Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 21st 2014 Contents A68
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, June 21, 2014
MANAUS---With Cristiano Ronaldo, Por-
tugal still has a chance to reach the second
round at the World Cup. Without him, the
advantage might just switch to the United
Ronaldo has been carrying an injury to his
left knee, and the world player of the year
was seen using an ice pack on it during train-
ing on Wednesday. But he is still expected
to play against the Americans tomorrow at
the Arena da Amazonia in a match that Por-
tugal can t afford to lose.
"Cristiano is 100 per cent fit to play," back-
up Portugal goalkeeper Beto said this week.
"Every match, if he starts to play, it is because
he is fit to play."
The Portuguese lost 4-0 to Germany in
their opening Group G match, with Ronaldo
playing despite the injury.
The United States, however, is going in
the other direction. After being knocked out
of the last two World Cups by Ghana, the
Americans beat the African team 2-1 in their
opening match and could even secure a spot
in the second round this weekend.
If Germany beats Ghana today, and the
Americans find a way to win on Sunday,
then Portugal and the Ghanaians will be
Ronaldo could have something to say about
"It s going to be something that we re
going to always be aware of him," United
States midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.
"Everybody s going to have to have an eye
when we re on offense, on defense, and it s
going to take 11 guys playing offense and
defense to win this game."
Ronaldo has been one of the best players
in the world for about a decade, and last
year he even usurped Lionel Messi by ending
the Argentina forward s streak of winning
the FIFA Ballon d Or.
He has also excelled on the world stage,
helping Portugal reach the 2004 European
Championship final and the 2006 World
Cup semifinals. The team also advanced out
of the group stage at both Euro 2008 and
the last World Cup, and then reached the
semifinals at Euro 2012.
"We have to be ready for him," United
States defender Fabian Johnson said. "If he s
going to play or not, we have to be ready for
Although the Americans won their opening
match, the defense looked shaky as Ghana
attacked throughout. They can expect more
of the same from Portugal.
And that means something is probably
going to have to change if they want to get
all three points.
"Absolutely. I think our best defense is
offense," Beckerman said. "We have to be
extremely clean with the ball."
Portugal has several other world-class
players in its squad, but not all of them will
be available for the match against the Amer-
Defender Fabio Coentrao, Ronaldo s team-
mate at Real Madrid, has been ruled out of
the rest of the World Cup with a muscle
strain. And striker Hugo Almeida limped off
mid-way through the first half against Ger-
many with a muscle injury.
Pepe, another Real Madrid defender, is
The starting lineup, however, won t affect
the team s need for points, or the Americans
"We ll see what happens if they come out
a little different because they need the win,"
Beckerman said. "We ll be ready for them
trying to come after us or sitting back, either
one. We ve got to be ready for everything."
RIO DE JANEIRO---The younger brother
of Ivory Coast players Yaya and Kolo
Toure died on Thursday, the same day
his famous siblings were representing
their country at the World Cup, the Ivory
Coast Football Federation said.
The 28-year-old Ibrahim Toure died in
England, the Ivorian federation said in a
statement, and Yaya and Kolo were
informed soon after Ivory Coast s 2-1 loss
to Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil.
The IFF did not give a cause of death
but said Ibrahim died in Manchester, where
Yaya plays his club football for English
champions Manchester City in the Premier
League and where Kolo used to play.
British media reported that Ibrahim,
who was also a footballer, was battling
cancer and had been receiving treatment
"A tough day for the Toure brothers.
Just hours after the (Colombia)
match...Kolo and Yaya have learned of the
death of their younger brother," the IFF
said in its statement. "The entire Ivorian
delegation in Brazil supports them in this
The IFF didn t say if the brothers would
now leave the World Cup in Brazil, where
Ivory Coast has a chance of making the
second round for the first time.
Midfielder Yaya Toure captained the
team against Colombia in Brasilia on
Thursday, while Liverpool defender Kolo
was on the bench. Despite losing its second
game, Ivory Coast is second in Group C
behind Colombia ahead of a final group
match against Greece. Yaya Toure, the cur-
rent African player of the year, is a pivotal
player for the team.
Manchester City released a statement
saying "the thoughts of everyone con-
nected with City are with the Toure family
at this most difficult time.
CURITIBA---Spain coach Vicente del Bosque
remained mum over his future yesterday
despite public backing from the Spanish
federation, saying any decision would only
come after the World Cup.
Del Bosque s future has been under ques-
tion since Spain became the first defending
champion to be out of contention after just
two group games.
While federation director Jorge Perez told
a Spanish radio station that Del Bosque was
"the ideal man to lead the transition the team
needs," the coach himself said things weren t
"We re still in the midst of the competition
and I don t think it s the moment to talk
about my future," Del Bosque said from the
team s training base in southern Brazil.
"Whatever we decide will be what we feel
is the best for the team. If I am a problem
to our football than I ll go."
The 63-year-old Del Bosque is under con-
tract through 2016, when Spain will be look-
ing to win its third straight European Cham-
pionship, and second under the former Real
Madrid coach. Del Bosque also guided Spain
to the World Cup title in 2010.
"At this World Cup we all failed, not just
the veterans, the youngsters or the coaching
staff. It was all of us," Del Bosque said. "We
weren t at the same level as we were in past
Spain closes the tournament against Aus-
tralia in its final Group B game on Monday.
Spain was eliminated with a 2-0 loss to Chile.
Del Bosque said the team never managed
to recover from the second-half collapse in
a 5-1 loss to the Netherlands in the first game.
"Every player was sub-par. The Nether-
lands grew in confidence while we shrunk,"
said Del Bosque.
"The reality is we started well and little-
by-little we fell into a depression. We kept
falling and were never ourselves again."
Del Bosque said the team deserved all the
criticism it received for its performance, but
stopped short of terming Spain s quick exit
the end of an era.
Benzema's goal can't beat clock
Karim Benzema had just scored his second
goal of the game and fourth of the tournament,
and the sixth of the day for France.
Hold on---never mind. Referee Bjorn Kuipers
blew his whistle moments before the ball soared
into the net on Benzema's curling, first-time
strike, ending France's 5-2 win over Switzerland
in Group E yesterday.
Kuipers was smiling a bit impishly as he
walked off the pitch. The French had plenty to
smile about despite that last goal not counting,
considering they have won both their matches
and are all but guaranteed to advance.
Argentina coach sees 'strong' Iran
Argentina is not just facing Iran's national
football team, but its culture and war-torn
history, too, when the two teams go head to
head at the Mineirao Stadium today.
At least if you believe Argentina coach
Alejandro Sabella, who strayed beyond sport
when he analysed the Iranians yesterday before
their Group F match.
"It's a team that has to do with the Iranian
culture," Sabella said. "A country that has been
through wars. A country that is physically and
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq in the
US forward Jozy Altidore slowly made his way
to the field yesterday at Sao Paulo Futebol Club
accompanied by trainers, his injured left leg
Altidore was still smiling---even if this is hardly
the way he envisioned his World Cup going.
"I'm hanging in there," he said.
The Sunderland striker, who scored twice in his
team's final sendoff series match against Nigeria,
strained his left hamstring in the first half of
Monday's 2-1 victory against Ghana in Natal. He
will miss tomorrow's second Group G match
against Portugal at Manaus.
Teammates and coach Jurgen Klinsmann are
still hopeful he will play again in Brazil.
Eyes on ice
The most scrutinised knee in the World Cup
was on display again yesterday as Cristiano
Ronaldo practiced with his Portugal teammates.
And that was all anyone could talk about at the
team's base in Campinas, with scores of cameras
zooming in on the reigning world player of the
year's every move, twitch and gesture.
Team officials sighed when asked about the
status of Ronaldo, who has been struggling with
a leg injury since before the tournament.
At the team's news conference, the majority of
the questions were about Ronaldo.
Teammate Helder Postiga said he was sick of
"After the training today there were ten players
applying ice on themselves. We used three bags
of ice! That cannot be a reason to create so many
rumours about Cristiano," he said. "Cristiano is
training; he's fine. He is going to be important for
us. He is going to help the team. We all have a
common goal. Ice is just an exercise, something
normal after training. You need to take it more
Max Kruse isn't playing for Germany at the
World Cup, so he found another international
competition---the World Series of Poker.
The Borussia Moenchengladbach forward
finished in third place and won $36,494 this week
in one of the Las Vegas tournament's 65 events.
Kruse, 26, played in three World Cup qualifiers
for Germany but has since fallen out of favour.
WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky says it was
Kruse's first time playing the 2-7 Draw Lowball
variant of poker, so he got a 30-minute tutorial
from fellow German and poker star George
Danzer before making his strong showing.
Ronaldo and Portugal
take on United States
Del Bosque mum on future
Brother of Yaya, Kolo Toure dies
Spain's head coach Vicente del Bosque
gestures during a press conference at the
Atletico Paranaense training centre in
Curitiba, Brazil, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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