Monday, November 29, 1999

Honduras call up 3rd brother, Spain start

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Honduras called up a third brother to their squad in a World Cup first on Wednesday while later tens of millions worldwide will finally get a glimpse of favourites Spain who open their campaign against Switzerland.The Hondurans added defender Jerry Palacios to their squad before their opening match against Chile. He joins brothers Wilson and Jhony.The call-up was particularly poignant given that a fourth brother, Edwin, was found dead last year after being kidnapped in 1977.Wednesday will also be a big day for South Africa who play their second match, against Uruguay, on a public holiday commemorating the 1976 student riots in Soweto which were a key moment in the battle to end apartheid.The Bafana Bafana (the Boys) side, written off as no hopers last year, are now riding a wave of national pride and self belief that they can make it into the second round after they scored one of the goals of the tournament in their opening 1-1 draw against Mexico.Until recently there was wide national pessimism that they would suffer the shame of being the first host nation to be eliminated at the group stage.Now South Africans are preparing a cacophony of vuvuzelas from Table Mountain to Soweto, heart of today's historic celebrations, to help their boys defeat Uruguay, who played a dreary opening goalless draw against France."We want to hear those vuvuzelas!" said South Africa's Brazilian manager Carlos Alberto Parreira after FIFA rejected a chorus of foreign pleas to ban the droning plastic trumpet.SPAIN'S LONG WAITWhile South Africa would be happy just to reach the next round, nothing short of lifting the cup would satisfy Spain, who have a long history of failure in World Cups. Their previous best finish was fourth way back in 1950.They have an extraordinarily talented side and even if striker Fernando Torres and midfielder Andres Iniesta miss out due to fitness doubts, they should be able to brush aside Switzerland in the Group H clash in Durban.Brazil's Samba Boys, narrowly behind Spain as bookies' favourites, made their first appearance in the tournament on Tuesday night, struggling to break down the ultra-defensive North Koreans but then notching two goals from Maicon and Elano in the second half to win 2-1.Maicon's goal from an almost impossible angle was a reminder that the five-times tournament winners can turn on moments of astonishing brilliance although Kaka's stuttering performance after a series of disappointing showings recently will worry coach Dunga.Fans will also be desperate for more beautiful goals in Wednesday's games after a slow start to the tournament.The controversial Jabulani ball has hit the net 23 times in the first 14 games, a relatively low average of 1.64 goals per match and below the 2.30 at Germany 2006.Prolific marksmen Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba were unable to hit the net in Portugal's 0-0 draw with Ivory Coast on Tuesday.EMPTY SEATSChile are playing Honduras on the 48th anniversary of their last World Cup victory when they beat Yugoslavia in the third-place playoff while hosting the 1962 tournament.Since then, they have not won a single game in 13 matches over four more World Cups.As well as the lack of high-scoring games, empty seats have been a disappointing sight at Africa's first World Cup.FIFA says, however, that attendance levels are the second highest in World Cup history behind the United States in 1994, and blame ticket-holders who have not turned up for leaving seats empty.Traffic jams round stadiums have delayed many spectators.There was an horrific twist to the World Cup in Somalia where Islamist militants killed two people and arrested dozens more for breaking a ban on watching games on TV.The Somali government, which controls only small parts of the country, including the capital Mogadishu, said "Somalis, like everyone else in Africa, should be able to watch the tournament without fear of loss of life."(Reporting by Reuters World Cup team; writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Barry Moody, Editing by Ossian Shine)
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