Manager Fabio Capello says England have been cursed by bad luck after captain Rio Ferdinand’s injury-enforced departure from their World Cup squad.
Ferdinand was ruled out of the whole tournament after damaging knee ligaments in England’s first training session in South Africa.
“It couldn’t have been much worse on my first day,” said Capello.
“It was an accidental injury in training, but nothing to do with the pitch. It’s the curse of the captain.”
Ferdinand, who endured an injury-hit campaign with Manchester United, was appointed England captain in February after Capello stripped John Terry of the honour in the wake of revelations about the Chelsea defender’s private life.
But the 31-year-old did not take to the field with the captain’s armband on until England’s two pre-World Cup friendlies against Mexico and Japan, and must now watch Steven Gerrard lead the side into the sport’s biggest tournament.
For Capello, the disruption of losing his captain and key defender just a week before England’s first game of the tournament was a hammer blow.
“All the players who are here with me are important. But he is one of the starting players, the captain, a leader,” said Capello.
But the Italian said England would have to quickly move on from the setback, with much of the attention now focusing on who will be picked to partner Terry at the heart of England’s back four.
“You have to take into account this might happen: sometimes it happens during a game, sometimes in training, sometimes before you get to a final,” he said.
“You have to deal with it.”
Ledley King and Matthew Upson, two of the candidates for the vacancy, both missed team training yesterday.
King was training with England medical staff in the gym as part of the programme to manage his chronic knee condition, while Upson was suffering with a high temperature.
Ferdinand sustained the injury in the closing minutes of England’s training session after an innocuous challenge from striker Emile Heskey.
“It was a tackle and then there was big pain,” explained Capello.
“He put his feet in the grass with Heskey and then he moved. The other players were upset. They stopped training.”
Capello has made experienced midfielder Frank Lampard his new vice-captain following Ferdinand’s injury, and the Chelsea star said he feared for Ferdinand after seeing the incident at close quarters.
“He’s very down,” said Lampard, who raised the prospect of Ferdinand staying with the England squad rather than returning to the UK.
“It’s a huge competition, the biggest competition. It made me feel a bit sick in the stomach so I can’t imagine how he feels.”
Lampard, 31, added: “Rio is a top professional, a top lad and a top player and you feel for someone like that because he has put in a lot of hard work. He deserves to be at the biggest competition of our career and I feel for him personally.
“I’m very close to Rio, we’ve been through our careers together, and that’s why it’s upsetting to see that happen to a close mate.”
Ferdinand’s representative Pini Zahavi said that the defender was devastated by his premature exit from the tournament.
“Rio said: ‘I think somebody cursed me.’ That is honestly how he feels,” Zahavi.
“Rio is very down. He cannot understand why this has happened to him.
“This injury is nothing to do with the ones he had before. It is completely different and it is very bad luck.
“Rio was feeling sharp and was ready for the World Cup. He has waited so long for this tournament and to try to help England win it. He had prepared himself so well.
“But he is a very strong man and he will be back. I’m sure he will be leading England in four years’ time at the next World Cup.”
Ferdinand’s replacement in the squad is uncapped Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, who arrived in South Africa yesterday.
“It’s a crazy game and things can change in a split second,” he said.
“One minute I’m trying to arrange my holiday, then I get a call asking if I was on holiday because Rio had pulled out of training.
“I said ‘no’ and then I was just waiting by the phone before getting a call saying I would be picked up in an hour. It’s been a crazy day.”
Ferdinand’s injury grabbed the headlines which may well have otherwise focused on midfielder Gareth Barry’s return to training after an ankle injury.
Barry missed England’s training camp in Austria as he continued his rehabilitation from the injury he sustained towards the end of the Premier League season playing for Manchester City.
But despite the boost of seeing Barry return to light training on Friday, Capello said he would be cautious in terms of when the 29-year-old would be back in contention to play.
“About Barry, we are happy because he’s improving every day and getting better and better with every moment,” said Capello.
“I spoke with him on Wednesday and he says he’s really happy. There’s no swelling and his confidence is rising. He is getting stronger.
“He will work harder every day and we will see what happens.
“But we will also go slowly. This is the worst period. If you go too fast, it’s really dangerous.
“I’d prefer he didn’t play against the United States [England’s first game of the World Cup on 12 June] and is fit for the other games. We have to be careful at every moment.”
Goalkeeper David James returned to training yesterday after sitting out the initial session with a minor knee complaint.
Adesanya Beats Vettori To Retain UFC Middleweight Title
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya cruised to victory over Marvin Vettori as he retained his undisputed 185-pound title in the main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona.
The pair had previously met, when Adesanya claimed a split-decision victory over Vettori in April 2018 in the Nigerian-born Kiwi’s second UFC bout.
But in Saturday night’s rematch Adesanya, 31, showed his class with a virtuoso performance as he picked apart the Italian over the full five-round championship duration at the Gila River Arena.
Vettori started the bout in aggressive fashion and landed an early takedown, but Adesanya soon settled into his work and dominated the striking exchanges, using repeated kicks to Vettori’s lead leg to punish the challenger from range.
Adesanya’s control of the bout caused plenty of consternation in Vettori’s corner between rounds, as coach Rafael Cordeiro implored his man to be more aggressive in his pursuit of the takedown.
But Vettori simply had no answer for the champion, who looked in complete control as he cruised to a shutout decision victory with all three judges scoring the bout 50-45 in Adesanya’s favour.
After the result was officially announced, Adesanya dedicated his victory to his teammate Fau Vake, a promising up-and-coming fighter who died in May from injuries sustained in an alleged attack in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I just want to say Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake, I love you, man… This fight I dedicate to you, Fau,” he said.
Adesanya then said he wanted his next title defence to come against Australia’s former champion Robert Whittaker, but on the condition that the fight takes place in Adesanya’s hometown of Auckland after Adesanya dethroned Whit-taker in Melbourne in their first meeting at UFC 243.
“We need to run that back in my territory this time,” he said.
In the night’s co-main event, Brandon Moreno completed a remarkable career turnaround as he captured the undisputed UFC flyweight title.
Moreno, 27, submitted reigning champion Deiveson Figueiredo via third-round rear-naked choke to capture the title.
But ‘The Assassin Baby’ battled his way back to the UFC in mid-2019 and climbed to the top of the flyweight division. His first shot at the gold came last December when he and Figueiredo, 33, produced one of the fights of the year in a bout that ended in a majority draw.
It demanded an immediate rematch, and Moreno produced the best performance of his UFC career to defeat Figueiredo and claim the undisputed 125-pound title.
Sports Minister Charges Usman To Develop Martial Art
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has charged Kamar Usman to use his clout to develop Martial Arts in Nigeria.
Kamarudeen “Kamaru” Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist, former freestyle wrestler, and graduated folkstyle wrestler. He currently competes in the welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman was also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of March 23, 2021, he is #2 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
As a wrestler, Usman primarily competed at 84 kilograms and was the 2010 US University World Team Member. Collegiately, he competed at 174 pounds and was the 2010 NCAA Division II National Champion, a three-time NCAA DII All-American, and a NAIA National qualifier
The Minister made this appeal on Friday when he hosted the champion in his office in Abuja.
“Today we just hit another notch of excitement as a ministry and as a country having Usman Kamaru, who is nicknamed “Nightmare” for his opponents in the octagon in the country.
Kamar, who has a staggering 19 wins out of 20 fights has established himself as a legend in the Welterweight category. Kamaru embodies two cultures; a Nigerian by birth and an American by immigration, moved to the USA at the age of 8 and is returning to the country for the first time as an adult.
The Minister said “it is commendable for you to have identified fully with your country and also the Ministry that has the mandate for Sports Development. The Ministry is concerned with a large number of Youth who are engaged in sports and are interested in your kind of sports because it has become a rave because it falls under the radar of the Mixed Martial Art and we are concerned about growing it. Having you here, as the champion, it will be great to have you headline that and start to see how at a national level and as a country we can work together to see your success remain and to see you get other youths interested in this sport.”
“Your story is well told, you signify the Nigerian Spirit; that of being dogged and rising to the top the feats you have achieved is no mean feat. For me I can’t say it enough; countries must leverage on their strength, not dwell and emphasise their weaknesses and you have signpost the good from Nigeria. As the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, we celebrate you and thank you for being a true Nigerian and remaining patriotic not just to share your success but to identify with the country. The greatest beneficiaries of this visit will be the youth of the country, who are interested in the Mixed Martial Art.”
Kamaru expressed excitement to be in the country. “I’m delighted to be here and above all during my visit to the country I aim at creating a long-lasting relationship. I represent martial art now and I want to work on making it easily accessible to everyone interested. I understand the responsibilities that I have with my platform and I want to put that to good use I want to be able to effect changes and part of being able to effect change is creating that foundation so people can actually see a future, different from what they are now, because I understand the restrictions. With my space, I want to be able to create something that will pull interested people out.”
AFN Election: Committee To Hold Election, Today
All is set for the 2021 Elective Congress of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in Kebbi State.
The Electoral Committee Chairman, Prince Jambright Sumanu told Tidesports source in Kebbi on Saturday that last minute preparations were in top gear.
Sumanu said that the election is significant in so many ways, hence the committee cannot afford to let millions of Nigerians home and abroad down.
The Elective Congress is set to hold today, for many, will not just unite the athletics family once again but will herald the dawn of a new era in the internal workings of the federation where the constitution trumps individuals or sentiments.
“All eyes are now on the AFN elections. Everybody is looking up to us for justice. With these reputable members of this committee, we are ready to do our best.”
Speaking on the guidelines expected to be met by intending contestants, Sumanu said that the committee expects a full compliance in line with international standards.
“We expect that interested candidates must come with nomination forms from their zones while also meeting up with World Athletics guidelines, as well spelt out in the constitution of the AFN.”
The Chairman affirmed that interested candidates with documented history of drug abuse, doping or convictions should do themselves the honour of staying off their radar.
Sumanu assured that a level-playing ground will be provided for all candidates with an option of an appeal for any contestant who is aggrieved or not satisfied with the outcome of the screening, election conduct or result.
“There is an electoral body in charge of appeal cases and we have Legal Officers who are on ground to handle their grievances.
“Due to the peculiarity of this electoral congress, the election will be safer and authentic than what we have had in the past because we are expecting people to submit their forms of intent to contest till midnight (Saturday, 12th, June)”, the committee chairman stated.
“After that, we will download forms that were submitted online and collate with those who have submitted hard copies.
“We will not likely go to sleep from that 12th. We will go into the production of the ballot papers. That, is even a secret document. I need to say that we will not print the ballot papers until about 2 hours to the elections. This is to ensure that the ballot papers are not exposed until voting time” he said.
- Niger Delta5 days ago
Rep Woos Stakeholders Over FMC Bill
- News5 days ago
Buhari Parries Question On Twitter Ban
- Business5 days ago
Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation
- Politics5 days ago
Previewing Nigeria’s New Democracy Day
- Entertainment5 days ago
Nollywood Veteran Actor, Bruno Iwuoha Bows Out
- City Crime2 days ago
10 Offenders Convicted Under Anti-Piracy Law – NIMASA DG
- Politics5 days ago
Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High
- Politics5 days ago
Anambra: INEC Publishes Official Election Notice