Posted by: mdegeorge | June 1, 2010

Not so natural selections: Final World Cup roster roundup

Surprises abound as the deadline for final 23-man roster submissions for the World Cup Finals has come and gone with several household names startlingly missing out on the tournament just 10 days away.

Fabio Capello left plenty of room for discussion over his choice of the 23 best English players. The Italian went with veteran Joe Cole over Sven-Goran Eriksson’s former World Cup darling Theo Walcott. The 21-year-old failed to impress in camp and still hasn’t lived up to the lofty billing his last World Cup selection engendered. To his credit though, he has taken the demotion with a level and dignity and poise that belies his age.

Also left at home were striker Darren Bent, midfielders Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, and Adam Johnson, and defenders Michael Dawson and Leighton Baines.

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Emile Heskey gets the nod over Bent, though the former has played limitedly for Aston Villa this season. Gareth Barry has been deemed healthy enough to participate, making central midfielders Huddlestone and Parker expendable to no one’s surprise. Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips win the competition for the wingers, consigning Johnson and Walcott to several extra weeks’ vacation.

One of the surprises was Baines dismissal from the team in favor of Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock. An ineffective showing against Mexico’s speedy wingers may have sealed Baines’ fate despite his strong grip on the back-up left back role behind Ashley Cole heading into camp.

Speaking of El Tri, the fall out from Javier Aguirre’s selection yesterday is reverberating throughout the camp. El Vasco culled three members from his Mexico squad yesterday, including defensive pair Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Adrian Aldrete and Barcelona midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos. The trio combined for 21 caps for the national team, and their exclusion isn’t cause for much shock.

Dos Santos’ brother, Giovani, of Barcelona and Tottenham underachievement, is unhappy about the exclusion of his brother, and his father has called for both to retire from the national team. It’s just another distraction the Mexican squad, who has had enough of an issue coming together on the field without this type of decisive factor in the dressing room.

The host South Africans sprung a shock by leaving all-time leading scorer Benni McCarthy off their final squad. The out-of-form striker was cut from the Bafana Bafana squad by head coach Alberto Parriera along with Rowen Fernandez, Bryce Moon, Innocent Mdledle, and Franklin Cale.

Defending World Champions Italy also had some unexpected departures, with Villareal’s Giuseppe Rossi and AC Milan’s Marco Borriello among five cut down to reveal the final 23. Also missing out are defender Mattia Cassani now that first-choice center back Giorgio Chiellini has recovered from injury. Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and midfielder Andrea Cossu also miss out on a trip to South Africa.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has finalized his final 23 now that Giourkas Seitaridis and Christos Patsatzolglou have passed fitness tests. Grigoris Makos and Giorgos Tzavelas miss out as a result.

Sven-Goran Eriksson is shaking things up for Ivory Coast, sending home three members of the Elephants’ last World Cup squad. Finals’ veterans Bakary Kone, Gilles Yapi Yapo and Emerse Fae have been dropped along with Vincent Angban, Abdoulaye Meite, Kanga Akale, and Lacina Traore.

Switzerland has been hit by a blow with striker Marco Streller falling victim to a thigh injury in training that will force him out of the Finals. Albert Bunjaku and 18-year-old Nassim Ben Kalifa are vying for his roster spot.

Portugal coach Carlos Quieroz has settled on his final squad, cutting defender Jose Castro after being satisfied with Pepe’s performance in a fitness test. The cut leaves Portugal with nine defenders on the roster.

Joachim Low made his final cut for Germany, dropping the ax on Hoffenheim defender Andreas Beck. The move leaves him with six forwards on the final roster and seven players who won the Under-21 European Championship last year.

It was all quiet on the Brazilian front, as head coach Dunga made no changes from the original 23-man roster he announced several weeks ago, sticking to his guns on big names like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano, or Alexandre Pato. The Samba Kings have yet to play a friendly in the lead up to the World Cup.

Serbia is down to 23 players after Zeljko Brkic, their fourth goalkeeper in camp, was cut from the roster by coach Radomir Antic.

Slovakia has opted to take injured strikers Robert Vittek and Filip Holosko to the Finals despite both being limited by injuries this season.

South Korea has made its final three exclusions, with Lee Keun-Ho, Shin Hyung-Nin, and Koo Ja-Cheol sent home. Striker Lee Dong-Gook was at risk of missing the tournament due to a thigh injury, but he will likely recover in time for the team’s second game and has been included in the final 23. Kan Ming-Soo has also been recalled into the squad to replace injured defender Kwak Tae-Hwi.

Gerardo Martino has announced his final roster for Paraguay with few surprises. Seven players miss out: Eduardo Ledesma, Marcos Caceres, Marcelo Estigarribia, Jorge Achucarro, Sergio Aquino, Osvaldo Martinez, and Julio Manzur.

Lars Lagerback yesterday made some surprising cuts from the Nigeria squad, leaving striking duo Victor Anichebe and Ike Uche home for the Finals. Also cut were Peter Utaka, Onyekachi Apam, Brown Ideye, Bassey Akpan, and Terna Suswan.

Catania striker Jorge Martinez was one of three cut from the Uruguay provisional roster. Jorge Rodriguez and Alvaro Gonzalez were also deemed surplus to coach Oscar Tabarez’s requirements.


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