Fabio Capello, the England coach, looks to have finally settled on his World Cup goalkeeper after handing David James the No 1 shirt to wear in South Africa. The 39-year-old James, who arrived with the rest of the 23-man squad in Johannesburg yesterday, has been hampered by injury problems and made his first international start in 13 months in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Japan in a friendly.
Capello appears to have gone with experience by favouring James, who has been capped 50 times and was first-choice goalkeeper at Euro 2004 in Portugal, but lost his place to Paul Robinson at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. However, James, the Portsmouth custodian, said he will be reading nothing into the squad numbering situation. "For every qualifying match that I've started, it's not until the team sheet has been lifted that you're guaranteed to be playing," he told reporters.
If the squad numbering does reflect Capello's preferences, it would be a blow for West Ham's Robert Green who has started eight of the past 11 England matches and now has to settle for the No 12 shirt. Manchester City's Joe Hart, the least experienced of the three, is the other goalkeeper. The England squad were greeted by Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, who is king of the Bafokeng tribe, on their arrival in South Africa.
"I hope the World Cup will be a big success for South Africa and also for my team," Capello said. Meanwhile, Kim-Jong Hun's decision to name Myong-Won Kim, a striker, as one of his three goalkeepers for the World Cup has backfired after Fifa told the North Korea coach that Kim will now only be able to play in goal. Hun decided to name only two regular goalkeepers in his squad with Kim as the back-up.
It was seen as an attempt to boost the nation's attacking options as they prepare to face Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal in Group G. In a statement, Fifa said: "The squad lists the teams had provided to Fifa by June 1, 2010 are final and can no longer be changed. The only exception is in the case of a serious injury of a player in the list of 23, who could be replaced up until 24 hours before the first match of the team in the competition. The three players listed as goalkeepers can only play as goalkeepers during the World Cup and cannot play outfield."
Katlego Mphela said yesterday he is ready to pick up the mantle as the leader of South Africa's attack for the World Cup. After the omission of Benni McCarthy, the country's all-time leading scorer, Mphela is the player the hosts will turn to for goals starting with next Friday's opening match against Mexico in Johannesburg. "It does put a bit of pressure on my shoulders but I can handle it," the Mamelodi Sundowns striker told Reuters. Mphela has been the main frontman in South Africa's recent warm-up matches.
"The coach [Carlos Alberto Perreira] plays me each game which means he has faith in me and believes in me." * Agencies