Nani joins casualty list

PORTUGUESE winger Nani became the latest big name to drop out of the World Cup yesterday, but there was no dampening the enthusiasm of fans pouring in and readying television sets around the world.

PORTUGUESE winger Nani became the latest big name to drop out of the World Cup yesterday, but there was no dampening the enthusiasm of fans pouring in and readying television sets around the world.

"I'm in Africa, I can't believe it. I'm just so sorry we're going to spoil their party on Friday!" said a laughing Victor Fernandez, coming off a long flight with the green flag of Mexico, who play hosts South Africa in Friday's opener.

Like many of the more than 300000 foreign fans expected for the tournament, Fernandez's first purchase was a "vuvuzela", the ubiquitous trumpet blown by locals and likened to the noise made by a herd of elephants.

Fans, though, are aghast at an ever-growing injury list that is threatening to rob the tournament of some glamour on the pitch despite the exotic African backdrop.

In a huge blow to Portugal's hopes of a first World Cup triumph, Nani was ruled out with a shoulder injury he picked up in training at home.

Other crowd-pullers like England's David Beckham, Germany's Michael Ballack and Ghana's Michael Essien pulled out long ago due to injuries. And Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and the Netherlands' Arjen Robben are fighting not to join them.

Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo, Australian winger Harry Kewell, Chilean striker Humberto Suazo and South Korean forward Lee Dong-guk are others struggling to get fit for the tournament. - Reuters

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