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England rescued by Japan own goals, France held

Last updated on: May 31, 2010 15:35 IST

Unconvincing England scrape past Japan



England failed to convince in a 2-1 victory over Japan in their final World Cup warm-up on Sunday and France were held to a 1-1 draw by Tunisia in their penultimate match.

There was more bad news on the injury front for Germany whose defender Heiko Westermann will miss the tournament after breaking a bone in his foot in Saturday's 3-0 win over Hungary.

Off the field, South African security officials moved swiftly to deny claims in a Sunday newspaper of a high risk of a terrorist attack during the World Cup.

After England's Frank Lampard missed a 56th-minute penalty, his side needed own goals from defenders Tulio Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa to come from behind to beat Japan in Austria.

Coach Fabio Capello took consolation where he could, enjoying the second half better than the first and telling ITV: "I saw a lot of players who didn't play before and learnt more about them."

England start their campaign on June 12 against the United States who also staged a 2-1 comeback win in Philadelphia on Saturday over Turkey.

Image: England's Wayne Rooney (left) challenges Japan's Yoshito Okubo during their international friendly in Graz, Austria
Photographs: Reuters

Paraguay hold Ivory Coast to 2-2 draw

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Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was denied a winning start with his Ivory Coast team when Paraguay scored twice in the last 15 minutes to draw 2-2 in France.

Didier Drogba gave the Elephants the lead and Eriksson looked set to celebrate a win when substitute Souleymane Bamba made it 2-0. But Lucas Barrios scored and Aureliano Torres snatched a last-gasp equaliser with a deflected free kick.

Oddly, the match was played on a ground not considered fit even for French second division soccer.

Adding colour, the Ivory Coast players turned out in light blue shirts and chocolate shorts and socks, looking rather as if they had waded through mud before taking the field.

In Tunisia, France were indebted to a 63rd minute goal by William Gallas which enabled them to salvage a draw.

Tunisia opened the scoring on five minutes through forward Issam Jemaa but France, still adapting to the new, 4-3-3 system they had introduced in a 2-1 win over Costa Rica on Wednesday, improved gradually.

Image: Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba dribbles during their international friendly against Paraguay

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'No specific terror threat to World Cup'

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In Johannesburg, a Sunday Times report pointed to a briefing to the US Congress counter-terrorism caucus last week by the NEFA Foundation, which investigates terrorist activities.

It quoted foundation director Ronald Sandee as saying: "I believe there is an 80 percent chance of an attack."

But the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, which coordinates security operations for the World Cup, said in a statement: "The security forces can firmly state that there is no known specific terror threat against the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"All operational plans are on track, teams already in their base camps are moving around and police deployments are increasing."

Image: Denise Riquelme, the owner of a shop of handmade crafts, paints replicas of the World Cup trophy in Valparaiso city, near Santiago, Chile

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Germany's Westermann ruled out, fit Pepe returns to training ground

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Back with the players, Germany will miss Westermann especially as injuries have already ruled out Michael Ballack and Christian Traesch. He was seen as possible cover in midfield.

"Heiko would have played a very important role at the World Cup for our team. That is because of his multi-faceted play. In training he was in superb physical condition," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Portugal got a boost with news that influential midfielder Pepe had been cleared to continue training. He damaged a cruciate knee ligament in December and has not played since.

Already looking beyond the tournament, Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli will succeed Italy coach Marcello Lippi after the World Cup, a national soccer federation spokesman said.

Federation president Giancarlo Abete wanted clarity before the team flew off to South Africa and has now found his man, famed for his slicked-back hair and purple puffer jacket.

Image: Portugal's Pepe goes through the grind during a training session in Guarda, Portugal

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