Pitch caves in late in WC quarter-final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pitch caves in late in WC quarter-final

By Dennis Passa 03/07/2010 05:12:28 AM Comments (0)

The pitch at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium went from bad to worse during Friday's World Cup quarter-final match when the already delicate turf appeared to give way to form a sinkhole late in the match.

In the second minute of injury time, Netherlands substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar was holding the ball up in the right corner at the north end of the field and several Brazilian players were trying to kick it from under his feet.

The pitch gave way and a large hole appeared in the turf.

The Netherlands beat Brazil 2-1 and reached the World Cup quarterfinals.

Stadium venue manager Archie Charalambous confirmed that the turf in that corner had "flipped up" and it was quickly placed back down. But television footage showed the ground opening up and sand flying in the air.

"We weren't made aware of any major problems with the turf," Charalambous said. "I know what you're referring to and the grass was quickly placed back down there."

Stadium staff had worked nearly around-the-clock in the five days leading up the match. The turf was first damaged when heavy rain fell in the Port Elizabeth area about two weeks ago, forcing the field to be saved from pre-match training by teams at the new stadium.

But five group matches had taken its toll, and the second half of Uruguay's win over South Korea in the round of 16 last weekend was played in steady rain, causing more damage.

Ahead of the England-Slovenia match, England captain Steven Gerrard said the field had its problems but he had "certainly played on worse."

Before Friday's match, though, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said the field wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be. And most sections of the pitch appeared to hold up well after Friday's match.

Two hours after the match ended, two stadium workers were inspecting the problem corner, but no work was being done.

The stadium has hosted seven World Cup matches, and its eighth and last - the playoff for third place - will be held on July 10.

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