Tuesday, June 15, 2010

International reaction Ghana win vs Serbia

I've been looking to see if the Serbian media would hound Ghana's coach Milovan Rajevac for, perhaps, being unpatriotic.

It's happened before

Although it is an issue largely ignored by other media outlets, Milovan's situation does recall the ugliness that followed the heavy defeat suffered by then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) at the hands of Yugoslavia when the two countries met in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.

The 9-0 thumping in Gelsenkirchen remains a low point for African football and had life-changing ramifications for the players, who went from hero to zero, unpaid for their exploits and denied cars and properties promised them by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko as a reward for World Cup qualification.

Many of the surviving members of that side today live in poverty.

Serbia seething

Serbia’s national newspapers, thankfully, left their 56-year old son alone. But they declared a period of mourning after the national team’s 1-0 defeat to Ghana.

They must now win twice to guarantee qualification for the last 16. That seems unlikely if the mood of the Belgrade press pack is anything to go by.

Sportske’s Boris Jovanovic declared the defeat a missed opportunity and appeared to blame the players’ desire.

“I now feel empty, somehow denied. We are accustomed to experiencing it as a matter of life or death and in this we are not alone but looking to happier folk will not help.

“You cannot go to the supermarket shelves and buy some new DNA.

“Our footballers are no different. But listening to their comments I realized that I do not understand in football. Because I think our fight was desperate and it has nothing to do with luck.”

Interesting. I wonder if Ghana's Daily Graphic would have been so harsh. Maybe 90 Minutes.

The national daily, Blic, labelled the defeat self-destruction, blaming manager Radomir Antic’s failure to impose an attacking philosophy on his team’s play in the country’s first World Cup finals match as a fully independent nation.

“Antic was not even close to imposing a rhythm, [the team] mostly missed out the midfield and the main weapons did not function,” declared a Blic sport editorial.

Jovanovic and especially Krasić were harmless, and the most prominent players were no better.”

Injured Serbian striker Bosko Jankovic moaned in the same paper, saying:

“The Germans are a terrible team [to play next].

“They clearly demonstrated that they are the big favourites to win the group. They play excellent and effective football. Ozil is a great player, and Germany do not feel the absence of Ballack.

“It would be better to play against Germany at the end. This match with them comes at the worst time.”

National daily of record Politika got in on the act, disagreeing with Antic’s analysis that Serbia did not play poorly in the match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

“Our national team coach Radomir Antic was unable to hide his expression of dissatisfaction after the loss in [Serbia's] début game at the World Championships,” said Politika’s sports editor Đ. Smiljanic.

“With the name and emblem of Serbia, however, he did not agree with opinions that team played poorly or that his selection was wrong.

“In France ['98] the national team ended with a 2-1 defeat to Holland, and four years ago SCG [Serbia and Montenegro] suffered a debacle, as it again lost to the Netherlands 1-0, Argentina 6-0 and Ivory Coast 3-2 and finished last in the World Cup.

“Unfortunately, this World Cup has started 1-0 defeat to Ghana, so it is the fifth defeat in a row with a 3-13 goal-difference.”

Ghana's glee

Ghana saw a different wave of nationalism get round the nation. Many here also felt the Serbian would be caught in some weird complicity and the relief after the win was something like this.

Meantime if you don't wanna forget the scores and keep track of stuff, you can download a free ESPN Wall Chart here

Till then.

Or follow me personally @garyalsmith