Brazil in two minds over rivals injuries

JOHANNESBURG - Brazil have mixed feelings about the spate of injuries toppling top World Cup names, fearing a similar fate while being relieved to see their path to the title cleared of strong rivals.

Striker Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, Brazil's opponents in their second Group G match on June 20, injured an arm in a warm-up match against Japan on Friday and could miss the tournament in South Africa.

England captain Rio Ferdinand is definitely out of the finals after a suffering a knee ligament injury in training on Friday, while Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo injured a calf muscle in their 2-1 defeat by Mexico and may also miss the tournament, which starts on Friday.

Brazil began their stay in South Africa with minor injuries to goalkeeper Julio Cesar and left-back Michel Bastos, but both have resumed training.

"To face a team like England or Ivory Coast without those players for us would be much better," right-back Maicon told reporters at the team's Johannesburg hotel.

"We're following what's happening. It's tough, you have to be careful in training," striker Grafite said. "As the majority of players are at the end of the season, we don't go in so hard so as not to injure (someone).

"No-one wants to miss the World Cup and when we see top players being left out, we touch wood not to be left out in that way," he added.

Brazil, who beat Zimbabwe 3-0 in a midweek warm-up, leave for Tanzania on Sunday for their final friendly on Monday. Their opening World Cup match is against North Korea on June 15.

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