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Mid-Day Ticker: World Cup coaching changes for two African nations and more



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.


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."


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.


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.


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.


  1. Egypt and Algeria actually played three times (you forgot about their final playoff game on a neutral field). Their match up is a huge rivalry, but I don’t think England playing friendly against Egypt would qualify as a special game for the majority of England’s fans. As for your rationale that England-Egypt game is so special because England is in our group, then Slovenia-Qatar match up is equally special, because Slovenia is also in our group.

  2. Beating Portugal is not an upset. IC goes through with 5 points. You heard it hear first.

    Brazil 2-2
    Portugal 1-1
    N. Korea 4-1

  3. lets see how magical he really can be… if Ivory Coast beats Portugal for second place in their group they are likely to play Spain and then likely Italy in the second and third round. They certainly will have an incredible difficult path.

  4. Interesting that Guus took the Ivory Coast deal, while the US soccer media claimed he wouldn’t take any WC team in 2010. I never saw quotation marks around this refusal, so I suspect they got their information from other sources.

  5. Hiddink still managed to be in the world cup lol. But now a days u cant have a world cup without hiddink just like u cant have a world cup without brazil

  6. What’s so special about England-Egypt, we play England in the first game, so yea it’s kind of a game worth watching to see how their backline performs. If Egypt-Algeria is such a sight then go watch them on tape, they just played each other twice in the past year.

  7. Wow see how this Nationals Teams are changing and here we were thinking that it would be bad if Bob Bradley gets fired. Anyway I not saying to get rid of Bob Bradley he has done a good job with this team. I only hoping that he can do better job. I hope he came give us some kind of a secret weapon and secret tactics moves. Cause if he start the world cup like he did in the Confederation Cup will be Finish. I always said it that back months ago about the same time Aguirre was appointed coach of Mexico that we still had chance to get a Coach that knows and had much coaching experience on international level. Anyway I wish Bob Bradley all the Luck in the world and I’ll be supporting my National Team all the way. VIVA USA. May God Bless You USA and Lets Bring the Cup.

  8. Well, I put Portugal’s performance in 2006 down to one of the softest groups in history, a flagrant embellishment by Ronaldo, and suspect refereeing vs. the Dutch. IC, on the other hand, had the Group of Death and played rather well.

    But in any case I’m talking about current form. Yes, the IC lost ONE in the recent tourney but Portugal had a very weak qualifying group and barely snuck in. Thus, I think they’re about a push in a game at a neutral site.

    But hey, we’ll see soon enough. Cheers!

  9. Drastic my Ass!!!

    I know this coach from his days at PSG and he had no business coaching the Elephants. They under achieved at this year’s Cup of Nations and he should have been fired. Cote d’Ivoire is hell of alot better team that what they showed at CAN and one of the deeper teams going into this summer’s World Cup. They’re one of a few teams whom could actually BEAT Brazil. Don’t kid yourself, this is a very good team and in the hands of a very good manager even better. They’ll be the first African team to Medal this summer’s WC and don’t be surprised if they win their group.

  10. I am not sure what is so special about England-Egypt game, unless you are die-hard fan for those teams. On the other hand, Egypt-Algeria “friendly”, if one were to happen, would be a sight to behold. In addition to Germany-Argentina, which would be a great rivalry match, Spain-France in Paris should also be a very interesting game.

  11. Miq22, you are right that Ivory Coast could advance without beating Brazil or Portugal, but they would have to at least tie one of these teams. There’s also a very remote possibility that North Korea would beat somebody, which would create a possibility that a team could qualify with a win and two losses, like the US did in the confederations cup. However, I disagree with you that beating Portugal does not qualify as an upset for Ivory Coast. When a team, which did not advance from its group in the last world cup (the only world cup it ever played in), beats the team that finished fourth in the same tournament, it is considered an upset even four years later. And why should Portugal’s struggles in European qualification be given any greater weight than Ivory Coast’s more recent fiasco in CAN, which they were considered favorites to win? Switzerland and Slovakia won their respective groups in the European qualification tournament, but nobody considers them favorites to advance from their groups. In contrast, Argentina barely made it, but would many people be surprised if they do better than Switzerland or Slovakia?

  12. Looking forward to the Ireland Brazil matchup and of course the England Egypt game. What’s this Fox Soccer Plus, I would love to catch the latter game without stream, but is the channel part of the sports package that already has the fox sports channels?

  13. Re: most anticipated friendly (besides US-Netherlands) — Germany-Argentina (re-match of 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, 2006 World Cup Quarterfinal) — German team play guided by a competent, technical coach v. the individual brillance of Messi and Co. under the guidance of an erratic coaching newbie…should be a good one

  14. Man, how much money does he rake in for these temp jobs?

    It’ll be interesting to see how our HC position works out following South Africa. I would think after the ’06 debacle, USSF will see change can be good for new cycles. Not that I think Bradley needs to be let go, but I do think change helps spice things up. Either way, whoever is picked likely won’t be who we would all want.

  15. You know, Zac, I was a bit surprised about the sacking of Halihodzic. His qualifying run was very good. However, since he lost in the quarters at the Cup of Nations, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

  16. Ivorians are an impatient lot. I read in another report that the Bosnian was given two directives: Qualify for SA 2010 and win the Cup of Nations. They didn’t win CAN so he got sacked. If it was the Gold Cup thats one thing but CAN is a tough tournament. Those expectations seemed drastic.

  17. Just a clarification: my ‘measures’ are part opinion and part due to Portugal’s struggles in qualification and traditional struggles outside of Europe.

  18. Ivory Coast doesn’t need to ‘upset’ Portugal. By most measures, they are equal to or superior to Portugal. Since N. Korea is in the group, it may come down to who thrashes them the worst while limiting the damage vs. Brazil.

    Guus may make the difference for Cote d’Ivoire. Which would be very cool.

  19. Ivory Coast has a lot of talent and Hiddink knows how to coach and maximize the talent at his disposal. IC’s chances to advance have improved with his hire, but they would need to upset either Portugal or Brazil to advance, which is no small task.


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