Update: Drogba, Ferdinand out of World Cup
Every World Cup finals has some notable injury hits, but these two are massive: Team officials say Didier Drogba broke his arm this morning in the Ivory Coast's final tuner against Japan. Drogba took a high boot in the arm from a Japanese defender in a collision at midfield, and although nothing's official it surely doesn't look good (video below).
(UPDATE: From the Associated Press: Ivory Coast's Kolo Toure says teammate Didier Drogba will miss World Cup due to broken arm.
(SECOND UPDATE: Now Drogba confirms he's out. From AP: "The World Cup is finished." And from the looks of that video below, Tulio Tanaka has a lot to answer for.)
And in the England camp, fragile central defender Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the finals. On a team whose defensive centre looked a little light in terms of reinforcements, this is a big blow. Michael Dawson, one of Fabio Capello's last cuts, is heading to Africa, according to the reports out of the England camp.
So, for this first Mundial in Africa, two of the most influential players from the home continent, both of them teammates at English champion Chelsea, will miss out: Michael Essien with Ghana, and now Drogba. Both teams were contenders for a good long run with them - now, Ghana will be all out to get out of a tough Group D, and as for Cote d'Ivoire, they were drawn into the designated Group of Death against Brazil, Portugal and outsiders North Korea. As for the tournament, two bright lights have dimmed and it's no understatement to say the entire affair has taken a hit.
The Ivory Coast remains the deepest team from Africa, but this is a similar situation to Ghana's - like Essien, Drogba is the beating heart of his team. He's going to be harder to replace than just another star player.
As for England, Ledley King and Matthew Upson move up the depth chart, Dawson flies in and thus it goes from a mild gulp to a really hard swallow.
How does this change up the groups? You tell us. Comments are open, and here's some video, though not sure how long it'll stay up there: