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Police use teargas on disgruntled World Cup workers

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-06-13 15:59:05

DURBAN: South African police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of workers protesting over pay in the early hours of Monday outside the stadium where Germany had just trounced Australia in their World Cup opener.

Riot police sporting body armour, helmets and guns chased stewards who had earlier been responsible for the security of 62,660 fans from the new Moses Mabhida stadium.

One woman was hit by a rubber bullet. She lay outside the stadium for nearly an hour before an ambulance took her away.

"We were mounting a peaceful protest because they were not paying us what we expected and we were surprised that the police started charging at us. They fired teargas at us," said one of the workers, Sydney Nzoli.

Police blasted teargas as the disgruntled staff, bricks and rocks in hand, rampaged down a Durban highway. Scores of police corralled the protesters before they reached the city centre. After a tense standoff, the workers dispersed.

Germany`s resounding 4-0 victory prompted British bookmakers to cut the odds on the team winning a fourth World Cup to 9-1 from 12-1.

Defending champions Italy play for the first time on Monday, hounded by a wave of reporting that says they are too old and lack pace and imagination.

Coach Marcello Lippi`s insistence on keeping faith with the bulk of the team that won in Germany four years ago has angered Italian fans and sports reporters alike.

Combined with their tradition for infuriatingly slow starts they could be in danger from one of the lesser teams, an in-form Paraguay, when they meet in Cape Town in the evening.

While Italy will have to transform their recent displays to convince, all the top teams got a severe warning of the danger from a young German side in the most convincing win of the tournament so far.

DEADLY STRIKE FORCE

The Netherlands, who are brimming with confidence and another of the tournament favourites, will meet an injury-hit Denmark in the showpiece Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on Monday.

After winning all their qualifying matches and showing strong form in their warm-ups, the biggest enemy for Netherlands could be over-confidence, although manager Bert van Marwijk is fast building a reputation as the tournament curmudgeon.

So far, his list of complaints includes the new Jabulani tournament ball, the fans` deafening vuvuzela trumpets and the hardness of South African pitches.

But he is blessed with one of the tournament`s most deadly strike forces of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and winger Arjen Robben, although the latter will be out of the Denmark match with a hamstring injury.

The Dutch have not lost to Denmark for 43 years -- apart from a penalty shootout defeat in Euro 1992 -- but the Danes believe they can possibly catch their over-confident opponents napping as the unfancied side with nothing to lose.

In the other Group E match Monday, Cameroon`s Indomitable Lions, one of the tipped African teams, will expect to dismember underdogs Japan, who have never won a World Cup match on foreign soil and are struggling to score goals.

Cameroon, who thrust African soccer power into the spotlight in the 1990 World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals, will be spearheaded by striker Samuel Eto`o, one of the continent`s finest players.

They will hope to emulate Ghana, another African favourite, who took the continent`s first victory in Africa`s inaugural World Cup Sunday with a 1-0 win over Serbia through a late and well-taken penalty by Asamoah Gyan.

The match transformed Pretoria`s Loftus Versfeld stadium, the stronghold of South African rugby`s Bulls, into a theatre of African football, with the Black Star`s fans dressed in striking outfits in the national colours of green, yellow and red, jiving throughout to the sounds of vuvuzela horns.

The victory brought double joy to Ghana`s pineapple-growing village of Oboadaka, where some 200 people danced and cheered after watching a World Cup live, many for the first time, thanks to a television powered by solar energy. The village is not connected to the electricity grid.

Goalkeepers are also making headlines at this World Cup with an awful gaffe by Algeria`s Faouzi Chaouchi, fumbling a shot by Slovenia captain Robert Koren Sunday, to follow the schoolboy howler by England`s Robert Green Saturday.

Chaouchi`s bungle gave Slovenia a 1-0 victory after the North African side were reduced to 10 men.

Both Algeria and Slovenia`s coaches joined complaints about the high-bouncing Jabulani ball, adding to concerns over the semi-synthetic pitches being used in both Polokwane, where they played, and Nelspruit.

Both new stadiums had problems with the original turf.

BDST: 1214hrs, June 14, 2010
SA

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