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FAVOURITES Netherlands were warned not to underestimate Uruguay ahead of today's World Cup semifinal, while Brazil axed coach Dunga and fans of fellow flops Argentina want Diego Maradona to stay.
Legend Franz Beckenbauer hailed Germany as a "perfect team" while semi-final opponents Spain heard centre-back Carles Puyol and reserve midfielder Cesc Fabregas are fit for the other semifinal in Durban tomorrow.
As the tournament entered the final straight in South Africa leading to the July 11 Johannesburg climax, sell-out crowds braced for individual showdowns set to enthrall them and hundreds of millions of television viewers.
Dutch duo Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben come face to face with Uruguayan star Diego Forlan while goal kings David Villa of Spain and Miroslav Klose of Germany square off in another spicy cameo.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has begged his players to keep their feet on the ground and ignore the hype as they carry the tag of firm favourites into a showdown with injury and suspension-hit Uruguay.
Uruguay are handicapped by the loss of striker Luis Suarez, barred after his red card for a deliberate goal-line handball that prevented Ghana becoming the first semifinalists from Africa.
Defender Jorge Fucile is also suspended and captain and defender Diego Lugano and midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro are injury doubts, heaping ever more pressure on graceful workaholic Forlan.
Netherlands defender Gregory van der Wiel and midfielder Nigel de Jong miss out after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament in the come-from-behind triumph over Brazil.
Hard-to-please Beckenbauer said the Germans will be favoured to defeat Spain in a repeat of the Euro 2008 final settled by a Fernando Torres goal.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, who coached Brazil to the 2002 title, was tipped to replace Dunga, who must have known his four-year reign was over when the final whistle blew in Port Elizabeth last Friday and the Dutch celebrated.
Scolari reportedly heads a five-man 'wish list' including Mano Menezes of Corinthians, Muricy Ramalho of Fluminense, Ricardo Gomes of Sao Paulo and former AC Milan handler and 1994 World Cup winner Leonardo.
Brazilian players were insulted and shoved by angry fans when they arrived in Rio de Janeiro amid a welter of recriminations for the poor showing by the five-time champions.
But there was a warm welcome for Maradona and Argen- tina from thousands of fans who turned out to greet them despite the humiliating quarterfinal exit. - Sapa-AFP.
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