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A script too amazing to be believed
by Paul Kennedy, June 24th, 2010 12:51AM

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TAGS:  france, men's national team, world cup

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[MY VIEW] If you said the USA would go down against England in the fourth minute, fall two goals behind Slovenia in the first half and wait until stoppage time of the Algeria game to get the goal that would put it into the second round, would anyone have believed you?

What makes the USA's run so exceptional was that the drama grew from game to game. And why the Algeria game is so important in captivating a nation about soccer is that the excitement was all about a 1-0 game.

HYPERBOLE. On ESPN's "Around the Horn," talking head Wood Paige had this to say about Landon Donovan's late goal: "one of the great sports moments in history."

GOOD THING ... If the USA had not qualified, its exit from the World Cup would have been buried in sports pages and on the evening news under the 59-59 fifth set between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France at Wimbledon.

MIXED EMOTIONS. What does Freddy Adu think of the USA-Ghana matchup? Here's what he tweeted after the USA and before the Ghana game: "Ok guys I'm sorry I can't root against my native country lol. I want both Ghana and Usa to do well." And here's what he said after the Ghana game: "Ghana vs USA. Ouch!"

IMAGE OF THE DAY 1: Former President Bill Clinton cheering Clint Dempsey's first-half goal against Algeria, not realizing that the goal had been called off. Sitting to Clinton's left, FIFA President Sepp Blatter shakes his finger, indicating the goal won't count. To Clinton's right is African soccer confederation federation Issa Hayatou, laughing as Clinton still doesn't get the point that the goal doesn't count. Clinton certainly knew what was at stake. Late in the game, he was seen biting his nails.

(In the USA's bid to win the right to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, Clinton's seat at the World Cup next to Blatter and Hayatou is priceless. Clinton is the honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee. Blatter and Hayatou are two of the key power brokers on the FIFA executive committee that will decide the two hosts on Dec. 2.)

IMAGE OF THE DAY 2: The Ghanaian players sitting on the bench and arguing where they stand in Group D after Germany has gone ahead in their game in the second half and Australia has just scored two quick goals against Serbia in Nelspruit. The Black Stars began the evening cheering on Australia but suddenly faced the prospect that the Socceroos might make up their five-goal difference against Ghana. As it was, Serbia's goal put it within one goal of overtaking Ghana.

ENFANT TERRIBLE: Rafik Saifi, the late substitute whose shot was saved by Tim Howard on the Algerian attack that immediately preceded the U.S. attack that led to Landon Donovan's winning goal, isn't known as the bad boy of Algerian soccer for nothing. After Wednesday's game, he punched an Algerian reporter, apparently in response to an article she had written about Saifi.

NO WONDER ... The Algerians didn't think much of their chances of beating the USA. The Algerian soccer federation president ripped members of the EN (short for "équipe nationale" or "national team") for bringing their suitcases with them to Pretoria, planning to fly back home via Johannesburg after the U.S. game instead of returning to their base in Durban if they went through to the second round.

QUOTES OF THE DAY:
French daily Le Parisien on the French national team:
"Having the worst team in the World Cup was already unbearable. Having the most stupid is just intolerable.”

French sports daily L'Equipe:
"To take people for imbeciles might be an amusing game, but you have to know when to stop."



0 comments
  1. Kenneth Barr
    commented on: June 24, 2010 at 2:15 a.m.
    Well, leave it to the French to totally trash their team. However, the criticisms of Domenech are right on. He stopped respecting his players.

  1. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis
    commented on: June 24, 2010 at 7:44 a.m.
    But it is so satisfying to see it happening to the French. Remember when it happened to the US team? July 1998?

  1. Marc Silverstein
    commented on: June 24, 2010 at 8:24 a.m.
    From what I understand the reporter who was punched by Rafik was female...either way an idiot.

  1. Rod Hagwood
    commented on: June 25, 2010 at 1:31 a.m.
    Saifi punched a woman? Whaaaaa?


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