Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2014 Contents
Diego Forlan recorded a televi-
sion commercial recently wear-
ing a T-shirt that read: “We're
not the favourites, nor will we
be a surprise. We are the team
that no one wants to draw."
That sums up Uruguay, the small
South American country that finished
fourth at the 2010 World Cup.
Uruguay has won the World Cup
twice — in 1930 and 1950 — and is al-
ways a dangerous rival with a tough-
nosed style of play and two of the
world's top forwards in Luis Suarez
and Edinson Cavani.
The problem for Uruguay is Group
D, where it's matched with England,
Italy and Costa Rica. Finishing in the
top two and getting out of the group
would be an accomplishment.
"We are realists," Suarez said.
"Today's football is tough, very diffi-
cult. We have go with a low profile,
the way we did in South Africa, to try
to achieve our goal."
The other problem is Suarez him-
self, who had keyhole surgery on his
left knee on May 22. Team doctors
say he has a chance to play, but no
one may know until minutes before
the opening match.
Forlan, who was named the best
player at the 2010 World Cup, joined
Japanese club Cerezo Osaka in Febru-
ary. He will likely be a substitute this
time, but offers lots of experience
from playing days in Italy, Spain and
Uruguay's problem has come
against European clubs. In South
Africa four years ago, Uruguay did not
win a match against European teams,
drawing with France and losing to
Germany and the Netherlands. Victo-
ries came against Mexico, South
Africa, South Korea and Ghana.
The same thing happened last year
at the Confederations Cup with
losses against Italy and Spain.
Diego Perez, Egidio Arevalo, Maximiliano Pereira, Jorge Fucile and Cristian Ro-
driguez. Background from left: Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera, Christian Stu-
ani, Diego Lugano, Luis Suarez and Diego Godin. AP Photo
Never before has England trav-
elled to a World Cup better pre-
pared — for the post-tournament
The search for answers to England's
long-standing struggles began while
the team coached by Roy Hodgson
was still qualifying for its fifth straight
As Hodgson prepared for Brazil, a
Football Association commission con-
cluded in early May that England's
World Cup hopes would be hampered
by the limited opportunities for home-
grown players in the Premier League.
England's World Cup excuses are in
earlier than ever before.
Just advancing from a group contain-
ing Italy and Uruguay would be an
achievement. Even FA chairman Greg
Dyke responded to the draw in Decem-
ber with a throat-slitting action that
was caught on camera.
Four-time world champion Italy,
which beat England in the 2012 Euro-
pean Championship quarterfinals, is
first up in humid Manaus, followed by
2010 semifinalist Uruguay in a Sao
Paulo stadium that is as much a work
in progress as the England team itself.
By the time England travels to Belo
Horizonte to face Costa Rica, the en-
gines might already be warming up on
the runway for the return home.
England did go through qualifying un-
beaten, but there was scarce encour-
agement from uninspiring
performances with little attacking pen-
etration. It hasn't been much better in
World Cup warm-ups, with losses to
Germany and Chile followed by an ar-
duous 1-0 win over Denmark.
Hodgson desperately needs Wayne
Rooney, one of football's top earners at
Kyle Walker, Rickie
Lambert, Phil Jagielka,
Joe Hart, Gary Cahill
and Frank Lampard.
Foreground from left:
Theo Walcott, James
Milner, Steven Gerrard,
Ashley Cole and Jack
Wilshere. AP Photo
Manchester United, to justify his star
While Rooney could arrive in Brazil
a frustrated figure following a sur-
prisingly miserable season with
United, Liverpool exceeded expecta-
tions by finishing second — and Eng-
land could reap the rewards. Captain
Steven Gerrard is one of five Liver-
pool players in the squad, including
19-year-old winger Raheem Sterling
and striker Daniel Sturridge.
Hodgson has also profited from
Southampton's impressive season
utilizing homegrown players, showing
there are topflight opportunities for
such talent without the FA overhaul-
ing the structure of English football.
Forward Rickie Lambert, midfielder
Adam Lallana and defender Luke
Shaw only made their international
debuts in the last year.
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Van Gaal succeeded Bert van Marwijk
after the Dutch crashed out of the 2012
European Championship without win-
ning a single point in group play. He im-
mediately set about rebuilding the team
and seeking to play more attractive at-
It is a measure of the work Van Gaal
has undertaken that he has handed in-
ternational team debuts to 25 players —
enough to form two complete teams.
Van Persie will spearhead the attack,
who appears to be fully recovered from
a sprained left knee he picked up after
scoring a hat trick in Manchester
United's 3-0 Champions League win
over Olympiakos in March.
He demonstrated he is in form with a
breath-taking left-foot volley to earn
the Netherlands a hard-fought 1-1 draw
with Ecuador in a friendly this month, as
Van Gaal experimented with a 5-3 -2
formation he expects to deploy in Brazil
instead of the traditional 4-3-3 setup
that was the foundation of the Nether-
lands' ultra-attacking brand of Total
Football in the 1970s and beyond.
Van Persie will be supported by the
pace of Arjen Robben, who has his own
World Cup demons to bury after squan-
dering a golden chance to score in regu-
lation time in the 2010 World Cup final.
Continued from page 22
Didier Drogba may
be looking at his best
chance of reaching
the knockout stage
in what will surely be
the aging striker's
final World Cup.
After failing to get out of
the group stage at the last
two editions, Ivory Coast
was drawn in Group C in
Brazil with Colombia,
Greece and Japan.
In 2006, Ivory Coast took
on the Netherlands and Ar-
gentina, losing narrowly to
both. Things were hardly
better four years ago in
South Africa when Brazil
and Portugal were the
In those competitions,
and despite the best ef-
forts of a Drogba still en-
joying his peak years, Ivory
Coast finished third in its
group both times.
With the better draw for
this World Cup, Ivory Coast
coach Sabri Lamouchi has
played down expectations
in the football-mad country
where every defeat is met
with howls of despair.
"I think it's quite a diffi-
cult and well-balanced
group, which means that
there's everything to play
for," Lamouchi told The As-
sociated Press. "Greece ...
they're a very hard team to
play against and Japan is
one of the best, if not the
best, team in Asia. They've
Lamouchi already knows
what the reaction will be
back in Abidjan if the top-
ranked African team quali-
fies for the second round.
"The ambition of the
African people is to go as
far as possible, even to
maybe win the World Cup
.. . I can't stop people from
dreaming," Lamouchi said.
"It would already be an
achievement to get out of
the group stage and then
obviously after that it will
be more difficult to play
Italy, Uruguay or England."
A 2-2 draw against Bel-
gium in early March, the
first of three final prepara-
tion games, was a good
test before the opening
Group C encounter against
Japan in Recife on June 14.
"If we go there with (no
ambition) then there's no
point in going. Our aim is to
achieve what they couldn't
in 2006 and 2010," Lam-
ouchi said. "We need to be
a bit more rigorous, a bit
more disciplined, focused
Ivory Coast's so-called
"golden generation" has
one final chance to prove it
can handle the pressure
following the disappoint-
ment of losing African Cup
finals in 2006 and 2012.
"I'm expecting the same
thing from Didier and the
rest of the players, to use
all of his talent and experi-
ence and all of his qualities
as a football player and a
man to help the Ivory
Coast get past the first
round," Lamouchi said.
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