Latest Group G team news ahead of the World Cup in South Africa which starts on June 11:
Playmaker Kaka celebrated his return after a six-week injury absence by coming off the bench in the 75th minute and scoring a clinical winner in Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Zaragoza.
The goal allowed the 28-year-old to silence his critics who had questioned his commitment to the club as his muscular problems dragged on and suggested he was saving himself for South Africa.
Rightback Maicon missed Inter Milan’s Serie A match against Atalanta after breaking a tooth during the 3-1 Champions League win over Barcelona in midweek. Robinho failed to impress as Santos beat Santo Andre 3-2 in the first leg of the Paulista final in Brazil.
Porto midfielder Ruben Micael’s hopes of travelling to the finals ended after he broke his right foot in training.
The 23-year had impressed after his move from Nacional in January, earning a place in the starting lineup and putting himself in contention for a World Cup spot.
“It’s always bad when players get injured. Ruben was starting to appear… and naturally he was being observed,” Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz told reporters.
Brighter news from Valencia right-back Miguel, who said he has recovered fully from a muscle injury that sidelined him for a month and that he has been told he will be included in the 23-man squad for the finals.
Pak Doo-ik, whose goal gave North Korea a stunning 1-0 win over Italy at the 1966 World Cup, believes the North can advance to the last 16 in South Africa.
The 74-year-old, who earned the nickname ‘the Dentist’ for the pain he inflicted on the Italians, predicted North Korea would join Brazil as the two qualifiers from Group G, which also features Portugal and Ivory Coast.
“North Korean soccer has come a long way and I believe we will advance to the second round in South Africa,” he told a Brazilian newspaper at the weekend.
New coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has been to Sevilla to watch midfielder Christian Koffi Ndri, who was controversially left out of the squad for January’s African Nations Cup finals.
The midfielder, popularly known as Romaric, told reporters he had discussions with Eriksson earlier this month around a possible return to the squad.
“He asked me what I could bring to the team and I am reassured and happy that he took the trouble to come and see me,” said the 26-year-old.
(Editing by Miles Evans;
To query or comment on this story email@example.com)