Mutiny in the air as World Cup bounty frays nerves

The World Cup is meant to be the pinnacle of every footballer`s dream. But instead of proving to be a rallying call for unity in pursuit of that goal the 2010 edition has more an air of mutiny about it.

Paris: The World Cup is meant to be the
pinnacle of every footballer`s dream. But instead of proving
to be a rallying call for unity in pursuit of that goal the
2010 edition has more an air of mutiny about it.

Hosts South Africa, 1998 winners and 2006 finalists
France, perennial contenders England and now eliminated
Cameroon have all indulged in infighting when their energies
would have been better focused on their next rivals.

South Africa and France face each other in a must win
Group A match on Tuesday but it is questionable whether either
side will be able to turn out XI players and if they will be
singing from the same hymn sheet.

The French are in openly mutinous mood with their
survival hopes already hanging by a thread with just a point
from their first two matches.

But it doesn`t appear to matter as much to the players as
to the manner in which recalcitrant striker Nicolas Anelka was
sent home in disgrace after a foul mouthed tirade of abuse at
coach Raymond Domenech.

On Sunday, the players made their point by refusing to
take part in a public training session.

Amid chaotic scenes at the team`s training base - named
rather ironically the `Field of Dreams` - the players released
a statement protesting at the Chelsea striker`s exclusion from
the squad for his outburst during the defeat to Mexico.

"All the players in the French squad without exception
wish to affirm their opposition to the decision taken by the
French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka," said
the statement.

However, the sole consolation for the embattled Domenech
is that the South African camp is likewise none too happy.

Players from the eastern kwaZulu-Natal province are
allegedly unhappy with what they consider to be
underperforming `superstars` from Johannesburg and
Pretoria clubs.

It is significant that the `unhappy campers` include
defender Siyabonga Sangweni, midfielders Macbeth Sibaya and
Thanduyise Khuboni and striker Siyabonga Nomvete.

None has been given a minute on the field in either Group
A game and Sibaya went against a trend of politically correct
comments at news conferences after the Uruguay humiliation.

"I believe we could have done better when it comes to
fighting spirit. There are times when you have to make
sacrifices, get stuck in and do some dirty work," said the
Russia-based midfield `enforcer`.

"Uruguay are a very physical team who can be dirty and
provoke opponents and we need footballers with more character.
It will be like climbing Mount Everest against France, but we
must do whatever is possible."

England may not have lost yet but their two draws have
failed to capture the imagination not only of their fans and
the media but also seemingly the players too.

Former skipper John Terry on Sunday intimated that
previously untouchable coach Fabio Capello could be in for an
earbashing on Sunday evening.

"I see Nico (Anelka) was sent home for voicing his
opinion and maybe a few of us will be sent home after this

"If we feel something has to change, we owe it to the
country and the manager to say it in that meeting tonight. If
it upsets him or any other player, so what."

At least Terry can still entertain hopes of winning the
trophy, whereas Cameroon`s elimination on Saturday probably
means the hopes of African great Samuel Eto`o ever doing are
over as he will be 33 come the next edition in Brazil.

Cameroon federation president Iya Mohammed hinted at some
dissent in the squad ahead of the Denmark match.

"Whatever the problems are between the players, I don`t
think there`s anyone who wants to betray the country by not
doing their job,”

Many in France would question that assumption given their
own players` actions on Sunday.

Bureau Report


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