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Rediff.com  » Sports » Brazil on song but worry over Julio Cesar

Brazil on song but worry over Julio Cesar

Last updated on: June 3, 2010 11:40 IST

Clinical Brazil sink Zimbabwe

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Brazil gave a glimpse of the Latin American flair they will bring to the World Cup in South Africa with a 3-0 warm-up win over Zimbabwe on Wednesday, a victory tempered by an injury to goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

While Brazil enjoyed a rapturous reception at the 60,000 capacity national stadium in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was attending the official handing-over of the showpiece Soccer City stadium near Soweto, venue for the World Cup's opening match on June 11 and final on July 11.


Image: Brazilian players celebrate after scoring against Zimbabwe during a friendly match
Photographs: Reuters
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Blatter awestruck by Mandela

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Blatter marked the occasion by calling former South Africa president Nelson Mandela "the most charismatic humanist alive".

The Swiss head of soccer's governing body also described the 90,000-capacity stadium as a magnificent flagship for Africa.

Mandela, 91 is expected to be among the VIPs at the opening match between South Africa and Mexico although ill-health could prevent him from attending.

"The right legacy for this event will be 'let's celebrate Africa's humanity'," Blatter said.

"Let's celebrate the most charismatic humanist alive -- Nelson Mandela. We do hope Nelson Mandela will be here at the beginning of the World Cup in this stadium. This will be the highlight," he added.


Image: Sepp Blatter

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Decent workout

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Brazil, who will attempt to win the World Cup for the sixth time, were given a decent workout by Zimbabwe, ranked a lowly 110th in the world.

"In friendlies, the result is the least important," midfielder Elano told reporters.

"The important thing today was that we played well and I think the fans were satisfied with the spectacle," he added.


Image: Brazil's Luis Fabiano fights for the ball against Zimbabwe's Nengomasha during their friendly match

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Keeper Julio Cesar injured

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Michel Bastos, Robinho and Elano scored for Dunga's side although the coach would have been concerned by the sight of keeper Julio Cesar being substituted in the 26th minute.

He went off after pointing to his chest allowing Heurelho Gomes to make his fifth international appearance.

Cesar had been called into action to deny a double chance for Zimbabwe captain and striker Benjani Mwaruwari and Ovidy Karuru. Soon after that he indicated his discomfort to the bench and asked to come off.

Brazil doctor Jose Luis Runco said the Inter Milan keeper had been taken off as a precaution after hurting his back.


Image: Julio Cesar walks off the pitch after getting injured

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Serbia held by Poland

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Serbia again looked bereft of ideas as they followed up last weekend's 1-0 defeat by fellow World Cup finalists New Zealand with a tepid 0-0 draw against Poland.

Coach Radomir Antic rested defensive stalwart Nemanja Vidic and the back four looked all at sea in the opening 30 minutes, only two superb saves by reserve goalkeeper Bojan Isailovic keeping Serbia on level terms.

Elsewhere, goals from Enrique Vera and Lucas Barrios gave Paraguay a 2-0 win over Greece in a warm-up match between the two World Cup-bound sides.


Image: Serbia's Subotic fights for the ball with Poland's Lewandowski during a friendly match in Kufstein

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Cossu to replace Camoranesi?

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With the deadline for naming 23-man squads for the finals now passed, Italy coach Marcello Lippi was mulling over taking midfielder Andrea Cossu as a 24th man if Mauro Camoranesi's knee injury does not improve.

Camoranesi was included in the world champions' 23-man squad but can be replaced before the first match.


Image: Andrea Cossu

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Spain to give Fabregas run out

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Spain will give Cesc Fabregas a run out in their World Cup warm-up against South Korea but Fernando Torres must wait a little longer, coach Vicente del Bosque said on Wednesday.

"Cesc is fine, he has been training better every day and tomorrow he will be one of the ones to play," Del Bosque told a news conference in Austria.

The Arsenal midfielder has been recovering from a cracked bone in his right leg and has not played for two months.

Torres, who missed one of two training sessions on Tuesday, is close to a return from knee surgery but the coach sounded a note of caution over the Liverpool striker.

"He is very well. Although he missed a session yesterday it wasn't because he had a problem but as a precaution. We need to be careful with him," said Del Bosque.

"We have no doubt he will be ready for us on June 16 (against Group H rivals Switzerland) in perfect condition. We aren't going to take risks. We'll use him when the medical staff and the player are happy."


Image: Cesc Fabregas alongwith Andres Iniesta

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