WILL AFRICA COME CLOSE?

Ivory Coast have appeared in the World Cup finals three times in the history, but they have not come close to winning the trophy. Despite possessing a star-studded squad that includes the likes of Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, they have not even won the African cup of nations.

Drogba, who is expected to make one final appearance in a major tournament, is the perfect man to lead Ivory Coast to success in the upcoming World Cup 2014 according to Ivory Coast manager Sabri Lamouchi. Even though Drogba has not announced that he will retire from international football after this tournament, it is expected to be the final swansong for the 35-year-old.

CURITIBIA STANDS OUT

Curitiba has been chosen as one of the host cities for the upcoming World Cup 2014. The Arena da Baixada being built at this city is expected to be one of the finest stadiums in the country upon completion.

However, the delivery date of the stadium has been extended beyond schedule and this has angered FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke, who says that the organising committee may decide to remove Curitiba from the list of the host cities. This has brought out an immediate reaction from the local council, who have sanctioned an increased workforce towards finishing the stadium.

COUTINHO WANTS CHANCE

Liverpool’s Brazilian star Philipe Coutinho has said that he is hopeful of being selected for the Brazil national team squad before the start of the World Cup in order to show that he deserves a place to be on the plane to World Cup 2014. Coutinho was an £ 8 million signing from Inter Milan last January, but he has been an immediate hit at Anfield much to the surprise of many.

Even though he appeared to have all the talent at Inter Milan, he struggled to cope with the expectations. At Liverpool, he has been looking liberated and this has consequently improved his form.

MEXICO ARE READY

Mexico are currently preparing to take on Ivory Coast in a friendly match in the United States. Ahead of the match, manager Jose Manuel de la Torre has expressed his confidence that the team will be able to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

There has been a lot of criticism of de la Torre following a run of poor results. He barely managed to keep his job after the Confederations cup in which Mexico is extremely disappointing. The team looked like a group of strangers up front and they were knocked out of the tournament.

Gary Neville defends DNA of England

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has stated that England need to be proud of the hard working DNA embedded in their structure but also try to add some fair and panache to their play in order to become a major force and compete in the major championships at all levels.

The country’s Under-20 and Under-21 teams suffered early exits from major championships already this summer, triggering questions regarding the quality of football being played in the country. But Neville, who serves as an assistant to head coach Roy Hodgson for the senior side quickly jumped to defense of the country’s playing style, stating that the hard working DNA of the country cannot be overlooked.

ITALY LOSE ON PENALTIES

Italy were recently defeated by Spain on penalties in the Confederations cup semifinal. They lost in the semi-final 7-6 on penalties, but Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has said that his players can take a lot of positives from this defeat.

He has said that the example shown by Spain over the course of the match can be a good lesson to his players, as they attempt to win the World Cup first time since 2006. Spain are one of the favourites to lift the Confederations cup after having won the World Cup once and the European championships twice in the last five years.

BIERHOFF UNSURE

Oliver Bierhoff has said that he is not sure whether Germany can win the FIFA World Cup 2014, which will be held in Brazil. Germany are searching for their first World Cup victory since 1990. They have come extremely close in recent times only to falter at the final stages.

While questioning the ability of Germany to win the World Cup, Bierhoff has also said that he doubts whether any European team can win this tournament. The South American World Cup’s have been traditionally dominated by the home countries. There will be a huge support for Brazil in this tournament, and Bierhoff he sees this as a great advantage for the South American countries.

VALCKE HAPPY

The FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has said that he is extremely happy with the preparations by the Brazilian government for the 2014 World Cup. He has also spoken about the disappointment around the negativity surrounding the preparations.

Brazil recently marked only 500 days to go to the start of the tournament, but with lacklustre preparations by the government, there has been a lot of criticism. However, the general secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke has jumped into the defence by saying that he does not understand the reason for people concentrating only on the negative aspects.

DECO BACKS SCOLARI

The former Chelsea and Barcelona midfielder Deco has said that he believes that the appointment of the former Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as the national team manager once again will be a good move for the country.

Brazil recently sacked the manager Mano Menezes in favour of the former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led the nation to the fifth and the last World Cup triumph in Japan almost decade ago. Even though this has been viewed as a step backward by several media – who were in support of bringing the former Barcelona manager Guardiola, Deco believes that this is a great appointment.

HOWARD BACKS USA

The Everton and the United States goalkeeper Tim Howard has said that he is confident that the nation can do a lot of damage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Brazil.

United states are expected to qualify for the tournament under the guidance of the former Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who has been doing a stellar job since being appointed as the national team manager. The US recently had a 2-2 draw with Russia in extremely hostile conditions. It is a result that he was a lot of confidence to Tim Howard.