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.
Ilechukwu Set To Make History With Plateau United
Plateau United coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, says his side is all set for the start of 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League season and he hopes to make history with the club.
The season’s resumption date which has been fixed for December 17, is set to be ratified by the league management company on December 7 at its general assembly in Abuja.
According to the fixtures released and made available to Tidesports source, Plateau United is billed to face newcomers Niger Tornadoes away from home.
Tidesports source reports that Ilechukwu, who joined the team during the transfer window from Heartland FC would be hoping to start the season in an impressive fashion.
“We are prepared, the players are doing fine and we can’t wait for the season,” Ilechukwu said.
“The players are well motivated and all they want to do is go out there and give their all.”
Other matchday one fixtures to be played across the federation will see champions, Akwa United, tackle Kano Pillars, Enyimba slugs it out with Abia Warriors in a derby, Lobi Stars will entertain Rivers United while there will be a battle of newcomers between Gombe United and Shooting Stars.
Enugu Rangers will travel to face Katsina United in their season’s opener. Sunshine Stars play Wikki Tourists, Kwara United vs Dakkada, Heartland vs Nasarawa United, while there’ll be an early Southwest derby between MFM FC and Remo Stars in Lagos.
ph City Marathon: Athletes, Collect Participation Number Morrow
The Chief Organiser of Port Harcourt City Marathon, Goodluck Azunwena, has expressed satisfaction over the reactions of people and number of athletes that registered for the competition.
He revealed that collection of athlete’s participation number would take place tomorrow, at Las Mall, Rumukalagbor, in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.
Azunwena said this in a telephone interview with Tidesports, yesterday, saying that the basic aim is to engage the youth meaningfully and change the negative perception of the State.
According to him, “Port Harcourt to the World,” the organization that is organising competition had organised other events that have positive impact on the people, particularly in 2018, they organized what was called Music Ran Port Harcourt.
“This organization was established in 2016 with the sole aim to promote the city positively and encourage people to change the negative perception of the city in and outside the state.
So far I am impressed with people’s reactions towards the competition and number of athletes that registered for the event,” Azunwena said.
Meanwhile, the 16 kilo meter race is scheduled to take place next Saturday in Port Harcourt, the winner of the competition will go home with N1 million, as second and third positionswill cart away N500,000 and N250, 000, respectively.
While fourth to ten position will have consolation prize of N50,000 each.
By: Tonye Orabere
Nnadozie’s Rating As World’s Seventh Best Thrills Izilien
Former Coach of Super Falcons, Godwin Izilien, has described Chiamaka Nnadozie’s ranking as the world’s seventh best woman goalkeeper as a clear indication that Nigeria has abundant talented female footballers at the grassroots waiting to be discovered.
Izilien, who commended the Paris of France FC goaltender for putting Nigeria on the world map in women football, urged stakeholders in the ladies’ game to pay more attention to talent discovery, stressing that discovering and nurturing women players when they are still young will raise the country’s standard in the game.
“I am delighted on the news that Nnadozie has been rated the seventh best goalkeeper in the world. This is a remarkable achievement for the young lady, who started her football career in Nigeria.
“She played for the cadet teams and Nigerian clubs before moving abroad. I have said it before that Nigeria has talents in women football… all they need is to be discovered and exposed.
“Nnadozie’s achievement is a clear testimony that a player can be discovered in Nigeria and be among the best in the world when given the right exposure. Football stakeholders should leverage her achievements to look more to grassroots football development.
“Getting young talents from the grassroots remains the direction to develop women’s football in Nigeria,” he said.
Tidesports source reports that Nnadozie was selected among the best in the goalkeeping position by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
The rankings of the women goalkeepers were for an aggregate of 2021 taking into consideration performances for their club and country.
The ex Rivers Angels goalkeeper, who made her debut for Nigeria at the Jordan U-17 Women’s World Cup also in 2019, became the youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at the Women’s World Cup.
Nnadozie also helped Nigeria to win gold medal at the African Games in Morocco, saving three penalties in the shootout against Cameroun.
Business4 days ago
Consumers Fault Prepaid Meter, Seek Return To Analogue System
Business4 days ago
… Introduces TIES To Boost Business Loan
Business4 days ago
NSE Begins Week On Negative Note, Loses N19.49bn
Business4 days ago
CBN’s Policies Increase Inflation, Discourage Investors – World Bank
Business4 days ago
CITN Applauds FG, Tax Authorities On Fiscal Policy Decisions
Sports4 days ago
Eagles Need Osimhen At AFCON – Ighalo
Sports4 days ago
FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start
Business4 days ago
CBN Automates Non-Commercial Exports Form For Dealers