For the host country South Africa, the 2010 World Cup is more than just a global soccer tournament. It represents vivid proof that a nation that once symbolized racial oppression has been transformed into a vibrant multicutural society. On the field, 32 teams will compete in an attempt to lift the coveted trophy. As usual, the tournament will provide us with unforgettable games, moments, heroes and even villains.
FIVE INJURED PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
An injury epidemic has already ruled out several players, including Essien (Ghana), Michael Ballack (Germany), David Beckham (England), Ferdinand (England), John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Salvador Cabanas (Paraguay), Carlo Costly (Honduras), Jose Bosingwa (Portugal), Charlie Davies (United States) and Rene Adler (Germany). Here are five other injury concerns:
1. Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast. The African player of the year and remarkable humanitarian broke his right arm against Japan and is still hopeful of playing in the World Cup after undergoing surgery over the weekend. If he can’t play, Ivory Coast’s scoring burden will fall on Gervinho.
2. Arjen Robben, Netherlands. The injury-prone right winger can be devastating when healthy, but Robben injured his left hamstring late in a friendly on Saturday against Hungary and did not travel with the rest of the Netherlands team to South Africa.
3. Humberto Suazo, Chile. La Roja’s top striker is expected to miss at least the team’s opening game against Honduras after suffering a left hamstring injury in a friendly against Israel.
4. Jozy Altidore, United States. The starting forward suffered a mild ankle sprain in practice last Wednesday and sat out the Americans’ 3-1 win against Australia on Saturday. He’s listed as day-to-day.
5. Andrea Pirlo, Italy. The playmaker injured a calf in a friendly against Mexico and is questionable for the World Cup.
On the ground in South Africa, Grant Wahl, Peter King, Mark Bechtel, Joe Posnanski, Steve Davis and Jonathan Wilson among others, will convey the flavor and fervor of the tournament with round-the-clock reporting, in-depth analysis and video discussion of all 65 matches.