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Another World Cup injury scare as Forlan hurt

6 June 2010 12:55

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - World Cup injury scares continued Sunday when crack Uruguay striker Diego Forlan appeared to injure his left foot during training.

England defender and captain Rio Ferdinand and midfielders Michael Ballack from Germany and Michael Essien of Ghana have been ruled out of the month-long tournament that kicks off June 11 in South Africa.

And there have been scares over Ivory Coast talisman Didier Drogba and Netherlands midfielder Arjen Robben as the 32 challengers apply finishing touches to preparations.

A host of weekend friendlies saw South Africa extend an unbeaten run to 12 matches, Algeria and Ghana secure morale-boosting victories and title holders Italy struggle once again.

Another England defender, Matthew Upson, missed training in the Highveld platinum town of Rustenburg because of a high temperature but is expected to practice Monday.

Drama enveloped the first Uruguay training session in Kimberley when Forlan collided with midfielder Walter Gargano, grimaced with pain for several minutes and carried on.

The Atletico Madrid goal poacher, whose two goals defeated Fulham in the first Europa League final last month, is key to Uruguay surviving Group A, which includes France, Mexico and South Africa.

Ivorian officials say Drogba had a successful operation on a forearm fractured in a friendly win over Japan and hopes to play against Portugal on June 15 in a crucial Group G clash for both teams.

Japan, whose coach Takeshi Okada insists Blue Samurai can confound critics and reach the semi-finals, were among teams to arrive in South Africa Sunday ahead of the first World Cup hosted on the continent.

South Africa edged Denmark 1-0, Algeria won by same score against United Arab Emirates as did Ghana when they faced Latvia while a win-less Cameroon run grew to seven matches after losing 4-3 away to fellow qualifiers Serbia.

Netherlands humbled Hungary 6-1, Slovakia whipped Costa Rica 3-0, Honduras fell 3-0 to Romania and USA overcame Australia 3-1 and Italy came from behind to draw 1-1 with Switzerland in clashes of qualifiers.

That leave just four warm-ups to come with the mystery men from the east, North Korea, tackling Nigeria later Sunday in the north-east Johannesburg township of Tembisa.

Brazil face Tanzania in Dar es Salaam Monday and both Iberian peninsula teams play Tuesday with Spain hosting Poland in Murcia and Portugal facing Mozambique in Johannesburg.

The first World Cup in Africa is also expected to be among the most open with Spain the bookmakers' favourites while record five-time champions Brazil top the monthly FIFA rankings.

Argentina, guided by legend Diego Maradona, an England team flourishing under Italian manager Fabio Capello and traditional contenders Germany are other potential winners with Netherlands, France and Italy dark horses.

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