Saturday, June 5, 2010

Add Drogba, Ferdinand to Injury List

The number of elite players who apparently will not play in South Africa 2010 continues to grow. Which is awful for the players, tough on their teams and a pity for fans of the greatest show in sports.

The latest casualties:

Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Rio Ferdinand of England.

Drogba suffered what is thought to be a broken elbow, which makes us wince just to imagine, in a friendly against Japan.

Drogba, a standout for Premier League champion Chelsea, is/was the key attacking player for Ivory Coast and the single biggest reason why the Elephants were a trendy choice to make the semifinals. (The theory being one of the six African teams will get to the final four.)

Ivory Coast remains a formidable crew, but considering the Ivorians are in the official SA2010 "Group of Death" -- with Brazil and Portugal (and North Korea) -- trying to get out of the group stage may be too much to ask, without Drogba.

Why? Well, because Drogba has scored 42 goals in 67 appearances for the national team. Without him, Ivory Coast can't be as dangerous.

Rio Ferdinand is just the latest England captain (past or present) to run into trouble. Following David Beckham, the former captain who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in May (and is in South Africa as a coach/cheerleader), John Terry, another former captain who remains on the squad but gave up the captaincy after a sex scandal and now Ferdinand, who got the captaincy after Terry was forced out.

Ferdinand suffered a knee injury in training and definitely is out.

Michael Ballack of Germany is also out, as is midfielder Michael Essien of Ghana. Spain striker Fernando Torres may or may not be back in time for his team's first match, Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has an ouchy, as does Brazilian midfielder Kaka, Chilean striker Humberto Suazo will miss at least home match, maybe two ... and various key players (Midfielder Andrea Pirlo of Italy, goalkeeper Julio Cesar of Brazil, forward Jozy Altidore of the U.S., etc) seem to be getting nicked up during almost every "friendly" the 32 national teams are playing in the run-up to the tournament, which begins Friday.

That's most of a really formidable First XI who are not ready to play.

Again, the goal for every World Cup: the best players for all 32 teams.

It is too much to ask, of course. But we seem to be getting a rash of major injuries right here on the eve of the World Cup.
Read more!