Calamity Green

2010-06-12 21:15

Still in the hunt for

an elusive World Cup glory since 1966, England had least expected their

goalkeeper Robert Green to be a spanner in the works in their renewed mission at

South Africa 2010.

When it seemed just four minutes into the game that England had

delivered an early tournament warning to their other ­opponents in Group C, US

midfielder Clint Dempsey’s speculative shot at goal – that slipped through Green’s fingers for the Yanks’ equaliser before halftime – triggered a question

on whether the West Ham goalminder was a justified starter ahead of the

experienced David James.

Taking nothing away from the Americans, Bob Bradley’s men last

night reminded the local fans in particular, that their resurgence to finish as

runners-up to Brazil in the Confederations Cup last June pointed to their

never-say-die attitude.

The energy of Ronnie Findley in the US attacks left Ledley King and

John Terry overworked by the little-known Real Salt Lake striker who displayed

­maturity against a more fancied side that was teeming with the cream of the

English Premiership.

If ever there was a man who was frustrated last night it must be

Wayne Rooney, who had his pre-tournament goal-scoring form defused by Jay DeMerit and a supposedly half-fit Oguchi Onyewu. England at some point had an

impression that they had exploited what they suspected was the Yanks’ unfittest

link in defence when Emily Heskey found his way past Onyewu to set up Steven

Gerrard for the quickest goal of the tournament in the fourth minute.

Prior to last night’s game, Onyewu had not played a full match for

club or country since October. However, for a man who was the US’s star

performer in the Confederations Cup last June, Onyewu was a threat in deadball

situations as he – on two occasions in the opening half – won the aerial battle

­inside England goal area.

As the chilly evening grew ­older, even the introduction of Peter

Crouch failed to warm the hearts of the throngs of the Red Army that dominated

the 40 000-odd crowd.

In the end it was a chilly night well spent in North West’s only

host city.

Like many other host venues, Phokeng waited for its turn and the

English literally came to the party given the huge volumes of beer they guzzled

at a nearby shebeen hours before kick-off.

Capello’s charges will temporarily desert their Bafokeng ­safari

for a coastal excursion ahead of their clash against ­Algeria in Cape Town on

Friday while the US face Slovenia at ­Ellis Park on the same day.

 

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