Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Optimism Turns to Despair for England Fans in Afghanistan

WORLD Cup fever continued as troops at Camp Bastion watched England take on Algeria in their second group match.

SAC Graeme Simmonds (left) and SAC Ryan Hall (right) from the Camp Bastion Fire Section get ready to cheer for England

Service personnel from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force gathered around screens throughout British Camp Bastion to watch England continue with their world cup dream.

Fans were optimistic prior to the match with most predicting a straightforward win following the disappointment of the opening match against the USA, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Corporal Scott Gilson, a flight operations assistant with 903 Expeditionary Air Wing Air Operations at Bastion and a Nottingham Forest fan, predicted a 3-0 win for England and said: “this one will be easy”.

Warrant Officer Mark Walsh, a flight operations manager from air traffic control at Bastion and an avid Manchester City fan, predicted a 3-1 win for England and said: “Barry will score 2 and Wright Phillips 1”.

England fans gather at the RAF Fire Section at Camp Bastion while live interviews go on to the BBC with Cpl James Johnson (left) and Cpl Craig Butterworth (right) both from the Royal Air Force Police Section

Corporal Natalie Williams, from the Royal Air Force Fire and Rescue Team at Bastion, predicted a 3-1 win and said: “this will be a tough game and we’ve got to play better than we did against the USA, but I think that Rooney will score tonight. Also I’m a Portsmouth fan so I’m delighted that James is playing in goal”.

SAC Lee Cuthbertson from 2MT (left) Cpl Nat Williams from the Fire Section (middle) and SAC Andy Houston from 2MT (right) get ready to support England in their Second, world Cup Match against Algeria.

At half time, with the score at a disappointing 0-0, the mood around Bastion was one of frustration, but with the expectation that things could only get better.

The majority of fans were still confident that England would win. Lance Corporal Aaron Hegarty from 1 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment and a Coventry City fan, predicted a 2-1 win and said: “I expect Gerrard to have a massive second half and to score a goal”.

Senior Aircraftsman Joel Bull, a member of the Royal Auxilary Air Force but assigned to 1 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment and a Tottenham Hotspur fan, agreed that England would win 2-1, but said: “I expect Algeria to score first, just to make the game more painful to watch”.

Sergeant Talib Sample, from the United States Crash Fire Rescue attached to the Royal Air Force Fire and Rescue Team at Bastion, said: “Before the match I predicted a 2-0 win for England and I still believe that will be the outcome. I look forward to a great second half, although I prefer watching the Atlanta Falcons play ‘real football’”.

England fans feeling the pain as they miss another shot on goal. England Fans watching the England v Algeria match at the RAF Fire Section, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan

The second half got underway and unfortunately followed the same pattern as the first, with the fans getting increasingly frustrated as the game petered out into a 0-0 draw. Few decent chances were made by either side and the fans earlier optimism had turned into despair, as England appeared to be on the brink of leaving the competition. That said, a win against Slovenia on 23 June will mean that England progress to the second round.

Troops throughout Afghanistan watched the game where possible. 300 television sets had been sent to Afghanistan in order for the off duty troops to watch the games and DVDs will be sent out to the forward operating bases and patrol bases to allow the front line soldiers to see the much anticipated game.

Pictures: Cpl Ashley Keates RAF

1 comment:

  1. For those who watched the would have been better off catching up on some for sending DVDs to the FBs....why not send them a good film instead....Mr Bean comes to mind....