England's Robert Green insists he has the mental strength to bounce back from his error.
AMERICA the brave — and a television glitch — ruined the World Cup party for England last night. The USA held Fabio Capello’s team to a 1-1 draw while millions missed England’s opening goal because ITV screened a car advert on its HD screens instead.
The Americans, who had been staying at a lodge in the bush normally reserved for tourists on safari, refused to be thrown to England’s three lions.
A goal from Steve Gerrard, who took over as captain from the injured Rio Ferdinand, after four minutes, semed to suggest the Americans were in for a mauling.
Their goal in reply, kicked by Clint Dempsey and rolling towards the goal with little more speed than a tumbleweed, was fumbled by Robert Green, England’s surprise choice of goalkeeper, and ended up in the back of the net.
As vuvuzelas boomed high in the stadium, the Americans, who were delayed on their way to a pre-match training session by a hungry elephant snacking on a tree, repeatedly countered England’s trumpeting charge.
The result was meant to be a riposte to America’s alleged unfair play on a different field, the oil wells of the Gulf of Mexico. It was also supposed to be revenge for Rio. Not Ferdinand, but Brazil. It was 60 years since England suffered its most humiliating World Cup defeat — 1-0 to the USA in 1950 — in South America.
However, what one commentator called America’s “sucker punch” floored England’s hopes of starting the tournament on a high. They will be determined to do better when they play Algeria in Cape Town on Friday in front of Prince William, the president of the FA, and Prince Harry, who starts a tour of southern Africa in Botswana tomorrow.
An estimated 15,000 England fans were in the stadium in Rustenburg last night along with 8,000 supporters from America’s “Sam’s Army”.
Tim Farrow, a fan from Buckinghamshire who was at the stadium, said the 15,000 England fans who had travelled to South Africa had been let down in the worst possible way: “This was shameful. A timid display and the fans around me were just sickened. We turned up; our team didn’t.”
Farrow, who is staying in a campsite with a dozen other fans, said the freezing cold nights and the bad food had made his trip miserable so far: "Some of the lads are already saying let’s just go home. We are driving down to Cape Town tomorrow and if we drive 1,800 kilometres to see this kind of performance I will never travel to see England again." As the American team ran to the corner of the stadium to salute their fans, England trudged dejectedly off the pitch as good-humoured chants of “USA ... USA” were greeted with boos by the England fans.