Friday 20 April 2018

World Cup Diary: FIFA blank tough questions

In a regular major championship, the daily media briefing descends into farce towards the latter stages, with the few who turn up to meet organisers left to discuss the size of corner flags or the merits of recycling.

Alas, it's a bit different in South Africa. Yesterday, FIFA entered 'no comment' territory when a series of questions were put to them, including the allegation that some of the stadiums are now manned by students from police training college because there aren't enough cops left to go around. They also blanked a question about ex-Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta, who had money and credit cards stolen from his hotel room in the ultra exclusive Michelangelo Hotel, where FIFA president Sepp Blatter is staying throughout this tournament.

Batistuta has reason to feel aggrieved, but some victims of crime here have only themselves to blame for ignoring advice. Like the English radio duo who stumbled out of a Johannesburg pub in the early hours and marched onto the road to hail a taxi -- visitors are advised to order in advance.

Sure enough, the first car that pulled up pointed a gun out the window and asked the UK visitors for their valuables. A harsh way to learn a lesson.

Socceroos left 'steaming'

It has been a rough World Cup so far for Australia, with chief executive Ben Buckley forced to publicly quash speculation that a delegation of players approached him to ask for the dismissal of coach Pim Verbeek after the thrashing at the hands of Germany. Certainly, the Dutchman's decision to leave out Harry Kewell (below), Mark Bresciano and Josh Kennedy proved contentious, with Bresciano, a solid performer, admitting that he was 'steaming' after the game.

Which, in Aussie lingo, means that he was pretty angry rather than the drunken Irish interpretation. Verbeek is reported to have told Bresciano that he would have picked reserve goalkeeper Adam Federici ahead of him -- although opinion is split on whether this was a joke, or an insult.

wish you were here

Paul Scholes


Hard to believe that it's almost six years since Scholes announced his international retirement, although successive managers have tried and failed to bring him back, with Capello the latest -- if he'd made a move earlier, the Man United star could have been in South Africa. Certainly, his subtlety and composure would improve the English midfield, even if he isn't the force of old.

afrikaans word of the day

'Eish' -- A word used to express exasperation or disbelief. Unfortunately for the Bafana Bafana, it was used in numerous South African newspapers yesterday after their

3-0 thrashing by Uruguay.

Bet of the day

Double on England/USA

The two teams who played out last Saturday's 1-1 draw have sound chances to win today. A double on the English to beat Algeria and the US to see off Slovenia is 6/4.

Irish Independent

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