Day: June 26, 2010

World Cup 2010: United States 1-2 Ghana (aet)

When Ghana becamse independent in 1957, the first of the wave of sub-Saharan countries to do so in that period, there’s a nice story about then Vice-President Richard Nixon attending their Independence Day celebrations. The US were broadly supportive of countries seeking to cast of the yoke of the old European colonial powers, and a beaming Nixon was shaking hand with anyone and everyone. “How does it feel to be free?” he asked of one black man he took for a native; “I wouldn’t know sir,” the man replied, “I’m from Alabama”.

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World Cup 2010: Uruguay 2-1 South Korea

Motty would never have done it. “Uruguay are the only team at this World cup yet to concede a goal,” declares a confident Jon Champion. I don’t know what the Portuguese for “oi, hang on a minute” is, but a lot of people are shouting it at the telly right now. Gareth Southgate has already told us that South Korea have entered what used to be exclusively African teams’ territory: “They were naïve defensively,” he says, adding “they gave away goals, naively,” just in case we’d missed it the first time. South Korea’s back four have nearly 250 caps between them and their average age is 30. Southgate is confusing naïve with “s***e”, as Uruguay’s opener partly confirms. Lee Young-Pyo, who was a Tottenham defender for a while so has an excuse for naivety, stands idly by as Luis Suarez nips in at the back post to nearly miss from six yards. It’s the goalkeeper’s fault for allowing Diego Forlan’s cross through his hands (and two weeks ago, they’d have been asking “was it the ball?”). But he gets away with it, until co-commentator Craig Burley sees the 19th replay, about 15 minutes later. “It’s goodnight and God bless,” intones Burley, keeping up the pundits’ habit of puzzling non sequiturs. Even Martin Keown might have said: “eh?” to that one. Suarez looks about a stone heavier than in the...

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The United States Of America And The 2010 World Cup

It was a small point that was rather overlooked in the hysteria that followed England’s 1-0 win against Slovenia in their final group match on Wednesday afternoon but, in the cold light of day and with the complete schedule for the second round of the competition now available for all to see, finishing second in their group has come at a heavy cost for England. Should they somehow scramble through against Germany tomorrow, they are likely to face Argentina in the quarter-finals, and should they manage to win that as well (and we’re stretching the bounds of credibility here), Spain could their be their semi-final opposition. What, though, of the group winners, the United States of America? Just as England’s potential path to the final seems insurmountable, Landon Donovan’s goal in stoppage time at the end of their final group match against Algeria has opened up a draw that makes a place in the semi-finals of the competition a definite possibility. They play a Ghana team which is the youngest in the tournament and hasn’t scored a goal from open play in their three matches so far this evening, and the winners of that match will play South Korea or Uruguay in the quarter-finals. They could, of course, be out of the competition by tonight – if this tournament has proved nothing else, it has proved that no-one can...

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