The Thursday Preview: Australia Vs. Ghana

Posted by on Jun 17, 2010 in The Thursday Preview | One Comment

I cannot be the only person to be distinctly undrwhelmed by the design of Rustenberg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium. As each major tournament goes by, we are treated to an ever more impressive array of space age arenas, but there always seems to be one stuck in the Dark Ages, a venue that breaks all the rules laid down in Simon Inglis’s seminal The Football Grounds of Europe.

More commonly than not, it’s England who are consigned to a competition’s least impressive outpost. In 1990, it was Cagliari, part of a plan to restrict the hoolies to Sardinia where the authorities could control them. In 2000, it was the Stade Communal in Charleroi that staged the Three Lions and as recently as 2006, England’s post-colonial tubthump with Trinidad and Tobago took place in Nuremberg, far from being one of Germany’s most alluring bowls.

It’s a very nippy South African winter and the open-to-the-elements design of the Royal Bafokeng won’t warm the cockles as Australia take on Ghana on Saturday. Australia famously got off to a stinking start, hopelessly outclassed by Germany – although the one Championship player to start the match, Hull City’s Richard Garcia had a pretty lively game, forced as he was to practically lead the line. Pim Verbeek mysteriously decided to omit his one experienced and fit striker Josh Kennedy, hoping that Tom Cahill’s midfield raiding would suffice. The plan backfired as the ex-Millwall, half-Samoan received his departing orders. Already two down to a brace of goals from a familiar Germano-Polish duo, the Aussies produced a performance to rival their skittlings in the 1981 Ashes – in terms of pub banter material for ourselves, that is.

The wounds will be deep and without wishing to bang on in a Hansen stylee about sheer “lack of quality”, the limitations of the Australian squad are there for all to see. They’ll do well to get anything against a Ghana side who have decisively put their own problems with injuries behind them and unhesitatingly blooded the stars of their Under-20 World Cup side and Anthony Annan in particular looked like yet another blue chip addition to the screening midfielder production line in the win over Serbia. Ghana’s ability to hold on to the ball through stength and skill should see them prevail.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

1 Comment

  1. Ben
    June 17, 2010

    I thought Ghana's right winger Prince Tagoe looked useful in the first game – one of the few players on show who did…

    As for the Aussies, if you pick a diminutive Hull reserve midfielder as your lone forward, then you get all you deserve, I'm afraid.


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