DURBAN – You are Algeria.
You have made only one previous World Cup appearance in history.
You lost your opening match 1-0 to, of all teams, Slovenia, a side that had not been to soccer’s big dance in 28 years.
And now you start talking smack against, of all teams, England?
Why wake up the sleeping Lions?
Indeed, the tongue-wagging of Algeria’s Yazid Mansouri prior to Friday’s showdown in Cape Town will only add to the motivation of an England squad that has been fried and vilified since drawing 1-1 with the U.S. on Saturday.
The smart choice would have been for the Algerians to keep their yaps shut and let the unforgiving British press tear into England goalie Robert Green for his “Hand of Clod” hiccup. When it comes to rip job, the boys on Fleet St. take a back seat to no one.
Instead, the Algerians are making public statements about taking advantage of England’s wobbly goaltending situation when the two sides square off at Green Point Stadium.
“We will play on that,” Algeria’s Yazid Mansouri told reporters.
That’s all well and good. But in order to do that, you have to muster up offence.
You have to get shots on the English goal.
You have to pressure them.
What evidence is there to indicate Algeria can pull something like that off?
Still, the Algerians insist they will fire from long distance at Green, who is expected to get the start.
Mansouri wasn’t finished. He still had more to say, this time commenting on potential chemistry issues on the English squad.
“England have great individual players but we saw that maybe the team is not at its very best,” Mansouri said.
He is partly right. The goalie certainly wasn’t.
And Green has paid for it in numerous ways.
His personal life has been ripped wide open for all the public to see, including details of his recent breakup with Guelph model Elizabeth Minett. The Green camp has been forced to go on the defensive, insisting the split had nothing to do with the goaltender’s on-the-field performance.
Now he is being mocked on YouTube, with the infamous play depicted by stick men made out of Lego.
The mockery continues.
English midfielder Gareth Barry, meanwhile, will be inserted into the lineup against Algeria. Barry had been hobbled by an ankle injury suffered against Tottenham Hotspur in early May.