England Coach Roy Hodgson is defending his decision to give his players the anti-malaria tablet Malarone before they open Group D play on Saturday at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The news that the players would be taking the tablets was met with some derision, as Malarone causes cramps, nausea, and dizziness in 10 percent of patients, but Hodgson claimed he “had no choice” but to heed medical advice and avoid the risk of exposing his players to the disease.
Professor Dr. Jiri Dvorak, Chief Medical Officer for FIFA, was consulted during the decision and backed Hodgson, who said he would rather have players with minor stomach issues than have a player contract malaria while in Manaus. The English coach will be taking the pills as well, according to the Football Association.
Hodgson is optimistic about his side’s chances against Italy on Saturday. England is adamant that the game not be resolved by penalty kicks as with Euro 2012, but practiced taking shots in training all the same.
Costa Rica has joined the list of teams banning its players from sex during the tournament, or at least the first round. Spain, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Mexico are among the other teams that have instituted such a policy. Brazil’s coach is allowing it for his players, as long as they avoid any “acrobatics.” Coach Jorge Luis Pinto is not unreasonable though—La Sele will be free to pursue such pleasures if they advance past the group stage.
Italy is not worrying about defending anti-malaria tablets like its upcoming opponent, but instead focusing on how to beat England in their opening Group D match for the 2014 World Cup. The Azzurri are also not depending on Andrea Pirlo, according to Pirlo, but are absolutely relying on Pirlo. As the Italians’ chief playmaker, whose teammates call him “Mozart,” Pirlo is capable of controlling the ball and the tempo of the game enough to keep Italy from wasting too much energy and oxygen in the heavy humidity and atmosphere of Brazil.
Tuesday marked the arrival of Uruguay to Brazil, where they promptly retired to their tournament training facility at Estadio Joaquim Henrique Nogueira (or the Arena do Jacare) in Sete Lagoas. La Celeste is hoping for a repeat of the “Maracanazo” defeat of Brazil at the 1950 World Cup. The host nation in a brand new stadium called the Estádio do Maracanã, Brazil suffered one of the biggest upsets in international football when Uruguay defeated them 2-1 in the 1950 final.
In player news for Uruguay, Luis Suarez’s status for the tournament is still unsure, but the striker is determined not to give in to his injury, pulling triple training shifts in order to be available to play at some point in the tournament. If he does play, it will likely not be during the first stage.
Uruguay looks good to win a few points without Suarez, though, and Costa Rica has new carnal motivation to top the table. Hodgson is heavily defending the decision, but if the anti-malaria tablets cost England some if its players, Group D could be turned upside down for the World Cup.
Commentary by Christina Jones