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England vs. Slovenia: Old Blighty breathes a sigh of relief

The entire nation seemed to breathe a sigh of relief today as England advanced to the second round of the World Cup after outlasting Slovenia, 1-0.

By Danna HarmanCorrespondent / June 23, 2010

England vs. Slovenia: England's Jermain Defoe (19) shoots to score past Slovenia's goalkeeper Samir Handanovic during their 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match in Port Elizabeth Wednesday.

Darren Staples/Reuters

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London

It has not been a great World Cup for Britain so far.

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“But at least we’re not French!” points out Wayne Leedham, a London taxi driver, referring to the nosedive taken by the French team.Mr. Leedham took the afternoon off Wednesday to watch the national team squeak into the next round with a 1-0 victory over Slovenia. “We have restored our dignity,” he said, "for now.”

Dave Up, who works for a flooring company, took the whole day off to cheer for Britain, a country that prides itself on being the veritable inventor of the game, but which has had a very faltering start in this World Cup.

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“I needed to prepare myself mentally, if we were going to lose,” he said.

So far, the national team’s efforts have amounted to a draw against the US and another against Algeria, not to mention a controversy surrounding former captain John Terry's comments about the low mood in the camp.

“If worst comes to worse, there is always Wimbledon,” suggests Leedham gamely. “We still have Andy Murray to make us proud!”

Leedham and Up, who spent the afternoon at a jam packed pub in Covent Garden, banging their fists into their hand and alternating between shouts of "Nooooooo,” “Whyyyyyyyy," and “Come on England," were not alone in praying for the team not to blow it.

A national obsession

The whole country seemed to have taken the afternoon off to do the same thing. Wednesday’s game was expected to cost the economy £100 million because of truancy, time off, and staff simply failing to pay attention to their work, according to estimates by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and various employment groups, as cited by the BBC and the Telegraph newspaper.

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