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Chris Hatherall - England dent eternal optimism

Published: 20 Jun 2010 - 12:46:35

Sometimes everything just seems to be set up perfectly for an England victory and it's impossible to imagine any other outcome. And Friday in Cape Town was one of those days.

So what on earth went wrong?

Fans and journalists here in the Mother City are still shaking their heads as they walk; trying to work it all out.

On the day of the Algeria game there was real excitement and belief amongst all those who follow England.

Even the most cynical hacks seemed to think Fabio's boys were going to do it - and I know that for certain because when it was my turn to join an unofficial sweepstake all I could see was a long list of two-nils and three-nils.

Only one person at that stage had bet on Algeria to score first and no-one had predicted anything other than an England victory (although Steve Howard from The Sun had yet to partake so it wouldn't surprise me if he is currently counting his ill-gotten winnings).

- England 0-0 Algeria Match Report

- England News

Outside the stadium everything seemed right. The V&A Waterfront was jammed packed of smiling, happy England fans drinking in waterside bars in beautiful sunshine - a far cry from predictions the match could be played in snow.

On the big screens we watched America's stunning comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Slovenia and when the Germans cocked up too it all seemed set for a glorious day.

I couldn't resist sending my brothers a text which read: "Chilling in a bar by the water in Cape Town watching Germany miss penalties. Does life get any better?"

Then, inside the stadium, the atmosphere was superb. You could actually hear the singing over the vuvuzelas and England fans way outnumbered their opponents.

Surely England had to win? Of course, we all know it didn't happen.

The bubble was brutally burst by a miserable performance and boos at the final whistle. Maybe we had already had too much of a good thing.

I'll settle for a rainy day and a Germany victory on television when England arrive in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.



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CHRIS HATHERALL has been covering football at the highest level - and Brentford - for 20 years. He has written for most UK newspapers and many overseas through the Hayters agency, and covers Premiership and Champions League football for publications in Japan, the Middle East and Ireland. He covers England at home and overseas, and this is his fourth World Cup where he hopes, once again, to see the trophy come back home.

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