Do or die for England | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 23, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 23, 2010

South Africa 2010 FIFA World CupPreview

Do or die for England


WILL CAPELLO PICK COLE? England midfielder Joe Cole (L) tries to dodge past goalkeeper David James (R) as they warm up ahead of a training session at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg yesterday. Under-fire England take on Slovenia today in their third and final group match.Photo: AFP

England, with John Terry's mutiny quelled, take on Slovenia here Wednesday knowing they must raise their game considerably or face the ignominy of crashing out of the World Cup at the group stages for the first time since 1958.
The opening 1-1 draw with the United States and the uninspiring goalless stalemate with Algeria has left a team hyped up as one of the pre-tournament favourites with little room for manoeuvre.
Three points against Slovenia will ensure England progress to the last 16 and a possible date with Germany.
Defeat and they will be heading for the airport, while a draw will leave their fate hanging on the result of the United States v Algeria game being played simultaneously in Pretoria.
The build-up to this defining moment for England and Fabio Capello, who is widely expected to resign should they lose, has been overshadowed by Terry's abortive challenge to the Italian's iron-fist reign.
While the former skipper will start against Slovenia, Capello has left no doubt that he was enraged by the Chelsea defender's public comments of discord in the England camp.
Capello responded by demanding a "big performance" from Terry to make up for for the player's "big mistake".
Underperforming Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and co. left the pitch in Cape Town on Friday night with boos from a section of their fans ringing in their ears -- a sound even less appealing than the drone of the vuvuzela.
Capello says he is "mystified" at the gulf between England's polished displays in qualifying and training and their toothless performances in Group C.
Yet as they approach this defining moment England can take heart from history.
In 1990 the Three Lions found themselves in a similar predicament.
Under then manager Bobby Robson they had opened their Italia '90 campaign with two draws, against the Republic of Ireland and Holland, leaving them requiring a win against Egypt to qualify.
They made it, and went on to reach the semifinals.
Capello believes his England can emulate the class of 1990 and Les Bleus four years ago.
"I hope that after playing a big performance the minds of the players will be free and we can play like the England that I know," the Italian said.
The England boss must decide whether to make significant changes to his line-up.
One of Terry's gripes for example was Capello's refusal to play Joe Cole -- arguably England's best player in Germany four years ago.
With Jamie Carragher suspended, Matthew Upson will start alongside Terry in central defence while striker Emile Heskey could be replaced.
Unlike England, table toppers Slovenia need only a draw to progress after a 1-0 defeat of Algeria and a 2-2 draw with the United States.
Slovenia captain Robert Koren scents an upset.
"They (England) didn't show the type of football we expect of them," he said. "It gives us some hope, but we will see."
Whatever happens on the pitch an electric atmosphere is assured off it with England's sizeable travelling fan club set to wake up this sleepy Eastern Cape port.
Whether England wake up is another matter.

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