World Cup Latest

news: World Cup Latest

• Guus Hiddink has succeeded Frank Farina as manager of Germany 2006 candidates, Australia. The experienced Dutch coach will remain in charge of current club side PSV Eindhoven, while preparing the Socceroos for the OCEANIA Group final against the Solomon Islands.

• The latest FIFA world rankings see the United States leapfrog England and France into sixth place, their highest ever position. England occupy eighth place just behind France, while Germany have risen into 11th. Brazil and Argentina top the official list.

• Rapid Vienna captain, Steffen Hofmann, who has represented Germany at U17 level, has applied for Austrian nationality in a bid to play for his adopted country in the World Cup Finals.

• Despite alcohol fuelled hooliganism fears, local councillors in Stuttgart are planning to allow pubs and restaurants to open 24 hours a day for the duration of the competition.

• A zoo in Platschow in Eastern Germany is trying to teach a group of elephants to play football. The idea is to put on a display to coincide with the Finals, but animal trainers are having difficulties communicating the essence of the game to the ‘jumbo’ players.

• Sports firm Puma has signed a two year sponsorship deal with Togo. The West African country is currently leading Group 1 with two games to play. Qualification would mean a World Cup debut appearance for the team.

• Iran, who have already qualified for Germany, have had their planned tour of England thrown into doubt following recent bombing atrocities in London. The first game against Millwall has already been cancelled following racial threats and coach Branko Ivankovic does not think scheduled matches against QPR and Portsmouth will go ahead.

• Phillipe Troussier has taken charge of Nigeria’s World Cup hopes following the African country’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Angola. This is the 50-year-old Frenchman’s second spell in charge of the Super Eagles following the successful 1998 World Cup adventure.

• Last but not least, a spoof edition of Germany’s Ruhr Nachrichten predicts Steven Gerrard scoring for England in next year’s World Cup final. Unfortunately, Ballack and Podolski are also on target for the hosts leading to home nation jubilation on achieving the perfect revenge. Dream on!