More African struggles; U.S. touch to Serbia win

[GROUP D] African countries continue to struggle as short-handed Australia held Ghana to a 1-1 tie. Former U.S. U-17 international Neven Subotic helped Serbia upset Germany, 1-0, on Friday. Here 's what we liked and didn't like about Friday and Saturday’s Group D action ...

What we liked …

-- The Aussie press dubbed Pim Verbeek, the Socceroos’ Dutch coach, “Pimbecile,” after their 4-0 drubbing by Germany in the opener, but Australia bounced back on Saturday to hold Ghana to a 1-1 tie despite playing a man down for 66 minutes.

-- Starting and playing the full 90 for Serbia in its 1-0 win over Germany was U-17 U.S. international Neven Subotic. The 21-year-old, who was a late sub in Serbia’s 1-0 opening loss to Ghana, played in the 2005 U-17 World Cup for the USA, then returned to Germany, where he lived from from age 1 to 11, when his parents immigrated to the USA. Subotic was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina to Serbian parents. He opted to represent Serbia after his bid to play for Germany turned down because he did not meet citizenship requirements. “I’ve lived 14 years in Germany, so this was a bit odd and bizarre,” he told the German press after Serbia’s upset victory.

-- When Serb goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic saved Lukas Podolski’s second-half penalty spot it marked the first time Germany failed to convert a World Cup penalty kick since 1974, when Poland’s Jan Tomaszewski stopped Uli Hoeness in the only other German failure from the spot in regulation play. Stojkovic’s save preserved the lead created by Milan Jovanociv’s 38th minute goal.

What we didn’t like …

-- Africa’s World Cup? Not so far. Ghana’s tie means that after the six African nations’ first 10 games they have just one win under their belt, Ghana’s 1-0 opener against Serbia. The combined record of African nations before the Saturday afternoon's Cameroon-Denmark clash is 1 win, 5 losses and 4 ties.

-- For the second straight game, Australia lost a key player to a red card. In the opening 4-0 loss to Germany it was Tim Cahill for a foul from behind. Against Ghana, it was Harry Kewell for blocking a goal-bound shot with his arm. Hard to tell was whether Kewell intentionally used his arm to stop the close-range blast, but referee Roberto Rosetti did not hesitate in pulling out the red card and pointing to the penalty spot. Asamoah Gyan converted to equalize Australia’s 11th minute goal by Brett Holman, who struck when Cameroon keeper Richard Kingston bobbled a long-range free kick.

-- Miroslav Klose scored his 11th World Cup goal in Germany’s opener against Australia to move with four goals of the all-time record. Against the Serbs, Klose received a yellow card in the 12th minute. That referee Alberto Undiano showed four more yellows within 20 minutes should have clued Klose in to be careful, yet he committed another foolish, unnecessary foul to earn his second yellow and an ejection.

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