Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Barclays Premier League is at its weakest now

This week, the Barclays Premier League news is awash with the fact that all teams were on the score sheet in their fixtures for the first time since 1992/3 season and a record 41 goals were scored equaling other 2 seasons gone by. Thanks to a classic top drawer Dimitr Berbetov's fine 5 against disinterested Blackburn Rovers. As an attack minded individual, I appreciate the statistics, but then, someone was not defending well for this to happen. Probably, everyone defended badly. I can not stand bad defensive behaviour at all.

At the beginning of the season, we saw half a dozen goals being scored by traditionally bigger teams against emerging teams with ever so much ease. I raised the question of whether the gap between the top teams was getting bigger. I realised it had nothing to do with big or small. Many teams had players coming from the FIFA World Cup being rested and the replacements having a point to prove. Those who played straight from South Africa were in peak form, but are they on the decline after a burn out?

There has been surprises by big teams of late and prizes for smaller ones. Defending champions, Chelsea are suddenly struggling after hitting a double dozen in the opening 5 matches or so. Manchester United are very far off their best and are at the top of the League. Arsenal have the weakest defence in the league after Tottenham Hotspur, but no one is scoring much against them to match the porosity of the central defence as seen by the 17 goals they conceded so far.

Spurs had been making it a good habit of missing penalty kicks without even consequently losing those matches. There is no pedigree to punish any sloppiness. The league is down, down, down. All coaching concepts of either punishing or being punished for mistakes is history. These teams have the weakest defence technically and tactically but statistics do not necessarily support that. Any movement towards the middle causes them more discomfort than does the cross to the vampire. It is so easy penetrating their defenses they wonder how teams do not bypass Alex Song and then walk through the nets.

With all their talent and cash, Manchester City are nowhere near where they should be. They huffed and puffed against Stoke City who could have taken them to the cleaners, with 5 or even 6 goals, had Fuller taken full advantage of their jitters and taken responsibility in the box. With a little composure and accuracy, Stoke would be sitting pretty.

The state of the league is shocking to say the least. The match Chelsea played against Newcastle left a bitter taste in the mouth for both sides' fans. The Magpies were so sloppy and care-free that the Zimbabwe Asiagate came to mind. Many can claim that The Blues have boardroom instability, but then, are Newcastle playing is solidarity with the enemy. Remember that the St James Park side just hit some big team for a good number but at the weekend, the looked deliberately lost.

Would bringing in Rangers and Celtic strengthen the Premiership? Is it a case of good teams playing whichever way they want and get the result? Judge yee!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Barcelona embarasses Real for 5 with magical Messi on song

Jose Mourinho was out-thought by Pep Guardiola in the first half of one of the biggest fixtures on the planet when Barcelona hosted Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in a La Liga encounter which produced 2 goals for Barca in 17 minutes.The pace of passing and accuracy thereof by Barca was digital. Madrid literally chased shadows, failing with extreme and chilling accuracy to complete 2 passes in succession.

Madrid had it in good control for a routine Barca short pass movement, as they fortified the rear centre to restrict penetration in the middle by short passes. The tactic was efficient to sterilise the movement with and without the ball for Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta because the short passing game was nullified by the number of personnel behind the ball at crucial moments. That was exactly what Guardiola had in mind.

Barcelona exchanged several short passes at one channel in the middle third and then a long defence splitting  diagonal pass beyond the defence line. Xavi and Pedro finished with class and ease respectively. Real did not help themselves by the way they toiled so hard to get the ball and give it back without Barcelona without even trying to win it back. The regularity of this abhorrence irked The Special One more than the loss of concentration that led to the 2 goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo and company tried far too hard with little benefit until about the last 10 minutes of play to half-time. They temporarily took control of the match, winning a crucial free kick that missed the target by a hair-line. Otherwise, they were no match to the slick and accurate passing of Barcelona.

It was more of luck than expertise that the lead was not extended as Messi mercilessly ran rings around the Real midfield and defence in the second half. Barca came off sharper being first on the ball and winning the second ball. David Villa, with his mesmerising runs, was always well picked up by Messi's through ball, but it was until the 56th minute that Villa converted the 3rd goal following a failure to convert an easier opportunity seconds earlier. 60 seconds later, the same passer, same run and same ball resulted in the 4th by the same scorer. 

It was the real Barca that came back in the second half against a seemingly fake Real Madrid that seemed haunted by the Nou Camp. Beside the crisp passing, the ball control was incredible. Lass Diarra, brought in at half time to minimise the damage was vital in winning essential combats but the battle was already lost. Bojan replaced double scorer, Villa, and almost scored twice with his first and second touches. There was time for the fifth when a young player Jeffren completed a 5-0 drubbing of the Galatico.

What was notable about Barcelona football, was the timing of the pocket runs by the attackers and the slotting of the ball into the pockets. The diagonal runs eliminated the whole flat four defence in a single movement. If it was a case of Messi versus Ronaldo, the later lost badly. As for Mourinho, it was a TKO by Guardiola. Madrid know too well that the championship is not over as there is lots of points to fight for but tonight, they were just outclassed. Knowing Jose, he took a hint.

FIFA goal-line video technology and common football misconception

Football usually takes a different view on a few issues of a general nature when compared to other ball sports. Rugby union as a matter of rule, can elevate a team-mate in a line up to snatch the ball away. That will be ungentlemanly conduct referred to as unsporting behaviour. Still on rugby, it is common for penalties to be taken with medical personnel still treating players on the field. The list goes on.

With Super diski, the most controversial rule and the most contentious is the off-side rule that keeps evolving to make it simpler and easier to understand. The simplicity makes the whole thing more complex, given the official fail to apply the basics correctly. FIFA asks referees to always give the attacking players  the benefit of the doubt in all cases. You would expect more 'off-side' goals to be scored, but contrary, genuine ones get ruled as illegitimate. This goes for a few cases as well, but strikers diving have made it worse for attackers to be trusted.

Actually, there is one issue in football that gets misunderstood by the usually vocal but less informed. The role of a captain. In cricket and rugby, these have powers and make very vital decisions and defends their people. The football captain role is more ceremonial than in these sports. His role is limited to communication channels outside the field. On the pitch, he only tosses and is expected to talk to his coach to relay messages to the team.

The skipper has no right whatsoever to challenge the referee, his assistants or their decisions. If he does so, he must be cautioned and shown a yellow card. He has no authority to defend any player in his team against the referee. None. To the referee, he is an ordinary someone like the rest. The officials will deal with him just to simply issues and relay messages instead of addressing the whole team. If you thought the captain is the lawyer for players treated unfairly, visit FIFA.com and google the laws of the game.

While there, just check out something funny about FIFA's stance on the goal-line video technology. It was announced that they will give it a good thought and look only at the aspect limited on whether the ball crosses the line or not. They will be doing this to leave much of the game at the exposure of the human element that we want removed to start with. FIFA also say these methods slow down the game, but it is the players mobbing the officials and the 2 officials consulting that takes much more time and still get the decisions wrong.

With so many appeals in each match, surely using technology to look solely at the ball crossing the line and nothing else, is a waste of time in itself as well as resources, given the cost, convenience and maintenance of the equipment is for those cases occur once in a blue moon at each stadium while other contentious decisions rob good teams of their hard work results.

Really, how many times do teams have a Frank Lampard no goal case in ordinary leagues and matches? Yet so many goals are wrongly disallowed as offside or whatever. Worse, penalty appeals are turned down and teams suffer the bad decisions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Man U maintain top spot, thanks to inept Chelsea.

Chelsea were just the usual pathetic outfit that has been running out of attacking power of late. Newcastle were guilty of not even trying to resist any attack from The Blues, exhibiting the 'STOP IT, I LIKE IT' attitude towards Dider Drogba, Nicholas Anelka, Flourent Malouda and Salomon Kalou.

Andy Carrol and Ameobi never got a supply they thrive on. Alex was so sympathetic that he gave Carrol the killer pass to beat Petr Cech. After that, the Magpies never bothered to threaten the visitors at all and they were unperturbed when Chelsea equalised through Kalou.

Tottenham Spurs were forced to made 2 first half early changes due injury to both Van der Vaart and Kaboul. Defoe and Bassong replaced the two and their contribution was not so positive to start with, struggling to come to terms with the tempo of the match.

Skrtel stabbed in a poorly defended free-kick before the break, to break the Spurs heart. The Liverpool defender headed the ball to a David Ngog's arm and it dropped at his feet and he toed the ball past Gomes. Jamie Garragher cleared Defoe's effort off the line before he felled Peter Crouch for a clear penalty case never given.

Defoe had a luxury of a now boring routine penalty miss that Spurs seems to be specialising in. At least they managed to grab an equaliser from the same Skrtel who turned a Modric cross past Pepe Reina. An action packed nail biting affair was almost decided when Defoe finished off an Aaron Lennon headed pass that was nodded by Crouch but the referee ruled it offside. Lennon was to complete a change of fortunes as Spurs recorded a rare Barclays Premier League victory after a Champions League campaign.

He was almost on target with a swift move starting in  his own half, and racing all the way taking on a few defenders is his wake, only to strike wide with the last kick of the match from an acute angle. Modric could have touched the ball in, had he not lackened the momentum of his run. Liverpool showed a heart of a lion in this fight which they almost won. Are their days of glory back?

Highlanders on the roll as they brush aside

After sealing Bantu Rovers last week by a 1-0 win, Highlanders continued with their fairy tale unbeaten run under Mkhuphali Masuku. Bosso scored the all important goal by Menard Mupera. While the victories will not push the Black and White outfit to the honours, it augers well for the confidence of the team in the next season.

Highlanders have been having a see-saw of issues on and off the field but the morale seems to be sky high and the fans are having the time of their lives, living the yesteryear memories they thought they would never come to see again. Tshilamoya were facing relegation in the face weeks before Mr. Cooper took over. They have managed 27 points out of 27 by beating Eagles by another 1-0 margin.

The Monster in United finally comes out as Arsenal does do enough

A 5 goal salvo by Dimitr Barbetov in a 7-1 drubbing of pedestrian Blackburn saw Manchester United shake off what had been very boring exhibitions of how not to play football. United were the devastating self of old against a team that had no interest whatsoever in their fixture.

Wayne Rooney started the match and showed some class on and off the ball even though he did not score. Nani and Park Ji Sung scored the other 2. The fine performance took them to the Barclays Premier League summit after Arsenal had taken the top spot from champions, Chelsea.

The writing was on the wall just 2 minutes as the floodgates opened. From there on, Man U were on the roll and without really going an extra mile but managing to cut through Rovers like a very sharp hot knife gliding into very soft butter. That should never take away the shine United displayed, given it is common knowledge that they are capable of doing that week in and week out.

Arsenal had coach Arsene Wenger carry his heart in his hands for 90 minutes despite dispatching Aston Villa 4-2 away. It was a usual 2-0 lead that looked like slipping away with every breath. At 2-1 and the 3-2, Wenger was the least enviable person in the world for most part of the match until the final whistle. While it was the previous trends that have characterised the Gunners, it was that particular match's fragility that was a major concern.

Tomas Rosicky seems to be losing his shine with frightening consistency while Andrei Arshavin rediscovered his old touch and was very incisive in his penetration. Evergreen Samir Nasri was on target in great fashion, blasting a first half volley from a corner kick. Chamakh had given the visitors the lead earlier on, and scored his second early in the first half. Jack Wilshire scored his first ever Premier League goal from a pass from Chamakh who was marginally offside.

Do you think Manchester have rediscovered themselves or they are capitalising on the weakness of the nearest rivals? 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mourinho could have put it in a Special Way

To say that UEFA saw right through Jose Mourinho's tactics in getting his players yellow carded to enable them to play the knockout stages of the Champions League is to over-rate them. They read it here. Arsene Wenger has always been an ambassador of fair play and decided to throw his weight on the unsporting behaviour of The Special One. Xavi and Ramos received suspension for time wasting.

Many Arsenal fans wrongly claim to be Wenger's biggest fans. I am. They should fight to be number twos. It hurt me as much as it will to Wenger, that Mourinho hit the nail on the head. Jose said Wenger should not be bothering himself with Real Madrid who won 4-0 on the night Arsenal lost to the Champions League debutants. He asked the Gunners mentor to seek words to explain why they have not won a single trophy since 2005.

That truth is not one to be said just like that and to the man of the stature of Wenger. "The history about the young kids is getting old now. Sagna, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Song, Nasri, Van Persie, Arshavin are not kids. They are all top players." he added. On this one, I have been politely trying to put it across as the reason Arsenal won't be drawing my interests soon. The team has reached a ceiling and people think they need to mature.

The Gunners have come of age and they will not be getting a gear up soon. They now need to depend on others losing a gear, but Mourinho could have chosen kinder words.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Highlanders putting much effort to be unreasonable

Rules governing the game and the laws of the game are never the same. In the later, in a series of 2 or more fouls being committed, the referee punishes the more serious offence and usually, it is the second or last. In most cases, it will be case of retaliation which is is given the ultimate disciplinary action that the referee can mete. In the former, grievances are to be handled by the league organising the matches. If the aggrieved party is unhappy, the appeal within the same structures must be exhausted before the national association of the geographic or political territory can be sought to resolve the case.

After being booted for what should be the final time, out of the BancABC Cup, Bosso want to take the case further. The confederation (CAF) and finally the federation should be sought to address the issues. The federation (FIFA) has means to get the Sports Court deal with the cases. The court of law in any case is the last resort, but not if you are Highlanders FC.

A tired line usually used by lovers of rugby who hate football, is that, rugby is a hooligans' game played by gentlemen while football is a gentlemen's game played by hooligans. This sounds an insult to the gallant Bosso players who have been putting high class performance after another.

It would describe those who are supposed to be in the know and leading players astray. The court of law will rule on the rights of individuals and groups without prejudice, be it football individuals or groups. That route is never in the interest of the game, but the individuals and the groups.

The Bosso executive jumped the gun in their previous appeal and sought a court of law to rule their case. The ruling was a case that killed football. They want to resuscitate the game to kill it again. It is not necessary to think by heart. The decision will not help them, Dynamos, Caps or the PSL. It just kills the same football that the players are playing so well. The wisdom of the action that they threaten to take can go through a needle's eye. If only the costs were as small. Bosso has too much money to burn.

Anyway, talking good brains now, Harry Redknapp has not many friends and he will not be making any soon. Gareth Bale has been included in the best 50 players of the world list. Spurs will not be attracting many fans in a long while, except neutrals. As a lover of quality, I never found myself faithful to any team but one. I have been a HUGE fan of Liverpool, Coventry City, Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal before. As soon as they strike a bad note, I bid farewell. Seldom, it would be a better note being struck elsewhere.

For this reason, Arsenal forfeited my sympathy based on the off the mark Arsene Wenger who donated 3 Barclays Premier League championships, 2 FA Cups and a Champions League trophy in the last 3 seasons and Harry Redknapp who turned Tottenham Hotspur to a machine that operate slightly less than a Red Bull Renault that Sebastian Vettel used in F1 this season.

Spurs qualified for the UEFA Champions League spot with many people thinking they will be lucky to get it. They reached the FA Cup final with everybody thinking they will suffer. They got no pat on the back from anyone. This season, they are pulling off great results and are in the hunt for the 4th position once again. People waited for them to faulter in the Group stages of the European safari. They came off with flying colours. Instead of singing the praises of the feats they have achieved, they are being torpedoed relentlessly.

'They won't make here, they won't make it there'. That is only true if you compare them to Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. That is actaully comparing watermelons to lemons. Spurs reached were no one expected to and that is that. What they have done so far, coming from where they were, is a feat no team will be able to emulate in a very long time. Out of 10, they moved from level 3 to 8. Manchester United have been on level 8 for 10 years.

In the league this week, it will be seen if they managed to srtike a balance of UEFA and English league matches. I have always tried to educate people, that league and Cup matches programmes are not the same and it differs for each and every tournament. The preparations will also differ. You do not play match after match and hope for the best. Striking the correct peak moments is critical and once you are experienced in that, you are well. This does not take into account lucky scenerios were nothing matters. Some teams glide the luck wave regardless how much the managers do not know. Real managers have visible plans that may or may not succeed, but you will see the plan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spurs, Barcelona cruise to victories while Man U scrap through.

Wayne Rooney tucked away a penalty against Rangers to advance Manchester United to the knock-out stages of the Champions League by a 1-0 margin. In a generally worrying and usual custom, United were never dominant and failed to stamp their authority in the crucial tie in Sir Alex Ferguson's homeland. Even at their worst, The Red Devils seem to be getting the results necessary and that will be pleasing to the former champions but a little worrying for whoever comes up against them.

Barcelona were pedestrian away against Panathanaikos. It was a stroll in the park as they rarely broke sweat in blasting 3 goals past a spirited but fragile Greek side. It was never going to be a question of the victory but the goals. It was 1-0 by half time from a Pedro goal to the far post. Two typical Barca passing movements were buried by Messi and Pedro sealed the deal for Real Madrid arch rivals. The 2 will meet on Monday for a very hot encounter.

Tottenham Hotspur never fancied playing at this level for ages and even when they qualified, the draw seemed the harshest ever. While they did not give themselves a chance, many also believed their road had ended before it started. They are in the last 16, affording to miss the penalty kick even. Central defender, Kaboul, converted a Lennon cross as early as the 6th minute. Modric was stylish and cool to tuck away a cool finish in the first half injury time before Crouch langed onto yet another Lennon cross.

Bale did  strike the cross bar from a free-kick and missed a penalty after Modric was fouled in the box. Now there is a question of them not surviving the knock-out stage, which is obvious. Expecting them to look forward now is gross, given there is more to see if they look behind than trying to x-ray a future they can only see when it comes. After all, even the present is wrong territory for them. I am certain they did not budget for the present even in their wildest dreams.

Football differs from live sciences because, while in mathematics you can make deductions, it has no 'therefore'. With the European giants likely to top their groups, Spurs will do themselves much good to do the same. Except for English sides, only Barcelona and Real Madrid are intimidating. Other teams can easily be dispatched by an inform Spurs. Depending on how much solid they decide to defend centrally, you can be assured the firepower will come to the party if the squad is injury free. Aaron Lennon need to be consistently in good form to complement Bale on the left. Suddenly, the team from White Hart Lane becomes a worry even to Barcelona in a very good day.

Inter registered a 1-0 victory over Twente while Shalke beat Lyon by a 3-0 scoreline as did Tel Aviv against Benfica. Valencia raised the bar to thump Bursaspor 6-1. This will worry Man U as they fight to top the group to get easier draw for the knock-out stage. Valencia were 4-0 at half-time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Praising Stanley is like praising myself, but it's good

One African book talks of a proverb of monkey, that, if it can jump between 2 particular adjacent trees without missing a branch, it deserves to part itself on the back. Generally, monkeys are notorious in stroking each other's scrotum to elevate the ego of the one they seek the favour of. It may not be a bad thing thing given that as human beings, we engage in flattery and even bribes to be in good books to the higher office or the ones that have what we need. Unfortunately, football coaches in Africa live in another world. They are not supposed to be coaching in this world.

In the history of the FIFA World Cup, only Zaire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Angola, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, Togo and Tunisia have represented Africa. Tunisia, among others, have done that more than once, besides also winning the African Championship. They are a team in that elite group of giants that no team walks into the field of play fancying their chances to walk off with the result. Few teams have pulled off stunning results and rarely did they achieve the feat twice, and worse still, in succession. 

Botswana, at the other hand of the scale, has been regarded as arguably the weakest team in Africa and without much much regard, in the world. But then, with all the foreign coaches and personnel coming in to teach Africans how to do football the African way, not so many administrative people see Africans as workers. Usually, if they do, it is not on professional grounds. After beating Tunisia twice in a row and in one season, Zebras' coach, Stanley Tshosane will not be doing any fellow Africans any favours, as his job is never guaranteed with each sunrise. He is both black and local. 

The Zebras maintained their unbeaten run with a 1-0 win over Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations match this week with a Jerome Ramatlhakwana's first half goal. They lead the group by 6 points after their total haul of 13 and need a single win to seal the deal. Tshosane is not on celebratory mode yet. His team also dispatched another FIFA World Cup participate in Togo with the same ease, showing how much he had developed the team character and belief.

He has managed to also keep unity and confidence very high in the individual players. His personal attitude has rubbed into the players and his employers, rare as this may be, are better off giving all the support they can for the benefit of the team. It is common that local coaches ask for 3 days camp and end up with the association bring players 30 minutes before kick-off and the expat coaches gets 3 months instead. The same is true with salaries. The expectation is that locals will hike to work and expats will be chauffeur-driven all day. Locals get criticism in winning and their counterparts from outside are not even touched in defeats and miserable performances.  

The Zebras' rise is astonishing in more ways than one. The best team to come out of Zimbabwe, dubbed the Dream Team, never reached anything worth mentioning and were labelled 'nearly men' for coming so close in everything under Reinhard Fabisch. To mention Botswana in the same sentence with football felt like a tongue twister. Suddenly, they seem to have qualified for the AFCON tournament without raising much sweat. Considering their technical and tactical ability, they are not really strong. They have not made any impact on the smaller and weaker regional COSAFA Cup for teams in the SADC region. If anyone at this time, is to list a worse team than the Zebras, it suddenly feels like a quantum physics problem in the days of Albert Einstein.

Believe it or not, Stanley Tshosane is a 'quantum physics' student of football from the Brazilian Football Academy in Rio De Janeiro. Coaches do football to unroll their inner selves and fashion their own styles of their understanding of the game. Their job becomes one of using people to act the coaches's thoughts and desires. Other football universities do a great job in teaching coaches to do this, but I have been in the same class with Stanley. He is not a genius in any way, but an applier of the correct systems and theories to practise.

As the Zebras make their debut under the BFA graduate, that is exactly what took the Zimbabwe Warriors in 2004. Sunday Mhofu Marimo Chidzambwa was at the same Brazilian Football Academy years before we were there. So did the successful Barry Daka. It may be a coincidence because other teams did not need mentors from BFA to achieve that feat. If you have one such guy next to you and you want results, pay him and let him do what he wants. It is a sure way to cry plenty, but only tears of joy.

You must remember that Botswana had made visits to Tunisia before with humiliating results. Tunisia also brought the ruthlessness to the Tswanas' home ground years back. While their victories and ways to glory are a case of labouring for the results, a win is a win, especially given the queue of people that have been baying for the blood of Tshosane. Teams sometimes play fantastic football without anything to show for it, and we do not remember those. Results stand the test of time and they will be remembered long after no one is around to testify how bad the match was. More usually, results tend to mould a team into a better unit which jells to a smoother and pretty sight with the test of time. An addiction to victory does not come easy but it can do wonderful things.

Botswana may have booked their place at the AFCON 2012, but they are still to settle the bill with a last confirming win if we do not consider other results. I must hasten to say that they have reached the promised land. For them it, and it will be the coach's hardest time of his career to keep their feet on the ground. Things will not get better in Guinea at the tournament. If players look to enhance their individual prospects of playing overseas than winning the AFCON, the better. They may even spring a few surprises. This may a one year wonder for the Zebras, if the greedy officials start to fight for the bragging rights and start to mud sling each other. African are warriors and this may be a very good excuse for a cool fight. After the fight is over, they will go witch-hunting. In the next life, you can rest assured I will not be African, nor black. I am done with that here.

The Champions League: The Good, the Bad and the Shrewd

Arsenal lost 0-2 in the UEFA Champions League, and they were at their worst against a Braga side that were determined only to play well. The hosts got rewarded with the points for that effort. It was Arsenal's 2nd defeat on the trot. There was never a clean final ball for a finisher, save for one that Theo Walcott received from captain Cesc Fabregas, a frame late, and the goalkeeper rushed out to collect the ball. Carlo Vela was brought down in lightning fast circumstances that the referee and the 5th official missed the action thinking the Mexican fell into a diving swimming pool. At least he was rewarded with a yellow card, which infuriated his coach, Arsene Wenger.

I underestimated the weakness of a great team composed of inexperienced skilled youngsters. They also did. It was not a case of Braga playing very well, but surely, they did, but rather a case of how badly the good Arsenal team played. Pity that those goals had to go throw Lukasz Fabianski's jealously guarded goal. No matter the size of the mountain rock, if you know constantly for extended periods of time, it will crack, as did the Gunners in the dying minutes of their fatal fixture.

Arsenal were just never penetrative enough, maybe expected, given they did not use their giant arsenal to overpower and subdue Braga. Braga were out passed immensely by almost a ratio of 3 completed passes to 1. That is not football these days. Chelsea had 27 attempts at goal against Birmingham City in the Barclays Premier League against 1. They lost the match by a single goal. Efficiency counts but of course, effort should be rewarded if we are to coach our children well.

 Chelsea were just as bad and made a meal of Zillina at home. They had to come from behind from the bottom placed team and scrap a late winner from Flourent Malouda who was set up by Didier Drogba. Daniel Sturridge had equalised at the far post for the Blues. Chelsea are dogged by unclear inhouse issues that make it hard for the team to do the job. They began the season with a steel attitude bullying teams to submission in the first 20 minutes. Their demise has given yet another dull team, monied Manchester City, a glimmer of hope in the championship. It was a boost that they will play their last Champions League match with a relaxed attitude after topping the group.

Real Madrid once again produced a scintillating performance that has confirmed to many that Jose Mourinho may be on his history making journey for a record 4th title in different league and countries. He did it with FC Porto that had Benni McCarthy, the Chelsea and more recently, Inter Milan. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice. Karim Benzema, who may play at White Hart Lane next year, opened the floodgates after a cool move that involved Mesut Ozil. The 4-0 scoreline would be expected for Real, but that against Ajax of Amsterdam away, is a huge result.

While Jose Mourinho is a good coach, I think he went over board when he did what I reckon to a scheme to have a full squad for the knockout stage. His combative defensive link, Xavi Alonso was yellow carded fro needless and childish delaying tactics with the team already 4-0 up, picking a 2nd yellow and eventual red. Sergio Ramos did exactly the same thing and was also happy to be given marching orders. This makes the 2 available when Real need them the most in the knockout stage. The Special One did not need to carry liability when he is gunning for his glory. He is likely to field not one he intends using later in the last group stage matches.

In a special interview earlier, Mourinho just underlined the well know fact of the competitiveness of the English Premiership as very demanding and physical. He pointed out the tacticallity of the Serie A, proclaiming much thinking and preparation as the strength of the league as one had to scheme and outwit the opponents with preparation. He was at pains in explaining the technical aspect the players in La Liga make all the difference in Spain. The Special One underlined the gift of technicians of the world being assembled in that league, given Ronaldo and Lionel Messi just for an e.g.

The core of his message came back to give the English Premiership a big pat on the back, given that teams have an equal chance at the start of each league natch and that is evidenced by the fact that the top team, Chelsea, had already lost 15 points in the league. His Real Madrid won 11 of their 13 encounters and drew twice. They lead their bitter arch rivals, Barcelona, by just a single point. I guess with that, one has to make a personal assessment of the extent of the competition in each league.

Other results, AS Roma had to draw on their best performance to come back and win 3-2 against Bayern Munchen. Basel beat Cluj 1-0 at home while AC Milan won 2-0 away to Auxere in France. Shakthar opened their chances with a 3-0 away win over Partizan. Spartak Moscow lost Marseille who produced a first class performance in dispatching their hosts to stay in the picture of the knockout stages.

Tonight will see Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona in action. It will be interesting to see the final shape of the groups but, there will be some that will go to the wire. It is expected that Spurs will continue with their Europe form. Barca will be favourite to wrap things up, but I have no confidence to say the same about hot and cold Man U.

Which is the strongest league in the world and why?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So much to say and so little time and space

You know by now how England played badly against France, Bafana Bafana suffered a painful defeat in the Cape Town Mandela Challenge to the USA and Zimbabwe Warriors made easy meat the Mozambique under caretaker coach, Madinda Ndlovu.

There was greater jubilation elsewhere with the victory of Birmingham City over Chelsea at the weekend, when Lee Bowyer beat Petr Cech to condemn the champions to a 3rd successive defeat. It was a result welcomed by both Manchester United and sobbing Arsenal. The Gunners were gunned down by Tottenham Spurs at the Emirates who came from 2 goals down and winning 3-2. Manchester City played the way they should for the first time when they dispatched Fulham by 4 goals to 1. Their midfield looked like a Barclays Premier League outfit for once. Consistency will be key in the league going forward. There is no doubt that the English teams will dominate the Champions League, but the home form have suddenly made the league an astonishing and enterprising affair.

There were contrasting victories of both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knockout Cup. Chiefs huffed and puffed against Santos until an extra time blunder by the goalkeeper handed Knowledge Musona his easiest goal ever. This booked Amakhosi a date with the Bucs in what many will call the 'dream final'. The 2 teams have met in the Telkom Charity final with Chiefs winning. In the MTN-8, Pirates beat Chiefs. Only a few days back, Chiefs hammered Pirates by a 3-1 goal margin in the ABSA Premier League.

Pirates were the benefactor of a controversial decision to change Maritzburg United's home ground on the grounds that there were safety concerns at the Harry Gwala Stadium. The Sea Robbers waltzed to a 3-0 victory and United feel robbed by the Happy People because they had to play at Chatsworth Stadium for their home match. Ironically, the 2 teams meet again this week at the Harry Gwala venue and the safety concerns are gone.

Highlanders were ruthless against neighbours, Bantu Rovers. Bosso posted their 8th league win in a row to condemn Tshintsha Guluva to certain relegation. Zephania Ngodzo was the toast of the moment with a goal of class. The excellent form of players will benefit the team in the long run as they will attract sponsorship and crowds, especially next season. Some players may even get contracts in better paying leagues.

While Tshilamoya are enjoying a new lease of life under Mkhuphali Masuku, they will not be smelling a Cup final anytime soon. They have been kicked out of the BancABC Cup final. The Bulawayo team were thrown out for the 2nd time after the initial ruling by a Dan Moyo arbitration ad-hoc committee ruled in favour of Dynamos.

Bosso wasted time and resources seeking a court order which stalled the tournament and asked ZIFA to resolve the matter. Dembare sent all and sundry from pillar to post including negotiating to play Bosso in Harare. Eventually, nothing happened, except time and money wasted as nothing was honoured by anybody.

Finally, Barcelona put some team 8-0 to the sword and Real Madrid maintained their La Liga league with a 5-1 drubbing of another. Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were on hat-tricks. There is no question of a Mourinho versus Guardiola, but, who is the king of Spanish football between Barca and Real? Does Ronaldo compare to Messi or Messi to Ronaldo?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Willard Nduna Khumalo parts with Nico

Willard Mashinkila Khumalo was suspended for three weeks by Nico United of Selebi-Phikwe, before he was dismissed on Tuesday. Khumalo had one year left on his contract after joining the BeMobile Premier League side in 2009. Nico dismissed Wiilard for what they called  unprofessional conduct.

However, Mawii refutes that, saying, he was never called for a hearing and was surprised to receive a letter terminating his contract, but he is not bitter at his dismissal. He lamented the difficulty and security of foreign coaches' jobs in Botswana. He said he will be going back home to Zimbabwe to refresh and think hard whether he can come back to Botswana.

Nduna said his dismissal at Nico has damaged his reputation after the club accused him of misconduct. He expressed disappointment that the Nico management did not take football seriously. The club however countered with an accusation of their own. They claimed players and supporters did not want him because he divided the team and failed to produce results.

The team spokesman said Willard did not have a professional conduct and did not camp with players prior to games, further saying they called Khumalo for a hearing but the Zimbabwean did not turn up and the management decided to sack him.

Nico United are notorious with a very rich history of dismissing coaches as seen by their enviable high turn-over of coaches over 7 seasons. Luke Masomere, Paul Gundani, Paul Moyo, Jim Mwale, Peter Muchina, Peter Sakonda, Madinda Ndlovu, Guston Mutobo and Johannes Tshuma and now Mashinkila-Khumalo. This means 11 coaches in seven seasons. The only coach who lasted more than one season at Nico in the last seven years is Ndlovu, who took them to 4th in 2008.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What a sporting weekend

Highlanders achieved a feat many believed to be impossible. They recorded a 7th straight league victory under caretaker Mkhuphali Masuku. The PSL assembled a team to look at the BancABC semi-final issue involving Bosso and Dembare and hopefully it will bear fruits. Tom Saintfeit, a badly recruited Warriors coach, was denied a work permit and ZIFA will be meeting to map the way forward with the coach. They may appoint or readvertise the post.

Chelsea lost at home to a spirited Sunderland in a Barclays Premeir League encounter. Liverpool's fine run after new owners took over received a check and came to a screeching halt. Arsenal beat Everton at Goodison Park and the host failed to bring that injury time come back they had against Manchester United.

Kaizer Chiefs beat Orlando Pirates comprehensively in the highest scoring derby of our time. Chiefs won by a whooping 3-1 goal margin. Mamelodi Sundowns were beaten by Bidvest Wits at the magnificent Mbombela Stadium, but Mimwana Phezulu remain top of the ABSA Premier League. Moroka Swallows have played 8 matches in the league without victory but the reached the MTN-8 final, where they were beaten by the Sea Robbers.

Nigeira has made 9 appearances in the Africa Women Championships and won it 8 times. They beat the defending champions, Equatorial Guinea by 4 goals to 2. Guinea scored the four goals. Banyana Banyana came 3rd after beating Cameroon.

Sebastian Vettel deservedly won the F1 championship in the Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina, beating Fernando Alonso and team-mate Mark Webber. Alonso paid for a Webber tailored strategy. The race finished with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on the podium. Red Bull completed a memorable double while McClaren were second on the Constructor's Table.

What was the peak of the week?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunderland stun champions Chelsea with 3 without reply at Standford Bridge

A miraculous and spirited outing against the Barclays Premier League champions, Chelsea at Standford Bridge by visiting Sunderland was celebrated by friends and foes alike. Sunderland outclassed Chelsea and defeated the champions with a lot of ease. From the onset, Sunderland seemed to believe in their ability as The Blues went about business arrogantly.

Steve Bruce started with 2 pronged attack of Asamoah Gyan and Welbeck. The pair were a handful for the Chelsea defence as they caught the hosts for pace in transition periods. Without the work-horse quality of Michael Essien, the midfield of Flourent Malouda and Mikel Obi was no match for Zenden and Karen Richardson and Henderson.

Titus Bramble and former Manchester City defender Onuoha did a good job in keeping Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka under locks and keys. Onuoha had the luxury of foraging forward and waltz past bemused Chelsea central defence and slide the ball under a desperately sprawling Petr Cech. Cech had to be at his best to keep the score-line respectable.

The match was won in midfield as Sunderland competed well for each ball and winning the second balls. In one duel won in the middle third, a swift conversion from defence to attack Henderson found hard running Gyan whose second touch beat Cech for the second goal. Zenden celebrated by doing the African dance Gyan style. Welbeck finished off the aging champions when Ashley Cole played him square, trying to get a back pass to Cech.

Foes, Arsenal and Manchester United jubilated in unison and the result opens up the race that Chelsea seemed to be running away with. A defeat for The Blues would eventually arrive. It would be hard to imagine that coming at Standford Bridge. Of all the teams, Sunderland would rank very low as the team to do that. Given that they did, the score-line would be the narrowest of margins. For the followers of Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti will find it hard to be forgiven for the 3-0 margin.

It will be back to the drawing board for The Blues, but maybe, it is the beginning of the end of the dominance the side that had made it their trademark to bully smaller teams and bullying giants with as much disrespect. Who do you think will benefit more from this result?

Arsenal in vital win over Everton to go second

Arsenal are better than Manchester United. They repelled a fiery onslaught from the Everton team that was seeking to redeem themselves after suffering a miracle goal from Bacary Sanga and a class act goal from the Gunners movement that was finished off by Cesc Fabregas. United failed to hold on to a healthy lead and threw away the vital points at Goodison Park.

The Gunners meant business in the fast paced encounter and were awarded 10 minutes before the break by defender, Sagna from an acute angle, blasting past the bemused Tim Howard. A sweeping move was clinically tucked away by the Captain after a good exchange that involved Song and Denilson.

Samir Nasri was on song as usual and was unlucky not to register himself a goal. Howard had to be at his best to deny a hard running Frenchman. The man of the match performance came from underdog and unfavourable goalkeeper, Lukaz Fabianski. Fabianski was both competent and confident, keeping at bay the attacks of Luis Saha. Tim Cahill and Captain Arteta.

Jermaine Beckford and Steven Pienaar were denied by the fantastic heroic antics of the Gunners' keeper, although poor defending exposed him as Cahill stabbed in from a cross from close range. Arsenal put pressure on the Barclays Premier League leaders, Chelsea with that vital win that drew a wide smile from Arsene Wenger.

Can the Gunners go all the way this year?

Highlanders beat Monomotapa to make it 7/7

Highlanders won their home fixture against Monomotapa at Barbourfields Stadium. It was a tight match that was contested in midfield. The 1-0 victory came courtesy of an Eric Mudzingwa's goal. Mudzingwa scored in after 15 minutes of play.
 Bosso are enjoying a new lease of life under coach Mkhuphali Masuku, who replaced Mohammed Fathi of Egypt last month. It was Cooper's 7 straight win since he took charge of Amahlolanyama and Mudzingwa's 2nd consecutive goal after his winner against Shooting Stars in Harare last week. Mudzingwa could have scored 2 other goals had he converted the chances.
The 7th victory comes after other similar incredible feats against Stars, Shabanie, Caps United and Hwange at home, Lengthens and Gunners in Harare. It does not take much to appreciate 21 points garnerd by Tshilas in a space of 2 months and

It may be late to fight for the honours but the feel good factor is returning to the owners of the team, the fans. Motor Action and Dynamos will fight it at the top 2 but then the foundation for next year is available and it will be prime to end the season on a high.

African Women Championships - I am being sued.

In a very sad and unforgivable turn of events, I expect women lib organisation for my gross neglection of their very attractive brand product that was both revealing and sexy. There was an extravaganza of football and fiesta of women football in South Africa as the best African women footballers showed a few tricks to other teams like Stoke City how to pass the ball around. Mind you, Stoke City beat Liverpool last night by a 2-0 margin.

The African championships are also used as a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Germany next year. It was hard enough to watch the attractive girls doing their thing and to be productive at the same time. The passing and finishing was superb. There was less aggression and the energy was positive. South Africa ran away with the bronze medals while Nigeria will wrestle gold from holders, Equatorial Guinea this afternoon.

While the women lib movements gather the evidence and compile papers to serve me, I need not much to defend myself. There were teams that fielded men. It really did not matter to me that if was dubbed the Africa Women Championships. Some of the men fielded by West and East African nations were more men than the men we know here. I have all the photos and pictures to prove that. Further to that, all of you who followed the games are my witnesses.

Anyway, let the papers come and meanwhile, we await the match between Arsenal and Everton. I expect Everton to throw kitchen sinks and toilet seat at the Gunners and it will be refreshing if Arsenal get the points. As a former Gunner myself, I sympathise with Arsene Wenger, and all we both can do is hope. We depend on hope and luck.

Can you remember the name of the guys or nations that fielded men in the women tournament? It was amazing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spurs blast Blackburn as Villa donate point to troubled United

What we have come to expect in the Barclays Premier League is, a below par Manchester United dropping points left right and centre, an inconsistant Arsenal that cannot impose their style on teams that do not give them space to play, especially in the absence of Samir Nasri and the below-par Cesc Fabregas and finally a hot/cold Tottenham Hotspur performance characterised by a porous central defensive position that Supersport's Bongani Khumalo may close, as well as the terrific UEFA Champions League outing that comes with a disappointing Premiership defeat and then a classy act just to make us forget.

Blacburn Rovers were the recepient of the wrath Spurs can inflict to teams that do not know whether they are going or coming. Gareth Bale was on target on the 16th minute to open the floodgates, beating superb Paul Robinson with a header.Robinson conceded a penalty that Pavlyuchenko afforded to miss. He had 3 minutes before half-time to make amends, coming to finish off a Bale cross at the far post, and scored the second for Spurs as the went for the break.

As Rafael van der Vaart played the ball to the Russian, Pavlyuchenko brings the best out of Robinson who plays the ball in and the defenders gifted Peter Crouch with the 63rd minute goal. Van der Vaart controlled Hutton's cross by hand before Bale scored the 4th for Spurs. Both complacency and the porous defence gifted Rovers with 2 late goals, one after a free-kick was headed back and forth around the box and David Dunn beat Gomes with 10 minutes of play left and another after William Gallas gifted central defender Givet to close matters in the 90th minute.

Aston Villa had a powerful Ashley Young performance to thank as the speedy winger terrorised the Manchester United defence at will. He beat Edwin van der Sar from the penalty spot after he was floored in the box when Aghbonlahor set him up in the 72nd minute. Marc Albrighton scored the second moments later to draw the ire of United. Villa were in control of the match and looked set to hand The Red Devils their first defeat of the season.

Chiefs put Pirates to the sword

Orlando Pirates were slaughtered by Kaizer Chiefs in an entertaining ABSA Premier League Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium. It was one man, Knowledge Musona, that Chiefs were indebted to with winning the crucial match that keeps Amakhosi in the hunt for the championship, together with Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates. The Soweto giants took the points and the bragging rights that come with it. He converted a penalty and Klate scored against his own goalkeeper in the first half.

It was a fast paced match and a palatable performance by both sides. It has been a very long time since we saw such a lively derby, something we had missed in years. The passing and ball control was superb and with better finishing, we could have seen more goals and of good quality. Pirates were the main culprits, wasting glit-edged chances especially at the end, and were duly executed by the Chiefs.

Chiefs revenged the MTN-8 semi-final 0-1 defeat at the same venue a few weeks back and gave themselves a psychological advantage, should the teams meet in the Telkom Knockout Cup final. Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneiloe Letsholonyane and Tinashe Nengomashe were imposing and dominant in midfield to strangle the efforts of Clifford Ngomeni, Happy Jele and Andile Jali. While Musona was red hot, Daine Klate was a disappointment considering he wanted to be a Bafana Bafana regular and Msowoya was erratic in front of goal.

Knowledge Musona was at it again in the 60th minute to kill off the match. The Zimbabwean latched onto a defensive error and raced to beat Munoeeb Josephs, delicately touching the ball over the keeper and heading it home. He was later replaced after suffering an injury, and hopefully not a serious one. The Bucs gave up for a moment after this goal as Amakhosi began to enjoy life and attacking at will. It just depended on them how many goals they were going to put away as the Ghosts were invisible.

Substitutes, Tlou Segolela and Ezemwa Etorugu combined well for the later to blast past Itumeleng Khune in the 75th minute. The goal gave the Happy People the impetus to attack Chiefs who in turn retreated. Sithembiso Ngcobo was very instrumental in pushing Chiefs with his deceptive pace and artistry in keeping the Pirates attacks on check.

Segolela and Mayambela were a thorn in the Chiefs defence after coming in the second half. Khune had to pull fine saves in the dying minutes of the match to deny the Sea Robbers any hopes of an amazing come-back. Chiefs relied on luck at the last minute barrage and Mayambela, Mbuyane and Etorugu were chief culprits in denying Pirates at least a point.

It will be vital for Pirates' title hopes to know that they must beat title contenders themselves than rely on other teams to do it for them. Amakhosi survived to be lunched on by the generous Pirates, who themselves just like wheelburrow robbers.

What did Pirates say to Chiefs? - 'Khosi for lunch'

It is that moment when Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chief negotiate for the 3 points. The Soweto giants are engaged in a derby this afternoon fighting for the bragging rights and the ABSA Premiership title. Pirates robbed Chiefs of R8 million in the MTN-8. Amakhosi are 2nd and the Bucs are 3rd on the race. They will both want to topple a Pretoria side, Mamelodi Sundowns. The Jozi teams have been a shadow to the Tswane rivals, Supersport United for far too long and the championship should be coming home soon.

Common knowledge as it is that local derbies are self motivationary, Knowledge Musona's form will be key. The Zimbabwean can win any match single handedly. Abia Nale will be a man to watch for the Bucs. Itumeleng Khune is a shot stopper of choice and could have played his football overseas if someone was not greedy. Mandla Masango has not done much to deserve a mention.

The Glamour Boys of Naturena fired blanks against Santos, much to the disappointment of coach VV. That loss showed how much Chiefs are a normal team and having nothing special about them. For them to have a shout today, they need to come out all guns blazing to dispatch the Sea Robbers. The Ghost will be intending to haunt Chiefs once and for all to prove that the victory in the MTN-8 semi-final was no fluke.

Both teams progressed to the Telkom Knockout Cup and meet each other in the final for yet another derby which will be a final. It has been a long while since we have seen a proper derby final and these league derbies will be setting the tone for the bigger one. As of now, it is a fight for points and just as important. Pirates have been like a new Mercedes Benz S-Class until the last match. Chiefs were more or less been like a E-Class, being less imposing. 

Chances are that Isaac Chansa will be dictating things in the middle of the park to clip down the wings of Siphiwe Tshabalala and Rene Letsholonyane. Clifford Mngomeni has been a revelation for Pirates. Andile Jali is evergreen and his ball distribution will be a cause for concern for Chiefs. The Happy People will also hope in the industry of Happy Jele as a ball winner with Chansa.

It will only be seen this noon who is actually less nervous or too desperate to win it. Coach Krol will be hard pressed to lift his team's scoring spirits after the disappointing 0-0 with Amazulu at the Princess Magogo.
The pressure of one of the much anticipated fixtures in the world, among the Manchester Derby, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, River Plate vs Boca Juniors, Santos vs Sao Paulo and Vasco da Gam vs Flamengo, may make it a lazy and boring affair.
Tactically, teams may cancel each other out and squeeze the juice out of the orange before the match even kicks off. Very few goals have been scored and usually at the dying minutes when concentration levels just crush. Set pieces are usually the deciding factor and it will be seen how much far the teams have matured after the experience of the players after the weekend results.
Will the ghost haunt the chief? If the dry bones come together, there may be no shine for the Glamour boys.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tom Saintfeit denied work permit by Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe will have to look for another foreign coach. The nation known to be allergic to success had given a job to Tom Saintfiet of Belgium. The permit application of the former Namibian coach was unsuccessful. It means he has to go back to the Namibian Football Association to beg them to fire the current coach and give him the reigns.

Both clubs and the nation association of this diamond rich football loving state are known to be attracted to the failing foreign coaches. The local coaches have always had successes but that is not always what football there is all about.

Zimbabwe national team qualified for AFCON tournament twice under local coaches and the nation was unhappy with that success. Sunday Marimo and Charles Mhlauri did what foreign coaches will never do for Zimbabwe. Sunday actually took Dynamos to the Champions League finals while Rahman Gumbo has won more trophies and championships than any other local coach and still, Bosso and the nation do not like such success. It makes them vomit.

In 1995, the All-Africa Games under-23 teams reached the finals under Wieslow Grabowski and Barry Daka, yet that counts for nothing. I surely do not think Wieslow would be good enough, but then there are a lot other local coaches. I like foreign coaches, especially their accent when speaking English. The day that nation decides to win anything, they should go local, refrain from interefring with team selection so as to be able to throw games and just pay the coaches.

It is still to be seen how the contract Saintfeit signed will go. ZIFA may have a cool sum to pay for the termination of the contract and one cannot rule out the same mess Highlanders are in with Mohammed Fathi. Bosso are at pains literally, trying to see off their obligation to their favourite coach as the case is attracting the attention of the coach's embassy.

As for Tom, he was disqualified for engaging in employment activity without the necessary permit. ZIFA erred in letting conduct training sessions before the process was complete because they thought 'working' meant sitting on the bench in the match days, in that case, for the AFCON qualifier match against Cape Verde.

After Saintfiet's deportation, Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu were announced as joint coaches, with Madinda the head and Norman his deputy, by Ben Moyo, but the President of ZIFA gate crushed the training sessions after Moyo left and charged the 2 had 'same powers'. Mapeza has since withdrawn from serving his nation and the mother body confirmed that Mapeza was under-qualified for the job.

Madinda is currently the acting coach of the Warriors as they prepare for a friendly match against Mozambique. He will be assisted by Friday 'Amayenge' Phiri. Should ZIFA re-advertise for the post or they should just leave the Zimbabwe legends to do the job?

The Highlanders-Dynamos saga; ad-hoc committee and another and ...

One moment Highlanders make the correct headlines and the next it's a shameful affair of Fathi's payments. And then you think they they will play in the finals of the BancABC Sup8r and then on this one, Dynamos want to compete to be foolish and say they will play the replay, then fail to turn up and concede Bosso should go ahead. As soon as they think the ink of their correspondence will dry up, they make a u-turn and claim they want justice for a match they won.

The Premier Soccer League has of late come up with an appeasement for the Harare side. Twine Phiri is reported to have claimed to set up another ad-hoc committee to deal with the issue from scratch. The verdict will come and Bosso and Dembare will go about business exactly the barbaric way, and frankly, I am sick and tired of their childish antics. Tired.

Highlanders are already throwing a tantrum beforehand. They will not accept anything anything not coming from the ZIFA board both teams did not contest the ZIFA decision to replay that match. They claim to respect the national association as the custodians of the game, yet they went to the courts, not ZIFA, with a grievance of the same issue. It is the same argument by Dynamos that the decision for the replay came in the wake of a court of law interfering with diski.

As for Dembare, they did not fulfil the fixture due players dictating boardroom issues. Players told their board that they are not playing and guess what, the bosses shivered and chickened out. A chicken and egg situation tinted with kindergarten drama. Now, the set up ad-hoc committee has a lot of time to waste and I hope there will be funds for coffee and cookies.

All they need now is a coin with 2 different sides, one blue and the other black and white. They will have to toss it and save valuable time. They can even fixture the match and whoever turns up first plays the final. Personally, I would ask Caps United to select a team from both sides and that team would play without coach. BancABC would have their mileage on the final and Bosso and Dembare would scream their lungs out. I would stuff my ears with earphones and play Bob Marley music, 'Crazy Bald Heads'. Otherwise, make the team that makes the first noise to go and play Division one football.

Maybe the PSL and ZIFA should get Bosso and Dembare executive members to be the members of the that ad-hoc committee. They will need to engage the army with armoured vehicles and lock the two teams in a single small cell with candle light and no aircon. There must be no food nor drink and the teams should not come out until they have a verdict of their mess. No toilet facilities or breaks should be permitted and neither will be the smoke breaks.

On that Fathi issue, The Chronicle reports that he sought his embassy to get the money from Bosso. Bosso bought him the ticket to fly out of the country but no man can leave his money behind. That story just bores me now and I will spare you the agony. Bayasisukela laba, basijwayela kabi.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kaizer Chiefs suffer defeat as Orlando Pirates earn a point

One man Orlando Pirates fans will really love to love, it is Sekou Camara of Santos. With the same passion, Kaizer Chiefs fans will not be having nice vibes for the former Jomo Cosmos player. Camara scored the goal that ended Amakhosi's unbeaten run and collected maximum points for the visiting Cape Town team. The Absa Premiership match played at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg was a poor affair by Chiefs who seemed to have their thought glued to the weekend Soweto derby as they lost concentration to concede an 87th-minute goal.

There was a few chances for both sides here and there but still no clear cut domination of the Naturena Boys. Amakhosi had Siphiwe Tshabalala crushing the crossbar with a 20-metre free kick just 15 minutes into play. They dominated possession especially in midfield but their penetration was restricted to the middle third of the pitch. The People’s Team seemed to be playing for a point and made it difficult for Amakhosi to enter the final third. Bafana Bafana player, Reneilwe Letsholonyane played a vital role in midfield for Chiefs but his contribution was restricted to futile long-range shots.
There was better luck for the other Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates, as they picked up a point on the road at the Princess Magogo Stadium from Amazulu. This may be the difference on Saturday as they ride the confidence wave against a demoralised Chiefs. What was disappointing for the Bucs is how much they fired blanks. They Happy People had been prolific in front of goal, but they failed to make meaningful impact, which will worry coach Ruud Krol. Chiefs may actually come out as a wounded lion against Pirates as they seek to salvage lost pride and atone for poor results.
AmaZulu were never in the match and were content to contain the attacking Pirates forward who were ably supported by the gifted Andile Jali. Clifford Mgomeni fought crucial midfield battles and had a shot going wide from a good lay-off outside the penalty box. Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Dikgang Mabalane and Daine Klate combined well and found Usuthu not giving anything away.
Pirates could have done with Tlou Segolela earlier on, but when 240km/hour came in, they never bothered utilising him and his speed, shifting the attack into other channel. It can be misconstrued that they wanted to use him as a decoy, letting him get the attention and then taking the attack line in the other direction. As it turned out, it was a naive case of hope without any intelligence. The Sea Robbers pinned AmaZulu and could have retreated once in a while and then catapulted using the man the speed traps cannot detect.
Pirates striker Chiukepo Msowoya brought the best out of Amazulu keeper in the 36th minute when Mbuyane flew down the AmaZulu left flank and played a measured pass to Msowoya who held off a defender and hit a low shot. Goalkeeper Mzimela was equal to the task and parried the ball to safety. Pirates will need to increase their game for the weekend derby in order to kick-out Chiefs as they did in the MTN-8 semi-final.
Moroka Swallows lost a home match 0-1 to Golden Arrows after Siyabonga Nkosi was on target in the 76th minute. Maritzburg United followed their crushing of Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Knockout Cup with a draw with another Tswane team with a 2-2 scoreline. Supersport needed a crucial 74th minute goal from defender Morgan Gould, to rescue a point. Sundowns made their comeback with a crucial 2-0 win over Free State Stars by goals from Mathew Pattison and Mabhuti Khenyeza. Bloemfontein Celtics beat Platinum Stars by 2 goals to 1 while Mpumalanga Black Aces came from behind to draw 1-1 with visiting Bidvest Wits.

The Manchester dull derby ends in a draw, as Arsenal, Chelsea win.

In a time wasting affair for fans, these Manchester giants wrestled each other to the ground, but in a dull and boring manner that be qualify for conspiracy usually associated with the far east betting syndicates. While City were always caught for pace in midfield, they dominated the first half with total authority but their penetration was neutralised by their lack of confidence and lack of nerves.

The match was well suited for the forceful and finishing prowess of Emmanuel Adebayor, but Roberto Mancini played child games hoping Carlos Tevez will revel in the limelight of playing against his former paymasters and haunt them. Football, being none of magic, was always going to be won by football tactics which Sir Fergie did less to instill in his team, hoping for a sell-motivation of the derby. This misfired badly as United failed to turn their total dominance of the second half into anything meaningful.

Liverpool had a fairly good trip to Wigan where Fernando Torres scored again for a vital away draw. The resurrected Merseyside team played well and were unlucky to concede a Hugo Rodallega equaliser at the DW Stadium. The goal came courtesy of that Steven Gerrard telephatic understanding with Torres who made darting run to the right and then finished with the trademark class that had been eluding him for the better part of the current season, firing low to the far post.

Wigan took charge of matters and finally got the goal that mattered in the 52nd minute after Pepe Reina parried the volley back into play and Rodallega embraced the gift with his right foot to take the steam off The Reds. It was a good point for the visitors and with Gerrard hitting the bar late in the match, it was going to be hush for the host to lose that match given their effort. Charles N'Zogbia was the class I had always admired from the days he was at Newcastle United and he seems to be enjoying the confidence of Roberto Martinez, his coach. He had the ball in the net in the 31st minute but his effort was voided by the referee.
They would have headed off into the night with more to show for their output if they had been a little more composed in the visiting area.

Arsenal turned up for 39 seconds and went to slumber before coming back to see the end game in the 94th minute to steal the points away from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Barclays Premier League encounter at Molineux. The Moroccan striker, Marouane Chamakh complted a swift move from kick off when the headed in a cross from the right in 39 seconds. Lukasz Fabianski, one of my favourite players along Alex Song and Samir Nasri, was just superb as he has been throughout this season so far. Chamakh raced to a through ball at the dearth to put Wolves to the sword in injury time.

Captain Cesc Fabregas showed he drank from the same cup as Liverpool's Fernando Torres as his moral seemed to be rock bottom. Cesc failed to connect clean from close range and had numerous wild shots and wayward passes. His head was often between his legs and he was lucky not to see red with his reckless tackling. The match was well suited for Theo Walcott, as Wolves pushed relentlessly forward, leaving yawning gaps behind. Andrei Arshavin, having his best match of the season, could not accelerate fast enough onto the through ball and even one-on-one cases. 

Unlike their last match in which they found themselves pinning their opponents against the wall without any room for Walcott and company to get behind the defence, the Gunners were the ones gasping for thin air and begging for mercy for the entire 90 minutes with Kevin Doyle and Foley terrorising the defence at will. It was more of a case of unlucky Wolves than lucky Arsenal. As it was to be the case, Wolves live to fight another day.

Defending champions looked to Michael Essien's close-range header to steal the vital points in a match they dominated well. Essien was harshly sent off late in injury time for a two-footed tackle on Clint Dempsey which was less malicious than the referee thought. Chelsea desperate for the win after the weekend loss to Liverpool. Salomon Kalou had three excellent chances to bury Fulham but Mark Hughes's side were lucky to escape the drubbing. Kalou came in for injured Nicolas Anelka and was involved in the goal when his cross from the right wing found an unmarked Essien to headed in the ball from close range.

The Blues put a solid performance but were far less intimidating as in the first part of the season. It may be that they are running out of steam or just going through a lean spell, in which case they are happy with it as they pick up the vital points from under-par displays. At this point, do they look like they will retain the title or someone is laying wait for the championship? In that case, who?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tonight ABSA Premiership matches before the Soweto Derby at the weekend

The always much anticipated Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs is coming at the weekend and there will always be boiling blood when the black and white meet the gold and black. Pirates are in excellent form after scoring 6 goals in their last 2 matches and Chiefs will be relying on the form of Knowledge Musona and Abia Nale. Before then, there is a full line up for tonight's ABSA Premier League fixtures.

Mpumalanga Black Aces will welcome Bidvest Wits at the Puma stadium hoping to get the elusive points. Neil Tovey has managed to mould a team of regular shape but they are yet to see the results of that effort in the league. Amaziyoni have been very regular in the way they surrendered points both home and away. They can claim to have taken the Pirates scalp a few weeks back, the Bucs are not the whole league.

The team that has a steady regular poor performance any team would love to hate, is Moroka Swallows. The Dube Birds reached the 2010 MTN8 Cup final and were Nedbank Cup champions last year, but they are yet to record win this season. With Bafana striker, veteran Siyabonga Nomvethe, Izinyoni have been flying too low and they will be hopping to shoot down Golden Arrows at Dobsonville Stadium.

Bloemfontein Celtic have been on the roll and look forward to keep the momentum they had of late. Phunya Selesele host Platinum Stars at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium. They beat Moroka Swallows 2-1 and are on high spirit under a new mentor. Stars will be banking on Owen Da Gama's inside knowledge of the team as Owen spent some reasonable time at the Free State team and he should know the mentality better.

Kaizer Chiefs and Santos will be sizing each other in the league fixture as the 2 teams are drawn each other in the Telkom Knockout Cup semi-final. Vladimir Vermezovic claims to be fielding a very strong team for the match and that is really no big deal to any coach as Boebe Solomons will want to beat them now and later irrespective of Siphiwe Tshabalala playing now or later. Tyron Arendse will be a worry for Amakhosi and the pressure of the players sizing each other may make it a boring affair, but on a good day, Chiefs can beat anyone with a second stream side.
ABSA Premier League rookies, Vasco da Gama will host neighbours Cape Town Ajax in their maiden derby tonight. Vasco have an array of decorated players who are yet to come to the party. In Ajax, they have a stubborn outfit that can be hard to crack and they need to be at their best to get a single point from this one. As common knowledge, derbies really do not need motivation but the team that takes the initiative is like a man that pays lobola and we will see where this one lands.
Mamelodi Sundowns suffered and embarrassing defeat to Maritzburg United in the Telkom Cup and Patrice Motsepe is in no party mood. They will come face to face with Steve Khompela's Free State Stars at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe who they hope to beat and maintain their log leadership. Nyasha Mushekwi and Mabhuti Khenyeza seem to be striking a balanced partnership and Lebohang Mokoena will be vital in providing penetrative support with straight runs into the box.
Unlucky AmaZulu meet onfire Orlando Pirates in a match they would love to win at all costs. The problem is that Pirates are not that charitable anymore and they are blowing hot and breathing fire. Usuthu would have loved to pin their tactics on individuals and Pirates do not operate that way. The Bucs have everyone scoring vital goals and Mabalane and Mbuyane seem to be enjoying their game of late. Jele and Jali are dominating the midfield in a way that keeps Krol happy. For the Happy People, it is a match they would love to win to take the confidence to the derby at the weekend.
The team of the moment, Maritzburg United are on cloud nine after beating Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Knockout Cup. They are hoping to go a step further and kill off the fading champions, also from Pretoria, SuperSport United, in an Absa Premiership match at the Harry Gwala stadium. Supersport seem to have lost the bearings big time and there is no better time to put them to the sword than when they are still on the ground.
About the derby, will Chiefs avenge their MTN-8 loss to the Bucs?

Manchester Derby tonight: Spurs drops points as Stoke finally win.

After the usual ritual of a lousy Barclays Premier League performance following a Champions League over the top outing, Spurs went a single and insignificant gear up against a very stubborn Sunderland that was bubbling with confidence from their weekend league result when they thrashed Stoke City 2-0 with a double from Asamoah Gyan. Gyan was the man Spurs would love to hate as he cancelled out Rafael van der Vaart goal.

Spurs dominated the match and struck the post and finally the net in the 64th minute after a Gareth Bale cross was nodded down by Peter Crouch for van der Vaart. The everyday Red Sea between the 2 goalkeepers is Spurs's worst secret. The team's spine was exposed when the central defenders went for the same ball and both missed it and let Sunderland equalise.

Stoke City finally got the elusive goal with a 3-2 victory over Birmingham City. It was almost heading for the share of the spoils as the winning goal came at the dearth.

Tonight, Chelsea welcome Fulham, then there is a Manchester derby, Wolves will host Arsenal and Liverpool travel to Wigan. Aston Villa and Everton entertain Blackpool and Bolton respectively. Are The Reds out of the grave yet or it was a paper bonfire?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Coaching Course Rahman Gumbo Attended.

As a Railstars FC coach leading the team to promotion from Division 1 to the Premiership being a Level 2 course intsructor for coaches was a tough concortion to take but enjoyable at the same time. This was one large class and one of the most powerful.

This class of coaches had Rahman Gumpo, a former national team player and Bosso coach who won local championships during the late 1990 and early 2000 at will and later went on to do so in Malawi and lately Botswana. There was a former Eagles, Hunyani and Highlanders dribbler,  Clement Balanda, a reputable coach and administrator, Siphatho Ncube who coaches Highlanders Royals as well as being elected a Bosso committee member a few years back.

Former Highlanders Chairmen and the most successful manager Ernest Maphepha Sibanda, was also a member of that great class. Maphepha went on to be national team manager, as was former Sports and Recreation Council Southern Region boss, Brian Moyo. Moyo is currently in the Southern Region ZIFA board and was involved in national cricket.

It was incredible working with Bekezela Maduma-Fuzwayo, Emmett Ndlovu, a former Bosso medic and national team doctor with great talent. Ndlovu also became Team Manager of Bantu Rovers. Philani Mabhena, Kona Tshabangu and Mebelo Mbewe were some of the great coaches and respected people who were part the big group of talented people.

Any faces you can recognise in the picture?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sundowns downed by Maritzburg Utd: Pirates may meet Chiefs in the Telkom Cup Final

A TV commercial of the Telkom Knockout Cup somehow feels to be in bad taste as a woman on a Telkom line calls a dear friend about a cheating husband. The lady says the husband has even mentioned the name 'Derby' in his sleep. Then we are reminded of the intriguing Soweto Derby.
Orlando Pirates, who are in red-hot form after two successive 3-0 victories which included the crushing of Supersport, are likely to face Kaizer Chiefs in the final, whom them outclassed in the MTN-8 semi-final a couple of weeks ago. First, each of the Soweto giants have one more hurdle to have us talk of that 'Derby' final everyone is anticipating. 
The Bucs have to deal with Santos in the semi-final who beat Mpumalanga Black Aces at home. Kaizer Chiefs have a trickeir fixture against surprise package, Maritzburg United. United beat log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by 2 goals to nil. The first goal came from Rudolf Bester who converted a penalty needlessly given away by Vuyo Mere. Fabian McCarthy scored a header against his former pay masters to seal the deal at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
Sundowns travelled to KwaZulu Natal and dominated the match and pushed for goals. However, that possession was pure romance with no penetration whatsoever where it mattered. They failed to have a single shot on target despite their visible threats from Mabhuti Khenyeza, Nyasha Mushekwi and substitute Lebohang Cheeseboy Mokoena.
Beating Sundowns was one thing and facing Chiefs in the semi-final will be a mountain to climb but achievable. It will be interesting to see if we will have a proper Soweto derby final that has eluded us for ages now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Liverpool hit Chelsea for 2 and Arsenal bite the dust at the Emirates

A shock defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates to a vibrant Newcastle United will be as much talk as even an even eyebrow raising Chelsea defeat by Liverpool. At least The Blues lost to The Reds away to Anfield, but then as defending champions, one expected better. The bigger picture though, is the resurgence of Liverpool. That must be the story of the week.

The Gunners were never in it as Cesc Fabregas mispassed more often than all erratic passes of the entire Arsenal midfield. The whole set up was off. The Gunners failed to impose a passing game from defence progressing into midfield and quickly releasing Theo Walcott. It took far long to create a final pass to attackers and the Magpies were comfortable with the arrangement. United actually managed to outpass the hosts on several occasions as they began to enjoy an unthreatening Arsenal.

The goal came just before half-time from a free kick that was headed in by Andy Carrol. Lukas Fabianski came off his goal line a little too early and in trying to adjust his steps in line with the flight of the ball, made a late take-off from the ground and was outjumped by the aggressive Carrol.

Arsenal were as pathetic as they were during the week against Shakhtar in the Champions League. They welcomed back Robin van Persie from injury. The Dutch striker was a second half substitute for an off form Chamakh. Newcastle could have added a few goals to the tally, had they not given much respect to Arsenal.
Just to rub it in, Laurent Koscielny was given a straight red card in stoppage time for professional foul for a goal-bound Nile Ranger, who could have converted a few late chances.

The fact that Arsenal had the entire 45 minutes to make amends for a dismal display and blew it, is a major worry for Arsene Wenger. Wenger knew his team to be stubborn and bullish only when they are in charge and it was hoped they moved from the phase from being boys to men. The loss and particularly the performance shows marginal improvements from that character.

Samir Nasri seemed sharp but incurred a foot injury, leaving Alex Song with so much to do from defensive to offensive duties. Cheick Tiote and Joey Barton just dominated the proceedings in the preparation zone that Chamakh was starved of supply terribly. The usually reliable Jack Wilshire was invisible.

Travelling Manchester City had to thank Mario Balotelli who scored twice and then got sent off later, for a cool 2-0 win at West Brom. The skipper, Carlos Tevez's low cross was turned in at the secondary post before he turned Gabriel Tamas to scored his second 5 minutes later. Balotelli lasted 62 minutes after a nonsensical attempt to kick a floored opponent. West Brom were completely dominated and were lucky to survive the onslaught. They had a man sent out in the last minutes of the match.

The big story though is fantastic Fernando Torres's form as he turned up and turned on the fire to score a brace against the champions, Chelsea, at Anfield. The stunning double in a hard-fought 2-0 win proved The Reds are out to rescue their lost pride with a solid performance. And Chelsea had the half-time and 45 minute to sort out the mess but they were outplayed completely. The Reds have climbed to 9th position and effectively out of the relegation zone after a 3rd league victory in a row.

While Chelsea remain ahead of challengers, Manchester United at the summit of the Premiership table, they will take heart at the results from the Emirates. United are an inconsistent lot this season and it looked like the Gunners were a serious threat until this afternoon. City's victory also may mean Roberto Mancini's troubles are over, at least for now and City will be a big threat to the aspiration of The Blues. Chelsea seemed to miss Essien in the middle as Steven Gerrard ran the show with the 'chapter chourister's authority. 

Which result was sweet for you this week? My worst was a Man U victory yesterday.

Up the Bucs

Orlando Pirates put ABSA Premier League champions to the sword with an electric performance at the Loftus last night. A very hot and fast paced affair saw 2 set pieces poorly defended by Supersport United as skipper, Lucky Lekgwathi and Rooi Mahamutsa scored from corner kicks taken from both sides of the field.

The Matsatsantsa ship was truly and completely sunk by the efficient Sea Robbers when Daine Klate ran to a through ball, attacked the by-line and played a reverse pass that was tucked in nicely by Chiukepo Msowoya. Klate had the luxury to waste a penalty kick in the 6th minute and all was forgotten when the Pirates left the wreckage with the treasure of going to the semi-finals. It was a good match never seen in a long time by the Happy People. Gavin Hunt was a worried man and their league form is just as bad.

Santos beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 1-0 to also advance to the Telkom Cup semi-final. Erwin Isaacs scored the solitary goal in the 43rd minute. Aces were in trouble, having to play the 50 minutes of their match with 10 men. Aces' keeper, Denis Onyango was very busy trying to thwart the Capetonians attack and finally cracked under pressure from the hosts.

Pirates and Santos will be hoping to date on-fire Amakhosi after Kaizer Chiefs also proceeded after late goals 24 hours before. Chiefs scored through Sthembiso Ngcobo, who scored against his former club to set Kaizer Chiefs on their way to a 2-0 win over Free State Stars at the Rand Stadium. Knowledge Musona increased that lead for Chiefs in the 82nd.

Maritzburg United will face Mamelodi Sundowns to decide the final semi-finalist. Sundowns are favourites but United will not give them all the respect as they want to have a shout as to the destination of the Cup. While it will be nice to have a Pirates vs Chiefs final, Sundowns will not appreciate that as a dream final as the fading power houses are leading the log and want to re-establish their status along with the Soweto giants. For a change, it would do football a lot of good for United to clinch the TKO Cup.

Barclays Premiership: Miserable Spurs and great United.

An obvious case of how Fabio Capello was seduced by Kevin Davies into handing the veteran an English debut last month, is one the lips of hurting Tottenham Spurs fans. On the other hand, the same old story of Spurs tumbling like a deck of cards after riding a high crest wave of the Champions League is now boring with its predictability.

Daives hit the net twice while Gretar Steinsson and Martina Petrov punished a Spurs defence that actually played for Bolton Wanderers. Allan Hutton and Roman Pavlyuchenko scored for Spurs. Spurs were in trouble from the first whistle, failing to capitalise on the nervous Bolton. They suffered the absence of Aaron Lennon, Rafael van der Vaart and Ledley King.

Park Ji-Sung reminded us of who Manchester United really are, with a 93rd-minute strike that gave Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford. Sung scored his second goal of the game deep in injury time squeezing a shot past the diving Marcus Hahnemann. Wolves paid for loss of concentration and thinking the match was over before the referee blew the final whistle. They could have earned a vital point. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had equalised after 66 minutes after park had scored earlier in the first half. It was a perfect gift for Sir Alex Ferguson's 24 year anniversary.

Owen Hargreaves's short and unfortunate career is all but over as he played only 5 1/2 minutes since 2008 and hobbled off the field. In what was a promising career that blossomed in Germany and then the protracted moves to have him play for England and eventually his costly move to United, it seems he will never be the player to realise his potential, much to the disappointment of both United and England fans.

His career is always compared to a much better one of one great Ole Gunner Solskjaer. Ole contributed far more than Owen but everybody will tell you how much the great things he did where going to be much better done over and over. At least this time, Owen managed to deliver a wayward cross and was on the turf for almost 6 minutes compared to the 30 seconds of last season. For his age, if he was a car, he would be having demo mileage on his speedo. I can just feel for the poor guy. What a wasted talent.

Blackpool had a Neal Eardley free-kick lead 10 minutes minutes into play and Everton evergreen Tim Cahill replied with a towering header to level the scores. Everton played well with purpose, with captain Arteka, Cahill and Steven Pienaar dictating the pace of the match. David Vaughan scored from close range and Everton hit back with the same urgency of the first half equaliser.

Sunderland beat Stoke City 2-0. Stoke are having a very bad run and my guess is that they will be unleashing their anger on teams that will visit them and Arsene Wenger will be crying foul in no time. Asamoah Gyan scored in the 6th and 86th minutes in the absence of injured Darren Bent.

Birmingham City and West Ham United drew 2 all while Fulham and Aston Villa drew 1-1. Gamst Pederson and Jason Roberts scored for Bluckburn in their 2-1 over Wigan Athletic. Charles N'zogbia scored Wigan's face saver at Ewood Park. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bosso shoots down Shooting Stars.

It's 9 points in 5 days for Highlanders and Mr Cooper is over the moon. Bosso visited Shooting Stars and pulled off a 1-0 victory in the Zimbabwean Premiership this afternoon, got 3 points for the abandoned match against FC Victoria on Thursday, a day after they blasted Hwange 3-1 at BF. The club and new coach continued with a good run since he took charge. The team consolidated its log standings in 3rd.

The win has placed Bosso to where they have always belonged and denied the chance to be there by poor decisions. Bosso is on cloud nine and the win over highly fancied Shooting Stars and Mkhuphali Masuku is the tonic the doctor ordered after a terrible run of Mohammed Fathi.

The back to back victories are generating a lot of excitement and fans are starting to stream into the stadia to watch the Cooper Train. With all the bills to pay all the fines and outstanding salaries of former employees. m
Masuku replaced Mohamed Fathi who called it a day at the club on 30 September and has scored remarkable victories in the last 6 league matches.

Latest data; Highlanders       24 13 4 6 26 18 43

City and Liverpool to sink, Spurs and Chelsea to conquer, Arsenal to draw

The Barclays Premier League comes days after the UEFA Champions League. Usually, the teams that were active during the week sell us a dummy by under performing. It is very unlikely though, that this time they will have an excuse. Chelsea did not raise any sweat in their 4-1 home victory, while Arsenal fielded novices that did not hit a 100% performance level.

Manchester United, however, had to engage an extra gear to get the 3 points though the opposition was never world class. Tottenham Hotspur gave their all against the defending champions and got the result that got us talking. This showed their inexperience, as teams usually go half throttle at that level in order to reserve Premiership fuel levels so that they will win the trip back to Europe the next season.

Manchester City were pathetic losing 1-3 in a shameful match. Liverpool overcome Napoli in a dramatic turn of events, but then, the Europa League is a second tier competition that does not draw 100% performance in technical and tactical terms. New boss, American Liverpool owner John W Henry failed to commit the long term future manager Roy Hodgson although he will be here for now.

He was wary to underline that debt is bad and there is need to stay away from it, hence it would not be wise to borrow to build the new stadium. The whole point is that he promised new talent, without mentioning names and figures, for the coach. It will, however be seen how much their transformation in cash terms translates to the footballing results and the impact it will have in the focus of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard as they look at the long term.

The Liverpool versus Chelsea at Anfield today will show how much progress Liverpool are making, at least to the fans. For me, it will never be a measure of anything. It will be a matter of 3 points and Chelsea have a work ethic no English team can stand against. They do not raise any sweat unnecessarily. They do just enough to get the job done for the day. I am not a big fan of Carlo Ancelotti but then, the players are world class. Liverpool will need the Steven Gerrard of midweek to really have the match give us the vibe, but even then, 4 or 5 Gerrards may not be enough to stop the blue machine.

As of Manchester City, the plough is sinking, in particular for boss Roberto Mancini's the going can not be worse. In their language, his days are numbered, and City lives to fight another day for the championship. For their talent and money, it is a little embarrassing that they fight for a spot with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur. Man City have lost matches with chilling constancy, 3 in a row.

They face their match in West Brom who have lost four matches on the trot. Italian Mancini feels the pressure but then, I guess if he is fired he stands to earn more money and lose all the pressure. More incentive to do less right there. I must say City success is unlikely to make it easier for the billionaire owners who do not take West Brom as a big deal. I guess they are conducting interviews by now and I am keeping my eyes open.

Gareth Bale is as much of a buzz word this week as was 'vuvuzela' during the FIFA World Cup. Since football is never magic, Spurs have their biggest challenge to date and their problems are basically have everything to do with experience. How much to do and not to do after failure or success in Europe is one of the toughest coaching issues to deal with. Having players to focus calls for a high order of mental shaping. Bolton are a team that can tear a team apart if someone sleeps on duty.

It has been obvious how Spurs failed to shake off the European jet-leg and faltered. It would be folly to place your money against a team that has just beat European champions regardless of Tottenham's very bad record at Bolton as they will be looking for a league win they last saw in 1996. Owen Coyle was like a monkey busy stroking Harry Redknapp's scrotum suggesting the Spurs boss should do the England job after Fabio Capello.

Newcastle have Nolan, Andy Carroll and Ameobi to tilt the scale for them when they face Arsenal. They scored tons of goals last week and though Arsenal had a bad European outing, they will remember how much of a drubbing the Gunners gave them. This one will be a very bad draw.