Fans Miss Out as Injuries to Star Players Mount Up
Thursday, 10th June 2010 at 12:04pm
With less than 48 hours to go until the opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, football fans around the world are coming to terms with the loss of some of football's leading players from the global showpiece.
Since the squads were finalised on June 1st, a number of injuries have befallen some of the sport's more high profile players, depriving them of a place on the game's grandest stage and depriving the fans the chance of seeing their heroes in action.
In a major blow for African football, two of the continent's leading lights Michael Essien of Ghana and Nigeria's John Obi Mikel have been ruled out, while the participation of arguably Africa's biggest star, Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast, has been put in doubt after he suffered a broken arm in a friendly match against Japan before the tournament.
As well as hurting their respective team's chances of progressing in the finals, there is a real sense of togetherness among the African fans ahead of the first World Cup on their home continent.
African football supporters are keen to see the continent's six representatives do well and the potential loss of three of African sport's biggest names is a major blow.
Ivory Coast manager Sven Goran Eriksson should be able to call on the services of Drogba at some stage in the tournament as he is recovering well from his injury and although Obi Mikel's absence is a blow for the Super Eagles, it is one they should be able to recover from.
Essien's withdrawal from the Ghana squad, however, is a huge loss for the Black Stars, given his status as a midfielder with few equals in the world game and the stand out player within the Ghanian squad.
Other absentees of note include England captain Rio Ferdinand, Germany's Michael Ballack and Portugal's Nani, while 2006 final man-of-the-match Andrea Pirlo is doubtful as is Dutch winger Arjen Robben, one of European football's star players in 2010, although the latter is expected to play some part after the Netherlands' first match.