For most of the game, it was a mind-numbing affair, the equivalent of watching the paint dry during Durban summers. Then the team that looked stronger of two weaklings, Algeria, decided to push the self-destruct button.
At the strike of minute number four, the remaining Group C match turned into a trench- war that lasted almost as long as the First World War itself. Both teams had not many ideas and placed much greater emphasis on not losing the game. There was not much to report until the minute 73, when the Algerian top striker, Ghezzal, decided to apply for the Darwin Award by getting the stupidest red card seen in the longest time. Suffice it to say: do not hand the ball after getting your first yellow card just moments before. Dazzlingly stupid.
Photo: Officials chase Algerian fans off the pitch after they ran in to hug Algerian players during warm-ups before the 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match between Algeria and Slovenia at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Charisius
But his otherwise excellent goalkeeper colleague, Chaouchi, decided to join the Darwin awards competition entrants by conceding a goal in by now the legendary Robert Green fashion; you know, the one where you compete for letting the softest goal in history. So soft, that is, that even journalism in the in-flight magazines looks decidedly hard. (Thank you, Jeremy Clarkson) Slovenian captain Robert Koren supplied the ball and claimed the honours, but didn’t know much about it. He now finally knows how winning the lottery feels.
A terrible, terrible, meaningless game, unless it wreaks havoc with England and the US plans. Although we doubt this: Slovenia is simply not on their plane.
Before the match
The Slovenian team is mostly made up of Bosnians, Serbs, Croats and the odd Slovenian.
Man of the match:
Algeria: Fawzi Chaouchi, Antar Yahia, Madjid Bougherra, Rafik Halliche, Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda, Karim Ziani, Mehdi Lacen, Foued Kadir, Karim Matmour, Rafik Djebbour
Slovenia: Samir Handanovic, Bojan Jokic, Marko Suler, Bostjan Cesar, Miso Brecko, Valter Birsa, Robert Koren, Alexander Radosavlevic, Andraz Kirm, Milivoje Novakovic, Zlatko Dedic
After the first 20 mins, the game has settled into the rhythm of high-intensity, highly-strung individual duels, fought mostly around the centre of the field. After the Slovenian keeper was tested early, he and his Algerian colleagues have mostly been observers, with the odd throwing of the ball back into the game as their duty. Both teams are intent on not letting the other side gain any strategic or tactical advantage, but they inevitably have to pay the price of not really making an impact in the opposite penalty box. They appear to be in great physical shape and will be tough opponents for the US and England.
Photo: Darwin Award application no 1: Algeria’s Abdelkader Ghezzal handles the ball to receive a red card during the 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match against Slovenia at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
What can best describe the Slovenia vs Algeria game’s first half? Well, it was completely the opposite of Argentina vs Nigeria. Completely.
Photo: Darwin Award application no 2: Algeria’s goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi concedes a goal to Slovenia during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Report By Branko Brkic
Main photo: Slovenia’s Robert Koren (L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Algeria during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
"Sometimes the best way to help someone is just to be near them." ~ Veronica Roth
"Men are good in one way, but bad in many" ~ Aristotle