Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2013 Contents A53
Friday, October 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Egypt, Ethiopia and Burkina
Faso are Africa's surprise chal-
lengers for a place at the World
Cup when the final playoffs begin
Among the more traditional
favorites to make it to Brazil next
year are Ivory Coast, continental
champion Nigeria and 2010 quar-
terfinalist Ghana. However, they
still have to come through tricky
final tests at the end of a two-year
qualifying competition, when the
continent's five berths will ulti-
mately be decided by 10 home-
If it was needed, Burkina Faso
and Cameroon have provided
reminders of how seriously teams
take World Cup qualification:
Burkina Faso authorities arrested
two Algerian reporters on suspicion
of "spying" on a stadium ahead
of their playoff, and Cameroon's
president intervened to convince
striker Samuel Eto'o to change his
mind on international retirement
and play against Tunisia.
Of all the teams left, conflict-
racked Egypt's story is perhaps the
Under former United States
coach Bob Bradley, Egypt's players
have overcome ongoing violence
to be on the cusp of a first World
Cup appearance in 24 years and
only a third ever, a remarkably bar-
ren record at the showpiece for
the record seven-time African
champion. Egypt won all six of its
group qualifiers, the only team of
40 with a perfect record.
Galvanized to put decades of
World Cup disappointment behind
it and give a fractured country
something positive, Egypt needs
to beat Africa's best-performing
team from the last World Cup,
Ghana, which is boosted by the
return to international competition
of Michael Essien and the Ayew
brothers, Andre and Jordan,
although Kevin-Prince Boateng is
injured for the first leg.
Despite missing the last two
African Cups, a return to the
World Cup was always the No. 1
goal for Egypt, according to
"It is the dream of all the
(Egyptian) people," he said.
The first leg is in Ghana on
Tuesday. November's second leg
was scheduled for Cairo, although
Ghana has asked FIFA to recon-
sider the violence-hit capital as a
venue for that crucial second game.
RIO DE JANEIRO---FIFA General
Secretary Jerome Valcke is confident
the Brazilian police can control any
protests during next year's World
Yesterday, Valcke described as
"very good" the policing during the
two-week Confederations Cup in
Several people died during violent
protests, which reached a million at
one point. Angry demonstrators took
to the streets daily, questioning why
Brazil is spending billions to organize
the World Cup in a country with high
taxes and poor public services.
Weekly protests have continued
across Brazil since the Confederations
Cup. Police used rubber bullets, tear
gas and shock grenades on Monday
to break up protests in Rio de Janeiro
and Sao Paulo. The protests were
initially organized by striking teach-
Spain-Belarus in doubt
MADRID---An explosion in a power
supply unit outside the football sta-
dium in Mallorca injured three people
and put today's World Cup qualifier
between Spain and Belarus in doubt,
Spain's federation said.
A power unit located in the sta-
dium's car park exploded yesterday
as three men were working on it,
federation spokesman Jorge Carretero
told The Associated Press.
"The worst part of this is that three
people have been injured, two seri-
ously, but I have not been told that
the match is definitely off," Carretero
said. "I think the damaged unit can
be replaced in time."
Spain goes into the match on the
Mediterranean island level on points
atop Group I with France, but has a
game in hand.
Belarus is in last place.
Alba injured again
BARCELONA---Barcelona says left
back Jordi Alba will be sidelined
another six weeks after injuring his
left hamstring in training, just as the
Spain international was returning
from a previous problem.
Alba was hurt yesterday just as he
was coming back from a muscle tear
in his right leg last month.
The 24-year-old back will miss a
pair of Champions League matches
against AC Milan and a Spanish
league game against Real Madrid
while he recuperates.
Barcelona defender Javier Mascher-
ano did return to training on Thurs-
day after the Argentina international
missed several weeks with a right
Vogts: Rooney turned
down Scotland offer
Berti Vogts has revealed that he
once boarded a plane to Liverpool to
try and convince the then rising star
Wayne Rooney to play for Scotland.
Vogts, who managed Scotland from
2002 to 2004, said Rooney was eli-
gible because his grandmother was
Scottish. But Rooney, who was play-
ing at Everton, turned down the offer.
He then made his England debut in
February 2003 and has since scored
36 goals in 84 internationals.
Speaking ahead of his Azerbaijan
side's World Cup qualifier against
Northern Ireland, Vogts said Rooney
insisted he was English when they
met, telling him "I'm sorry boss, I'm
Vogts made his comments after
being asked his views on the debate
over national eligibility after England
midfielder Jack Wilshere expressed
unease at calls for young foreign-
born players to be naturalized.
FIFA bans Morocco
player for doping
ZURICH---FIFA has suspended
Morocco forward Hamza Abouraz-
zouk for six months after he tested
positive for cannabis at a World Cup
FIFA says Abourazzouk's ban from
all football runs through February 27.
The 27-year-old Raja Casablanca
player will miss the Club World Cup
which is in Morocco in December.
Raja Casablanca qualified as the
league winner of the host nation.
Abourazzouk failed a doping con-
trol after Morocco's 2-1 win against
Tanzania in Marrakech on June 8. He
was an unused substitute.
Morocco is already eliminated from
World Cup qualification.
PARIS---With Europe's World
Cup playoffs looming, France
coach Didier Deschamps still does
not know what his best team is.
France is second in Group I
behind Spain and, barring a mon-
umental collapse by the World Cup
winner and two-time European
champion, France will have to
qualify through next month's play-
Deschamps has had a difficult
time so far as coach, and injuries
have played their part.
Ahead of today's friendly against
Australia and the final group qual-
ifier against Finland on Tuesday,
Deschamps is still trying to figure
out who should be picked when
the playoffs come around.
"Best XI? That can also evolve,"
Deschamps said yesterday. "Some
choices are more difficult in one
or two positions, three maximum."
Pressed further if that means
some fringe players could still force
their way into the reckoning,
Deschamps replied by saying "lis-
ten, yes, why not? It's obviously
better for them to play well tomor-
row and on Tuesday" against Fin-
"I have the chance to make six
changes in the first match, and
give people a game. It will come
into my mind when I make my
choices. Of the 23, most of them
will get to play. They won't be two
identical teams, but I'm not going
to make 11 changes (for Finland),
either. You still have to keep the
spine of the team."
He will likely pick a strong team
against Australia, with important
FIFA ranking points available.
The contest for the No. 9 jersey
is intensifying between the out-
of-sorts Karim Benzema and Olivi-
Benzema has not scored in his
past 15 games for France---with a
frustrated Giroud usually watching
from the bench---and is struggling
for Real Madrid. Giroud has been
one of English Premier League
leader Arsenal's best players this
Deschamps appears to have
ruled out the idea of playing them
alongside each other.
"Karim started a lot of games
before. He didn't start the last
game. One of them will start,"
Deschamps said. "I believed in
Karim, I still believe in him, and
in Olivier. One can replace the
Patrice Evra and Gael Clichy are
contesting the left back slot, and
Samir Nasri and Yohan Cabaye are
both pushing for a return.
"It's true that they're very closely
matched, even if Patrice has played
more games than Gael,"
Deschamps said. "But maybe both
can do a little bit more."
Cabaye missed the previous
three matches because he was unfit
and had not trained for Newcastle
as he tried to push through a last-
minute move to Arsenal.
Nasri received a three-match
ban following last year's European
Championship for insulting a jour-
nalist and was initially overlooked
by Deschamps. But Deschamps
said he "did well when he came
on" as a substitute against Georgia
and Belarus in last month's qual-
confidence in Cup security Egypt, Ethiopia threaten
World Cup regulars
In this photo taken Tuesday, January, Ethiopia's Salahdin Said, centre,
heads the ball at Nigeria's goal during their African Cup of Nations
group C match in Rustenburg, South Africa. After falling off the football
map for thre decades Ethiopia is now just two matches away from
qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. AP PHOTO
Deschamps still unsure of best French team
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