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Sunday, Oct 21st

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Denmark announces 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup

Denmark coach Morten Olsen announced the 23 member squad that will be going to South Africa to represent the country in the FIFA World Cup 2010. The ‘Olsen Gang' as they are fondly called recently played a friendly against Senegal which they won 2-0. The Danish Coach made all his final tweaks and adjustments after watching his team impress against the African nation. He dropped 4 members from his initial provisional squad just a couple of hours before his team's flight to the African continent for the showpiece event.

Olsen told reporters that his job was to select the best squad for the World Cup and was confident he had done so, but added that dropping the players 'was one of the toughest decisions he had made.' IFK Goteborg goalkeeper Kim Christensen was booted out of the team despite no.1 Thomas Sorensen's injury. Stefan Andersen from Brondby and Jesper Christiansen from FC Copenhagen have been preferred over the Sweden based Christensen who surprisingly started and shut out Senegal for the 45 minutes he spent on the pitch. FC Utretch's Michael Silderbauer also failed to make the cut. He is known to be versatile and can occupy a number of positions on the pitch. Forwards Mikkel Thygesen of Midtjylland and Morten Rasmussen of Celtic too didn't manage to make the 23 member squad as Olsen preferred to stick with a three man frontline and has chosen to pack the midfield.


Michael Essien out of FIFA World Cup

Ghana's World Cup chances have been dealt a huge blow as their inspirational captain, Michael Essien was ruled out of the tournament following his failure to recover from a long term knee injury. He is the second Captain after Michael Ballack to miss out the chance to play in South Africa 2010. Ironically Ballack's team Germany are in the same group as Ghana, the 'Curse of the Group D' striking again.

Ghana Football Association issued a statement yesterday which said, "An evaluation by a combined team of medical experts from the Ghana Football Association and Chelsea Football Club revealed that Essien will not make full recovery until the end of July. The Ghana Football Association wishes him full recovery and a quick return to football action." Chelsea added: "Complications arising from the surgery have meant Michael's recovery has been slower than expected."

Essien will face a race against time to be fit to start of Chelsea's title defence in August.


International Friendlies Thursday Wrap: Danes, Hosts and Honduras all set for FIFA World Cup

South Africa, Denmark and Honduras were the only three World Cup finalists in action on a slow Thursday night. The Bafana Banfana and Danes hosted their respective clashes against Columbia and Senegal while Honduras took on Belarus in Austria in front of a rather modest crowd. Though all 3 of our finalists aren't expected to pull off too much of an upset, they still impressed last night and look in good condition for the 11th June showpiece.

South Africa 2 - 1 Colombia

Carlos Alberto Perreira's South African team defeated Colombia last night in Johannesburg thanks to two penalties awarded to them either side of half time. Teko Modise gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute. But Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno equalized also from the spot  within the next 5 minutes. The South Africans got their second penalty of the night in the 58th minute and this time Mamelodi Sundowns strikers Katlego Mphela slotted it past Colombian goal keeper David Ospina to give the Bafana Bafana a deserved victory.


International Friendlies Wednesday Wrap: Les Blues and Oranje stutter past their Opponents

The World of international friendlies got incredibly exciting on Wednesday night with some of world football's top guns taking to the field for their final preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup finals. Five of the thirty two teams in South Africa were in action, with the Netherlands pitting wits against Mexico in the only match which featured two sides with a ticket to South Africa. All 4 matches saw wins, though a couple of the big guns did not have things completely their own way.

Netherlands 2 - 1 Mexico

robin_van_persie.jpgA brace from Robin van Persie in the first half won the game for the Oranje against Mexico, who were playing their second friendly in two days. El Tri were coming off the back of a 3-1 defeat to the English and this was another defeat from a European giant would not have helped their confidence one bit. Manchester United summer signing Javier Hernandez pulled one back for Mexico in the 75th minute but it was too little too late. The Dutch have a busy few days ahead of them as they take on the Ghanaians and Hungary before their World Cup campaign kicks off while Mexico will hope to return to winning ways when they meet Gambia, before a clash with defending champs Italy in their last pre-World Cup friendly.


FIFA World Rankings: No change at the top before the World Cup

Only about 20 friendly matches were played worldwide in the last few weeks. Accordingly, there were only minor changes to the latest edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the last to be published before the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The head-to-head battle for top spot between leaders Brazil and European champions Spain continues, and both have a clear lead over the chasing pack of Portugal, Netherlands and Italy. Trailing even further behind, after Germany, Argentina, England and France, are two teams not participating in the World Cup - Croatia and Russia - who are likely to lose even more ground after the tournament.

Meanwhile, hosts South Africa have received a boost, winning not only two friendly matches, but also gaining seven places in the ranking (83rd, up 7), which is more than any other team. The only other teams to climb five or more places were Oman (91st, up 6) and Estonia (99th, up 5). In the top 100, Burkina Faso (48th, up 4) and Montenegro (64th, up 1) are currently in their highest-ever position since the World Ranking was introduced.


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

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.


International Friendlies Monday Wrap: England stutter but overcome Mexico, Argentina cruise against Canada

Three of the FIFA World Cup's major teams were in action last night as Argentina, Portugal and England played warm up games in order to prepare in the best possible way for the showpiece event beginning on the 11th of June. Two clashes between continental rivals spiced things up. Though friendlies allow you to make a host of substitutions which is against the laws of a competitive game, one can easily determine the preparation level of teams via these games and with 3 of the favourites on show yesterday, we did end up much more enlightened than when we started out.

England 3 - 1 Mexico

england_celebrate.jpgTwo national teams formerly coached by Swede Sven Goran Eriksson took on each other in Wembley stadium in front of almost 90,000 spectators. For both teams the clash was an excellent litmus test and it proved to be quite a close encounter as most would have predicted. The FA Cup winners John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard were rested by Fabio Capello for this game. Lieghton Baines was given a chance in that left back slot while Ledley King made it to the centre of defence in place of Terry in his first appearance for the Three Lions since 2007. James Milner and Michael Carrick started off in midfield while West Ham keeper Robert Green was placed between the sticks.


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