WORLD CUP : PLAYER TO WATCH
Ali Daei (Iran)
Ali Daei turned 37 in March, but the word ‘rest’ is evidently missing from his vocabulary. The evergreen hit man, currently the highest scorer in international football, took his tally for Iran to 108 in their 3-2 friendly win over Costa Rica on 1 March, 2006. With so many achievements already to his name, most notably steering Iran to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the talismanic striker would have every right to enjoy a peaceful life in the twilight of his playing career. However, Daei retains a hunger for more, and his national team remain rightfully grateful for his presence.
Arouna Kone (Ivory Coast)
PSV forward Arouna Kone’s combination of deceptive pace and excellent ball control makes him a very unpredictable opponent for defenders. Kone, who starred for Côte d’Ivoire at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, is mainly used as a back-up to Didier Drogba and Aruna Dindane, but he was awarded a starting role when Dindane pulled out of the squad for the 2006 African Nations Cup. He seized the opportunity, ripping opposing defences to shreds as he helped the Elephants on their way to the silver medal.