Daily Archives: June 12, 2010

What a calamity!

Robert Green

Okay, so England hasn’t lost the World Cup yet, but Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the US certainly felt like a defeat. It all started brightly, with Steven Gerrard scoring an early goal after some nice work by Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey, not that UK viewers got to see it live.  But Robert Green’s blunder on Clint Dempsey’s daisy-cutter from outside the box in the dying minutes of the first half handed momentum and confidence to the Americans, and realized one of the worst fears of England supporters: the unsteady situation in goal.

The decision on who would get the start apparently came down to the final hours before kickoff. With David James’ fitness still in doubt and Fabio Capello said to have been unimpressed with Joe Hart’s distribution in this week’s friendly against Platinum Stars, it was West Ham’s Green who finally got the call even though, as this BBC article reveals, Opta statistics claims Green made more errors leading to goals than any other player in the Premier League last season. You can debate whether experience should count over form, particularly in a big tournament like the World Cup, and whether Hart would have been affected by butterflies in his World Cup debut. Now, however, the big question is whether Green will start again in this tournament. His teammates are behind him, even if the manager remains noncommittal. Stevie G suggested the ball may have been to blame, but I’m not so sure.

A poor 30 minute cameo by James Milner, the injury suffered by the talented but fragile Ledley King, and the way Jamie Carragher was exposed by Jozy Altidore in the second half (even with Green earning some measure of redemption by turing the American’s shot onto the post) all set off alarm bells. Yes, England had some chances after the break, with Heskey and Shaun Wright-Phillips wasting opportunities to beat the impressive Tim Howard. But even though it’s not exactly doom-and-gloom time just yet, it sure feels depressing.

Ian Harrison

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Kickoff!! Day one at the World Cup

The first day of the World Cup! I was like a kid on Christmas morning, up at 5:00 am. Think that may have had more to do with late-night beers and chicken wings with Brent and Kev the night before…damn that habanero pepper sauce!! But after enjoying the sight of a dung beetle  crawling around on a soccer ball at the opening ceremonies, and shedding a silent tear for Nelson Mandela, I settled in for South Africa v. Mexico.  My prediction of 1-1 in that match came true, a good start for the hosts and the tournament in general, although plenty of people were left confused by Mexico’s offside goal in the first half. There was no doubt, of course, about Siphiwe Tshabalala’s wonder strike that gave Bafana Bafana the lead, a worthy goal to open the finals. Even Rafa Marquez’s reply 12 minutes from time that brought Mexico level couldn’t silence thousands of vuvuzela’s buzzing at full volume, and the opener was in the books. Must say I’m not wild about the format of the BBC online match report – maybe I’ll grow to like it.

After breaking for lunch, my forecast of three goals and a Uruguay victory in their game against France proved wildly optimistic. The scoreless draw was mostly dreary affair, with young Uruguayan Nicolas Lodeiro shown red after a disastrous 16-minute spell as a substitute, and Thierry Henry, of all people, demanding a handball after blasting the ball off Mauricio Victorino’s right arm, an arm that was drawn in to Victorino’s side. Whatever, Thierry. That’s like Diego Maradona calling for more fair play. Oh, right. Whatever, Diego.

Another big day coming up tomorrow, with Diego’s Argentina getting set to open up against Nigeria. But my favourite story of day one was news of the double delays suffered by Team USA, stuck behind elephants on the roads of Rustenburg. If they think that’s bad, wait till they get thrown to the Lions on Saturday. Come on En-ger-land!!

Ian Harrison

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