World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Slovenia (1-0-1) vs. England (0-0-2), 10 a.m.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Sports Network) - Not too many people would have
predicted England would enter its final Group C match at Nelson Mandela Bay
Stadium on Wednesday against Slovenia in third place.
But that is where the Three Lions find themselves, two points back of Slovenia
and behind the United States on goal difference after a lifeless 0-0 draw with
Algeria in their last match.
"This is not the team I recognize from training or from qualifying. We missed
too many passes, lost too many balls," England manager Fabio Capello said
after the scoreless draw. "It was not a good game. We have to do better. We
have another game to play. It's our last chance to continue in the tournament.
The players know what they have to do."
What England must do to avoid a catastrophic early exit on Wednesday is beat
Slovenia, a team that will advance to the second round with a draw against the
Slovenia could have clinched the top spot in the group with a win over the
United States, and it looked to be in good position to do it as it led 2-0
However, the Americans scored early in the second half and got the equalizer
through Michael Bradley before a late goal from Maurice Edu was mysteriously
ruled out, allowing Slovenia to claim a point.
"It was a great match but it shouldn't have happened that we made such dumb
mistakes in the second half," said Slovenia manager Matjaz Kek. "It was a
really tough match and my team showed they were of high quality. We gained a
point today and we are in a very good position."
One player who Kek will have to do without is striker Nejc Pecnik, who was
ruled out for the rest of the tournament after suffering a broken ankle
against the USA, while England defender Jamie Carragher picked up his second
yellow card of the tournament against Algeria, meaning he will miss out
The England team has been heavily criticized in the press and by its own fans
for its play in the first two games, but they can erase all of that with a
strong win over Slovenia, allowing it to start over in the knockout round and
avoid an incredible embarrassment.
06/22 12:53:32 ET