By AVI CREDITOR
With the World Cup set to take place in Africa for the first time, two of the continent's participants have made swift and drastic coaching changes just months before the tournament begins.
The Ivory Coast axed Vahid Halilhodzic over the weekend and is prepared to name his successor after Wednesday's friendly with tournament-host South Africa.
Reports are suggesting that newly appointed Turkey coach Guus Hiddink will guide the Elephants in the World Cup, meaning that he would serve as somewhat of a rent-a-coach for the tournament.
His contract with the Russian national team expires July 1, the day he is slated to take over as coach for the Turkish national team. Sky Sports reports that both federations have agreed to let Hiddink coach the Ivory Coast for the World Cup, thus avoiding any conflict with either contract.
The Ivory Coast is in Group G, which most consider the tournament's Group of Death, along with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.
Nigeria has also named a new coach, as former Swedish national team coach Lars Lagerback has signed a five-month contract to guide the Super Eagles.
Lagerback replaces Shaibu Amodu and reportedly beat out Sven-Goran Eriksson, among others, for the job. Lagerback resigned from his Swedish post after failing to qualify his native country for the World Cup.
Nigeria is in Group B with Argentina, South Korea and Greece.
ROONEY FIT FOR EGYPT FRIENDLY
Carling Cup hero Wayne Rooney says that he is fit for England's Wednesday friendly against Egypt. Rooney, who came on as a sub for Michael Owen and scored the game-winner against Aston Villa in the cup final, has a bruised knee.
"I went for a scan today, and it's just a bit of bruising," Rooney told the Associated Press. "I should train tomorrow and should play on Wednesday."
IRISH DUO TO MISS BRAZIL FRIENDLY
The Republic of Ireland's squad will be at far from full strength for Tuesday's friendly with Brazil. Captain Robbie Keane, who re-injured his knee in Celtic's loss to Rangers on Sunday, and Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne, who has an undisclosed muscle injury, will both miss the match.
Dunne picked up the injury in Sunday's Carling Cup final against Manchester United. He is enjoying a fine season at Aston Villa, and his loss will severely hamper the Irish's hopes at slowing down Brazil's attack.
RAMSEY INJURY UPDATE
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey received some encouraging news a couple of days after suffering a broken leg in the Gunners' victory over Stoke City.
Ramsey, who was the victim of a red-card challenge from Ryan Shawcross, had surgery after breaking his tibia and fibula, and the road to recovery is a long one.
Khalid Baloch, the doctor who performed the surgery on Arsenal striker Eduardo after he suffered an injury under eerily similar circumstances two years ago, offered hope, saying that he expects that Ramsey will make a full recovery. He also said that Arsenal's medical staff is well-equipped to handle the rehabilitation process after going through the same ordeal with Eduardo.
JUVE'S AMAURI OUT WITH INJURY
Juventus star striker Amauri, who played a vital role in the first leg of the team's Europa League tie with Ajax, will be out for most of March with a thigh injury.
The injury will most likely keep him out of both of Juventus' Europa League Round of 16 matches with Fulham. The team is already without Italian-international keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Do you think Hiddink can get Ivory Coast out of the group stage? How far do you think Lagerback can take Nigeria? Aside from U.S.-Netherlands, what international friendly are you most looking forward to watching this week? Do you think Fulham can take advantage of Juventus' injuries and make the quarterfinals of the Europa League?
Share your thoughts below.