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World Cup briefs - Diego drives them crazy

Published: 25 May 2010 - 15:18:34

Who said Diego Maradona was an accident waiting to happen? Well he was a few days ago, not just for leaving out Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambassiso, but when he ran over a photographer's foot after naming his World Cup squad.

Surprisingly, after the surprise of the provisional squad, there were no real surprises as Diego, captain of Argentina when they last won the World Cup in 1986, pulled the final seven names from his squad.

While their goalkeeping and defensive options are not first class not many sides can match the attacking depth that Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Diego Milito.

Oh, and Martin Palermo's in there too. His physical option, and the debt that Diego owes to him for his 94th minute winner in a 2-1 World Cup Qualifying win over Peru late in the campaign, sees him take the final attacking berth ahead of Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi - a man who enjoys the sort of adulation in Naples not seen since Maradona brought the League title to the San Paolo in the late 80s.

SPAIN NAME FINAL 23

European champions and World Cup favourites Spain have finalised their squad for South Africa, with two uncapped players making their way into the final 23.

Barcelona's Victor Valdes, winner of La Liga's 'Zamora' trophy this season (for the most clean sheets in the League) and Pedro (who we spoke about in this column a fortnight ago) make the cut, whilst the biggest absentee is Marcos Senna, who has struggled with injuries since starring in Spain's Euro 2008 triumph two summers ago.

Others who fail to make the 23 from the 30 include Santi Cazorla and David Guiza. Javi Martinez, outstanding for Athletic Bilbao this season and heavily linked with a move away from tne club this summer, makes the plane and is joined by Athletic team-mate Fernado Llorente.

David Villa, signed by Barcelona for £34.2m last week and favourite for the Golden Boot leads a wealth of attacking options at Vicente Del Bosque's disposal.

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes. Defenders: Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeloa, Joan Capedvila, Carlos Marchena, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Sergio Ramos.

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Javi Martinez, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Xavi.

Forwards: Fernando Llorente, Juan Manuel Mata, Pedro, Fernando Torres, David Villa.

LIVERPOOL'S LOSS IS ENGLAND'S GAIN

Well, that's the way that Jamie Carragher sees it. He revealed this week that Liverpool's failure to get into the Champions League is the reason why he accepted Fabio Capello's invitation to make a surprise return to the England squad.

His acceptance to be a bit-part player, his reason for retiring three years ago means it was a problem with the schmoozey approach Steve McLaren had with 'JT' and 'Stevie G' or that his chances of further success with Liverpool would be hindered by travelling to far-flung corners of Europe to sit on the bench.

I can't blame him for accepting Capello's invitation, but would he have said yes if it had come off a successful season for Liverpool.

SLOWLY, SLOWLY FOR SOUTH AFRICA

A momentum is slowly building as Carlos Alberto Parriera aims to prevent South Africa being the worst performing World Cup hosts in history.

No hosts have yet failed to progress from the Group Stage of their tournament and Brazilian Parriera, who took on the job for a second time last November, feels he is on course to steer the South Africans through after they saw off an under-strength Thailand, winning 4-0 in Nelspruit on Sunday.

"There were a lot of positives to be taken from the game. I don't care about the quality of the opponent," said Parriera.

"It's a big improvement. We are now in our final stages of preparation and we are looking for two things – performance and results. The result helps build confidence and as for the performance, the players look more comfortable on the ball.

"We still need more penetration but I feel it is coming."

South Africa, the second-lowest ranked side in the competition, have still to finalise their final warm-up despite being able to co-ordinate one of sport's biggest events but are now unbeaten in eight games, although against low-key opposition.

Those games have seen South Africa field largely home-based players and Parriera will now welcome his overseas names into the squad. They may fancy their chances of progression in a group that contains a flailing France, an unpredictable Uruguay and an entertaining Mexico

DREAMS WON'T COME TRUE - JUST YET

Santos' Paulo Henrique Ganso recently told a newspaper that he has been dreaming of scoring a goal for Brazil at the World Cup.

The uncapped 20-year-old failed to make Dunga's World Cup squad, although he has been placed on standby, recently finished joint-top alongside Ronaldinho in a poll to find who the Brazilian public felt should have been included for this summer's tournament.

"I dreamed that I was scoring a goal at the World Cup," said Ganso. "I don't know if it was in the final, all I remember is that I was on the field playing for Brazil and scoring a goal."

His Santos team-mate Robinho unsurprisingly made the final cut whilst 18-year-old Neymar, who finished 3rd in the poll and who has scored 12 goals in his last six games for Santos, has also been told to not make holiday plans just yet.

"We will get our turn," Ganso said.

The poll showed that only eight per cent thought that Dunga's 'Selecao', which has seemingly caused more stirred outside of Brazil and also did not include Adriano and Ronaldinho, was bad.

READ BISH'S WORLD CUP BRIEFS EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:andy bishop
Having worked in radio, newspapers, magazines, internet and television I hope to now bring my passion for the game to your computer screens with analysis, comment and tongue-in-cheek humour on all things global in the world of football - from Barcelona to Boca and from Blatter to Berlusconi...enjoy!

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