After two red cards to arguably Australia’s best ever players in two straight games it was now or never for Australia in a do or die clash with Serbia. Australia had to win and hope for a Ghana win or Germany to thump Gharnia Fructus by 3or4 goals, minimum. This is how the day went.
Basing ourselves in Johannesburg we took the 3-4 hour drive to the far east of the country to Nelspruit. Known as the major stopover for Kruger National Park the cities new purpose built stadium is a new step for the region. (Arguably the best stadium thus far we went to.) Never before has a construction like this been here and the town had a bit of atmosphere in comparison to Rustenburg. But I almost didn’t get there with what was later described as an eventful stopover at the half way point.
At the end of my dodgy Steers (fast food chain) burger I dropped my last bit of bun on the road. Soon after along comes a kitten and stands near it - on the middle road of the car park. I get told that I have just killed the cat by the others
I tried and shoo it away before it gets run over. “Pst, Pst!” I say with a waving motion of my hands. From behind a van, a man takes offence to what I have just done and says “Why are you doing that to me?” He than craps on of which, after one attempt to say that I was talking to the cat I turned my back and ignored him.
Soon after some local bloke comes over to me and says “My Credit card is not working can you lend me some money for petrol?” I say no after a minute thinking about it. (I had my reasons) Within 20 seconds - my next sip of drink I almost swallowed a bee and spat it out, spitting drink all over the car. What a 5-minute spell that was in my life.
We set off again driving past numerous fires with no one to control them. A lot of South Africa thus far seems to live in a haze and it is from these fires starting up that the horizon always looks polluted. The land seems very dry too (maybe because of the year). Highlighted in mostly yellows and
shades of brown, (unless it’s scorched black). It doesn’t lead to an exciting drive but it’s always exciting to drive through areas where road signs say ‘Hijack Zone’ - Something which, the drive to Nelspruit doesn’t disappoint. I later spoke to these South Africans I stayed with and they see it as a bit of a joke that a sign will fix the problem.)
The crazy SAFA drivers are more of a concern though. If you are going 20 km/hr over the limit than that is too slow. It is unacceptable if you cut across someone only 4 times an hour.
We arrived early and watched England and USA win and it was looking good. If Australia gets through to the knockout stages we are on the easy quarter of the draw. But if we don’t than we follow first from our Group, which would probably be Germany. This meant potentially we could see Germany vs. England in the Round of 16. Followed by Q/F of the winner of that game vs. Argentina than possibly Spain in the S/F. This World Cup was starting to look good.
First preference was obviously to see Australia get through but
with this new information to fall back on I think it helped us all enjoy this last game more so than the rest. We were 4 rows from the front and the only 4 Australians in the first row of Australians going back to the roof. In front and to the right were SAFA’s, to our left and in front were 4 Serbians.
A magnificent rendition of the national anthem was sung and we were all pumped up for a miracle. Within the first few minutes some girl in a red jersey decides to dive and the crowd had their man for the rest of the game. Some bloke with an ‘ic’ in his name would be booed for the rest of the match eventually seeing him subbed with 20 minutes to go. My throat almost regurgitated on itself I booed so loud. But that was just part of it as I lost my voice within 6 minutes. Recovering from a few swigs of beer I was at it all night producing red cards as I pleased.
A combined effort from us meant we bought some red cardboard and cut out numerous red cards to hand out to
other fans and made a mini red card bay. This was our way to joke about how we have come half way round the world to watch our team get two ludicrous red card decisions in the World Cup Finals. It didn’t matter which team fouled - everything was a red card. I was even doing the shoo go away technique prior to showing my red cards. Even with it being unsuccessful earlier on in the day.
0-0 for most of the game it was a game of chess with the managers waiting to see who will force the issue. Than news came that Germany took the lead. An immediate sub and we score 1-0. Now we are 3 goals away from progressing, if we combine Australia and Germany’s scores from now on. Holman minutes later scores and we a jumping around like crazy. Some prick in the stands starts a rumour that Germany is up 2-0. Now we are only 1 goal away with about 10 minutes to go.
With Serbia pushing, this is possible. I am keeping calm but at the same time getting some goose bumps. Jared is starting to think we are in already.
“Oh my God Drew we need one more goal! One more goal and we are through” I’m trying to calm him down with my hands whilst watching the action. He then turns to me again. “One more goal! That is all we need we are so close now!” I ignore him from this moment as Schwarzer fumbles and Serbia score. I sit down. Jared has no idea what is happening and that was a setback that only Germany could turn around.
It didn’t happen. We soon get the news that it is only 1-0 to Germany and it is now concentration in not making Serbia go through in the dying moments. As Jared put it. “If we are going down you are going down with us!” And that is what made it a great night. It was the team giving it all they had and never saying never. We got to yell at the balding scalped linesman who made some ordinary calls both ways and in the end we stopped Serbia’s progression. It sucked that Ghana go through with only scoring two penalties but hey I’ve got tickets to England vs. Germany now and the best side of the
knockout draw for the remainder of the tournament.
I hope you now can understand what the heading was all about. It was the worst -case scenario that became even worse but in the end it turned out pretty bloody good for what was eventually the worst case outcome.
Tot: 2.115s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 21; qc: 116; dbt: 0.0682s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb