Champions Italy arrive with Pirlo still limping

Johannesburg: World champions Italy landed in South Africa after a 10-hour flight on Wednesday with top midfielder Andrea Pirlo still limping slightly because of a calf problem.

A group of about 20 fans with flags greeted the team at Johannesburg airport as photographers` camera bulbs flashed constantly.

The team, dressed in shiny Italian designer suits with many players sporting sunglasses, headed straight to their base just south of Pretoria and will hold a training session and news conference later in the day.

The Azzurri, who have been given little chance by pundits of successfully defending their title, face Paraguay in their opening Group F game in Cape Town on Monday before matches against New Zealand and Slovakia.

Pirlo is poised to miss at least the first two games with the injury.

Marcello Lippi`s side have struggled for any consistency in recent friendlies and Pirlo is just one of a number in the squad carrying knocks.

Midfielder Andrea Cossu has accompanied the squad as 24th man should Pirlo or another player be forced to pull out of the tournament before the Paraguay game.

Bureau Report


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