Sunday, June 20, 2010
The Marathon is Underway
The first thing we have learnt is that we need to leave approximately 4 hours before kick-off to arrive in order to arrive in good time to ‘blag’ our way into the Park & Ride, get to the stadium and through various security & ticket checkpoints, and have a leisurely stroll to our seats, via the beer & food vendors.
The Game itself was a cracker, with the Slovenians taking an early lead with a cannonball of a shot from all of 25m. The USA defence was all over the place and it was not long before the inevitable 2nd Slovenian goal came, putting them 2-nil up at half time. Yates and I chatted at half time about what a dismal showing the USA were putting on and that they needed to use their midfield players a bit more, stop back-passing so often and maybe bring on a more attack minded substitute. The 2nd half started with a solitary piece of brilliance from Landon Donovan who had been poor throughout most of the 1st half. He beat his marker down the right-hand side, took the ball in from the by-line, and just when the keeper thought he was going to pass it across the area, he blasted it straight through the keeper for the goal.
At 2-2 the momentum was now fully with the USA, and when 5 minutes later they scrambled the ball into the net from a free-kick, we celebrated as if they had won the game, only to be deflated by the goal being disallowed. FIFA’s policy of not showing replays on the big screens meant we had no idea why the goal had been ruled out, but the buzz in the crowd suggested a foul or hand ball...?? We would have to wait to get back to our accommodation to watch the replay on TV, and we and the rest of the world were none the wiser.... Shame, but it was a great game full of excitement and fervour, and even though the USA deserved the win, a comeback from 2-nil down for a draw was a good result.
We left the stadium quickly as we wanted to get home in time to watch the England v Algeria game on TV, and luckily the organisation of the Park & Ride was excellent, and we were in the car and leaving the Bez Valley car park within an hour of the match finishing. After a sprint back out of Jo’burg, and another trip down the Worst Road in Africa, (photos coming), we were home just in time for kick-off. On reflection, if we had missed the game it would have been no loss, as England played poorly for the first 45 minutes, and only marginally better for the 2nd. To give credit where credit is due, the Algerians put on a master class of efficient defence, and played a fast paced passing game that left England in the dust. Unless England pull something out of the bag against the Slovenians, who have played very well so far this tournament, it could be an early exit for my beloved team.
Australia just about held on for the rest of the 1st half, but did manage to mount a number of creditable attacks during the 2nd half, 2 of which they really should have scored from. Regardless of this, the Ghanaians could not breach a well marshalled 10-man defence and the game ended in a draw, not the result either side wanted, but at least Australia had score both a goal and a single World Cup point, equalling New Zealand’s fine effort (with a game in hand!!!).
Today’s game is at Soccer City at eight-thirty tonight, where we get a chance to watch the mighty Brazil take on the Ivory Coast. As the game starts late, I envisage another late night trip home, but I am soothed in the knowledge that we then have a 2 day break from watching live games and we can finally relax and recuperate back at the lodge.
It’s a hard life......