Early Doors

What about the result?

Early Doors

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There has been plenty of talk surrounding England's friendly with Egypt tonight at Wembley, the national team's first match since November, but little about the match itself.

As is the way with international friendlies in England, the pre-match view is decidedly inward, focusing on whatever trifling matters are the talk of this little island, rather than checking out whichever ragtag bunch of Johnny Foreigners happens to be arriving. Has nothing been learnt since Hungary rocked up and thrashed England over 50 years ago?

Instead, Fabio Capello has faced a grilling about Terry, Bridge and footballers' status as role models.

Whether Terry will be booed, the validity of the England captain and just how many headers Wayne Rooney will score have also all been speculated upon. In fact, talk has been about almost everything except the result.

Capello hardly needs an excuse to lay down the law to his players and, now he has finally got them all together once more, has made it clear what he expects of them.

"Players have to be an example to children," he said, because somebody has to think of them. "For that reason, they have to stay careful at all times and sacrifice something in their lives. They are young players, young boys, who are rich boys.

"I have asked the players not to take chances. For some, their private life is a big problem. Also for the clubs, and at the end for me."

After letting it be known that a problem for Capello equals a big problem for a wayward player, Capello then risked getting egg on his face by adding: "I think the next three months will be ok for all the players."

You'd think that, with the dearth of news during international week, some time would be given over to such a thing, but Sky Sports News still have footage of some surfers paddling down the River Severn in rotation, even though it's almost 24 hours old.

England may be racked with injuries, loss of form and scandal, but they are still lining up against the champions of Africa in one of their last tests before the big kick-off in Rustenburg. Not just champions, but reigning three-time champions. So it's fair to say they are quite good.

"But they're not even at the World Cup. That makes them worse than New Zealand!" you may cry. So what? England didn't reach the last major tournament they were eligible for, and yet plenty are cautiously pitching them as third-favourites to bring home the bacon. Actually, as it is South Africa, perhaps that should be bring home the biltong.

Rooney revealed the extent of the England team's homework on their opponents, saying something to the effect of" "Amr Zaki's good. Mido's alright. Er, that's it." Naturally there is no mention anywhere of Mohameds Aboutrika, Zidan or Nagui - nicknamed Gedo, who came from nowhere to score five goals from the bench in Angola, including the winner in the final.

One newspaper lists Leighton Baines v Ahmed Hassan as one of the key clashes, even though it is far more likely to be either Gedo or Ahmed al Muhammadi asking questions of the left-back. Those who do their research on Football Manager, beware.  

It's typically fuzzy logic from the FA that has England playing Egypt in the first place. The tried and tested policy of picking friendly opposition because they are neighbours with upcoming tournament rivals is in full force. They're basically the same as Algeria, right? That's an assertion which won't go down well with either nation.

With Slovenia and USA making up the rest of Group C, expect clashes with Austria and Bermuda to be booked shortly.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We can confirm that a group of high net worth individuals, who support Manchester United (known as the "Red Knights"), met in London yesterday. This group is supportive of current management but are looking at the feasibility of putting together a proposal to be put to the Glazer family regarding the ownership of Manchester United. These discussions are in early stages and no contact has been made with the Glazer family." - The so-called Red Knights in a statement revealing their nascent plans to wrest power from the Glazers. It sounds as though the plan is currently little more than equivalent to a hare-brained scheme dreamt up in the back room of the Dog and Duck. The fact that they have dreamt up a cool, catchy name for themselves before anything approaching a plan is in place does not bode well.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Violence is at its height. Until further notice, we shall not sell tickets to our supporters for our away games. It's a far-reaching and distressing decision, but I have to ensure the safety of all." - Paris Saint-Germain chairman Robin Leproux announces that the club have stopped selling tickets for away games after a fan suffered a life-threatening head injury in a fight between hooligans before Sunday's Ligue 1 home match against Marseille.

COMING UP: You can moan about international friendly week all you want, but just look at tonight's fixture list. Following full coverage of England U21 v Greece U21 there will be live commentary of England v Egypt, Scotland v Czech Republic, Albania v Northern Ireland, Wales v Sweden, France v Spain and Germany v Argentina. There's also live scoring Netherlands v USA, Italy v Cameroon and Portugal v China. Have a punt on any or indeed all of these tasty fixtures at Eurosport Bet.

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