Holders sweat on Buffon fitness

15 June 2010 04:59

Defending World Cup holders Italy will anxiously await test results on goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon after he was forced off with a nerve injury during the 1-1 draw with Paraguay.

Buffon, the long-standing Azzurri number one and arguably still the world's best goalkeeper, suffered a sciatic twinge during the warm-up in Cape Town on Monday night. The Juventus goalkeeper defied the team doctor's advice to start the match but had to be replaced by Cagliari's Federico Marchetti at half-time.

While the player hopes he will be fit to face New Zealand in Italy's second Group F game on Sunday, team doctor Enrico Castellacci is more cautious. Buffon said: "I hope this injury will be better when we play New Zealand."

He added: "The coach subbed me because I had problems in my leg. I was not very good during the warm-up, my leg was hurting. he doctor suggested before the match that I was replaced for one of the other goalkeepers."

Team doctor Castellacci said: "It's a sciatic nerve problem he felt during the warm-up. He couldn't really go and play.

"On Tuesday we will decide what we have to do with him. We will look at exams and therapies needed for this injury.

"We don't know the number of days he will be out for. We need to look at what special medical machinery we need for this kind of injury."

As for the match itself, Buffon said: "We had the possession but Paraguay had some luck. I think 2-1 would have been a better reflection for us. We tried to keep it at 1-1 at first and I think it's a good result for the team and New Zealand is another match."

Having played well in the first half at Green Point Stadium, the defending champions were shocked when Paraguay defender Antolin Alcaraz rose to head home a 39th-minute free-kick.

Italy's blushes were spared to some extent, however, as Daniele De Rossi slid in to punish a mistake by Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar after 63 minutes and take a point from the match.

Source: PA

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