Group A team news

LONDON - Latest Group A team news ahead of the World Cup in South Africa which starts on June 11:

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SOUTH AFRICA

South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has criticised his own association for not arranging tougher friendlies for his team during their three-week training camp in Germany.

Parreira wanted several testing games against top club sides but the association had secured matches against lower league opposition.

"I have asked for strong opponents but been told it's too late," he said at a press briefing at the camp in Herzogenaurach. "These practice matches are not ideal".

FRANCE

Defender William Gallas says he is confident that he will be fit to play for France in the World Cup.

Gallas, 32, has been ruled out for the rest of the Premier League season after aggravating a calf injury playing for Arsenal in their Champions League quarter-final first leg with Barcelona.

However, he told Canal Plus: "I wanted to play in that match because I am a competitor. Now my objective is not to suffer any relapse and I am confident. If you are not confident, you can forget about the World Cup."

MEXICO

Coach Javier Aguirre, currently with a squad of 17 players in Avandaro for a training camp as Mexico ramp up their pre-World Cup preparations, believes he has "the best generation of young Mexican footballers ever".

"Their legs don't shake when playing against Brazil in Brazil. I like this", he told reporters.

Mexico are scheduled to play six friendlies in May and one in June although their match with Portugal was cancelled last week due to a row between the two countries over accommodation at the tournament in South Africa. - - -

URUGUAY

Lanky striker Sebastian "Loco" Abreu, a key substitute for Uruguay, scored the winner as Botafogo won the Carioca state championship in Brazil at the weekend.

Abreu, whose headed goal secured Uruguay's place at the finals in their playoff against Costa Rica in November, scored from the penalty spot in Botafogo's 2-1 win over Flamengo in the final.

It was in complete contrast to his debut for Botafogo, a 6-0 defeat by Vasco da Gama in January, that triggered the arrival of former South Africa coach Joel Santana.

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