Altidore's warning to Spain lost in translation
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa -- Jozy Altidore better hope his scoring touch is better than his language skills when the United States plays Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals.
Altidore warned the European champions of the American threat through a text message sent to Villarreal teammate Joan Capdevila.
Capdevila got the message, kind of.
"Yesterday he sent me a message and told me that we had to be careful," the Spain fullback said Monday. "But his Spanish is not so great, so I think he made a mistake."
Spain has never lost in three meetings against the Americans heading into Wednesday's match.
Capdevila warned his fellow defenders not to underestimate Altidore, who hasn't scored at the eight-team World Cup warm-up event -- his first tournament played since undergoing toe surgery in April.
"He was only half a year at the club before we loaned him out to Xerez," Capdevila said. "But he's 18 or 19, is very strong physically and has great speed."
Confederations Cup organizers will hold a ceremony before the final to commemorate the death on the field of Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe.
Foe collapsed and died in the 2003 semifinals against Colombia and, after his death, was found to have a heart condition. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday that the tragic event had since led to safety measures concerning international matches which now either have doctors on the bench or staff capable of using defibrillators.
"What is important is that since this (Foe) case, football has learned about the problem of cardiological disease," Blatter said. "It's impossible to control the millions and millions of football players. But in FIFA's competitions, not only at the highest level, we are."
Del Bosque's style
Dealing with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Luis Figo was just about the best preparation for what Vicente del Bosque has endured as coach of Spain's record-breaking team.
Del Bosque, the former Real Madrid coach who tamed the "galacticos," has kept the world's top-ranked team on course as favorite for next year's World Cup since replacing Luis Aragones after last year's European Championship victory.
"I think every coach has his style, has his way of doing things. You normally coach a group that features different traits. The most important thing is you make sure the group works," Del Bosque said. "There is no unique recipe, but luckily we've done it well."
Spain already has the record for consecutive victories -- 15 -- and can now set a mark of 36 games without a loss by getting past the United States on Wednesday to reach the Confederations Cup final.
"We have our style of playing with players going forward with a lot of joy, but football is also about luck and I think we've had some of that," Del Bosque said. "It's true that this group is among the best. But I still believe there is more to do."
Spain, which hasn't lost since November 2006, has based its attack on Barcelona's game of one-touch, possession soccer, with the country's abundance of talented midfielders perfect for the plan.
But that has also meant players like Cesc Fabregas or Xabi Alonso, who are stars in the Premier League, can end up sitting on the bench.
South Africa came under heavy criticism over security fears Monday amid mounting reports of crime striking players and fans during the Confederations Cup.
Police are investigating claims that the Johannesburg hotel rooms of five Egyptian players were robbed of about $2,000, while Brazil said cash and a jacket were also stolen from two rooms in Pretoria.
There have been a number of minor incidents involving journalists and fans who have complained of not feeling safe or of encounters with corrupt police asking for bribes.
Visitors have also been left feeling jumpy after the hijacking of four British tourists by armed men who made off with their car soon after they arrived in Johannesburg to watch rugby matches.
Security is one of the biggest issues facing South Africa as it prepares to host next year's World Cup, when an estimated 450,000 fans will visit the country for the monthlong tournament.
South Africa has one of the worst murder rates in the world with at least 50 people being killed a day, and government and soccer officials are desperate to counter negative perceptions of the country.
Deputy security minister Fikile Mbalula downplayed concerns Monday, saying the incidents were isolated and did not constitute any "major breach of security."