Several key players will be absent from their national squads at the 2010 World Cup. With the competition only a week away The Ivory Coast, England and the United States squads are all feeling the bite of the injury bug. Some players hope to return in time for the start of the tournament next weekend, and other will miss the cup entirely.
Didier Drogba broke his right arm in a warm up match with Japan Friday and told teammates that he will not be fit to play. After 15 minutes of play Marcus Tulio Tanaka slid high into Drogba, and the 32-year old fell to the pitch. Minutes later he was in an ambulance headed toward the hospital.
The Ivory Coast international has been a big part of his club team’s success. Chelsea won the Premier League title this season behind his 29 goals in 31 games. The Ivory Coast will have a hard time moving through a group that contains North Korea, Portugal, and Brazil.
“We can just see on his face that he was sad, and when he is like that you can’t ask more,” teammate Kolo Toure said. “It is difficult for us because he is such a really important player.”
The England squad is going to miss the defensive presence of their captain Rio Ferdinand. Rio injured his knee in the first full training session in South Africa. The 31-year old was hurt while defending Emile Heskey during training. After being X-rayed by doctors, it was determined that he will be out 4-6 weeks.
“It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio,” England coach Fabio Capello said. “It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch.”
For the Americans, the injury problems that plague their squad rest mainly in the backfield as well. Oguchi Onyewu has been nursing a knee injury since October that has kept him out of action with his club team AC Milan. U.S. coach Bob Bradley will be watching him closely in their warm up match against Australia Saturday.
Bradley is constructing a back line that needs to have Onyewu’s physical presence in the middle. If Onyewu is healthy, he will be able to play Carlos Bocanegra in the left back position.
Soccer Sportsbooks have set the United States as heavy underdogs in their opening round match against England at +450. England’s line has been set at -200. The over/under set for total goals in the match has been set at 2 1/2.