June 17, 2006

US forces struggle to get on terms

By Philip Blenkinsop

WUERZBURG, Germany (Reuters) - The 68,000 U.S. troops
stationed in Germany should blend in better with the millions
of World Cup soccer fans thanks to a crash course on "clean
sheets," "nutmegs" and "bicycle kicks" from forces radio.

For American Forces Network, sports news at this time of
year would normally be a diet of basketball and baseball
scores, but recognizing the tournament taking place on the
doorstep it is providing tips and phone-in discussions to help
soldiers follow the games.

One quiz this week tested listeners' knowledge of soccer
terminology that are to most more alien than the sport itself.

A bicycle kick for example: is it an overhead kick with the
back to the goal (right answer) or a shot performed with a
rapid pedaling motion of the feet?


Or a clean sheet: a match in which a team does not concede
a goal (right answer) or a goal scored by a player who has
dashed unimpeded from one end of the pitch to the other?

AFN, which also broadcasts television to bases, will also
begin showing fixtures live to soldiers overseas from Saturday,
starting with the national side's crucial Group E game against
Italy on Sunday.

One thing the broadcaster can do little about, however, is
the U.S. team's performance.

Having reached the quarter-finals four years ago, they lost
3-0 to the Czech Republic in their opener on Monday and face
elimination if they are defeated again. They meet Ghana in
their final group match on Thursday.