Eng­land now on a knife-edge

Thou­sands of fans si­lenced by Al­ge­ria

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - WEEK­END AR­GUS RE­PORTERS

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.

PIC­TURE: HENK KRUGER

FLAGS FLY: Al­ge­ria and Eng­land sup­port­ers pack Cape Town Sta­dium last night.

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