of Group E which also contains Holland, Japan and Cameroon.
The 26 players named on Monday will take part in a friendly against Senegal in Aalborg on 27 May with four others on standby.
Olsen will then whittle down the squad to 23 prior to Denmark's World Cup opener against the Dutch on 14 June.
Malaga defender Patrick Mtiliga was the surprise inclusion having not played for his country since November 2008.
CANTERBURY's Aaron Clapham was the surprise inclusion when the New Zealand squad was announced in Auckland.
Clapham, a former Under-20 international, joins Denmark-based Winston Reid as the only uncapped players named in Ricki Herbert's 23-man squad for South Africa. The midfielder first appeared on the international radar when he was named in a 15-man training squad by Herbert for a 12-day camp for his Australasian-based players, which has just been completed.
The 23-year-old impressed in a trial match where he lined up for New Zealand A against a New Zealand Football Championship All Stars XI and created his side's second goal for Costa Barbarouses in the 2-0 win. Clapham aside, Herbert's squad contained few surprises given the former All Whites defender's pledge to select the 18 players who helped get New Zealand to the World Cup for just the second time.
While he backtracked on that slightly, omitting Aaron Scott, the bulk of the squad involved in qualifying was retained. Scott missed out following the unexpected recruitment of Europe-based defenders Tommy Smith, who made his debut against Mexico in March, and Reid.
The pair only recently pledged their allegiance to New Zealand after playing for England Under-18s and Denmark Under-20s, respectively. Defender David Mulligan was retained despite not featuring in 46 matches for his club, Wellington Phoenix, which Herbert also coaches. Jeremy Christie was another notable inclusion after being forced to ply his trade overseas at FC Tampa Bay Rowdies when he was axed from the Phoenix at the end of the 2008/09 A-League season.
THREE South African officials, including national team director Sipho Nkumane, have been suspended ahead of next month's World Cup.
The South African Football Association announced the suspension of Nkumane and two marketing executives pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.
A brief statement gave no further details.
Nkumane's primary role was to organise team logistics and the ban is not expected to have an impact on South Africa's team as they continue their build-up for the finals which start on June 11.
HARRY Kewell of Australia is optimistic he will be fit and ready for the World Cup despite suffering a setback with his recovery from groin surgery.
Kewell has only played a handful of minutes for Galatasaray since having an operation in January and the Turkish club's assistant coach, Johan Neeskens, has been quoted as saying that an injury setback could see the Socceroos striker miss World Cup.
But the player himself has told News Limited Publications that while he is taking precautions not to aggravate the injury, he is confident he can be fit again for the tournament opener against Germany on 13 June.
"It (the injury) is still there a little bit so we're taking precautions now," Kewell said. "The plan is to train this week and see how I cope. If I don't play, then it's not meant to be. I'm still resting these old legs. There are still a few more games (for Australia) before the World Cup."
Kewell is considered a key player for Australia with the Socceroos struggling for striking options. However, coach Pim Verbeek will be heartened by the form of Josh Kennedy, who scored twice in Nagoya Grampus' 2-1 win over Vegatta Sandal in the J League. It takes Kennedy's season tally to seven, while he has scored four in the past three games.