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International Friendlies Tuesday Wrap: All 6 World Cup Finalists fail to win

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rigobert_song.jpgSix of the thirty two FIFA World Cup finalits were engaged in friendlies last night in preparation for the 11th June show piece. The United States, Cameroon, Nigeria, North Korea, Greece and Paraguay all attempted to assure themselves and the world that they are in top notch shape going into the World Cup. The results though didn't show them in too good a light as none of the 6 aforementioned elite teams picked up a win last night.

Cameroon was held to a goalless draw by Georgia in a World Cup warm up match in Lienz, Austria. The 'Indomitable Lions' played without their captain and inspirational leader, Samuel Eto'o, who had not yet joined the team after his Champions league triumph with Inter Milan. Freiburg striker Mohamadou Idrissou missed two huge chances for Cameroon, who struggled to find any momentum. Valenciennes Goalkeeper Guy Roland Ndy Assembe, defender Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana, midfielders Marcel Ndjeng (FC Augsburg) and Patrick Mevoungou all made their debut for the Lions. It was a disappointing result for 19th ranked Cameroon as they were unable to score against a team ranked 100 places below them in the FIFA World rankings. They will face Slovakia, Portugal and Serbia within the next 10 days in a very heavy build up season to the World Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria took on Saudi Arabia on a tiny pitch in Wattens, Austria in order as their precursor to the World Cup next month. The two teams played out a goalless draw despite making  6 substitutions each. Nigeria had Victor Anichebe playing upfront alongwith Hoffenheim striker Chinedu Obasi, but the two youngsters failed to break their opponents down. The likes Obafemi Martins and John Utaka entered the fray for the Super Eagles later on, but never really looked to break the dead lock. Nigeria have Colombia and North Korea to tackle before the beginning of the World Cup.

Greece took the lead twice against North Korea in a friendly played in Altach, Austria but still failed to win the game as the resilient Koreans muscled out a 2-2 draw against the 2004 European champions. Panathinaikos midfielder Konstantinos Katsouranis gave the Greeks the lead as early as the 2nd minute. Tae-Se Chong equalized twice for the North Koreans in the 24th minute and the 51st minute. Greek legend Angelo Charisteas scored the other goal 3 minutes into the second half. World Cup minnows North Korea will be happy with this comeback draw and will look to tackle their Group of Death with renewed confidence. Greece on the other hand will look to redeem themselves against Paraguay after their disappointing draw with the only team in the World Cup ranked outside the top 100.

Heartbroken non-qualifiers Republic of Ireland scored twice in the first half to beat Paraguay 2-1 in Dublin on Tuesday. Kevin Doyle gave the home team the lead in the 7th minute with Stoke City midfielder Liam Lawrence adding the second goal in the 39th minute. Paraguay did pull one back though in the second half through Borussia Dortmund forward Lucas Barrios but failed to trouble the Irish any further. Paraguay will look to improve against the Ivorians and the Greeks in their next two preparatory friendlies.

United States' home clash against the Czechs was arguably the biggest game of the night where the Americans hoped to signal their departure for South Africa in style with a good account of themselves. But it all ended rather harrowingly for the hosts, who lost 2-4 to the Czech Republic in Connecticut. Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu gave the home team the lead in the 17th minute before watching Tomas Sivok in the 44th minute and Jan Polak in the 58th minute turn the match on its head. Herculez Gomez tied it up for the Americans in the 65th minute but the Czechs killed the game by adding two more to their tally through Martin Fenin and Tomas Necid late on. The Americans who kick start their World Cup campaign against favourites England, will be pretty disappointed with their showing and will look pick up some decent results against Turkey and Australia before that mammoth clash on the 13th of June.

The Results

Georgia 0 - 0 Cameroon
Nigeria 0 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Greece 2 - 2 North Korea
Republic of Ireland 2 - 1 Paraguay
United States 2 - 4 Czech Republic

File Photograph Copyright: Liotier

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