The England team have finally arrived in South Africa – a little after Brazil it has to be said - but still with enough time to prepare for their first match against the USA on June 12th. The USA keeper Marcus Hahnemann has already said how relaxed he is about the match and that all the pressure and expectation will be on England, so it will be an interesting one to watch. There have been a few surprises already, especially the exclusion of Theo Walcott, but one commentator who wasn’t surprised was Chelsea star and motivational speaker Graeme Le Saux, who has been busy contributing to Radio 5 Live.
The team will face many pressures over the following weeks and Gary Lineker has highlighted the great opportunities ahead, but also the questions over fitness. Other potential challenges include not only the altitude, but also the new Jabulani ball. England keeper David James has been among several keepers who have voiced their concerns – Australian and Fulham star Mark Schwarzer revealing the ball has a ‘mind of its own’ – so the players will need time to adapt. Alan Hansen, a popular choice on the after dinner circuit, believes that England may reach the semi-finals but at a push, and his favourites for the final are Spain and Brazil – with Spain being the one to watch – so there is a lot to play for. Even James Corden is joining forces with Dizzee Rascal and Simon Cowell to create their own unofficial anthem for the England team.
The stories abound both on and off the pitch in South Africa, especially in Rustenburg. The King of the Bafokeng Nation who greeted the players this morning presides over the richest tribe in the world. In 1924 the world’s greatest supply of platinum deposits were found on their land, leading to the King’s riches and the royal and presidential suites present in the England team’s hotel. The effects of the World Cup will of course also affect work and business at home, and a recent YouGov poll stated that 38% of people plan to miss work in order to watch the World Cup – a fact that after dinner speaker and presenter Adrian Chiles will surely not be objecting to!
So for savvy companies out there, the answer may be to ensure that the World Cup can be incorporated into office life in some way – be it on a screen in reception, or an excuse for an office excursion to the pub... Ice-cream anyone?
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016