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Monday, Aug 10th

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Ghana announce 23 member squad for World Cup

Coach Milovan Rajevac announced his 23 member squad making the trip to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Black Stars are yet to play their two warm up games in Europe against the Netherlands and Latvia and it is difficult to see on what basis the coach has decided to take his decisions on squad selection. They haven't played a game for the last 2 months together and 56-year old Rajevac has had to make swift decisions based on domestic form to finalize his squad of 23 as the deadline to give in the names to FIFA edges closer.

Six players were struck off from the provisional squad of 30 when the teams were announced. A shock announcement was the inclusion of uncapped and dual citizenship status holder Kevin-Prince Boateng. The Portsmouth midfielder could get his first cap against the Oranje in their upcoming warm up game. Haminu Draman and Udinese midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu were overlooked by Rajevac as Germany boar Boateng was give a place in the team. Stephen Adams, Eric Addo, Bernard Kumordzi and Hearts striker Laryea Kingston were also slashed out from the initial squad of 30 players.

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Mexico announce final 23 for the World Cup

Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has named his squad of 23 players who will be traveling to the FIFA World Cup this summer. El Tri recently bamboozled Gambia with a 5 - 1 thumping of the African minnows and it gave former Atletico Madrid coach Aguirre enough reasons to add and subtract the necessary ingredients that his side need to succeed at the World Cup.

The 51-year old coach cut 3 players out from his provisional squad of 26 after their dominance against Gambia. Jonathan Dos Santos who played the whole game against the African team failed to make it to the World Cup but his brother Giovanni did. Defenders Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Club America) and Adrian Aldrete (Morelia) were the other two other players who also failed to book a ticket to South Africa this summer.

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International Friendly Sunday Wrap Part 2: France disappoint, Chile win 2 games in one day

Nigeria and Colombia faced off in England last night and conjured a 1 - 1 draw. Peter Odemwingie and Yakubu started up front for Lars Lagerback's Nigerian team that went a goal down 12 minutes into the game thanks to defender Carlos Valdes. The Super Eagles were looking to win this warm-up game after drawing with Asian giants Saudi Arabia a week ago and they equalized with 18 minutes to go through Monaco midfielder Haruna Lukman. Both the two sides failed to add to their tallies and the game ended in a 1 - 1 draw. Nigeria will face North Korea in their final warm up game before they begin their FIFA World Cup campaign against Argentina on the 12th of June.

raymond_domenech.jpgRaymond Domenech has a lot to ponder on after France drew 1 - 1 against the Tunisians in Rades, Tunisia. Les Blues went a goal down in just the 6th minute when Lens striker Issam Jemaa scored his 15th international goal. France looked to be playing their strongest possible side and things definitely look ominous for them as the World Cup approaches. They pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute through the returning William Gallas, who once again showed his value in both boxes. Domenech made 7 substitutions in the game, which severely spoilt the shape of his side and the French never really looked good enough to go and kill the game off with another goal. They host China in 5 days time for their final World Cup warm up game.

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International Friendly Sunday Wrap Part 1: England limp past Japan, South Korea beaten, Ivory Coast held

rooney_james_johnson.jpgEngland today were handed a rude wake up call, after they needed  the help of two late own-goals to get past Asian giants Japan in a friendly in Austria. After barely managing to beat Mexico earlier in the week, the Three Lions gave their supporters huge cause for concern by struggling to score against a team ranked almost 35 places below them in the FIFA World Rankings. With this being their final warm up game before the beginning of the show piece event in 2 weeks time, one wonders what fate awaits the English national team that has promised so much under Italian boss Fabio Capello.

David James was given the role between the sticks as Capello wished to figure out who his best bet would be for South Africa 2010 with Joe Hart and Robert Green also in the fray. One of the world's best defences on paper was on display as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand paired up with full-backs Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole for company. A young midfield was on show as Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott accompanied the stable Frank Lampard in the middle of the park. Darren Bent, with a hugely successful season behind him, was chosen to pair upfront with Wayne Rooney and conjure up the goals for the Three Lions.

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Michael Ballack ruled out of FIFA World Cup

German Captain Michael Ballack has been ruled out of the FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa from June 11th to July 11th owing to an ankle injury sustained during Chelsea's FA Cup Final win over Portsmouth. The German Football Federation announced that the midfielder will be out for two months, conjuring up a huge void in on field matters regarding the German side during the World Cup. Ballack was informed of the severity of his injury after scans revealed a partially torn ligament.

"It's hard to accept, of course I'm disappointed," said the former Bayern Munich star. He would have played in his 3rd successive World Cup had things panned out differently. Head coach Joachim Loew added: "We're going to work to find a good solution."

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Spain name Final-23 for FIFA World Cup

iker_casillas_spain.jpgBarclays Premier League sensations Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas have both been included in Spain's final 23-man squad for the World Cup, despite lingering injury concerns. Both Torres (knee) and Fabregas (lower leg) missed out the tail end of their domestic seasons due to their respective injuries and their inclusion is questionable with the FIFA World Cup less than month away. Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque will be hoping the two key components of the rampaging Spanish Armada are fit enough to help them conquer the world in South Africa. He brushed aside injury fears over his squad stating at the press conference, "There is a slight concern but they are here and that's because the reports from the medical staff and physical trainers are positive and we are confident they will be at 100% at the start of the tournament".

Barcelona's no.1 Victor Valdes has been chosen ahead of Villarreal's Diego Lopez and Atletico Madrid's David de Gea as the third-choice keeper in the squad. The move has been commended by the footballing globe as the uncapped keeper has had an extremely successful career with the Catalan giants.

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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.

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