At higher altitudes the air is much thinner and lower oxygen levels makes exercise all the harder on the body.
Effective acclimatisation will be essential to England’s success and Fabio Capello’s side’s preparations started well before touching down in Johannesburg last week.
In the build-up to kick-off the squad has been training using special equipment designed to emulate the testing conditions whilst on treadmills.
Some players have also slept in altitude tentsÃ¢â‚¬â€aesthetically just the same as their standard camping equivalents, but pumped with lower levels of oxygen so the players can in effect ‘train’ in their sleep.
England play the USA in Rustenburg this evening at 4,920ft, however their other two group games will be at the easier altitudes of Cape Town and Durban, both just above sea level.
Should England win their group they will return to Rustenburg once more and face the possible climb to the 5,749ft heights of Johannesburg for a quarter-final before dropping back to sea level for the semi-finals.
The final itself will be played in Johannesburg in the toughest conditions.
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