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Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 20:36 UK

Friday's World Cup 2010 round-up

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's campaign starts on Tuesday against Ivory Coast

Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the World Cup's most googled player, the internet search giant revealed on the day the tournament kicked off in South Africa.

"In search, the winning player is already clear: Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese team captain and talented forward," Google said in a blog post.

Brazil's Kaka, England's Wayne Rooney, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands also featured prominently in the company's analysis of search enquiries.

South Korea captain Park Ji-sung dodged questions about his country's frosty relationship with its neighbour North Korea.

Asked whether the South should grant its foe free television coverage of the finals, the Manchester United midfielder replied sternly: "That's not under my jurisdiction so I'm not able to comment."

The South, which has broadcast rights to all of the Korean peninsular, gave free coverage to the North during the 2006 tournament but is unlikely to repeat the gesture in the wake of the sinking of a South Korean vessel last month.

The United States' preparations for their opener against England on Saturday were briefly delayed when an elephant blocked the team bus en route to a training session.

A team spokesman said the squad had to wait around five minutes while the elephant ate food from a tree on the side of the road.

Earlier in the afternoon, a bus carrying 10 players got held up behind another elephant at the entrance to the team's hotel in Rustenburg, the spokesman added.

Angel di Maria
Di Maria has enjoyed a fine season with Benfica

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has talked up the value of Benfica and Argentine winger Angel Di Maria, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

"He is a young player who is improving every day. Di Maria no longer sticks to the left side of pitch and when he faces you, you see his heart," said Maradona.

"You could try to buy a player who can beat defenders twice in a match but in Di Maria we have a player who can beat defenders seven or eight times.

"You could sell him for hundreds of millions and he'd be worth every penny."

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has read out a morale-boosting message from England manager Fabio Capello to troops in Afghanistan.

"While the players receive incredible support from the country, as we are about to kick-off in the World Cup, it's important you know how much all your efforts mean to all the players and staff with the England team," Capello said.

"Your brave service to your country means so much to the players and we all have complete respect for the incredible sacrifices that you and your families have made."

Meanwhile, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and South African healer Bishop Isaac Nonyane have pooled resources in a bid to get injury-plagued Australia winger Harry Kewell fit for the World Cup.

An injury to Kewell's groin has dominated Australia's build-up to the tournament, with coach Pim Verbeek desperate to have his key forward fit for Sunday's opener against Germany.

Subsequently, Rudd offered a goodwill greeting on Friday at the insistence of Nonyane, who said the prime minister's best wishes would oust the "malicious spirits" plaguing the striker.

France captain Patrice Evra believes a tough start to his career in England with Manchester United has been crucial in preparing him to lead his country out during the World Cup.

Evra, who endured a difficult six months after joining United from Monaco in January 2006 but has since blossomed into one of the best left-backs in the world, has been given the armband for his country with previous incumbent Thierry Henry likely to start on the bench during the tournament.

"It's difficult to talk about oneself," said Evra. "I've put in some hard work to get to this point - I haven't had any gifts given to me. I am determined.

"My first six months in Manchester were difficult but I believed in myself and my abilities and I think that is what makes a difference. I think my psychology helped me build and develop my career."

South Africa is ready to stage a "Ferrari" of a World Cup, according to Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke.

"If you compare, if you take the number of stadiums we got in the past World Cups and the number of great stadiums we have here in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, definitely South Africa is above all the countries," he said.

"South Africa is a new benchmark in the organisation of the World Cup.

"But now the main question is, it's great to have the nicest car, it's great to have the latest Ferrari in your hands, but you need to know how to drive it, and that's where we are."

Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mates have been keen to ease the weight of expectation on the diminutive playmaker ahead of this weekend's World Cup opener against Nigeria.

The 22-year-old reigning Fifa world player of the year looks certain to be the centre of attention in South Africa.

But veteran midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron said: "He (Messi) is feeling well and is eager to have a great World Cup, but I don't think it's right to make him responsible for everything that can happen in the World Cup.

"There are 23 players in the squad with the everybody sharing the responsibility."

Uruguayan Diego Forlan hopes to use the World Cup as a means to secure a move back to the Premier League.

Aaron Mokoena
Mokoena recently became the first South African to earn 100 caps

The former Manchester United striker endured a difficult time during his first spell in England between 2002 and 2004 where it took him 27 games to score his first goal, but he has since rebuilt his reputation as a prolific goalscorer in Spain with Atletico Madrid.

"If a big chance to return to England came up, I would have to look at it," said Forlan. "I loved my time in English football - the people, the fans, the football, everything."

United States defender Oguchi Onyewu has said his team will pose England problems in their opening match of the World Cup on Saturday.

"Against any team, we can compete and get a result. We have proven that in the last few years," he said.

"The US are not a world power but can cause trouble to any team on any given day."

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has backed his team to claim a first World Cup win on foreign soil in their Group E opener against Cameroon on Monday despite their goalscoring woes in the build-up to the tournament.

"Our problem scoring goals is an issue that has needed addressing for quite some time and it is something we are acutely aware of," he said.

"But we went close on several occasions (when drawing 0-0 with Zimbabwe) and there were positives to be taken. I think we have a real chance of beating Cameroon as they are not at their best.

"It won't be easy of course but the main thing is that we are all in top condition."

Midfielder Tim Cahill has no qualms about admitting Australia will look to play it tight in their World Cup opener against Germany on Sunday.

Uruguay's Diego Forlan
Diego Forlan took 27 games to score his first goal for Manchester United

The Socceroos have faced accusations of negativity from Germany coach Joachim Low, but Cahill said: "Let them throw stones, we'll just cop it on the chin.

"There is a lot of talk about the Germans talking us down and how well they are going to do and for us that is a positive.

"We are going into the game as underdogs and hopefully try to make our imprint on the game as soon as possible."

US vice-president Joe Biden told President Barack Obama on Friday he was sorry for leaving him behind to manage the oil spill but was thrilled to be watching the World Cup.

"I am honoured to be (here) representing the United States. The president is angry," Biden told a group of dignitaries at the US consulate in Sandton, near Johannesburg.

The United States play England in their opening Group C match on Saturday and the Irish-American Biden expects to be in attendance cheering on coach Bob Bradley's side.

"In the spirit of a genuine Irishman, we are going to beat England," Biden said.

On Wednesday, midfielder Joe Cole claimed the England squad would be quite pleased to see a couple of members of the media get attacked on a safari. On Friday it almost happened.

A dozen scribes and photographers - some of them among the real glitterati - ventured onto the Plianesberg game reserve for spectacular safari.

After spotting rhinos, lions, giraffes, zebras and hippos, the party came across an enormous bull elephant, who clearly was not that pleased to see them.

After edging out of some shrubbery, the giant beast made a lunge for the tour wagon, getting within a couple of yards before the driver managed a get away.

In the melee, one writer almost lost his woolly hat as he dived for cover.

Updated throughout the day.



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see also
Thursday's World Cup 2010 round-up
10 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Wednesday's World Cup 2010 round-up
09 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Tuesday's World Cup 2010 round-up
08 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Monday's World Cup 2010 round-up
07 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Sunday's World Cup 2010 round-up
06 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Saturday's World Cup 2010 round-up
05 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Friday's World Cup 2010 round-up
04 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010


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