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World Cup 2010: Australia's spirit shines through in Ghana draw
Paul Wilson at Royal Bafokeng Stadium - 3 years ago

As one door opens for Australia, another one slams in their faces. Tim Cahill is back for the final group game against Serbia but Harry Kewell must sit it out after the unintentional handball he fears has killed his World Cup. With just one point from their first two games Australia have the most work to do in Group D, but both Cahill and Kewell realise that if Serbia can be conquered the possibility of England raises its head.

"Stuart Pearce was sitting behind me at the Ghana game, so I said hello," Everton's Cahill said. "I think England are a great example of how difficult this World Cup is. They're one of the most expensive teams in the world and they're struggling to win a game. I can't imagine the amount of pressure they're under. I'm not that surprised, though. USA and Slovenia are good teams. People criticising England probably need to be a bit more educated on the standard of the teams they are playing against.

"It'd be good to meet them but first we've got to beat Serbia, and that's one of the hardest games we're going to have in this tournament. They have so many players who play at a high level in Europe, but we're a team and we're going to stick together and see this through."

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Kewell, who has been given a one-match ban, is simply hoping there is going to be a next round for Australia – otherwise his red card for handling Jonathan Mensah's shot on the line will mean his World Cup lasts no more than 24 minutes.

"Of course we would like to play England in the next round, I think we'd play anyone in the next round at the moment," he said. "The results here have thrown a few teams, and England get scrutinised for every mistake they make. It's a shame England haven't got the results they wanted but they are a great team and I'm quite sure they will be there near the end."

The same cannot be said of either Australia or Ghana after their 1-1 draw here. Considering the Australians played for more than an hour with 10 men, holding Ghana probably counted as an upset, but the Africans had few clues about how to make their numerical superiority count and could now be eliminated if they lose to Germany.

There is every chance of that happening, too, unless the Black Stars can find a more reliable goalkeeper than the Wigan Athletic reserve Richard Kingson, who gifted Brett Holman the opening goal by allowing Mark Bresciano's free-kick to bounce off his chest. When Ghana answered through Asamoah Gyan's penalty after Kewell's dismissal in the 25th minute, it appeared Australia would be overwhelmed – but a combination of dogged defending and African wastefulness in trying to shoot from distance kept the scores level.

Indeed, Australia could count themselves unlucky not to have pinched the game by the end, with Scott Chipperfield, Luke Wilkshire and Nikita Rukavytsya all missing passable opportunities.

"Any football fan in the world can't ask for any more from a player to go out and give a performance like that," the Australia captain, Lucas Neill, said. "OK, we made mistakes, but the reaction and the spirit epitomises what it is to be Australian. We fight to the end. We have unbelievable belief. We're still here and the nation shouldn't give up on us, because we haven't given up."

Though Ghana did wake up to the danger in stoppage time, when Mensah and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie went close, it was too late. That could be the story of the World Cup for both these sides.

"I will be more than happy with a scoreless draw against Germany, that would take us through," the Ghana coach, Milovan Rajevac, said. "We know what Germany are, but they lost against Serbia so anything is possible."

Fifa will look into reports that Australian fans threw plastic bottles on to the pitch during the game, although it is understood that no player was hit. The Australian federation spokesman, Rod Allen, said: "We don't condone that sort of behaviour no matter how frustrating a match has become."

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

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