Classy Al­ge­ria give Fabio’s boys a blue night in Green Point

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

English, and their mark­ing and tack­ling in de­fence solid and ag­gres­sive.

Ziani, a tricky foot­baller who plays for Wolfs­burg in the Ger­man Bun­desliga, was a bun­dle of en­ergy and was at the heart of many of Al­ge­ria’s more en­ter­pris­ing ef­forts.

The north Africans cer­tainly hadn’t come to make up the num­bers. They had come to play – and, boy, could they play! They swept crisp passes across the lush turf with aban­don and played with an as­sured con­fi­dence that was re­fresh­ing.

Both teams had new men wear­ing the num­ber one jersey last night.

Eng­land’s Robert Green was goal­keeper for the first match against the USA. It was his blun­der, how­ever, that re­sulted in the Amer­i­cans equal­is­ing and steal­ing a point off Capello’s men.

Green paid the ul­ti­mate price for his howler by be­ing dropped for last night’s match and was re­placed by 39-year-old Portsmouth goal­keeper, David James.

Al­ge­rian goal­keeper Faouzi Chaouchi also cost his coun­try in the open­ing game when his er­ror al­lowed Slove­nia to snatch a 1-0 win.

He, too, was left out, and re­placed by Rais M’Bolhi, who plays his foot­ball for Slavia Sofia in Bul­garia and ear­lier this sea­son had a trial at Manch­ester United.

James quickly had to deal with some tricky mo­ments in the open­ing half. One, when the vet­eran keeper had to bat­tle to hang on to a high, float­ing cross into the area, and an­other when de­fender Jamie Car­ragher nearly turned the ball into his own net. Both, though, James man­aged to es­cape un­scathed.

And, at the end, James’ se­lec­tion was jus­ti­fied as he dealt com­pe­tently with ev­ery­thing else that came his way.

Tthe other new man – M’Bolhi was also called into ac­tion, in the 32nd minute, when he went down low to hang on to a Lam­pard shot at goal.

Eng­land carved out an open­ing or two to­wards the lat­ter stages of the game as des­per­a­tion ap­peared to set­tle in­tio their game. But the Al­ge­ri­ans were com­pact and co­he­sive in con­tain­ing the threat, with the two cen­tral de­fend­ers – Al­ge­rian cap­tain An­ther Yahia and Rafik Hal­liche – par­tic­u­larly dour and stolid at the back.

Just over 64,000 packed the venue here in Green Point - most of them Eng- lish sup­port­ers – but even all the “Eng­land, Eng­land, Eng­land” chants or the belt­ing out of “God Save the Queen” could breathe any life into this Eng­land squad.

There's still one game re­main­ing in the group, with Al­ge­ria to play the USA and Eng­land to take on group lead­ers Slove­nia.

But based on what Eng­land have dis­played so far, they'll have to im­prove dras­ti­cally to keep at bay the knives of crit­i­cism that will surely be wav­ing in their di­rec­tion.

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