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The World Cup Countdown: Next stop, Sao Paulo
by Paul Kennedy, June 9th, 2014 12:26AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

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[BRAZIL 2014] The countdown begins in earnest ahead of Thursday's World Cup opener. Defending champion Spain arrived in Brazil on Sunday. Former champions Germany and England also touched down as did Mexico and Japan. The USA also left Sunday, leaving just three World Cup teams -- Group G opponents Portugal and Ghana, and South Korea -- still training in the United States. Also bound for Brazil -- finally -- was Cameroon after the Indomitable Lions ended a strike that forced a 12-hour delay in their departure from Yaounde to Rio de Janeiro.

All 23 U.S. players Jurgen Klinsmann picked for his final roster survived the three-plus week camp and three send-off games without injury and headed to Brazil.

Other teams have not been so lucky. Ecuador became the sixth team to go to FIFA and make an injury-related switch since the June 2 deadline when Chivas USA's Oswaldo Minda was called in to replace Segundo Castillo, who sprained his right knee in the collision that resulted in Mexican Luis Montes' broken leg. Minda increases the number of MLS players at the World Cup to 21.

World Cup: Updated Rosters

JAX FAN FALLS. A 24-year-old fan, Cuidy Joseph, was in in critical condition at a Jacksonville hospital after falling 42 feet at EverBank Field during Saturday's USA-Nigeria game.

Joseph was found in the second level concourse after falling from a middle level section at halftime of the game. The fall was believed to have been accidental and without being alcohol-related.

Bonus Dispute ...

LIONS BALK. Cameroon players balked at the 50 million CFA francs ($104,000) per player the Cameroonian federation, Fecafoot, was offering for each stage of the Indomitable Lions' participation at the World Cup. The players, who refused to leave the Hotel Mont Febe in Yaounde until the issue was resolved, will receive an additional 5.8 million CFA francs ($12,100), and Fecafoot will receive a three-month loan from FIFA to pay the players. It needed the intervention of the Cameroonian government to get the players to reach an agreement.

The players had boycotted a practice before the Cameroon match against Germany on June 1 in Moenchengladbach. Player strikes are nothing new with the Lions or other African teams. Cameroon players refused to leave their hotel at Roissy Airport outside Paris for a week before flying to South Korea for the 2002 World Cup. Nigeria almost missed the start of the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil because of a player strike.

Injury Report ...

RONALDO RETURNS. Cristiano Ronaldo did not play in Portugal's first two warm-up matches, but the Portuguese federation issued a statement Saturday that the injured Real Madrid star has resumed full training. Midfielder Raul Meireles also returned to training, while defender Pepe continued individual training. Portugal plays Ireland in the final World Cup tune-up on Tuesday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Roster Update: Ecuador calls up Chivas USA's Minda

PRE-WORLD CUP, Schedule:
June 8 in Sao Paulo
Iran 2 Trinidad & Tobago 0
June 8 in Lille

France 8 Jamaica 0
June 9 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Ghana vs. South Korea
June 10 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Portugal vs. Ireland


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