Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 3

The England result was disappointing, but I didn't quite expect the negative reaction from various football sources on Twitter and the match reports from the BBC and assorted other media outlets. There seems to be a lot of doom and gloom around this World Cup already; while despite commenting on the queasy ups and downs of watching England play, I refuse to be drawn into writing them off completely at this early stage. Surprisingly few commentators mentioned that, surely, the USA is England's hardest fixture of the group - and that they should surely overcome Algeria and Slovenia. 7 points from three games in this group would absolutely not be a terrible result for England. I'm not one for omens, but it should also be remembered that England started with draws in both of their most successful campaigns - in 1966 and 1990.

I didn't see a great deal of the football today what with being away from home and in the middle of a field in Dorset. From what I gather, further evidence that England have little to fear from their other Group C opponents as they played out an unremarkable encounter in Polokwane which, eventually, saw Slovenia put one past the African side to go top of the group.

Another tie I'd quite fancied watching was Serbia v Ghana, which - after a well-taken and joyously celebrated penalty by Gyan - saw Ghana become the first African side to record a victory. It's definitely what I want to see more of, African sides doing well, as this year provides as close to a continentally-hosted competition as you'll ever get. Gyan himself said his goal was for "all of Africa" and I'm sure it was felt that way. I think European audiences often fail to grasp this - coming from a continent with a huge number of historic rivalries and massively varying cultures, as well as some of the most successful sides in football history - in that we find it hard to imagine feeling pleased for a continental neighbour. We wouldn't be delighted at a goal by Germany, France, Spain, or Italy - but then Europe hasn't, as an entire continent, been totally marginalised, patronised and under-funded in the way that African football has for the years up to the 1990s.

Fans of the African nations will have their rivalries, for sure, but they'll also be sticking up for each other against the rest of the world. Hopefully one or two of the teams will have a decent run - and that that will be what we remember 2010 for.

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