Saturday, 29 May 2010

England must set a precedent and deny a president on June 12

ENGLAND will have to set a precedent and deny a president on June 12 when they open their World Cup campaign against the United States.

Famously beaten 1-0 by the baseball-crazy Americans at the 1950 World Cup in Belo Horizonte in their only previous competitive encounter, today a certain Mr Barack Obama came out fighting for the Yanks.

Ranked at eight in the latest FIFA list, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Co should have the edge this time over the team in 14th place, but I guess Bill Wright, Stan Mortenson and Co were saying that 60 years ago.

Today President Obama told his men on their departure for Irene Lodge, two miles from where I’m based in Centurion: “I just want to say how incredibly proud we are of the team. Everybody’s going to be rooting for you.

“Althought sometimes we don’t remember here in the US, this is going to be the biggest world stage there is. You’re going to be representing all of us. We’re incredibly proud of what you’ve done already, we are going to be proud of what you do when you get to South Africa.

“And somebody in the Oval Office will be watching ESPN to make sure things are going okay. You’ve got a wonderful supporter in Bill Clinton, he‘s helped make sure this team gets all the support it needs.

“The vice-president is going to see you live, I tried to volunteer but they wouldn’t let me!”

I’m sure newly nearly-elected Prime Minister David Cameron will be saying something similar next Tuesday when England depart... but somehow it doesn’t quite have the same gravitas.

And then you’ve got Alexi Lalas, the hairiest man ever to play for the US, saying this after helping his side upset England in a friendly back in 1993: "The US is in a great position. They play the underdog role very well and, while some might see it as a shock if they win, I don't think it should be.

"England are not as good as they think they are and the US are better than some people give them credit for.

"This is the easiest group the US have ever been in and it would be a complete failure if they didn't qualify."


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