Africa, Sport

Algerians frustrate English stars into goalless draw

Algerians frustrate English stars into goalless draw

The England team ran out at the Green Point Stadium tonight with the best line-up they have. And yet, it was not enough to break the Algerian’s steely resolve. The night of frustration ended with no goals and not much excitement.

English manager Fabio Capello (on his 64th birthday) picked a team that on any other day would be valued at more than £150 million. On Friday night, however, the lowly Algerians looked more stylish, more in control and, above all, more interested in holding their head high at the end of the game.

As has been proven many times before, no sub-standard teams can reach the World Cup any more. Algerian coach Rabah Saadane has done a great job in motivating his players after the heartbreaking loss to Slovenia last Saturday.

Photo: English fans react in a bar in central London as England play Algeria during their 2010 World Cup soccer match, June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

But the story of this game is the story of English frustration. It was England that was expected to win the game and to win it comfortably, displaying attacking spirit and imagination. When this positive turn failed to materialise in the opening minutes, frustration crept into their lines and it become clearly visible. From then on, there was not much they could do right. Even with their perceived domination, the new Algerian keeper, M’Bohli, needed to be more safe than spectacular to do his job, which he did admirably.

The future in the group C is now completely opaque, as any of the four teams can progress into the second round.

Starting line-ups

England: David James, Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry

Algeria: Raïs M’Bohli, Madjid Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj, Anthar Yahia, Foued Kadir, Hassan Yebda, Medhí Lacen, Rafik Halliche, Ryad Boudebouz, Karim Matmour, Karim Ziani

Man of the match

Raïs M’Bohli

Before the match

England’s Fabio Capello has decided to bring back goalkeeper David James instead of disastrous Robert Green. Also, Carragher and Barry are starting tonight.

Algerian coach Rabah Saadane has decided to do a similar thing and replace goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi with the 24-year-old Raïs M’Bohli who has only one game for Algeria under his belt.

The pitch at Green Point Stadium is perfect; the weather is also kind the players.

First half

Although both sides attempt quick, stabbing passes deep into their opponents’ territory, not much of substance is happening in front of either goal. Algeria looks well-settled; England looks slightly nervous and does not make any moves sustained for more than couple of seconds.

  • 10th minute: Bougherra’s cross troubles James, who barely manages to punch the ball above Matmour’s head.
  • 16th minute: Ziani’s shot is deflected by Carragher, straight into James’s hands. James may be 40, but his reflexes are still top-notch.
  • 19th minute: Algeria sort of dominates. Yebda’s header is easily kept by James.

Algeria’s quick, short passes do not amuse England’s defence. They also dominate the possession – 56% to 44%. The Algerian team obviously enjoys the evening game and the great stage provided by the Green Point Stadium.

  • 27th minute: Halliche comes under pressure from Heskey in front of the Algerian box, but the over-zealous Englishman commits a foul.

Photo: England’s coach Fabio Capello gestures to his players as they play against Algeria in a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • 28th minute: Terry appears injured. English fans are worried. They can ill-afford to lose Terry now. He eventually recovers, but appears shaken.
  • 30th minute: Gerrard shoots from 25 metres, but straight into M’Bohli who makes sure he doesn’t do a Robert Green. Or a Fawzi Chaouchi, for that matter.
  • 33rd minute: First big chance for England: Lennon shoots a good ball into the box, where Lampard walls it and shoots a meaty shot that M’Bohli saves quite brilliantly. Is this a sign of England waking up from its slumber?
  • 35th minute: Ziani’s shot from 20 metres flies harmlessly past James’s post. There was plenty potency in it, though.
  • 37th minute: England is finally playing with some purpose and zest. The game is still not exactly earth-shattering, though.
  • 39th minute: Lennon and Barry team up for the latter to produce a shot, which doesn’t bother M’Bohli much.

Wayne Rooney is very well covered from the get-go and is more or less made invisible by the Algerian defence.

  • 42nd minute: England is visibly pushing Algeria into its half now. That should suit them well, in theory, so they can lob many crosses into the Algerian box, maybe to find Heskey or Rooney. That is the theory, of course.
  • 43rd minute: Rooney’s first shot on the goal, from 25 metres; M’Bohli produces another reassuring, albeit simple, save.
  • 45th minute: One minute of extra time. The half was clean and not very exciting. Hopefully both teams will realise in second that they HAVE to win and will decide to throw caution to the wind.

The England players will have to find another set of batteries for the second half to bring any change. The Algerians are tough, well-skilled and motivated opponents.

Photo: Britain’s Princes William and Harry watch the 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match between England and Algeria at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Second half

No changes in either team. Let’s see if Capello succeeded in imparting with some extra motivation in the dressing room. It’s going to be an uncertain 45 minutes for both teams.

  • 47th minute: A free kick for Algeria after Carragher clipped Matmour ends up with Ziani seriously worrying England’s fullback Johnson.

Algeria started the second half full of zest.

  • 52nd minute: Heskey bungles a promising run from the right-hand side. He doesn’t appear to have many ideas tonight. England doesn’t appear to have many ideas tonight.
  • 55th minute: Ziani’s mistake lands the ball at Gerrard’s feet but he then proceeds not to use it for any useful purpose.
  • 57th minute: Algeria’s run on the left-hand side makes the England defence panic.
  • 58th minute: Carragher gets a yellow card – which rules him out of the match against Slovenia. Capello is in pain. Yahia misses the resulting free kick badly.
  • 62nd minute: Aaron Lennon’s cross overshot Rooney’s head by inches. Had he succeed, it would most certainly be the opening goal for English.
  • 64th minute: Terry’s sluggish back pass was almost intercepted by an Algerian forward – James had to make an urgent run to clean up the mess.

Shawn Wright Phillips, who came on for Aaron Lennon, has brought some energy to England’s attack. We’ll see if that translates into something concrete.

  • 69th minute: Finally something that looks like a chance: Heskey is alone from a rather acute angle, but his shot is deflected in the corner, after which Gerrard has his header comfortably saved by M’Bohli. Even when the chance stares into their eyes, England players appear unable to do anything about it. Jabulani? Long Premiership season?
  • 73rd minute: Rooney’s shot flies safely and limply past the post.
  • 74th minute: Capello sends Defoe in, opting for a quicker attack, albeit less physically powerful.
  • 75th minute: The first move that links multiple players gets intercepted by Bougherra’s bold start. English fans see some hope now.

Defoe has definitely brought extra pace to English attack. They are now attempting to push the Algerians back into their box.

  • 78th minute: The Algerian defence is not very successful in clearing the ball out of their penalty space.
  • 79th minute” Ashley Cole almost tears Abdoun’s shorts. Funny.

England’s night is an absolutely dismal affair. They spent the last ten minutes of the game without any idea about how to play against Algerians.

  • 91st minute: Defoe shoots from 18 metres, but his shot was always rising. No hope.

Photo: England’s goalkeeper David James makes a save as he falls on Algeria’s Majid Bougherra during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

English stars are frustrated as the game is in its dying seconds.

The last corner is safely pushed out by the Algerians. The match ends.

What a sad, pathetic display.

By Branko Brkic

England’s Wayne Rooney (L) and Frank Lampard reacts during the 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match against Algeria at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 18, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria


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