Sunday 17 December 2017

Donovan has revenge on his mind as USA face Africa's last hope

USA v Ghana
Today, 7:30, Live RTE2, ITV1

Tim Rich

There are nearly 600 miles separating Pretoria from Port Elizabeth but news of Landon Donovan's stoppage-time goal in the Loftus Versfeld travelled with the speed of a thunderclap.

It meant that, of the two teams who were swapping shirts on the pitch, Slovenia were now out of the World Cup and England suddenly found themselves thrown towards Germany's cold embrace.

It was, however, appropriate that Bill Clinton should have been in Pretoria to see the US overcome Algeria at the death. To borrow his own nickname, Bob Bradley's boys have become the Comeback Kids of this World Cup.

When Donovan went to collect his man-of-the-match award at the Loftus Versfeld, he dissolved into an emotional speech in which he mentioned two of his great hurts; his divorce from his wife, the actress Bianca Kajlich, and the United States' elimination from the 2006 World Cup. However, if his marriage did not permit Donovan a second chance, football did. This evening, Donovan will come face-to-face with the Ghana side that four years ago in Nuremberg dumped America out of the World Cup.

For the good of the tournament, many might hope Ghana prevail. The front cover of Fifa's brochure for this World Cup features a photograph of Nelson Mandela holding the trophy next to a headline that reads "A Time for Africa". Africa, partly through its own incompetence, partly by the ill-fortune of Ivory Coast once more being thrown into a 'Group of Death', has missed its time.

Ghana, although decent in the group stage, have yet to score a goal from open play, while the US have had no such difficulty. The support of a continent may be with Ghana but momentum is with the Americans. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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