World Cup: African teams falter in tuneups as Dutch and Portuguese get serious
The first World Cup to be played on the African continent might be short of African participation in the later stages if Tuesday's results are anything to go by.
Ghana, still reeling from the news that injury had forced midfield leader Michael Essien to skip the tournament, was trounced, 4-1, by the Netherlands in Rotterdam. The Dutch goals came courtesy of Dirk Kuyt, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie.
Van Persie's goal was his 17th for the Oranje, tying him with former Netherlands standouts Ruud Gullit and Johan Neeskens. Gullit, incidentally, has voiced interest in becoming Australia's coach after the World Cup, his short stint with the Galaxy no doubt having prepared him perfectly for that.
Asamoah Gyan scored Ghana's lone goal, taking advantage of Dutch defending that was less than watertight.
In Covilha, Portugal, meanwhile, Cameroon had an equally difficult time and was not only beaten, 3-1, by Portugal but had star forward Samuel Eto'o ejected in the process after he picked up a second yellow card for dangerous play.
Raul Meireles grabbed a couple of goals for the Portuguese team and Nani scored one. Cameroon's goal came on a header by Achille Webo.
--Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Netherlands' Mark van Bommel, right and Ghana's Stephen Appiah, left, vie for the ball during their friendly soccer match in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Credit: Ermindo Armino, AP.