Tag Archives: Port Elizabeth

England qualify as runners up following defeat of Slovenia

England 1-0 Slovenia

England qualified for the Round of 16 with a 1-0 victory over Slovenia. However, the United States’ late goal against Algeria means that England finish as runners up and potentially face a difficult Second Round game against Germany in Bloemfontein.

England came into today’s game knowing that they needed to win to secure passage from a group which had been taken too lightly by England.

Both sides started edgily. There were some poor defensive clearances from Glen Johnson, Matthew Upson for England and Cesar for Slovenia.

England were looking very nervous in the opening minutes. John Terry’s backpass giving Matthew Upson a moment of distress.

Slovenia, despite the unprecedentedly high stakes, were the brighter side in the opening ten minutes. Valter Birsa, Slovenia’s standout performer in the tournament, embarked on a series of mazy runs into the England half while his teammates Jovanovic and Kirm were stringing passes together and causing problems for England’s fullbacks.

England eventually settled. Frank Lampard attempted a free-kick from all of 35 yards. The infamous Jabulani changed direction twice before being secured by Samir Handanovic.

Ljubijankic, of KAA Gent, had a great chance to heap further pressure on Fabio Capello’s unimpressive side but was denied by a terrific saving block by John Terry.

James Milner and Jermain Defoe had been brought into the starting line up by Fabio Capello in place of Aaron Lennon and Emile Heskey. The pair justified their selection by combining to give England the lead. Milner, who had been dropped by Fabio Capello for the 0-0 draw with Algeria, supplying the cross for Jermain Defoe who shinned the ball towards goal. Samir Handanovic had been performing superbly for Slovenia but was unable to keep Defoe’s volley out.

The goal seemed to settle England appeared to settle England’s fragile nerves. As it stood England would progress at the head of the Group C table with the Slovenians scraping through as runners up ahead of the United States who were being held 0-0 by Algeria.

Another cross nearly brought England’s second. Handanovic came a long way to palm the swinging pass away but his parry fell only as far as Frank Lampard. The Chelsea midfielder, who had failed to reproduce his club form for his national side, failed to hit the target.

England were keen to press their advantage. Jermain Defoe’s low shot from just outside the penalty area was blocked by Handanovic. Wayne Rooney collected the loose ball and sent a delicate pass across the penalty area for Steven Gerrard. The England captain was unable to convert, as the Udinese goalkeeper managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.

It appeared that Slovenia were finally succumbing to the pressure of the occassion. The quick passing and movement from their earlier games against Algeria and the United States had deserted them as they struggled to control possession. England continued to threaten towards the end of the half but were unable to add to their tally.

Jermain Defoe had a glorious opportunity to score his second goal within forty seconds of the start of the second half. A quickly taken corner fell to the Tottenham Hotspur striker, but Defoe was only able to flick the ball wide with the outside of his boot.

Despite a dramatic deterioration in their form, Slovenia were still posing a threat to England. A terrific inswinging free-kick from Birsa was fisted away by David James. The slightest touch from the flailing right foot of Jovanovic would surely have leveled the game.

Another good delivery from Birsa was caught by David James as Slovenia began to edge back into the match.

John Terry, whose feeble attempt at instigating a squad revolt against Fabio Capello was rebuked by the former Real Madrid manager, came close from a corner. The Chelsea captain thumped a challenging header at Samir Handanovic from Steven Gerrard’s corner.

Wayne Rooney had yet to impress at the World Cup and was discouragingly out of form again this afternoon. The Manchester United striker, with ample time and space, was one-on-one with Handanovic but his poor control and scuffed shot allowed the goalkeeper to glance his shot onto the post. Rooney was later replaced by fan favourite Joe Cole. England’s talisman trudged off the field looking very much like a player short of confidence and the requisite match fitness to excel at a World Cup.

After Rooney’s dismal failure in front of goal England reverted to the same poor football that had shrouded their displays against the United States and Algeria. Long punts up the field from David James were England’s predominant attacking threat from the sixtieth minute onwards.

Slovenia themselves were relatively unthreatening, each foray into England territory was halted by a wayward pass or a poor control. As the scoreboard in Port Elizabeth ticked towards the ninetieth minute, England seemed desperate to cling on to their lead. Emile Heskey was introduced with the sole purpose of reproducing his lumbering attack-quashing form in the defensive third.

Slovenia sent more crosses into the England penalty area but were denied by Matthew Upson and David James, England hung on to secure safe passage to the last sixteen. The players and coaching staff stormed the pitch where excited celebrations followed a n unimpressive victory over a mediocre opponent.

If England are to reach the final, as their optimistic manager predicts, they will need drastic improvement in terms of ball retention and passing speed. As England’s players huddled on the pitch, news filtered through from Pretoria that Landon Donovan had rescued the United States with a stoppage time winner. The goal has severe implications for England’s ambitions. The United States now progress as group winners with the Three Lions facing a monumental task in the Second Round, should Germany beat Ghana tonight.

Fabio Capello expressed his pride in his players’ performances after the final whistle and  about how his side played with ‘freedom’. The gushing of a certain gushing member of the British media referred to the win as being ‘more like the England we know.’ If this is the England we can expect in the knockout stages then the quest to end the forty-four year wait for World Cup glory will soon become forty-eight.

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Swiss rolled by red hot Chile

Chile 1-0 Switzerland

Chile took advantage of Valon Behrami’s controversial sending off to beat Switzerland 1-0 in Port Elizabeth. Chile’s goal came courtesy of Mark Gonzalez’s 75th minute header.

Both sides won their opening fixture meaning that the winner in today’s match would take top spot in the group. Chile, true to form, were adventurous throughout but once again failed to convert most of the numerous chances that fell to them.

The return of Humberto Suazo for Chile was seen as a boost for La Roja. The Monterrey striker was involved almost immediately, receiving a yellow card for a robust challenge on Von Bergen.

Diego Benaglio in the Swiss goal was tested with two stinging long range efforts in quick succession. The Vfl Wolfsburg ‘keeper first denying Arturo Vidal and then Carlos Carmona.

Alexis Sanchéz was a constant threat but Chile were unable to break a stubborn Swiss side down.

Switzerland’s Valon Behrami was wrongly sent off by the Saudi referee for an apparent forearm smash on Arturo Vidal just thirty into the game. Switzerland’s German manager Ottmar Hitzfeld was incensed on the sideline, the fourth official bearing the brunt of his protests.

Despite the sending off Chile would have to wait until the second half to take advantage of their numerical superiority. Alexis Sanchéz, the team’s star attraction, thought that he had broken the deadlock on 49 minutes. A well worked free kick saw the ball rolled to Sanchéz on the edge of the penalty area. There he sent a shot crashing through the legs of the Swiss defenders before finding its way past Diego Benaglio. His ecstatic celebrations were ceased by the linesman’s flag. This time it was the correct decision.

Having seen his earlier effort ruled out, Sanchéz looked doubly determined to score now. First he was denied by Grichting’s clearance and then by Diego Benaglio, who was enjoying an excellent World Cup. Benaglio rushed out towards the Udinese star and made blocked all potential avenues to goal.

Chile finally made the breakthrough just fifteen minutes before the end. A terrific through ball was played to substitute Oscar Paredes who crossed to the far post where Mark Gonzalez was at hand to score with a header.

For all of Chile’s domination they very nearly dropped two points. Derdiyok was given the ball just eleven metres from goal but pulled his shot wide of the post. Ottmar Hitzfeld collapsed to his knees in the dugout.

Chile hung on to secure a 1-0 victory which takes them three points clear of the Swiss at the top of Group H. Spain play Honduras this evening needing a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.

Ivorians dominate but fail to break down Portugal

The much anticipated match between Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal failed to live up to expectations as it ended up more of a damp squib on a rainy evening in Port Elizabeth. The draw potentially creates a group dynamic where both Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal may have to score as many goals as possible against the People’s Republic of Korea should neither of them succeed in beating a highly rated Brazil side.

Didier Drogba was left on the bench by Sven Goran Eriksson, whose team failed to score despite perhaps being the better side. Portugal seemed to continue the form that saw them miss out on an automatic qualification spot. Côte d’Ivoire did most of the early running in what was building up into a tense encounter. A Cristiano Ronaldo dive deceived the match official and Didier Zokora of Sevilla was booked as a result. A similar incident followed later in the half. Ronaldo went down again, albeit this time legitimately, but this time the Portuguese was booked after getting involved in some verbal jousting with his tackler Demel.

Despite his petulant antics, if Portugal were to sparkle on the world stage then Ronaldo would be the catalyst. The Real Madrid superstar nearly scored what would have been one of the greatest goals in the competition’s illustrious history. He received the ball some thirty-five yards away from goal and quickly evaded Demel with a turn reminiscent of Johann Cruyff’s best efforts. He then unleashed a swerving piledriver which shook the frame of the goal as his effort cannoned off the left post. The scintillating strike was to be the best chance of the match for Portugal, and perhaps Ronaldo’s only meaningful contribution to the match. Didier Drogba blessed himself in thanks as the goalpost continued to shake seconds after the attempt.

Gervinho was proving to be the Elephants most formidable attacking threat in the absence of their captain. He tormented Chelsea fullback Paulo Ferreira and was involved in most everything that the Ivorians created in the first half. Gervinho continued to pose problems in the second half, forcing a save from the Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.

By now the Elephants were established as the better side in this floundering contest which was not living up to the billing it had received in the months leading up to the tournament. The Ivorians however were the only side showing any attacking intent. They were content to leave Kolo Touré and Demel to sit in front of the back four while Yaya Touré joined in the attempts to take the game to the side that finished fourth in Germany in 2006.

For all of their encroachments into the Portugeuse final third the Côte d’Ivoire lacked a potent force to challenge the Portuguese centre-back partnership of Bruno Alves and Ricardo Carvalho. Excitement reverberated around the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium as Didier Drogba readied himself for his introduction in the place of his Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou.

The Côte d’Ivoire pressurised the Portuguese in the final minutes in search of what might have proved to be a vital goal in the quest to reach the last 16. Drogba himself had the chance to further his iconic status as he found himself through on goal in the last minute. Unfortunately for the former African Player of the Year, the pass from Kader Keita was just beyond his reach and his attempt at a stretch was uncontrollable.

The draw serves neither side particularly well. It is conceivable that both sides may lose to Brazil leaving a race for goals against North Korea as the method for qualification from the group. Portugal, on today’s evidence at least, will struggle to threaten Brazil’s solid defensive axis. Côte d’Ivoire should improve with Didier Drogba in his regular starring role. Both teams should be able to catch a glimpse of what Brazil are capable of this evening as the Seleçâo take on the group’s outsiders, Korea DPR.

South Korea 2-0 Greece

The Republic of Korea outclassed a lethargic Greek side en route to a 2-0 victory in Port Elizabeth. In truth, the scoreline could have been even more one-sided as Rehhagel’s much vaunted defensive tactics were undone by a tidy and ambitious Korean effort.

Any fears of a 0-0 stalemate were banished after seven minutes when uncharacteristically poor defending from Greece allowed central-defender Lee Jung Soo to pounce at the back post. A low free-kick was dispatched into the Greek penalty six-yard box where at least one of five Hellenic defenders should have dealt with the cross. The semi-empty stadium did little to contain the celebrations of the famously vociferous South Korean fans.

Greece had failed to score in any of their previous World Cup games, all at USA 1994, and relied heavily on diagonal passes into the Korean half. South Korea, as one of the shorter teams in the 2010 World Cup,  were obvious targets for lofty passes but their defenders showed impressive atheleticism and agility and actually had the better of Greek attackers Gekas and Katsouranis in the air.

South Korea were busy and tidy on the ball and showed composed containment when their opponents were on the attack.

Park Chu Young was set through on goal in the 27th minute after a lovely through-pass around from captain Park Ji Sung. A last ditch challenge from Papadopoulos and a fortuitous save off the boot of the Greek goalkeeper Tzorvas were all that prevented South Korea from taking a deserved two goal advantage.

Any incursions into the Korean half were dealt with effectively by an underrated Republic of Korea defence. They constantly sought to catch a sluggish Greece on the counterattack as their wingbacks  Lee and Cha broke free of their Grecian counterparts.

Win will be valuable in the quest to at least finish as runners-up to Argentina. The three teams are quite evenly matched and all capable of taking points from each other and potentially at least one of them may manage at least a draw against Maradona’s side.

As the teams emerged for the second-half, South Korea engaged in another huddle to recfocus on a task not yet completed.

They once again started brightly and scored the second goal that their performance deserved in the seventh minute of the second half. Vyntra needlessly gave the ball away to Park Ji Sung who strode past two challenges into the penalty area and slotted beautifully past the keeper.  When Park Ji Sung plays as well as he does here it is easy to see why he is so favoured at Manchester United. He has now scored in three consecutive World Cup Finals, a wonderful achievement for South Korea’s favourite son.

There was a palpable sense of frustration from the Greek players on the pitch. Torosidis encapsulated this with a rash challenge from behind earning himself a yellow card in the process.

Greece’s late chances were limited to crosses which posed little trouble for the Koreans. In fact it was not until the 80th minute that Jeung was called into action, showing good reflexes to deny Gekas who had very little opportunity to show the prowess in front of goal that allowed him to score ten goals in qualifying.

Even as South Korea eased off in the latter stages they still looked a far superior side both offensively and defensively. Throughout the game they looked lively in possession and could prove to be a more difficult obstacle than originally thought for Diego Maradona’s Argentina. The passion of 2002 seems very much alive in this squad, who seem more than eager to atone for a less than impressive showing in 2006.

As the final whistle was blown by New Zealander Michael Hester, the 11 Koreans on the field were joined by the substitutes who looked overjoyed at an opening victory. If they produce more performances like this then they may have further opportunity to celebrate as the tournament progresses.

World Cup Cities: Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth

Over the next 47 days we’ll be taking a look at the cities hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Filling you in on the the history, sights, nightlife and, most importantly, the stadiums themselves. We start with Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth.

With a population of over one million people, Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the largest metropolitan areas in South Africa. Port Elizabeth is the most prominent city of the region and is famous for its glorious blue flag beaches, watersports, wildlife park and game reserve and The Boardwalk entertainment area.

History There has been a long period of settlement in the bay . The Khoi and San tribes were the first to populate the area and ,later, the eminent Xhosa (speakers of the Bantu languages). Before colonial settlers eventually arrived, Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco Da Gama navigated the bay with Da Gama making reference to Bird Island in his logs. Port Elizabeth takes its name from the wife of its founder Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin. This British settlement of four thousand grew rapidly following the construction of the railway line to Kimberly to the north.

A long period of urban decline began in the apartheid era and continued until recently with widespread crime and HIV creating many difficulties for the local government. The announcement of Port Elizabeth as a World Cup host city was a major boon to the local economy. Rejuvenation programmes, the overhauling of the waterfront, the construction of The Boardwalk and urban investment schemes have restored splendour to this industrial city.

The Sights

There’s no shortage of activities in Nelson Mandela Bay. There is the aforementioned Boardwalk, a casino and shopping area featuring its own outdoor carnival.

Then there are the beaches. Port Elizabeth has over 4okm of Blue Flag beach, and is known as South Africa’s ‘watersports capital’. The FIFA World Cup coincides with the whale watching season. Southern Right whales will be easily spotted, even from the coastline.

Nelson Mandela Bay is home to some of the best safari and wildlife parks in South Africa. One good example being the Addo Elephant National Park. Addo is among one of the only places in the world to house ‘the Big Seven’ of elephants, lions, buffalo, rhinos, southern right whale and great white sharks and ,equally impressively, one of the densest populations of elephants in Africa.

Owing to it’s spectacular setting in Nelson Mandela Bay on the east of the cape, the region is renowned for it’s coastal drives and historic trails. Route 72 to Port Alfred being a fine example.

The Stadium Nelson Mandela Stadium, 48,000 seats, built at a cost of over $250 million. The stadium overlooks the North End Lake and has an eye-catching design which the architects say is reminiscent of petals. No professional clubs are based in Nelson Mandela Bay, so the new venue was created solely with the intention of hosting the World Cup Finals. Setbacks during construction led to the stadium being ruled out of contention for hosting the 2009 Confederations Cup. However, these problems were overcome surprisingly quickly and it was the first of the newly built stadiums to be completed. The first game played at the stadium was the Soweto Derby between the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. After the World Cup it is likely to serve as the home ground to the Southern Kings rugby franchise should they be admitted to the Super XV.

Nelson Mandela Stadium will host five group stage matches, a Round of 16 tie, a Quarter Final and even the Third Place/Fourth Place Playoff.