Sven-Goran Eriksson has called for a summit of players and coaches to discuss the controversial World Cup ball and urged FIFA to listen to their concerns. The Ivory Coast coach has claimed that the Jabulani is making life unnecessarily difficult for goalkeepers in South Africa.
The Adidas-manufactured ball has come in for severe criticism, with England's goalkeeper David James describing it as "dreadful" and Gianluigi Buffon and Mark Schwarzer, the No1s for Italy and Australia respectively, referring to it disparagingly as "unpredictable".
"I can understand that goalkeepers are not happy, and I think the authorities should listen to them," Eriksson said. "I think the matter should be discussed. Players, coaches and perhaps top goalkeepers should get together. Especially people should listen to the goalkeepers' point of view, because the ball isn't doing them any favours."
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England's Robert Green let in an embarrassing goal when chosen ahead of James to start for England against the USA, though he declined to blame the ball. He also denied that he had been affected by Fabio Capello's decision to name the team only two hours before kick-off, a policy the England manager intends to stick with for the game against Algeria on Friday.
England were coached by Eriksson at the last World Cup and the Swede said after a 0-0 draw with Portugal yesterday that Ivory Coast are more fun to work with. "With this team there is a smile all day, even when training or travelling," he said. " I can't understand why Ivory Coast have had problems with each other in the past because this is a very happy team. Working with them is much more lively than any European team I have worked with. To smile all the time is their nature, their mentality. It's great fun for me every day and I like the job very much."
Eriksson introduced Didier Drogba as a second-half substitute, the striker's fractured arm in a light protective cast, and was pleased to see him end the game without mishap. "I didn't want to take a chance on him, and it was Didier's own idea to start on the bench," he said. "I had a word with him after the last training [session] and he said he would like to start there, but was ready if he was needed. Once he said that I thought to put him on at the end, because we wanted to win the game."
Carlos Queiroz, the Portugal coach, I find it strange that normally players are prevented from wearing even a simple string bracelet in a game, yet the referee gave permission for Drogba to play in a cast. It is not really a matter for Portugal and I do not wish to make a complaint, but I would like to know if the rules are still the same for all players."
Drogba paid tribute to the medical team who supervised his quick recovery. "By the grace of God, the impossible has happened," he said. "It is amazing. The work the doctors have done is incredible. It's not easy to recover quickly from surgery and a broken bone and I'm just so, so grateful to be here and playing.
"Every time you put your foot on the pitch there's a risk, but with the protection I had it was clear that there wasn't any more of a gamble by me being there. The only problem I would have had was if I had fallen over, but even if I had fallen over it would only have been pain that I would have felt.
"I can cope with pain. I wouldn't take a risk, if I thought I couldn't have played I wouldn't have been on the pitch. Now I hope I will have a few days to improve my condition and look at the parts of my game I couldn't work on because I was at the hospital. Brazil is going to be difficult, but I'm confident."