JOHN Pantsil update: I can confirm that his name was spelt correctly on the back of his shirt this afternoon after the ‘Panstil’ fiasco of last Sunday. Not that his shirt was in a great state after he was stretchered off covered in blood right at the end of this afternoon’s game against Australia.
Pantsil collected a nasty-looking facial injury, and Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac is uncertain that he will be able to play against Germany on Wednesday night. It would be a shame if he doesn’t make it, as Ghana could do with his experience in defence – however his name is spelt.
Missing centre-backs John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah in Rustenburg this afternoon, Ghana’s defence looked wobbly, even playing against 10 men for almost three-quarters of the game. It was a sign that Rajevac does not have strength in depth at the back. His side could easily have lost this one.
There’s a pattern emerging in Ghana’s World Cup games – score a penalty, end up playing against 10 men. It’s not quite as spectacular as the pattern of red cards emerging in Australia’s matches, though.
No Socceroos game at the finals these days is complete without at least one sending off, it seems. Their last four matches at the World Cup finals have produced six red cards.
And after Tim Cahill was sent off against Germany last Sunday, today it was Harry Kewell’s turn. Unfortunate for Kewell, who had said before the game: “I’m as fit as I can be and can play 90 minutes if I have to.” He managed 24 before he was dismissed for handling Jonathan Mensah’s goalbound shot.
Kewell appeared to be appealing to the referee to look at the big screen – presumably because he felt a TV replay would exonerate him. It didn’t. Asamoah Gyan scored from the penalty spot to equalise Brett Holman’s opener, and Ghana’s players embarked on a remarkably well-choreographed celebration pitched somewhere between Glee and Britain’s Got Talent.
“We thought it was a clear penalty – not that I would ever disagree with Harry,” said Gary Lineker in the BBC studio at half-time. Bit of history there, as the two men once had a bit of a legal battle over a newspaper article Lineker wrote. As a result, it’s hard to imagine Lineker having too much sympathy for Kewell.
Even with 10 men, Australia created chances. Then again, they should be used to playing a man short by now. They might want to try keeping 11 men on the pitch against Serbia on Wednesday if they’re planning to take advantage of their slim chance of making the last 16, though.