Mexican stand off

A 10-man Angolan side hung on for a 0-0 draw over the highly fancied but ultimately frustrated Mexico in their Group D clash in Hanover.

    Hands up if you want a goal: Mexican coach Ricardo La Volpe

    The scoreless draw makes a further mockery of the FIFA World Rankings as the 4th ranked Mexicans could not account for the 57th ranked Africans, and with the hapless USA also ranked 5th in the world, questions must be raised on the blatant overrating of the CONCACAF teams.

    The result means that Mexico are not yet certain of a place in the second round, and also means Angola stay alive for another match, along with picking up their first ever World Cup Finals point.

    Angola were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes to play when Kuwait SC midfielder Andre received a yellow card for a deliberate handball, his second caution of the match resulting in expulsion.

    Singaporean referee Shamsul Maidin handed out a total of six yellow cards on the night, five going to the Angolans including Andre’s two entries in the book.

    I'd like a goal as well, but here's
    a red card instead

    The Mexicans were almost on the board in the 56th minute, but some scrambling Angolan defence kept them out.

    Striker Guillermo Franco had tried to chip advancing keeper Joao Ricardo with the keeper getting a glove on the shot, before Jesus Arellano’s follow up effort was cleared off the line by AS Aviacao defender Jamba.

    Understanding the importance of gaining three points against the Africans, Mexican coach Ricardo La Volpe sent on three forwards as substitutes throughout the match, with Monterrey striker Arellano, Cruz Azul’s Jose Fonseca and Ramon Morales from Chivas Guadalajara all unleashed on the Angolan defence.

    Rafael Marquez smashed an 88th minute shot from 30 yards with Joao Ricardo saving the on target bullet, with a cross from the resulting corner hitting the post with the Angolan keeper left sprawling.

    Using their one man advantage El Tri threw everything at their less fancied opponents but couldn’t find the elusive goal, with the unconventional Angolan custodian Joao Ricardo putting in a man of the match performance.

    First half action

    Earlier, an effort from long range by Mexican defender Carlos Salcido in the first minute of the match had half the crowd celebrating a goal as the ball rippled the net, however the shot had sailed just over the bar.

    A 14th minute Marquez free kick went through the Angolan wall and hit the post, keeper Joao Ricardo livid with his flimsy human barrier.

    Joao Ricardo provided some heart stopping moments for the Africans, but also made some important saves, none more so than against Villareal striker Franco from close range in the 45th minute.

    Mexico now face Portugal in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday 21st June, while Angola take on Iran in Leipzig on the same day.

    With Portugal playing Iran on Saturday in Frankfurt, Group D is very much an open affair.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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