BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - World champions Italy could be severely depleted in defence when they kick off their Confederations Cup campaign against the United States on Monday. Certain to be without World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, the Italians also have a doubt over his natural replacement Nicola Legrottaglie (muscle strain) and may have to play understudies Alessandro Gamberini and Georgio Chiellini in defence at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria. Italy narrowly beat New Zealand 4-3 in a friendly in Pretoria on Wednesday and face a U.S. side who have said they have no chance of winning the tournament, but are here to gain experience of South African conditions for next year's World Cup finals, which they expect to qualify for. Confederations Cup holders Brazil, who are also the South American champions, get the day's action in Group B underway when they play Egypt in Bloemfontein. Brazil won this event with a superb 4-1 victory over Argentina in Germany four years ago and come to South Africa in good form. They have beaten Uruguay and Paraguay in World Cup qualifiers this month while African champions Egypt are struggling to qualify from their final group, losing 3-1 in their last match to Algeria on June 7. In Sunday's opening match, hosts South Africa drew 0-0 with Asian champions Iraq at Ellis Park in Johannesburg while European champions Spain crushed Oceania champions New Zealand 5-0 in Rustenburg.
13 June 2009
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