Australian Tragedy Part 2

Trip Start Jun 07, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Royal Bafokeng Stadium

Flag of South Africa  ,
Saturday, June 19, 2010

For all their effort, improvement and endeavor against Ghana, Australia still now stand teetering precariously on the brink of elimination from this world cup.
Australia is certainly making a habit out of being at the heart of World Cup Controversy. There was plenty of it 4 years ago in Germany, and here on African soil, for the second game running, luck didnt go Australia's way.

It was to be another 24 hour shift for myself. We were picked up at our hotel @ 4am for the journey to Johannesburg, and onwards by bus to Rustenburg. It was again a painful ordeal for the most part... the tour group rife with disorganisation, ambiguity and that 'itl work itself out' attitude that continuously aches my soul.

After piling onto buses at Johannesburg we began the long bus trip to Rustenburg, about 3 hours.
Along the way, we made a stop off at 'Chameleon Trading Village' - a craft market and food stop off. It was far from spectacular. In fact, the merchants there were so grabby and pushy, i didnt even venture into the core of the market. All their stuff looked the same anyway. I was getting nervous as our 'itinerary' for the day was unplanned... and i wanted to make sure i watched the Holland vs. Japan game before hand.

We eventually arrived at the stadium around 1.15pm... and was it ever in the middle of nowhere!!! Its easily the most remotely located stadium iv ever been to... amazing really. I was worried as there were no bars about to rely on watching the holland game..
Upon entering the stadium, we found a big screen to watch it - 1-0 to the Netherlands, in a game that was much more about grinding out the desired result than a quality match.

Finally, it was time for kick off for the Australia game... The Stadium interior was actually kinda cool. Much smaller and more primitive than Cape Town and Durban, but kinda cool all the same.
Australia started well enough, and as I willed Breciano to just work the keeper from the freekick, we were treated to so much more. Unable to control the awkward bouncing freekick, the keeper could only parry into the path of the onrushing Holman for 1-0... and what a rush it was. The crowd went wild - what an experience.

However, soon enough joy turned to disbelief as another notch in Australian footballing dissapointment was to be handed out. Two defenders failed to clear what they should have on the right wing, the Ghana player centering the ball, and Kewell's effort to clear the subsequent shot was met with a red card.
Whether or not it was a red card is up for debate. Having being 50metres from the incident, near the end where it occured, my first impression was penalty. The way he moved towards the ball to akwardly block it on the line smacked of a diliberate attempt to handle the ball away from goal.
Having watched the replays, I'm not certain either way. All i can say is that it was VERY harsh. He has pushed his chest out with the intention of chesting it away, hands tucked reasonably in to his body. At that speed, hes just misjudged/ mispositioned himself, and the ball has made contact with his bicep/elbow. Of course, it wasnt intentional, but it was a handball. He was on the goal line. He did deny a clear goal. So tragically, the end result seems the only possible one.

Gyan cooly slotted the penalty and relished in the oppertunity to dance right in front of the Australian fans. Cant blame him really.
At this point, it felt like the end of the world... how could Australia win from here... or even get a draw. Surprisingly, Australia dug in to provide a most admirable effort.
Against an opponent backed by the whole of Africa, a man down, and backs against the wall, they did ever so well.
Chipperfield came off the bench to really lift the side... a threat and a half up forward. Kennedy increasing our attacking prowess.
Both teams had their chances, but it was Australia who were on top in the dying stages. One moment will stick with me forever. The ball was fed through to Wilshire, right in front of the Australian fans. He had a golden 1 on 1 chance to give us an incredible win, but slid the ball right into the onrushing keeper..

Its also worth mentioning the continued DISGRACEFUL behaviour of Australian 'Fanatics' Fans at this world cup. Towards the end of the game, Kennedy was called for a foul, in a challenge on the keeper. The reaction of the fans from my corner was to launch about 10-15 beer bottles (many full) onto the field.... I was in the front row and on my feet pleading with the animals to stop... along with a few others. It caught the attention of the neighboring stands and BOOS were directed immensely towards our section...
It was another utter EMBARESSMENT to be associated with Australian fans... They make me sick. Someone could easily have been seriously hurt... full bottles missing volunteers by metres.

The game ended a draw, and whilst mathematically still in the cup, its now out of Australian hands.
We must now hope either Ghana beats Germany, or Germany beats Ghana by 3-4goals...
Of course theres also the small matter of beating an impressive Serbia. Progression now looks unlikely.
Theres still hope, and at the very least i hope Australia continues its improvement against the Serbs in 6 days time.

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