England now on a knife-edge
Thousands of fans silenced by Algeria
TENS OF thousands of England fans were left crying into their beer after their team laboured to a goalless draw against unfancied Algeria at the Cape Town Stadium last night.
The result means England must beat Slovenia on Wednesday to be sure of qualifying for the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
The match was watched by a capacity crowd of 64 000, which included England’s Prince William, Prince Harry and the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. For once the sheer volume of chanting and singing fans occasionally drowned out the buzzing vuvuzelas.
It was the third draw seen in Cape Town’s brand new stadium, following a nil-nil result between France and Uruguay last Friday, and one-one result between Italy and Paraguay on Monday.
Thousands of South Africans last night swopped Bafana Bafana colours for England’s red and white.
Supporters of Algeria’s Les Fennecs – the Desert Foxes – were also confident, even though Algeria exceeded all expectations by even qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
England again showed little of the skill to justify predictions that they could figure in the later stages of the tournament, as they rarely threatened their north African opponents. Algeria are 22 places below them in the world rankings and could have stolen victory if they had had more potent strikers.
In one of England’s few threatening moments, Emile Heskey’s crosscum-shot was deflected on to the roof of the net, and captain Steven Gerrard’s fir m header from the resulting corner tested Algeria goalkeeper M’bohi Rais Ouheb.
England had dropped goalkeeper Robert Green after his blunder that handed the United States a draw in their opening match, but his replacement, David James, was rarely seriously tested.
Jermain Defoe’s introduction in place of Heskey briefly lifted the tempo of England’s game but they failed to find the breakthrough.
Last night’s draw gave Algeria one point, putting it at the bottom of Group C. Algeria meet the United States – which has two points – at Loftus in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Police threw a tight security cordon around the stadium.
Earlier in the day police and sniffer dogs had been hard at work making the venue safe after hundreds of security guards walked off the job this week.
The police seemed to take their new role as stadium security in their stride, smiling as people poured into the stadium.
Meanwhile the cases heard by the 56 special courts set up around the country to dispense rapid justice during the World Cup rose to 25 yesterday.
The National Prosecuting Authority said yesterday most of the cases involved foreigners.
There have been more than 10 convictions, with offences ranging from fraud to assault, drunken driving and ticket touting, said NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.
More than 100 magistrates, 260 prosecutors, 93 foreign language interpreters, 110 language interpreters, 1 140 court officials and 327 court orderlies have been assigned to the courts.
FLAGS FLY: Algeria and England supporters pack Cape Town Stadium last night.