With European season climaxing with the final of the UEFA Champions League between Madrid rivals- Real and Atletico, all attention has now been shifted to one direction-Brazil, host of world’s greatest football fiesta-The World Cup. As virtually all the participating nations have named their squad for the tournament, Kunle Adewale takes a look at the Mundial casualties. Managerial selections will always be the source of some debate, with the build-up to any competition seeing a number of top-class players omitted from their respective national squads
Kaka: A shattered dream
After a not too impressive season with Real Madrid, Ricardo Isecson dos Santos returned to Italy with former club, AC Milan. It is with the hope of revamping his career and be in good shape to make the Selecao team to the World Cup on home soil.
“I do not know how far I can go but I’m doing my best to go to play in the World Cup with Brazil.
“I will have to do well at Milan in order to achieve this and I already feel much better. I will keep trying hard and hope to get to the World Cup in Brazil and have a great one,” Kaka had said on his return to Milan.
However, it was not to be as Coach Philipe Scolari did not consider him for the Brazil party.
Isco : To wait for his time
Undoubtedly talented, Real Madrid midfielder Isco has been omitted from reigning champions, Spain’s squad for Brazil. The ex-Malaga playmaker has taken time to settle into life at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, but has shown glimpses of exceptional quality when afforded the chance to play by Coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Isco is a player that will surely represent his nation in major tournaments in the future, but for the time being, is the victim of a multitude of attacking midfield options for Vicente del Bosque.
Samir Nasri: Too outspoken for team’s Harmony
Another of international football’s badboys, Nasri has not seen eye-to-eye with France boss Didier Deschamps and hence, has been left out of Les Bleus’ squad. The Gaelic nation have had their internal disputes in recent competitions and as such the outspoken Manchester City man’s absence may not be the worst idea for collective harmony.
Nasri has had a good season at club level, but his attitude when turning out for his nation has cost him a place at the World Cup.
Carlos Tevez: Discipline Considered ahead of form
The Juventus forward’s omission from Argentina’s contingent is not a massive shock given his public fallout with coach Alejandro Sabella.
However, with Tevez, a key player in the Bianconeri’s Scudetto success this term and scoring goals for fun in Italy, it is an absence of a top-class player.
Argentina’s array of other attacking options will again account for this star’s omission, but Tevez will feel slightly aggrieved; if the squad was picked on form he would be on the plane to Brazil.
Ashley Cole: A victim of of playing time
The experienced defender has announced his international retirement after being overlooked by Roy Hodgson for England – but the decision to omit Cole seems fair.
Left-back is one of The Three Lions’ areas of strength, with Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw good value for their place in the squad. Cole’s lack of playing time at Stamford Bridge has cost him his spot and giving others a chance is probably the right decision.
Philippe Coutiho: The future of Selecao
Luiz Felipe Scolari was never going to be short of attacking talent when selecting the hosts’ squad for the tournament, with the likes of Kaká, Ronaldinho and Robinho all left out.
However, Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho can arguably feel the most aggrieved to not even get a spot on the waiting list.The Reds midfielder has improved at Anfield over the course of the domestic campaign and will now have to wait until future events to show his calibre on the global stage.
Mario Gomez: A fitness doubt
Despite the likely possibility that Germany will line up with a false nine at this summer’s tournament, Mario Gómez’s omission is something of a surprise. With 35-year-old Miroslav Klose the only recognised number nine in Joachim Löw’s 30-man squad, being overlooked will be a hammer blow for the Fiorentina forward.
Although suffering from injuries this term, Gómez will have hoped to sneak a place in the squad but will now have the summer to get back to training and full fitness ahead of next season.
Gregory van der Wiel: A shock omission
The Paris Saint-Germain defender was not named in Louis van Gaal’s youthful-looking Netherlands squad after starting for his nation in the equivalent competition four years ago.
At a time regarded as one of the finest full-backs in European football, Van der Wiel’s career has moved sideways since leaving Ajax to move to the French capital. Competition for places in Laurent Blanc’s Ligue 1 winning team is the reason for the 26-year-old’s absence, but it still comes as something of a shock.
John Mensah: Apprehension over his fitness
Mensah, a veteran of Ghana’s two previous FIFA World Cup appearances and the Black Stars’ general captain, might have had reason to consider himself the last man to be left behind as the Ghanaian national team treks to South America for the fiesta. Coach Kwesi Appiah, on evidence of Mensah’s struggles with form and fitness as well as a clubless situation that was only recently resolved with a move to lowly FC Nitra of Slovakia, seems to think differently, though, and has excluded the freshly divorced 31-year-old from his chosen 26.
Emmanuel Eboue: Not considered good enough
The long-time Arsenal right-back currently employed by Turkish giants Galatasaray, has been among his country’s best players for well over a decade and featured at the World Cups of 2006 and 2010. It thus comes as something of a surprise that he isn’t joining the party this time. Aged 30, Eboue – a member of Cote d’Ivoire’s golden generation of footballers for whom Brazil 2014 could well prove the swansong – would probably not feature at another competitive event for Les Elephants, with his place in coach Sabri Lamouchi’s plans taken up by fresher talent, presumably Gunners’ target Serge Aurier. Not to worry, though; in Montepellier’s Siaka Tiene, Eboue finds similarly disappointed kindred spirit.
Sone Aluko: Taken aback over his omission
Omatsone ‘Sone’ Aluko, brother of female England international Eniola Aluko, would consider himself a little hard done by with his third omission from as many major international tournaments since switching allegiance from his country of birth to Nigeria, from where his family migrated to the British Isles so many years ago. Aluko’s history of heartbreaks began in 2010, barely a year after his debut for the reigning African champions, when he earned a provisory call-up for the World Cup in South Africa but failed to make the final cut. An Achilles injury suffered in the build-up to the 2013 Nations Cup cost him a place at that competition as well, and now this. For good reason, then, the Hull City striker should be feeling peeved, given that it isn’t really obvious what might have prompted Super Eagles’ boss Stephen Keshi’s decision
Victor Valdes: Injury blow
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes joined the long list of high-profile players that will be sitting out this summer’s World Cup tournament in Brazil.
Valdes’ anterior cruciate ligament was torn in an innocuous incident during Barcelona’s recent 3-0 win over Celta Vigo, not only ending his involvement this season with Barcelona, but even in the Spain squad as they look to defend their title.
Radamel Falcao: Race against time
The Colombian superstar seems unlikely to be fit for the World Cup in time after his ACL tear during Monaco’s Coupe de France encounter with Chasselay in January. The forward faces a race against time to be ready for the World Cup in June, but his rehabilitation is going better than expected.
Diego Costa: A replacement online
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is hopeful Diego Costa will recover from a leg muscle injury in time to feature at the World Cup but believes the world and European champions have plenty of backup if he doesn’t make it.
Costa has been struggling with a series of niggles in recent weeks and was forced off in the 9th minute of last Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
“He has a muscle injury and we will monitor his development so we can make a last-minute decision. We have until June 2 to register the final squad of 23 and we don’t need to rush. I hope he makes it but we have good replacements,” Del Bosque said on Monday.
If Brazil-born Costa is unable to make the trip to his native country for the finals starting next month, Del Bosque has several players available with a similar profile, including Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente.
World Cup Facts
•The record number of World Cup career goals is 15 by Brazilian forward Ronaldo.
• The record number of appearances in World Cup matches is 25, held by German footballer Lothar Matthaus.
• The fastest goal in the world was scored by Turkey’s Hasan Sukur, 11 seconds into the game against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup.
• Oliver Kahn is the only goalkeeper in the history of FIFA World to have won the Golden Ball trophy.
• India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup when they realised that according to FIFA regulations, players had to wear football boots and would not be allowed to play barefoot.
• The record for most defeats suffered by a nation in World Cups is held by Mexico with 20 losses.
• Norman Whiteside was 17 when he played in the 1982 FIFA World Cup making him the youngest player to play in the world cup.
• Out of the 18 World Cups, South America and European countries have won 9 titles each. No other continent has produced a world champion.
• The only two players to have scored in four consecutive finals tournaments in 1958, 1962, 1966 & 1970 are Pele of Brazil and Uwe Seeler of West Germany.
• 42-year-old Roger Milla in 1994 became the oldest goal scorer and the oldest player in World Cup history.
• The very first hat-trick in a World Cup match was scored by Bert Patenaude of United States in a match against Paraguay in the 1930 World Cup.
• In 1986 FIFA prohibited shirt swapping because they did not want players to ‘bare their chests’ on the field.
• Brazil is the country to have appeared for every finals tournament. They have appeared for the last 18 tournaments, won five of them and will be appearing in the 2010 World Cup as well.
• Sir Viv Richards is the only person to have played both World Cup Football and World Cup Cricket.
June 12 Brazil v Croatia 21:00
June 13 Mexico v Cameroon 17:00
June 17 Brazil v Mexico 20:00
June 18 Cameroon v Croatia 23:00
June 23 Cameroon v Brazil 21:00
June 23 Croatia v Mexico 21:00
June 13 Spain v Holland 20:00
June 13 Chile v Australia 23:00
June 18 Spain v Chile 20:00
June 18 Australia v Holland 17:00
June 23 Australia v Spain 17:00
June 23: Holland v Chile 17:00
June 14 Colombia v Greece 17:00
June 15 Ivory Coast v Japan 02:00
June 19 Colombia v Ivory Coast 17:00
June 19 Japan v Greece 23:00
June 24 Japan v Colombia 21:00
June 24 Greece v Ivory Coast 21:00
June 14 Uruguay v Costa Rica 20:00
June 14 England v Italy 23:00
June 19 Uruguay v England 20:00
June 20 Italy v Costa Rica 17:00
June 24 Italy v Uruguay 17:00
June 24 Costa Rica v England 17:00
June 15 Switzerland v Ecuador 17:00
June 15 France v Honduras 20:00
June 20 Switzerland v France 20:00
June 20 Honduras v Ecuador 23:00
June 25 Honduras v Switzerland 21:00
June 25 Ecuador v France 21:00
June 15 Argentina v Bosnia 23:00
June 16 Iran v Nigeria 20:00
June 21 Argentina v Iran 17:00
June 21 Nigeria v Bosnia 23:00
June 25 Nigeria v Argentina 17:00
June 25: Bosnia v Iran 17:00
June 16 Germany v Portugal 17:00
June 16 Ghana v USA 23:00
June 21 Germany v Ghana 20:00
June 22: USA v Portugal 23:00
June 26: USA v Germany 17:00
June 26 Portugal v Ghana 17:00
June 17 Belgium v Algeria 17:00
June 17 Russia v S. Korea 23:00
June 22 Belgium v Russia 17:00
June 22 S. Korea v Algeria 20:00
June 26: S. Korea v Belgium 21:00
June 26: Algeria v Russia 21:00