Goal.com's John Duerden has arrived in the Rainbow Nation for the Confederations Cup and is ready to provide a daily account of the football, the country, the people and his adventures in South Africa...Watching England toil away at previous World Cups, it soon became apparent that there are two kinds of English players.
You have the Beckhams - those players who disembark from the plane that landed at Luton airport all brown faces and bleached hair. Then there are the Rooneys –those that come home all red, blinking at the sunlight as they descend down the steps.
But even the players that like to tan struggle in the heat. There was Gary Lineker and his friends at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and tales of dehydrated players losing six kilograms of their bodyweight in just one match. Beckham famously vomited in Germany three years ago as England toiled in high temperatures.
They weren’t the only ones of course but the weather is often given as a reason or excuse (take your pick) as to why the World Cup star on the famous white shirt is outnumbered three to one by the lions. 2002 and Korea/Japan was all sticky and sultry, Germany three years was a blazing furnace for much of the competition. Thoughts of Florida and Texas in 1994 were so terrifying that the team thought it better not to attend.
2010 will be different. The English and other European teams may be happy to know that the weather at the 2010 World Cup will be cool and even chilly. It certainly has been at the Confederations Cup which takes place exactly a year before the big event.
Of course, this is winter in the southern hemisphere, an obvious fact but one often forgotten. The word ‘Africa’ conjures images of searing suns and barren plains. The latter may still be here in 12 months time but the sun is not exactly blazing.
We could have a wet and windy World Cup. A prospect that is intriguing and novel. The kind of weather that South Africa was experiencing just before the Confederations Cup started was all rain, bluster and chill.
Even if that doesn’t happen -, and it is an ‘if’ - the temperatures are hardly high when the sun is at its zenith. Twenty degrees Celsius is about as good as it gets. Fine weather to play football but night-time, which starts around 5.30 at this time of year, can see the mercury dip close to zero as happened in Bloemfontein last week. Tuesday night in Manguang will be more Middlesbrough than Monaco.
Half the players at the World Cup will be playing in the Premier League anyway, so how much of an advantage it will be for England is debatable but in South Africa in the summer of 2010, if David Beckham is emptying his the contents of his stomach on the green fields of the Rainbow Nation, there is more chance of it being because of a dodgy peri-peri chicken than very, very hot weather.