England get chance to avenge shock 1950 defeat by U.S.

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By Mike Collett

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - England will get the chance to avenge one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history when they face the United States in their opening Group C match in Rustenburg next year.

Their meeting at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12 will come nearly 60 years after England, taking part in the World Cup for the first time, lost 1-0 to a ragbag American team in Belo Horizonte in the 1950 World Cup finals in Brazil.

England and Brazil are not the only countries who would like to avenge previous heavy World Cup defeats next year after being grouped with old foes in Friday's draw.

Hosts South Africa would love nothing more than to upset France, who beat them 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup in Marseille, when they meet in their final Group A match.

Greece, who were crushed 4-0 by Argentina in the 1994 World Cup, would like to turn the tables on their South American opponents in Group B.


Nearly 60 years on, though, England's defeat in 1950 -- along with Italy's loss to North Korea in 1966 -- ranks as the biggest upset the tournament has produced.

England, boasting greats like Tom Finney, Stan Mortensen, Billy Wright and future World Cup-winning coach Alf Ramsey, failed to convert a string of chances and lost to the only goal scored by Haitian-born Joe Gaetjens after 38 minutes.

The match demolished England's belief that they were still masters of the game they gave to the world and would win the World Cup just by turning up.

Ramsey, who led England to victory in the finals 16 years later, said it was the worst day he ever endured in his long football career.

England's Italian coach Fabio Capello was not asked about the upset but U.S. coach Bob Bradley said it was a game still talked about back home.

"I did not think about it immediately the draw was made, but it is a game that still resonates with American fans and eventually questions will be asked about it.

"However, the real significance for me and the players is playing England today. 1950 was a long time ago but it would be nice to get the same result as we did then."

The 1966 clash between Brazil and Portugal has never been forgotten either.

Holders Brazil had lost 3-1 to Hungary after an opening win against Bulgaria but went out after losing to Portugal who targeted an already injured Pele, forcing him to limp out of the game with a raincoat draped across his shoulders.

Their Group G meeting in Durban on June 25 will be the first time they have played each other in the World Cup since then.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)