Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, OUT, OUT, OUT!

Okay, so a 3-0 win against Serbia coupled with a defeat for Germany could still see the Aussies through. But that seems about as likely as a united England side brushing aside Slovenia without causing a single supporter a heart murmur. The chances of both of us getting through to face each other in the next round doesn't look very likely following two days of contrasting emotions.

Yesterday gave me the chance to forget all about the inept display put on by England on Friday night. And hopefully laugh at a team that in losing 4-0 to the Germans provided the only World Cup performance that ranked even lower than ours against Algeria.

My day featured the obligatory early start as we were doing full commentary of the game, what is it about sports tours and getting up at the crack of dawn? So by the time we arrived, a full six hours before kick off, the security guards hadn't even set up the metal detectors at the gates and with bulging baggage we were all given a cursory wave through the gates.

With so much time to kill before the match I mused about whether I should pop in and see my Bafokeng friends for a moonwalk and a slice of biltong. But after a quick 'blog update and a lazy walk around the stadium (with security guards still out of sight) it was time to head out with Goughie to do some interviews with the Aussie fans.

It was pretty surreal being in the same beer tent I'd frequented a week previous but this time under baking hot sun surrounded by thousands of gold and green shirts, blow up kangaroos and Aussies, Aussies everywhere. Although I can imagine plenty of them had to pinch themselves when they saw Darren Gough sauntering around in their midst. "What the fuck are you doing here mate?" delivered with heavy Australian accent being the usual opening refrain. “You fucking lost?” There isn’t a nation on this planet that likes a good swear up as much as the Aussies as our radio outtakes will testify.

Pretty soon though it was time to take our seats and our beers inside the stadium and the sight inside was incredible. Unlike the USA game where the full effect of a full stadium of red, blue and white flags, shirts and banners was lessened because the match was played under darkness. This time the match was taking place at 4pm and the yellows, greens & reds rolled in and around each other contrasting and complementing basking in beautiful late afternoon sunshine to create a stunning image that made me realise once again what a lucky chap I am.

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The game soon got underway and it was the under pressure Aussies who started the better. Buoyed by the return of Harry Kewell they immediately looked the more dangerous and Ghana looked woefully out of sorts. Before long they got a freekick and the keeper made a complete hash of it to hand the Aussies the advantage.

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And then the game’s turning point as Australia had Harry Kewell sent off for handball in the area. Forget the bleating from the Socceroos though for this was the right decision. Going by the letter of the law (which is what the referee has to do) Kewell had to go and go he did.

Although following the harsh sending off of Tim Cahill in the first game I can see why their supporters feel so hard done by. They should have learnt after 2006 and that Italian penalty. Welcome back to the world of football pain Aussies. We’ve been expecting you.

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With the Aussies down to ten men and with the scores level I was surprised that Ghana played the remainder of the game so defensively. With a tricky game against Germany to come this was the perfect opportunity to guarantee a place in the last sixteen.

Indeed it was the Socceroos who came out after half time with the more positive formation. And it was they who had the games best chance when Wilkshire wasted a chance as golden as the shirt he was wearing with less than ten minutes remaining. At the final whistle both teams seemed downbeat. While my good mood was slightly tempered after a late injury to John Paintsil prevented me enjoying one of his lap of honours.

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With one game remaining Australia need to dole out an almighty thrashing to the Serbs and England have to see off Slovenia if these two teams have a chance of facing each other in the next round. But what a match that would be. England versus Australia in the football World Cup. Losing the Ashes to the convicts is one thing. Getting kicked out of the World Cup by them is entirely another.

1 comment:

Nath said...

And just to wind the Aussies up even more the Kiwis draw with the champions!!! Awesome