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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Drogba, Ferdinand…who next for the World Cup curse?

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A top player seems to get injured on the eve of every major tournament and this year it looks like Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand have suffered the World Cup curse.

Ivory Coast captain Drogba is seriously doubtful for the extravaganza after injuring his elbow in a friendly against Japan on Friday.

England captain Ferdinand is out of the tournament after he hobbled out of hospital on crutches following a scan on his injured left knee.

The 31-year-old defender suffered the injury in the final minutes of England’s first major training session in South Africa after he went into a tackle and fell badly.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Italy finally get to concentrate on World Cup

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It's been a funny build-up to the World Cup for holders Italy.

The words "South Africa" have barely been mentioned in the last week despite the Azzurri being huddled up in an Alpine ski resort trying to get used to altitude conditions.

Hardly anyone has talked about the World Cup with the focus instead being on a new coach after the tournament and which clubs players will be at next season.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Symbolic moment as rugby comes to black township of Soweto

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SOCCER-FRIENDLY/South Africa’s long standing racist past means it still a country of great contrasts but with the change in power and social dynamics come great ironies too.

The latest will be played out on Saturday when the citadel of black South African football, the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, plays host to a Super 14 rugby match involving the Blue Bulls, the team so beloved by the white Afrikaners.

England v Australia, Twenty20 final — live

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We’re blogging from the final of the World Twenty-20 cricket in the West Indies, with the clash between England and Australia building towards a climax.

England are doing surprisingly well, but who would write off Australia after their semi-final comeback against Pakistan? Stay tuned … and remember, comments are extremely welcome…

Vaughan reopens ball-tampering controversy

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Michael Vaughan in retirement does not shrink from the limelight. Or from controversy.

The former England captain commentates on BBC radio, writes a newspaper column and appears in a hair transplant advertisment. He also indulges in “artballing”, hitting paint-daubed balls at a blank canvas attached to a wall.

Even cricket’s referral system is not perfect

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Soccer has come under a barrage of criticism for not introducing technology to help referees while U.S. sports, rugby, tennis and cricket lead the way with innovative means of making sure the big decisions are right.

Cricket’s new referral system, where both the batting and fielding sides can have two unsuccessful challenges to an umpire’s decision per innings, has largely been welcomed by most in the game.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup draw: live blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup playoff draw – your views

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Draw for the European World Cup playoffs:

Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia

Two-legged ties to be played on Nov 14 and 18.

Is that the sound of a World Cup playoff shock I hear? France, 2006 runners-up, will have to beat Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland over two legs to reach South Africa next year and that is no easy feat.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The all-star XI in World Cup trouble

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Some of football's biggest names, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, are in danger of missing out on next year's World Cup, as countries such as Argentina, Portugal and France struggle in qualification.

Most, if not quite all of them, may make it in the end, of course, but for a bit of pre-weekend qualifier fun, here's my stab at a world XI wtill fretting over their places at South Africa 2010.

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