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Three Lions whimper

England delivered one of their worst tournament performances for years when they were held to a goalless draw by Algeria on Friday to leave their World Cup qualification hanging on the final matches. Dhiman Sarkar reports.

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 23:57 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times

Don Fabio's underperforming team had Paul Ince upset and caused a security breach in Cape Town where an angry fan entered the England dressing room and reportedly confronted David Beckham before being led out. Beckham is here as part of coach Fabio Capello’s staff.

The English FA has complained to FIFA about this. Organising committee officials said CCTV footage would be monitored and security officials questioned to find out how this happened some 45m after England's barren, bland draw against Algeria at the Green Point Stadium on Friday night.

Security at the Cape Town stadium is being managed by the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) after stewards went on strike over unpaid wages. On Friday, police fired rubber bullets at protestors injuring one, according to reports.

Ince, here as an expert for South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), ripped into the Three Lions for whom this trip to Africa has been anything but a safari. “Algeria deserve a pat on the back for showing a greater desire to win,” he said.

England’s first black captain, who’s had the rare distinction of playing for Man United, Liverpool nd Inter Milan, also criticised Wayne Rooney. “He was disappointing in the first match and today, he was totally out of sorts. The problem with this team is that the passion seemed missing and we are a passionate nation.”

“He didn't seem to be the Rooney we know. Everything he did today didn't seem to come off — his passes, control and shooting,” Ince, 42, said. The doughty former midfielder was also unhappy with wide midfielder Aaron Lennon, saying even though he's been outstanding for Tottenham Hotspurs, “at international level, we don't see much of him.”

Before the finals began, United coach Sir Alex Ferguson had been apprehensive about how Premier League players would
perform given their exhausting club schedule. Ince agreed that the the seasons could leave footballers knackered but refused to cite that as an excuse. “Our league is very demanding and very physical and players of our top clubs play the semifinals and finals of most tournaments every season. But you don’t cite that as an excuse. I don't care how tired you are, you need to find the energy. This is the World Cup.”

The only player who got some praise was skipper Steven Gerrard. “Out of a bad bunch, he was the only one trying to do something,” Ince said. Just after the match, Gerrard told SABC that “we weren’t good enough in the front third. We weren't aggressive enough. There can be no excuses now.” When the draw was done last December at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Group G was said to be the Group of Death because it had Brazil, Portugaland Ivory Coast. Group C was supposed to be a walk in the park for England and the USA. Thanks to the World Cup’s smallest country and its only representative from the Arab-speaking world, it’s been anything but.

Rooney apologises

Wayne Rooney has apologised to England fans after criticising them for jeering the team on Friday nigth. “It’s nice to see your own fans booing you,” was what he shouted a camera on the field.

First Published: Jun 19, 2010 02:03 IST