Squad For Egypt Friendly Announced

by on February 28, 2010
in Chile Earthquake, Friendlies

First the squad, then the opinion:

David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Birmingham City, on loan from Manchester City)

Wes Brown (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Matt Upson (West Ham), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), Leighton Baines (Everton), Steven Warnock (Aston Villa)

James Milner (Aston Villa), David Beckham (AC Milan), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (probable captain, Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)

Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Spurs), Carlton Cole (West Ham)

We’re almost 100 days until the World Cup kicks off and Wayne Bridge’s decision to rule himself out of further contention for the England team plus injuries to Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are casuing a major defensive headache. Injuries are one thing – and to be honest, it would have been a miracle if we’d gone into the tournament without any – but for an established international like Bridge to have withdrawn as a consequence of John Terry’s off-field behaviour vindicates the decision by Sr. Capello to look for on-field leadership elsewhere.

To his credit, at the end of last week Sr. Capello made it clear that if Bridge was to reconsider his decision, the Manchester City defender would be welcomed back to the squad. I really hope we haven’t heard the end of this because I think we may need Wayne Bridge this summer, especially as all sorts of rumours are flying around about Ashley Cole’s mental state following Cheryl Cole’s decision to end their marriage. If Cole (A)  is neither mentally nor physically fit this summer then he shouldn’t go to South Africa at all.

To cap it all, one of the defensive replacements has a lot of back page coverage this morning. I didn’t see Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Aaron Ramsey (I was in the kitchen listening to the game while I cooked dinner) but as soon as I heard the commentary I was instantly reminded on a similar injury that occurred about a decade ago at my local club. Shawcross got an instant red card and left the field in tears. A few hours later he got his England call up.

Apart from the casualties listed above, Glen Johnson and Aaron Lennon are also injury concerns at the moment, thankfully Gary Cahill is on the mend after suffering a health scare with a blood clot, but Joe Cole is missing again, simply because he’s not playing regularly for Chelsea. Intriguingly, Theo Walcott returns to the squad and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an appearance at some point on Wednesday; his last chance to impress Capello perhaps.

To put all of this into some kind of perspective, if you think England’s preparations have been hampered by scandal and injuries, Chile have cancelled both of their friendlies that were scheduled for Wednesday after the country was hit by a massive earthquake on Saturday morning – the strongest one to affect the country for 50 years, which was the biggest ever recorded. We also haven’t sacked our manager – Vahid Halilhodzic was dumped by the Ivory Coast on Saturday, fuelling speculation that Guus Hiddink would take over for their World Cup campaign, although I don’t think Bora Milutinovic is busy at the moment.

Finally, a couple of follow up stories: there have been charges in the Salvador Cabanas shooting and it looks as if wounded Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale may be on his way back to France at last.

We’ll have a look at the Egypt squad on Tuesday evening – the game will be live on ITV in the UK everywhere other than Scotland (kick off at 8pm GMT) and although we haven’t decided to run one of our infamous live blogs for this game yet, we’ll let you know on Tuesday.

News Round Up

by on February 6, 2010
in Miscellaneous

The draw for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers takes place tomorrow morning in Warsaw: there will be reaction to the draw at some point tomorrow but it won’t be immediate due to a family birthday celebration – happy birthday Sally!

We’re also looking at another 11lionslive event: barring any internet ‘issues’ it’s possible that we’ll cover the forthcoming friendly against African Nations Cup winners Egypt. More details later, probably via our Facebook page.

The latest John Terry nonsense  is all over the British papers and seemingly on an endless loop on Sky News, so there’s no point in rehashing it here other than expressing the opinion that Fabio Capello made the right decision to relieve Terry of the captaincy.

FIFA Probably Needs To Redefine ‘Emergency Meeting’

First of all, apologies – some peculiar technical glitches with my internet connection (who knew that ‘the internets’ could get blown around by high winds) and my laptop (which desperately needs a new fan), it’s not been possible to post anything for a week or so. Everything seems to be working at the moment, so here’s a new post.

A quick summary of yesterday’s FIFA emergency general meeting: there will no changes in the amount of match officials and Thierry Henry will be ‘investigated’.

That’s it. I hope lunch was a good one.

More importantly, the seeding system for tomorrow’s draw were announced and are as follows:

Pot One:  South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England and the Netherlands

Pot Two: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay

Pot Three: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico and Honduras.

Pot Four:  France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark and Slovakia.

According to the latest FIFA rankings, five of the teams in Pot 4, half of the teams in Pot 2 and two of the teams in Pot 3 are in the top 20. Despite qualifying via the playoffs, France and Portugal are currently ranked higher than we are (which may see one of them drawn in South Africa’s group)

Another thing worth remembering is that as the South American qualifiers have already played each other during their continental qualifying competition, it is highly unlikely that they’ll be drawn against each other. I’d also be surprised if South Africa are drawn against another African nation.

There’s been a lot of speculation in today’s press regarding possible opponents for England but I’m not going to waste time on that; here’s a list of qualifying nations we’ve never played: Algeria, Ghana, Honduras, North Korea, the Ivory Coast and Serbia. I really hope we avoid the last two in the group stages – both of them are potential quarter finalists. Another fact to amaze your friends: we have not played a competitive game against Chile since the notorious 1950 World Cup campaign when we lost to the USA.

All being well we’ll be covering the draw live via the 11lionslive tab above. The draw will be covered on BBC2 starting at 5:15pm GMT and – apparently for the first time – live on ESPN at 12.oopm EST.

So in less than 24 hours we’ll know our opponents and millions of stickers, wall charts and previews will be keeping printing presses busy across the world…hooray!

Quick Round Up

by on November 14, 2009
in World Cup 2010

New Zealand, Nigeria and Cameroon all joined the list of qualifiers today, whilst Russia, France and Portugal all won the first legs of their UEFA region playoff games. The only stalemate was the goalless draw in Athens between Greece and Ukraine; Costa Rica play Uruguay in the first leg of their playoff at 02:00 GMT on Sunday so we’ll have news of what happened in that one bright and early tomorrow morning. Finally for today, thanks for everyone that joined us for our initial live blog, which got underway a little later than planned – sorry about that!

Premiership Preview: Steven Gerrard’s Mystery Injury

by on November 7, 2009
in Weekend Previews, World Cup 2010

It’s early November and we’re still another seventh months until the tournament starts but I must admit that the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are beginning to worry me. According to Radio 5, Gerrard hasn’t trained for two weeks and Ferdinand’s overall fitness this season may have contributed to some of his indifferent performances when he has appeared for Manchester United. Still, it’s probably better to be injured now and we’re not the only country with a problem: I strongly suspect that Fernando Torres’ injury is probably more serious than either of theirs.

No doubt about the game of the weekend: Chelsea v Manchester United on Sunday (Sky Sports 1), which – for a change - has been comfortably overtaken in the hype stakes by the Hay/Valuev fight this evening. Both teams go into this meeting having drawn in their respective Champions League games this week: United had to come back from two goals down at home to CSKA Moscow, whilst Chelsea drew 2-2 at Athletico Madrid. Both of them are through to the knockout stages.

In other news…Sir David Beckham will be rejoining Milan when the MLS season finishes, probably just as well for Milan who are currently nine points behind leaders Juventus…’loveable rogue’ Austin ‘Jack’  Warner is playing up about a handbag…and I’m going to post this before IE decides to hang again.

Finally, we’re going to be trying something different next Saturday – if you click on the 11lionslive link above, you’ll be taken to our live blog page where we’ll be attempting to cover the England v Brazil friendly as well as the UEFA playoffs. Should be another post up early next week with squad details, so for now enjoy the rest of the weekend and thanks for reading.