Healing time for World Cup stars

Updated: 25 February 2007 08:27 IST

With 20 days to go until the World Cup finals kick off, there is little time left for players to recharge their batteries for football's ultimate test.

Healing time for World Cup stars

Paris:

With 20 days to go until the World Cup finals kick off, there is little time left for players to heal the wounds accumulated during the season and recharge their batteries for football's ultimate test.Voicing the concern of team doctors, France's Jean-Marcel Ferret said it was unfortunate that he and his counterparts had 12 days less than in 1998 to prepare their charges."It is now four years in which the majority of the players have been playing at the highest level. Their status has changed in that they are now more in demand and play an enormous amount of matches. We had less of a problem with this in 1998. That is to say this time round we will have more battle weary players after three to four seasons at the top level," he said.Also feeling the strain were France's opponents in the opener in Seoul on May 31 - Senegal - whose officials were forced to cut back on warm-up matches because players claimed they were too tired after an exhausting season.Twenty of the 23-man squad play in France and the country's first division championship only finished last weekend. "We had no other option because the players said they were exhausted," said FSF president El Hadj Malick Sy.Meanwhile, the inevitable list of players missing the World Cup through injury grows by the day. England's Phil Neville, Croatia's Igor Tudor and Spain's Sergi are the latest to pull out, while doubts surround Brazilian star Rivaldo, Argentine veteran Claudio Caniggia and Cameroon's former African player of the year Patrick Mboma.But England icon David Beckham looks to be on the mend and has been confirmed as captain by coach Sven Goran Eriksson.Beckham, sporting his new World Cup hairstyle, accompanied the Swede to a Downing Street reception with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie after the squad was announced. With 13 countries out of the 32 qualifiers having already named their 23-player squads, two weeks ahead of the May 23 deadline, it is clear that, when pushed, coaches leave no room for sentiment.Eight years ago in the United States, two of the biggest names right through to the final were Brazil's Romario and Italy's Roberto Baggio.Both veterans have staged comebacks of sorts this season and both harboured hopes of one last dance at the ball.Despite popular clamour for their return in both countries, coaches Luiz Felipe Scolari and Giovanni Trappattoni resisted the temptation to turn back the clock.Germany's 7-0 thumping of Kuwait apart there has been little activity on the friendlies front over the last two weeks.But with most of the domestic leagues and cups wrapping up this weekend and with only the European Champions League showdown between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow next Wednesday to come, the pace picks up considerably next week. (PTI)



Topics : Football
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