The World's Blog: Day 3

The Germans were the Germans, a new leader stands in front of both England and the USA, all the while Africa gets their first victory of this year's World Cup.

Slovenia 1, Algeria 0

I never could have imagined waking up at 4 in the morning with a smile on my face, but I’ve proven myself wrong. With the sun not yet up I leaped out of bed and turned to my TV ready for a beautiful match filled with excitement. I wasn’t disappointed, and wasn’t surprised to see the stadium filled with green and white. The first half saw a somewhat nervous style of football being played. Both sides tended to make sloppy mistakes and could not possess within the final third of the pitch. As the sun rose, Slovenia looked more and more promising. Continuing to attack and dominate the possession of the ball. Unfortunately they were unable to complete a cross.

The start of the second half saw ‘keeper Handanovic march onto the field with a baseball hat on to keep the sun out of his eyes. Slovenia continued to dominate possession, but still could not find sync within the area of goal. Slovenia’s cause was helped when Kader Ghezzal was sent off just 15 minutes after being subbed on for a completely blatant handball within Slovenia’s box. Almost like a wakeup call, and after some smooth passing around the top of the box, captain Robert Koren curled a shot past goalkeeper Faouzi Chaquchi. Chaquchi was caught sleeping and made a weak attempt at the shot. Hopefully I didn’t wake the neighbors as I jumped up and yelled. The rest of the match was aggressive, and Algeria put up a strong fight despite being at a disadvantage.

A very enjoyable match. French legend and Algerian born Zinedine Zidane even graced the game with his presence, and had to move to a booth upon being mobbed by fans wanting an autograph.

The next two games will be the true test for Slovenia. However, after what I saw here today, I believe we can make it out of this group. 

Up at 4am for the Pre-match show and I am glued to the TV. I have to calm my nerves as the players walk onto the pitch,and the national anthems kick in. My girlfriend is struggling to stay awake and her brother is over to show his support.

The game kicks off and I am excited by what I see from Algeria.Good hard running, great off the ball positioning and nice control for the most part on the ball. Passing was sloppy from both teams but I am gonna go ahead and blame that on the mix of artificial turf and grass. Might as well throw in the Jabulani as an excuse as well.After Birsa blasted his shot at goal which Chaouchi turned over the bar it was all Algeria the first half. Good freekick from Belhadj who was easily the most industrious player on the field, and his corner which Halliche barely headed wide and I was feeling very good about our scoring chances and our possession control. Both teams seemed to have trouble tracking the ball which lead to some dicey moments and should have been better chances. Overall I was very happy with the first half. The nerves were out of the way and it seemed like we were settling down and passing the ball much better.

Half time whistle goes and so do I,straight to the bathroom to ease my nervous bladder.

Second Half is underway and I see nothing but Algeria on the ball, it could not be better than this in my mind unless we had scored 7 goals at this point. Our defense looks amazing off the ball and is more aggressive than they were in the first half which was one of my main gripes going into the second half. Things are looking good! Minute 57 and here comes Abdelkader Ghezzal, I think this is a good change since we have been sending in a lot of crosses and Ghezzal is our main target man. Minute 73 and Ghezzal is off. I am livid. I can't really fault the referee but I am yelling at Ghezzal for being so stupid as to blatantly handle the ball knowing he has a yellow, just let it go for crying out loud.I know this could be bad and hope we can keep up the pressure to keep Slovenia off the ball which has worked beautifully until now.

Minute 79. Disaster. I am deathly silent for the next minute. Then out comes the tirade. What the heck was Chaouchi thinking? Is he playing volleyball? Does he not know this is the World Cup? Then a light bulb goes off in my head.

Jabulani!!!How could you do this to my beloved Desert Foxes?

The rest of the game is me hoping we can actually push up and equalize and I am happy to see Saifi and Guédioura come on since they are more offensive minded players. To no avail unfortunately and I am devastated. The match Algeria had the best chance of winning and with the opportunity presented by Englands draw with the US, destroyed by a terrible terrible ball.

Instead of blaming Chaouchi I am going to go with putting all the blame on adidas, what a terrible product.That and the pitch. And I am sure the sun was in his eyes as well even though he was in the shade.

Shake it off Desert Foxes, England is up next and they will fall just like West Germany did in 1982. Vive Les Fennecs!

Ghana 1, Serbia 0

As I found my place in the local park in Pretoria to watch the Ghana vs Serbia match I couldn't help but think of what Ghana was going to look like without their captain and fearless leader Michael Essien. But even without their leader the Ghana team looked fearless. From the first whistle to the very last, they looked like a team that didn't have any fears.

I should have known because the night before I stood outside a restaurant talking to a man who had come from Ghana to watch the matches and as he showed me all of his pictures of him in the hotel with the players he confidently stood there and explained to me without hesitation how Ghana was going to win the World Cup. It seems that everywhere you look people expect big things from their team and tonight they didn't disappoint.

So with my spot in the grass staked out I watched Ghana continually go on attack. It was with the one lone goal off the hand ball penalty that I feel the pressure that has been put on Ghana and the country of Africa was lifted. I sat there and watched as that ball struck the back of the net, hundreds of people from Ghana and South Africa dance around in celebration because this win wasn't just a win for Ghana but it was a win for all of Africa. No matter the country, Africa is celebrating tonight. And I had the best seat in the house. Cheers!

So much optimism. The stadium was full of proud Africans blowing their Vuvezuelas for Ghana yet I was convinced Serbia would be the ones making the noise at full-time.  And everyone knows the best teams play in red so seeing them emerge from the tunnel I remained confident I would be proudly cheering by the end.

Yet Serbia ended up cursing the red as Aleksander Lukovic was sent off for his second bookable offence after 74 minutes leaving them desperately trying to cling on for the draw. But with just five minutes left to play Kuzmanovic  got a bit confused over which sport he was playing and tried a spot of volleyball in the box. The referee wasn’t impressed and Gyan converted the penalty.

In truth, this wasn’t the same Serbia team who inspired so much confidence in qualifying. They were far too cautious so rarely looked dangerous going forward and it was far too easy for the Ghana defence to bat away their efforts at the final ball.

The best period of the game actually came once Lukovic had departed and Serbia were a man short. They looked much more cohesive and looked like they might hold on for a brave point as well as threatening on the counter attack themselves but for Kuzmanovic’s moment of utter madness that even at this early stage means the team have a real fight on their hands to make it out of the group.

But at least it was the Serbian fans who brought the banner labelled “Sex Machines”.

Germany 4, Australia 0

FLAWLESS !!! After that performance, that’s the only word I have to describe the German performance this evening. There was hunger, imagination, determination and desire to prove something to the world..... that only a fool would write off Germany, especially during the World Cup.

First things first, the starting eleven picked by Joachim Low was spot on, going in for Ozil instead of Trochowski and sticking with Klose was the best way to give confidence to a world class striker. We all know the damage Klose can do and he proved it again tonight. Before the start of the World Cup, there was a lot of talk about Klose and Podolski, their performances in the Bundesliga, I guess they cleared those doubts very quickly.

All four goals were top class, credit to the Aussies for keeping the spirit because the score line could have been much worse, (6 or 7 nil?) Besides the offence, the defense was spot on; the only time Germany looked out of sorts was in the early minutes of the game when Australia came close to scoring. But once that was taken care of it was German efficiency at its best. The passing was close to perfect, the movement was sublime, Muller, Ozil and Khedira seemed like they’ve been playing for Germany for years. What was also appreciated was how quick the team went back to defend if a threatening situation arose.

Lahm as usual led from the front, superb defending and what a cross in for Klose to score the second goal. I fully agree with Lahm, when in a recent interview he said “This is the best German team I’ve been a part of”, there is no doubt about that. It did not seem like a ‘typical’ German performance, even after going up 4-0, they were hungry to score more. Germany can be very proud of this performance, fans can be confident but I worry that overconfidence will do us in. Our next match is against Serbia, they may have lost today, but come Friday they are going to come at us with everything they’ve got. We must keep the momentum going, stay strong, stay positive and stay hungry for success. Do it the German way!!!!

Today was full of disapointments, for me and the Socceroos. I showed up early to the Kangaroo & Kiwi and to my suprise, no Tooheys, my favorite Australian domestic. My sorrows were nothing compared to the Aussies, shelacked 4-0, and it could have been worse.

The packed housed cheered, groaned, and moaned at some poor officiating, some close calls, and some uninspired play by our side. There has been alot of criticism of the Aussies tactics, almost trying to emulate the German side but without the result. The Germans methodically broke down the Aussies defense and scored two first half goals on a handful of chances.

The second half faired better for the Aussies until the 56' minute, when the Socceroos' best player recieved an undeserved Red Card. Then the Germans opened up the match and scored two quick goals taking the wind out of the Aussies' sails.

With Ghana's win, the Socceroos chance to advance out of the group stage is already looking bleak.

To realize how bad a match it was, one patron at the pub, Sumana A. commented,"I like the Australians' jerseys better than the Germans."

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