2010 FIFA World Cup: Drogba and Mikel a Loss, But Rio Ferdinand Is Past It

Andrew McNairSenior Writer IJune 5, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 04: Rio Ferdinand looks on during the England training session at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus on June 4, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It’s Friday, June 4, and I just touched down in South Africa a short while ago after a longish 11-hour flight from London Heathrow with South African Airways. It has been a long time coming, but I’m finally here.

I’m at the Football World Cup.

It was two years ago I left SA to pursue a career in Journalism by continuing my studies in my native Scotland with the dream of coming back to this country for this massive event.

I’m sitting tucking into a heart fry-up at McGinty’s bar in the domestic departures area of Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International airport, as my journey does not end here.

I’m headed to the sleepy seaside city of Port Elizabeth.

The friendly city, as it’s known across South Africa, will host eight WC matches, including England’s final group game, a last 16 tie, a quarter final and the third/ fourth playoff.

It’s also the city I did, and in many ways still do, call home.

For now though, I’m stuck in Johannesburg with quite a few WC explorers.

My flight was full of Mexicans, a noisy bunch who I’m sure know how to have a good time. They are not the only ones.

It’s 9 a.m. here and more than one gent is sitting with a delicious looking pint. I though, have settled for an orange juice and a flick through South Africa’s premier English newspaper, the Star.

And surprise, surprise it is all football, or soccer as they call it here, as with teams arriving on a daily basis, it’s an exciting time for the self-proclaimed rainbow nation.

Its Saturday now.  The rest of Friday was rather uneventful apart from being graced with the presence of Terrance Howard on the flight down to PE.

I’m sitting by the pool, chewing over the fact I’ve arrived in a city with water shortages and I have to flush the toilet with buckets of dirty shower water. Not exactly how I’d planned it, but I’m here and that will do for me.

There has been a few breaking stories since I last sat in front of this computer with the most notable being the withdrawal of England captain Rio Ferdinand.

The defender has sustained a knee injury and has been replaced by Tottenham’s Michael Dawson.

To be honest, I do not think he should have been there in the first place, never mind captain. He has been off form for at least a year and I’d seriously question a defensive pairing of him and the increasingly shaky John Terry.

All that in front of a less than world-class goalkeeper (whichever one he picks)...World Cup win?

Nah, I do not think so.

Michael Dawson deserves his chance, and I’d have had him in the squad before Matthew Upson.

The other worry was the news that two of Africa’s most famous players are likely to miss the tournament or most of it.

John Obi Mikel has been ruled out by Nigeria and Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast has broken his arm.

The latter is likely to do everything possible to play but it’s bad news for Africa, who were looking for a good performance from two of their better international sides.

It also puts a damper on Portugal vs. Ivory Coast, one of the ties of the first round which I’m due to watch at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

I’m going to leave it there for my first World Cup 2010 blog, as I have a rather important date with the ticket collecting office this afternoon.

Seven shiny, golden World Cup tickets with my name on them.

Andrew McNair has written for broadcasting giants Setanta and Fox Sports as well as Scottish newspapers the Evening Times and Sunday Herald. If you have any questions about the World Cup or this blog you can contact him at scotinsa@hotmail.com . If you enjoy his work you can join his group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=35412076250.