Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 25: Ghana 1, Australia 1

Well you have to feel for the Aussies a bit. After having star Paul Cahill sent off with a straight red against Germany they saw a 1-0 lead evaporate when a hand ball on the line cost them a player against Ghana. While the call wasn't necessarily a bad one, it did not seem like an intentional hand ball to me. Penalty kick in order, definitely, but the red card is a bit rough. That's the way the rule is written though. Ghana is atop the group on the basis of two penalty kicks, one against Germany and one against Australia.

Australia actually created more opportunities in the second half but were unable to convert. They are technically still alive, but the goal differentials are not in their favor thanks to the 0-4 drubbing against Germany. Australia would need Ghana to beat Germany and then they could beat Serbia to take second in the group. This result doesn't seem likely, but Germany will be without Klose who was sent off on his own so you never know what could happen in one game. A late penalty, a fluke bounce, and things could be dicey.

I hate to pick on announcers because, really, it's hard to be in front of the mike for 90 minutes and not have a few flubs. American announcer John Harkes no doubt puzzled more than one listener by saying that since they were playing a man down Australia must be satisfied with the result just as they were with the result against Germany. No doubt he meant that they were playing against Germany with 10 men as well, but it came out sounding like they must have been proud of their 0-4 loss.

Harkes did slip in the news that Australia star Tim Cahill will be eligible to play in the third game, against Serbia. Announcers in the Germany game opined that Cahill's tournament may be over because straight red cards are usually followed up with a two game suspension. Although two is typical, one is the minimum and that's what Cahill got. Perhaps this was bigger news in Australia, but as an American this was the first I had heard of it.

Ghana was playing a little cocky. While they are the most successful African nation in recent memory, their going through is by no means assured. They are playing a Germany team that needs a result in order to ensure a victory, and a loss to the Germans could mean Ghana falls behind Serbia at the finish line.

That said, FIFA is desperate for an African side to go through. With Ivory Coast in the Group of Death with Brazil and Portugal, South Africa and Nigeria all but mathematically eliminated, Ghana may be the best hope. Algeria would need to beat the United States and get some help in the other group game. Cameroon may have to beat Denmark; a tie would leave them facing the Netherlands needing a victory. Is it possible that in this celebration of the first World Cup on African soil that no African nations could advance to the round of 16? If the Malian referee ends ups calling the Ghana-Germany game, let the conspiracy theories begin!

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