ALG 0 SVN 1: Sweepstake fever

“IF you’ve got Algeria or Slovenia in your World Cup sweepstake, this is your chance to check them out,” said the BBC1 continuity announcer, scraping that barrel. If you did get Algeria or Slovenia in your sweepstake, by the way, count yourself lucky. I got the Republic of Ireland.

World Cup office sweepstakes, for me, don’t have the extended thrill of the Grand National sweepstake where, even if you get some three-legged wheezing clodhopper who has been dragged to Aintree straight from Blackpool beach, there’s still a chance that it might be the only horse left standing at the end of the race.

With the World Cup, at least two thirds of the 32 teams present, you can confidently predict, have no chance whatsoever of winning the tournament. To prove the point: since England won it in 1966, only six teams have reached the World Cup final – Brazil, Italy, (West) Germany, Holland, Argentina and France.

On recent evidence, you can probably scrub France from the list of potential winners this time, while it would be a good idea to add Spain to it. If you’re a particularly patriotic Englishman, maybe you can add Fabio Capello’s side to the list too.

(And if you’re former Nigeria assistant manager Daniel Amokachi, asked to predict the winners for the BBC Sport website, you can be extremely patriotic and plump for Nigeria.)

As I’ve already stated on this blog, I can’t see England getting beyond the quarter-finals, although I would be delighted to be proved wrong. I can, however, see them getting through the group stage on the evidence of the abysmal game served up by Group C rivals Algeria and Slovenia in Polokwane this afternoon.

“I should not be subjected to this kind of pain on my birthday,” said an extremely peeved Alan Hansen during the BBC’s analysis of an almost incident-free first half. (Consider it payback for all of those Morrison’s adverts, Alan.)

So poor were the opening 45 minutes, that the BBC were entirely justified in spending much of half-time assessing the mood in the England camp, even though most of the England camp had buggered off to Sun City to meet up with their families, leaving poor old Gabby Logan to fill the time with reports of who she’d seen in the gym this morning. (A few England players, she told us.)

On the subject of which, let’s check the mood in the England camp following last night’s 1-1 draw with the USA.

There were two incidents of note in the second half. Algeria sub Abelkaer Ghezzal picked up a daft second booking for a handball and was sent off. Then keeper Faouzi Chaouchi showed let former West Brom midfielder Robert Koren’s long-range speculator slip through his hands. It might have made Robert Green feel a bit better.

“If goalkeeping is an art, then Chaouchi dropped a Jackson Pollock,” Danny Baker will say on a World Cup Own Goals and Gaffes DVD about five years from now. “I wouldn’t pick him for a Scouts XI,” fumed Alan Green on Five Live about an hour ago. Well, no, because he’s too old. But point taken.

No points for Algeria, but the game was poor enough for them to get one on the World Cup Gubbometer. I am sure that will be of great consolation to them.

World Cup Gubbometer

1=. Algeria: 1
France: 1
1=. Slovakia: 1
1=. Uruguay: 1
5=. Everybody else: 0

(NB. Teams are awarded one point every time they take part in a game so mind-numbingly tedious that it would almost certainly have been last on Match of the Day had it been a Premier League fixture. There are no other rules.)


2 Responses to ALG 0 SVN 1: Sweepstake fever

  1. Meriem says:


    I would be very grateful if you could help me get this message across to the BBC commentators and pundits:

    I am Algerian, living in England and was completely chocked by the commentary of Simon Brotherton and Martin Keown of the Algeria v Slovenia game, as well as the horrible comments by Gary Lineker, Alan Hanson and Alan Shearer. Do you really believe that nations like Algeria or Slovenia and many others are in the world cup to win it? We are there, first because we deserve it, we have won our qualifying games (Scotland are not even in it Mr Hanson) and we all want to do our best. We deserve the respect of the BBC pundits and commentators. The game today was not boring and was definitely worth me cancelling my Sunday lunch, Mr Lineker…

    Shame on you BBC commentators. How dare you laugh at us, when your countries are not even able to qualify or to win their games, with all the money you have invested in football. I used to look up at you who are supposed to be the masters of football and football commentary. Today’s comments were a disgrace for the BBC. Remember, the German were forced to cheat after behaving this way with Algeria, laughing and promising to score 10 goals. You should learn from these mistakes and be a bit more humble…

    Alan Hanson, the world cup is about players trying their best, we do not all have Rooney, Gerrard and Capello in our teams. You might deserve better for your birthday, but we Algerian supporters deserve better than you laughing at our national team. Go home Mr Hanson, if Africa is not good enough for you…

    Thanking you in advane for your help on this.

    Best wishes,

  2. mikewhalley says:

    Algeria v Slovenia was not a great game, but then both sides looked nervous to me. And England v USA went rapidly downhill after a promising start, too. It’s been, Germany v Australia excepted, a cagey start to the tournament.

    Of course I realise that many countries are just glad to be at the World Cup, without entertaining serious thoughts of winning it. After Saturday night, I’m tempted to include England among them!

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