June 18: Nelson Mandela Square, a USA comeback and England, WTF?
We woke up very late today since we were supposed to drive to a reserve 2 hours from Johannesburg, spend the night over and do a Safari tomorrow morning. As it seems to be the pattern, plans changed. Since the hotel only accepts a two-night minimum stay, we decided to drive for the day tomorrow. So the afternoon was spent in the great company of our old friend, football.
We watched Slovenia v USA at a lovely Greek restaurant called Pappas, at Nelson Mandela Square: a very touristy place, now full of Argentinians and Brazilians chanting against each other for hours and hours. For the England v Algeria match we went to a bar called FashionTV (very posh apparently) where there were also a lot of Argentinians. In fact, there are so many of those Argentinians at this World Cup!
Germany 0 – 1 Serbia
I have to mention Germany’s loss to Serbia (0 – 1). Also have to say Serbia was always a bet for an underdog so here you go. Did not see this match so would appreciate comments if you have any.
Slovenia 2 – 2 USA
I am the first to say that the US, even though better every year, are not able to change the game and turn results around. I was wrong. Not only did they score two goals after taking two in, but they managed to score a third, which was unfortunately annulled by the referee, claiming Maurice Edu was offside (clearly not, very very bad refereeing). They still have chances to qualify to the second round with a victory Wednesday over Algeria; a tie and an England loss to Slovenia; or a tie and an England tie as long as the US maintains their goal-scoring edge over the Three Lions.
England 0 – 0 Algeria
WTF England? Taking Green off the goal did not really solve your issue, did it? What a horrible, horrible match. Of course this was Algeria’s World Cup final (if they loss, they would be the first ones to go home), but no excuses whatsoever. Rooney was very well taken care of by the Algerians and the Queen’s boys did not know what to do without him. Capello was slow, only making solid changes to his squad towards the end of the second half. England desperately need a good win over Slovenia now. Things could get complicated.
A case in point: for decades, England had the world’s best goalkeepers, which is why they did so well despite a chronic inability to score. From the 70s to the 90s, they could choose between Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence, either of whom would have been a fixture in any other national side. And of course before them there was the incomparable Gordon Banks: by most commentators’ reckoning, the best there has ever been and the chief reason we won in 1966.
Today? The choice is between mediocre and garbage. Why? Because English football has become a glamour game, with players vying for commercials, floozies and cash. No one wants to be a goalkeeper – no flash. Conversely in countries where defensive skills are most highly prized, like Italy or Russia, the goalie is still a star and it shows.