The Kilkenny man in charge of the pitches at this year's World Cup in South Africa has defended the condition of the surface in Port Elizabeth, where England scraped into the knockout stages last Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Algeria.

"There have been problems with the pitches in Port Elizabeth and Durban caused by the unseasonal weather. But both pitches are still playable and there were no complaints from England or Algeria, nor from Fifa, who are very happy with the playing conditions so far," Richard Hayden told the Sunday Tribune.

But the 30-year-old, who hails from Graiguenamanagh, said he has now asked teams, through Fifa, not to train on the pitches before a game.

"Most teams have cooperated. If training is added to the games on the 10 pitches then you have them used 30 times in a four-week period," he said.

Hayden admitted he got a bit of criticism in the English media when his intervention meant the English team did not train on the Port Elizabeth pitch before the crucial game with Algeria.

"You have to remember that 100 days ago there was no grass on any of the pitches and South Africa is in the middle of poor weather with temperatures dropping to -6°C at night", he said.

"When I took on this challenge I said there would be problems. But so far eight out of the 10 pitches have performed very well and Fifa is very happy with the playing conditions," he said.