Morning all, and welcome to the daily World Cup column on Soccerlens. I’m thoroughly glad you could join us.
As you may be aware, today is the day I’ve been waiting for since before I can remember (although the acute amnesia I suffer from probably undermines a lot of the drama in that particular statement), as England will are poised to begin their World Cup campaign against the USA in Rustenburg this evening.
Here’s hoping they’ll be some ‘slick’ football on show (see below)…
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South Africa 1-1 Mexico…
The opening game of the World Cup saw hosts South Africa take on Mexico amidst a swarm of vuvuzela’s – thus ensuring that it felt like you were watching the game from inside a hornet’s nest.
Following a fairly fractious first half, both teams settled into their respective strides during the second – with Bafana Bafana taking the lead ten minutes after the break when Siphiwe Tshabalala fired a left-footed shot across goal and into the far corner. Cue vuvuzela overload!
As the game wore on it looked increasingly likely that South Africa would be able to hold Mexico at bay and get their tournament off to a dream start, but El Tri eventually equalised with just twelve minutes left to play – Barcelona man Rafael Marquez finding room at the far post to cooly slot home from six yards.
You can read a full match report here.
Uruguay 0-0 France…
The opening day’s evening fixture saw Uruguay take on France in Cape Town and, in truth, ’twas a pretty ghastly match to behold.
If ‘drab’, ‘frustrating’ and ‘underwhelming’ are the prevalent buzzwords the press are choosing to describe your performance, you know you probably haven’t had a night to remember.
France lacked an attacking focal point which left them struggling to break down a resolute (and populous) Uruguayan back line, with only a handful of speculative efforts to speak of.
Similarly, Uruguay failed to create much in the way of goal-scoring chances, with a snap-shot from Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan being the only memorable attempt in an otherwise forgettable display.
We did, however, see the first dismissal of the tournament when Uruguay midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro received his marching orders (only 20 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute) after leaving stud-marks on Bacary Sagna‘s ankle.
You can read a full match report here.
Quote of the day…
“Frankly, I don’t see what the problem was. We played really well.”
France captain Patrice Evra obviously saw something during Les Bleus’ opening game that the rest of us didn’t.
You don’t have to go very far to find an England-centric article covering the Three Lions’ opening World Cup game against the USA later today, but quality pieces from an American perspective are a little harder to come by.
Will Parchman has written a fantastic Yank’s-eye-view match preview for Soccerlens that is well worth a few minutes of your time…
Read ‘England vs USA – Overconfidence And Rooney To Bring Yanks Down?’ here.
Fabio’s clean bill of health…
All 23 members of England’s World Cup squad trained together yesterday, meaning coach Fabio Capello has his full roster available to him for the opening Group C clash against the US later today.
Midfielder James Milner, who had missed the previous three sessions with a fever, was able to rejoin the squad along with Ledley King – who’s chronic knee problems limit his availability – and Gareth Barry – who has only recently returned to full fitness following an ankle injury.
Capello has confirmed that he will not announce his starting XI until two hours before kick-off but there are whispers that there could be a starting berth for either Michael Carrick or James Milner in the holding role, with Emile Heskey or Joe Cole being sacrificed as a result.
UPDATE: The morning papers are also predicting a surprise start ‘betwixt the sticks’ for Joe Hart, as the young Manchester City ‘keeper has apparently ‘impressed Capello with his confidence’ during England’s warm-up friendly games.
Altidore will start…
USA coach Bob Bradley has confirmed that Hull City’s top scorer last season one-goal flop Jozy Altidore will start against England after recovering from the ankle injury that kept him out of the friendly win over Australia last weekend.
So said Bradley;
“I think he grew a lot at Hull and the one thing I would always say about Jose, from our experiences with him, is that when he’s come into our camps he’s shown that, when things don’t come easily, it’s helped him.
He comes in to the team with a level of determination and ready to prove himself. He knows we believe in him. That’s why he continues to be important for us.”
Here, for no reason whatsoever, is a bonus video of Altidore stuck behind a flock of sheep on his way to Hull’s training ground last year…
…don’t ever say I don’t treat you!
Slick, very slick…
Those of you with a passing interest in global affairs may have caught wind of the slight ‘largest offshore oil spillage in U.S history’ issue currently ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico.
With this catastrophe firmly in mind, those good folks over at Anorak have compiled a wonderfully topical list of oil-related chants for England fans to serenade their American counterparts with during tomorrows tie between the two teams.
Here’s the pick of the pops…
“When you walk through a spill,
Keep your eyes down low,
And don’t put your feet in the crude.
At the end of the beach, there’s a pool of tar,
And the sound of Obama being rude.”
(Sung to the tune of You’ll Never Walk Alone)
* * * * *
“The referee’s a tanker, the referee’s a tanker.”
(Sung to the tune of…well, you can probably guess)
* * * * *
“He’s got a dead bird in his hands,
He’s got a dead bird in his hands.
He’s got a dead bird in his hands,
He’s got a dead bird in his hands.”
(Sung to the tune of ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’)
* * * * *
I tried really hard not to find these funny, but what can I say? I’m a terrible, terrible human being.
And in other news…
Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu has hit back at Argentina coach Diego Maradona‘s claims that the Super Eagles will try to ‘roughen his side up’ during their World Cup opener. (Goal)
Ghana have been boosted by the news that midfielder Sulley Muntari will be fit for their Group D opening game against Serbia. (Soccernet)
Goalkeeper Brad Jones has confirmed that he has pulled out of the Australian World Cup squad ‘for personal reasons’. The Middlesbrough stopper has had to return home in order to deal with a serious illness within his family. (F365)
Italy hardman Daniele De Rossi is an injury doubt for the Azzurri’s first game against Paraguay after sitting out yesterday’s friendly against Gauteng All Stars with a calf strain. (Telegraph)
Soccerlens Fantasy Football
Fancy netting yourself £1600?
It just so happens that said amount of cash will be handed to the winner of the Soccerlens World Cup Fantasy Football Challenge, so why not try your hand?
There are some pretty significant runners-up prizes on offer too.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just think about those bragging rights!
The 2010 World Cup on Soccerlens
There will be comprehensive coverage of the World Cup on Soccerlens over the coming months.
With the dedicated World Cup section (chock full of info, including fixtures and stats – and even links to buy replica shirts) on SL, there really is no need to go anywhere else for your World Cup needs this summer!