World Cup Round-Up

 

COUNTDOWN TO THE WORLD CUP: A roundup of news from other World Cup team camps

Zidane injury a worry for the champions

Zinedine Zidane suffered a thigh injury five days before the world champions launch their defence against Senegal in Seoul in the opening match of Korea/Japan 2002.

Zidane was substituted in the 38th minute after complaining of a problem in his left thigh. France, who trailed 2-1 at half-time to the co-hosts, managed to scrape a 3-2 win in Suwon with Frank Leboeuf's 89th-minute strike.

But afterwards France coach Roger Lemerre was more concerned about the untimely injury to key man Zidane.

"He has a small tear, a little pain in his thigh muscle," said Lemerre. It remains to be seen how serious the injury is but a worried Lemerre added: "When it's muscular, you are always worried because you never know how long it is going to take to heal."

Turkey

Turkey coach Senol Gunes yesterday brought training to a premature end after hearing that a Brazilian spy had infiltrated their World Cup base. Turkey face Brazil in their opening World Cup game on June 3rd.

Belgium

Defender Glen de Boeck thought he had suffered a David Beckham-style injury in yesterday's 1-0 win over Costa Rica. De Boeck left the field with an ankle injury during his team's 1-0 win over Costa Rica yesterday, and feared the worst as he was rushed to hospital. But a scan showed that nothing was broken.

South Africa

Lucas Radebe sat out yesterday's final warm-up match against J-League side Vissel in Ueno City, a game South Africa won 3-0.

Quinton Fortune, captaining a much-changed side in Radebe's absence, scored one of the goals from the penalty spot, having won the kick himself.

George Koumantarakis, the tall Basle striker opened the scoring after 13 minutes with Udinese's Siyabonga Nomvete completing the scoring in the second half.

Russia

The Russian team's World Cup preparations were disturbed yesterday by news of an accident at the nuclear plant near to their Simidzu base. Around 20 litres of radioactive water escaped from a reactor in the nearby town of Hamaoka just hours before they arrived.

Denmark

Jesper Gronkjaer was instrumental as Denmark edged out Tunisia yesterday in their final warm-up game. The left winger opened the scoring after 16 minutes before setting up prolific Schalke striker Ebbe Sand for the winner in the second half.

Ziad Jaziri had equalised for Tunisia on the hour mark, but parity lasted just six minutes before Sand struck.

Denmark's opening game is against Uruguay on June 1st.

Portugal

Portugal's 2-0 victory over China on Saturday was tainted by injuries to midfielders Paulo Sousa and Armando Petit. The pair were set to undergo further tests yesterday to determine the severity of the knocks. Sousa has a problem with his right thigh while Petit suffered a back injury.

Spain

Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho has hit out at claims that divisions in his squad are affecting preparations for the finals. Spain have struggled in two friendlies against Korean clubs but Camacho is at war with the media for suggesting infighting within the camp is to blame.

Italy

An injury to Filippo Inzaghi took the shine off Italy's 2-1 win in a warm-up match against J-League champions Kashima Antlers. The AC Milan striker, who opened the scoring, was substituted in the 29th minute with a thigh injury, the extent of which is not known. Otherwise, the game provided several positives for Azzurri boss Giovanni Trappatoni, who allowed playmaker Francesco Totti a run out in the first half after a month out with a thigh injury.

Brazil

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has pledged to eradicate the problems suffered by his players in Saturday's friendly against Malaysia. Despite claiming a 4-0 win in Kuala Lumpur, Brazil looked far from the finished article as they were plagued by a lack of team-work, lapses in concentration and poor finishing in the first half.

But Scolari, who was satisfied to a degree with the win, said: "We will solve all those during our Korean training sessions." It took the four-time world champions until the second half to make the breakthrough, when Ronaldo's first international strike in almost three years sparked a goal spree.

Argentina

Coach Marcelo Bielsa yesterday sent another clear signal that Hernan Crespo will be his first-choice striker at the World Cup.

Crespo was the starting frontman, relegating Gabriel Batistuta to the bench, when the Argentinians - who face England in Sapporo on June 7th played a training-ground practice match against a youth team who are helping their preparations.

The 50-minute match also involved a large number of substitutions, and Batistuta - Argentina's all-time record goalscorer did come on to replace Crespo.