Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arsenal only win when United win

In 7500 BC, boats made of reeds were being manufactured and used in the Middle East. It is not clear whether that is the reason the region has been blessed with the fuel to propel these. However, the first ever known beer was being brewed in Mesopotamia about 6000 BC, the same time that the wheel is believed to have been inverted in Sumeria. I agree with you here that the whole point was to transport the beer as the boys were getting tired of rolling huge drums of the alcohol. (Source; Jim Cowan

My last look at the Barclays Premier League showed how bottom teams are cramped at the bottom. Bottom seems a little harsh given that there is basically no base at the anchor. I say this because, Wigan Athletic, though occupying that position, can be 7th 4 matches later. That is assuming all teams above them do not register more than 7 points each in that period. That is very much possible. By the same token, the 7th placed Bolton are just as relegation candidates.

Wigan begin that bid at home against a team that is central-defenceless and preparing for the biggest match of their lives, a UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernebeu, next week. Birmingham will host Bolton Wanderers, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea travel to West Ham, West Brom and Stoke City respectively. These are not easy matches for the big boys. Arsenal and Manchester City will have the privilege of playing a home fixture against Blackburn and Sunderland, very tough customers indeed.

As we all know by now, the Gunners will have an outstanding performance, but, as for the result, it will depend on others. Arsenal will have a handsome win provided Manchester United will win. Any draw and lose for United will see a bad result at the Emirates. Chelsea and Liverpool are just unpredictable. You can bank on a depleted Spurs beating any team before a Champions League match. We all know what happens after all the hype of a good show they will put against the Galatico.

I await your respected opinions about the weekend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

South Africa rises as Zimbabwe is confused as ever

South African football has been on ascendence since the departure of respected and highly paid Brazilian coaches. The South Americans would normally get the credit for the foundation they laid. For a change, I will not do that. Pisto Mosimane is the man. Foreign coaches were almost derailing the pride of the nation and I am convinced that even the 2010 FIFA World Cup would have looked different under Mosimane.
In the African Nations Cup qualifier against record title holders, Egypt, striker Katlego Mphela killed off the match virtually with the last kick of the match, securing that famous 1-0 win. As usual with South African media, the next morning they wanted the world to know that 'Killer' was arrested for drunked driving. Such lack of news has made the world to believe Africa is a jungle. 
Back to football. The injury time strike means at the halfway stage of the campaign, South Africa, have seven points from three games. Egypt are 6 points behind and have a chance to revenge in June as they bid to qualify for 2012 Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Bafana Bafana are best placed to reach finals they failed to qualify for in the year they hosted the World Cup.

On the other hand, neighbours, Zimbabwe, who supply the best personnel to the South African ABSA Premier League, are struggling with their qualifiers as they stumbled against Mali. Zimbabwe bundled the securing of Namibian coach, Tom Saintefeit to replace the inexperienced and under qualified Norman Mapeza. Madinda Ndlovu took the reigns in an acting capacity before the Warriors turned back on their vomit expecting miracles. This came after they tried to lure former coach, a successful young man who took the team to its second appearance of the tourney, Charles Mhlauri, but failed.
It is still early days but the principles of operation are quiet reversed. The result left the Warriors in 3rd position in Group A with 2 points from 3 matches. They trail leaders, unknown Cape Verde by 5 points. Verde beat Liberia 4-2 on Saturday. Zimbabwe had over 66 minutes to right the result but wasted the chance. Zimbabwe drew their first two matches against Liberia and Cape Verde, making it hard for themselves as matches run dry.
South Africa woke up and smelt the coffee. Things are working out for them, while Zimbabwe slumber and wet the blankets. Geography sometimes has nothing to do with anything.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When 'non-racist' is very racist

The weekend qualifier matches and friendlies have been overshadowing a big talking point and there seems to be further efforts to thwart the news. The Scottish Football Association is at pains to explain that Brazil star Neymar was racially abused by the Tartan Army at the Emirates Stadium.

I guess they are actually rtying to say no one was racially abused. At this point, they say there has been consultation between the Metropolitan Police and Arsenal Football Club who want us to believe that a German teenage tourist threw a banana onto the pitch during the Brazil v Scotland International Friendly at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but did not mean any racial harm.

At 19 years of age is not young. "The youngster was sitting in the North Bank of Emirates Stadium, an area of the stadium which was occupied by the official allocation of tickets to Brazil supporters, when he threw the banana onto the pitch during the second half of the match. Neymar said he did not see the banana being thrown, but saw it on the ground next to him as he was near the touchline.

How is a racist banana differ from a non racist banana? Why did it have to be by a German and not Brazilian? Why did it decide to fall next to a black Brazilian player? Did not black people in the stadium have bananas to throw at white players, or have the energy to propel the fruit to the Scottish? Can anybody confirms there were no chancts heard? Questions can be asked but answers will be few. At the end of the day, to say that the banana throwing was not racist is extremely racist, to be polite.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Highlanders outclass Shabanie 3-0

The Zimbabwe giants, Highlanders Football Club started the Castle Premier League on a high note, beating Shabanie Mine 3-0 at Bourberfields Stadium this afternoon. The Bosso team kicked off their season on a very tempo full of promise and energy.

Amahlolanyama started off well with goals from Graham Ncube who converted from the penalty spot. Eric Mudzingwa came in with a long range drive from over 25 metres, stunning the goalkeeper with a launcher into far post.

Bosso were not yet finished as they came stronger and put the final nail in the coffin with a final goal from Njabulo Ncube, who headed home past a bemused keeper to send the wild celebrate vibrating into the City night. Is this the year of the team of the nation?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Highlanders lose bid to reclaim attached property


A BULAWAYO judge on Thursday dismissed with costs an urgent chamber application filed by Highlanders Football Club seeking an interim order that the Deputy Sheriff, Bulawayo, returns all attached property belonging to the club.

Dismissing the application in which Mohammed Fathi is the first respondent and the Deputy Sheriff, the second, Justice Maphios Cheda said there was no urgency in the matter. He said Highlanders had not exhausted all the local remedies as the Labour Court could have dealt with their case.
He said the club should pay the former mentor his dues. Highlanders wanted an order granted by Labour Court president, Mercy Moya-Matshanga on 31 January this year, to be suspended pending the determination of the review which the club is seeking and the application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Deputy Sheriff has attached and removed a number of movable properties from the Club House that include the team bus, computers, television sets and soccer balls among others. The property has to be sold to raise money to pay Fathi his dues. In her ruling Moya-Matshanga ordered Highlanders, who were respondents in the Labour Court case, to pay Fathi US$4,000 in arrear salaries.

They were further ordered to pay him the sum of US$11,625 as gratuity that has accrued to him. The club is to pay the costs of the suit. Fathi through his lawyers Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners later registered the final order with the High Court, which enabled him to attach the club’s property.

Odiel Nkomo, the club treasurer in his founding affidavit filed by his lawyer, Zibusiso Charles Ncube, of Phulu and Ncube argued that the order which was granted by the Labour Court and was finally registered with the High Court is ill conceived and was obtained in “what one may say were fraudulent circumstances” without the observance of the audi alteram partem rule as they were never heard before its granting.
Nkomo notes that Fathi, after registering the order with the High Court, went on to issue a writ of execution against the club’s property.

“The 2nd respondent has attached and removed the property of the applicant and may dispose of it at any time. “The order obtained by 1st respondent was irregularly granted and to allow execution of the order is an affront to common sense and all the tenets of justice,” wrote Nkomo.

He added that Fathi is bent on fully executing the order and that the club has no other remedy other than approach the High Court for relief on an urgent basis as it is on the verge of facing irreparable harm and prejudice.

He notes that the property attached and removed has not yet been disposed.
The club’s lawyer, Ncube said they would soon be engaging in talks with Ndabezinhle Mazibuko from the law firm representing Fathi to try “to agree on a payment plan that will stop the disposal of the attached property”.

Friday, March 25, 2011

EXTRA-TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu - A TALE OF TWO CAPTAINS

Messrs Fabio Capello and Pitso Mosimane made bold decisions ahead of their crucial continental ties this weekend. I would like to applaud them and wish their game-plan prevails to silence all critics. Appointed captains John Terry and Steven Pienaar are head and shoulders above the rest.

Although Jingles won’t say it plainly, the writing is on the wall for the Axe, it is bold and clear. Aaron Mokoena’s international career is as good as over. I saw it coming. In saying he doesn’t polish the players’ boots Mosimane made it clear what kind of a coach he is.

As I vividly recall that moment when vuvuzelas stopped a bit, when the ball was floated over the Bafana defence, the troops advanced but Mokoena, the commander remained, the rest as they say is history. Who can ever forget Rafael Marquez’s equalizer against Mexico at the then Soccer City? In as much as I don’t want to think about what could have happened had Bafana won that game, I am not putting the blame on Mokoena alone because we win as a team and lose as a team.

Somewhere somehow in London, an appointed captain received a complimentary call from the man he had just replaced. You would be tempted to think that it was Mokoena calling Pienaar; it was rather Rio Ferdinand encouraging John Terry to lead the team to victory. Whilst Terry kept on climbing podiums to collect trophies last season, Mokoena might have been busy with Google maps, acquitting himself with the routes of Championship Stadiums.

Fabio Capello has put aside an incident in which he called a big mistake by John Terry at the recent World Cup when the Chelsea skipper told the media that players had planned to hold a meeting with the gaffer because several seemed unhappy with his tactics. Prior to the World Cup, Capello had stripped Terry the England captaincy amid allegations that he had an extra marital affair with the ex girlfriend of England teammate, Wayne Bridge. The latter went on to forfeit his World Cup spot in the England squad most probably protesting Terry’s inclusion.

By reappointing him, Capello has shown professionalism and trust in John Terry.

Terry is fully aware that his second bite at the cherry won’t be an easy and pleasant one for everybody when he said that he is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Peter Crouch and James Milner were amongst the players that showed approval in Terry’s reappointment. Spurs attacker Jermaine Defoe, the man who holds the record of England’s most appearance as a substitute wasn’t pleased by Capello’s decision. Defoe stated that his heart went to Rio, he sounded ready to bury the hatchet in saying that they now have to move away from it since Terry is now the captain. Defoe and Ferdinand spent several years together at West Ham United.

With over a century of caps, Mbazo is the country’s most capped player. Goodbye Teboho Aaron Mokoena, we will miss you but not as much as opposition strikers.

Steven Pienaar, may you transform you’re your club form to national level. John Terry, you have led Chelsea to best defensive records, most clean sheets and record number of points. You have been their chief cornerstone. When are you going to lift a trophy for England? You are the commander of the Three Lions, lead by example.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

They all cheated their wives

If one has a team-mate and are very loose friends, and the friend has a girlfriend who bears him a child, then the child's mother is no longer together with the friend and the two friends play for separate teams although one captains the national team, what business of coach, media and supporters is it, that the skipper be stripped of his authority in the game for the relationship with the ex of his ex-teammate?

As fate would have it, the skipper by default, has his armband back and then there is a hull scum cacophony and pandemonium hullaballoo about nothing. Don't we have no fly zones or earthquakes to talk about. There is also a global sporting event in India to take our attention. The cricket ICC World Cup and the upcoming UEFA Champions League is far better news.

We are generally a gossiping generation and achieve far less despite all access to information provided for by the modern day technology. John Terry knew Wayne Bridge and his girlfriend. Bridge could not commit to this woman for whatever reason. The woman or Terry loved Terry or the woman. Terry should be crucified for cheating on his wife though, not for Wayne Bridge's left-overs.

But I will tell you why. Though a few may have wanted his armband and have not gone out with their former team-mates ex's, the same cannot be said about on cheating on their wives among the lot. It is a case of throwing the first stone. If anyone does not want John Terry to go out with their ex's, they should marry them themselves. That will run dry Terry's options. Until then, Terry, the armband is yours and ex's are available, but shame on you for cheating on your wife.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leave Jose alone

Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest coaches of the game. I rate him the best. He has said he respects Spurs and their ability since they beat Inter and AC Milan. Any team with that pedigree, can beat anyone on their day.

The Special One is never one to mince his words or beat by the bush. He has always expressed his love for English football. When he mentioned again this week, the world is abuzz as if the man is leaving Real Madrid tomorrow.

Leave Jose alone. He has a contract to fulfil and a mission to accomplish. He is a man who will not walk away from a chaleenge. Chances are, good money, as it can do to any man, will. The only monied team with a budget muscle are Manchester City.

Mourinho has once said, for the respect of Sir Alex Ferguson, he will not go to City. Arsene Wenger is not retiring soon either. Carlo Ancellotti's job is as secure as Marmur Gaddaffi's future, but there is nothing special to get fron Stanford Bridge for Jose, but again, Roman Abrahamovic can buy anything he wants.

There are all combinations and possibilities of the destination of the best tactician of all time, but it will not be soon. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FIFA, money, grass and roots

FIFA President, Joseph Blatter has offered to resign in 2014 if re-elected. In other words, he must be re-elected at all costs in June 2011. Less serious is the fact that if not re-elected, he will not quit. Then, there must be another no fly zone declared until he goes.

Talking about costs, FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke announced on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, that due to a very successful South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, member associations in Africa will pocket US$800, 000 bonus each from the federation and a further annual US$250, 000 development grant.

He explained how good business it was doing business in the jungle of Africa, calling it 'a huge success from all fronts' and 'was not the financial failure that some people claimed it would be.' It is a welcome gesture to see the money being planted back to African football development.

It is traditional that the money will be channelled towards the development of football at grassroots level. The issue here will be the channelling. Usually it gets tunnelled in bottomless pits and develops into 'insufficient funds' projects that turn into white elephants. These elephants should actually be termed black since they are the Dark Continent species.

In the process, there is always great desire to fund football development from grassroots by African associations. Usually, there is no grass to see here. Football is always done on rock-hard surfaces. Villages and academies have been claimed to be 'on schedule' being developed. I think this is where the trick is. They are always at root level.

FIFA has done a great job in getting this money into capable hands, as you and I would blow it away overnight buying football equipment. We would probably get rooted into projects that generate interest among the youth too quickly due to lack of red-tape, but then, you need roots to establish a very strong base for any foundation, like building a house on a rock and not sand.

Could Sepp be trying to buy Africa votes here, or Valcke fancies himself a successor in the FIFA presidency?

Monday, March 21, 2011

They never walked alone

Sometimes one gets lost in thoughts when memories of the great side of Steve Machon, John Aldridge, Craig Johnson, Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and Bruce Grobelaar to name but a few. Those were the glory days of Liverpool, a team that won everything willy-nilly.

It was not that there were no rivals. Manchester United had legendary characters like Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Gary Lieneker and Paul Parker in their ranks. Kenny Daglish had seen better days but still influential by his presence.

The Reds were top of the cream. They played well and won clean. It was a flawless display on a regular basis, which saw flashes of class from the likes of Stan Colymore who scored amazing goals and young Steve Macmanaman with his pace, mesmerising runs and dribbles.

Ian Rush was an amazing goal machine. It did not matter whether the ball was in the air or on the ground. That man was just amazing. He had masses of top drawer goals for a regular scorer of that quality.

Generations of players came and went as the dominance of The Reds went to the Red Devils. In the absence of proper dominance after waltzing past everyone by Manchester United, it seems Liverpool are back to take their rightful place. There were moments we thought Chelsea will end the United decade of dominance while under Jose Mourinho. The bubble quickly burst.

As for Arsenal, they have always been nearly men since. They threatened here and there during the days of Overmass, Emmanuel Petit, David Berkamp, Tony Adams and David Seamens. During the hey days of prolific scorer Ian Wright, Liverpool were not letting go. Even the Tottenham Hotspur of the great Glenn Hoddle, Leeds United of the Wallace brothers and the Crazy Gang - a team without money and said to be driven by nothing but team spirit - Wimbledon, could not stop Liverpool.

Not that Wimbledon were any good by any measure, but they were known for serious combat that made it difficult for other teams to play. Vinny Jones was about the only white dude in that line-up that engaged hard in tackles. Efan Ekoku and John Fashanu were part of the side that even won the FA Cup in 1988.

With Luiz Suarez shining for the Merseyside outfit, things look to be getting better for the team Kenny Daglish inherited from the ineffective Roy Hodgson. I have always believed The Reds needed a sharp-shooter that Fernando Torres was. Torres reached 'sale-by' date without anyone noticing his shelve life was done. One can hope that Andy Carroll will come in and complement the hard working Suarez.

David Ngog had been getting a lot of play time, ahead of perennial super-sub, Babel. Babel wanted out, as coach after coach seemed to think he is a 10 minute player. Dirk Kyut has revived his touch and though I will never believe that there will be a better Liverpool side than the 80's one, they will be a team to beat next season. They need a little more to get my full sympathy. Spurs have a lot of homework to do, if I am to be at White Hart Lane next season.

It is still early for anything, but be warned, someone is not walking alone.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The bottom is more interesting for me

The Barclays Premier League weekend has come and gone with the usual Manchester United scrappy 1-0 win over Bolton, weekly flops by usual suspects in both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur as they drew with West Brom and West Ham respectively, wasting opportunities to close gaps to stay in touch with their aspirations, the unpredictable Chelsea 2-0 victory over the not-so-concerning Manchester City.

Chelsea are within reach of the title, while City are no longer in it practically. City are said to be rocked by the Coach-Bollatelli relationship breakdown. Such pandemonium usually affect team rhythm badly. Anyway. with the luck at United's side, the last thing one can do is to bet against them. That would be a fatal business deal.

I will not waste time and energy on the top 5 teams separated by 11 points, assuming teams with 29 matches win their games in hand, meaning that 4 matches later, the dynamics will render the picture mathematically so different. What is of interest is that the same scenerio is much more visible at the bottom. The last team has 30 points. 4matches later, they can find themselves 6th, with 42 points. The relegation zone is far more interesting for me than the top.

Upto 11th spot, it's a matter of 2 matches.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

UEFA Champions League; Beggars are not choosers.

Tottenham Hotspur would have cared less who they drew in the quarter final of the UEFA Champions League. The only problem is that I rate Spurs team with my heart and love Jose Mourinho with all my mind. Nine-time European champions Real Madrid coach will be lying if he said he has minimum respect for Spurs, but in all fairness, the Londoners, with all due respect to the team and my English favourite manager, Harry Redknapp,  cannot compete at that level. They however have an insignificant advantage of playing the 2nd leg at White Hart Lane.
For Barcelona, drawing Shakhtar Donetsk and avoiding Manchester United, Chelsea (who meet each other) and Madrid, is a true blessing. Defending champions Inter Milan, face Bundesliga club Schalke 04. The winner of Chelsea v United will play Inter or Schalke.

Madrid have an impressive record of the Cup, a total of over 150 matches in 15 appearances while Spurs are debutants. That is why, by any measure, they would have chosen a preferred opposition. Spurs midfielder, Rafael van der Vaart who used to play for Madrid will relish the chance to show his former pay masters a thing or two.

The Man U – Chelsea match will always be tagged as a rematch or revenge-cum grudge match following a bitter 2008 Chelsea loss to United in Moscow. I think that counts for nothing and it is The Blues’s realistic chance to get something away from United. Time will tell.

Friday, March 18, 2011

EXTRA-TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu - THE ANDREA PIRLO ROLE

With two exceptional talents vying for a single spot on the team sheet, Ancelotti was bound to have selection problems on his arrival at AC Milan. At that time Rui Costa was arguably the world’s best ball passer. He had established himself at Fiorentina and the case that he was the most expensive player signed by Milan added to the fact that he was not going to be relegated to the bench easily. Rui Costa had to contend with a young Italian rough diamond which had just joined from arch-rivals Inter Milan. Ancelotti did the unthinkable, he chose both.

Playing with two playmakers in an era when catenaccio was much revered in Italian football was never going to be easy. Ancelotti gave Rui Costa the playmaker’s role and fielded Pirlo deeper alongside Gattuso, the anchorman. Ancelotti gradually transformed Pirlo into a world class player that went on to fire AC Milan and Italy to glory.

With much freedom, Pirlo’s dynamism, creativity, and vision enabled him to dictate the pace which ensured Milan was back in European football sooner. Blessed with a great first touch, his ability to spread play with his cross-field passes to wingers is second to none. He uses his deeper role to play long balls which exploits openings and creates opportunities to build up play.

Pirlo was instrumental in the Rossoneri’s resurrection as Milan went on to dominate Europe again as they went on to win two UEFA Champions League trophies. His inspiration knew no boundaries, as national team coach Marcelo Lippi built his World Cup winning team around the AC Milan pair of Gattuso and Pirlo. ‘The architect’ scooped the bronze ball at the Azzuri’s last World Cup triumph after he had scored Italy’s opening goal. He further had four assists including the all important one in the final where he was voted man of the match. Prior to that, he had captained the Olympic team to bronze medal in 2004 where he became the third best player.

During Ancelotti’s era at the San Siro, Milan were said to be the custodians of the 1-4-4-2 narrow diamond formation until the departure of Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea. After winning the UEFA Champions League in 2003, Ancelotti kept the formation and the team setup intact until the sale of Shevchenko. However, if you closely look at AC Milan lineups in 2003 and 2005 UEFA Champions League finals you will observe why I have always thought that Milan’s formation was more of an advanced centralised ‘magic rectangle’.

In those three Champions League finals that Milan reached under Ancelotti, Milan had four defenders, two centre backs and two wingbacks. He didn’t change Gattuso and Pirlo in defensive midfield. Kaka replaced Rui Costa to partner Seerdorf in central midfield in 2005 with Shevchenko and Inzaghi being returned upfront. Pirlo wasn’t going to be called a deep lying playmaker if he was a central midfielder like Seerdorf or a plymaker like Rui Costa. I emphasise that Milan’s formation was more of a1- 4-2-2-2 instead of a 1-4-1-2-1-2 a narrow diamond. Though both formations use wingbacks for width, the diamond uses a single player at the base and at the tip.

Above all, Milan continued to use Pirlo as a deep lying playmaker even after switching Kaka to a second striker role in a 4-4-1-1, he never ceased to inspire. Pirlo’s displays best define the deep lying playmaker’s role.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thumbs up is not always OK.

More often than not, I have been asked football questions by very respectable members of society and footballers. Footballers in this context refers to all who play, manage and administrate the game. The general ineterst hinges on the game's philosophies, styles and then touchline and dressing room management.

Before I take you down that road, what is of interest to me is how people think that an animated coach is a good coach. He telss the players what to do. He gestures and points figures everywhere. I do that a lot, never finding time to sit myself, but that is not coaching.

Coaching is a lifestyle. All your philosophies of life are transplanted to the players and embedded in their lives too, if their are to play well for the coach. Unfortunately, many coaches do not live to see the tea break after signing a contract. That is the deathbed of football. As in any management position, management styles differ from dictatorship to democratic. I will not go through the long list in between and the jargon.

What then is coaching and what does one do and say in the dressing room pep talk and on the touch line? Ideally, in both cases, nothing. A coach's job is done at training. The job has limited talking and too much teaching. Skipping the preliminary stages of the game of coaching technique, let us look at a professional side of tactical training. Here, players must be taught is practical terms with demonstrations where to stand, run, or behave and the reasons why. This is repeated forever and ever.

Propaganda and humour must be intertwined to get both the attention and positive results. Again, repetition is the key but it must never reach a boring stage and instructions must be very clear. It is the degree of the coach's clarity and ability to demonstrate his ideas that makes or breaks a career. First, the thoughts must be chronological to make progressive sense. The idea must be practical enough to solve whatever playing problems the team needs solved.

At the end of explaining the idea, demonstrating by the coach and rehearsing by the players - first at walking pace and zero difficulty and then increasing the challenge by introducing obstacles and variations, a match is played and every move observed and compared to the notes as previously given. Initially, at any given opportunity of an error committed, play is stopped and the shortfall either pointed out straight away by the mentor or a question thrown out to the team to see if anyone saw what went wrong.

The same is done for a job well done. In case of a flop, a rehearsal is performed in a 'stop - start - stop - start' situation until the move comes out. Here coaches will differ in tolerance. Some will be content with 50 % achievement, others 80 % so that time is not wasted dwelling on the same issue. I will not move on until things are done right. 

Most of the concepts here will apply to different aspect of training in totality in an ideal situation. All a coach has to do, is make sure, he is understood. He must first understand his subject very well and tattoo that onto his players. The more he shows the grasp of his philosophy, the more respect he gets from his players. They will try to please him at all costs and win him games. This process takes ages to be embedded into any human being of ordinary generation.

Come match day, a coach will need a few things to REMIND players. It must be what he has taught them over the previous training periods. It cannot be everything of course. Human capacity is limited the amount of data assimilated, worse under tense and nervous moments before matches. Here, visuals like boards should be used. During the match, notes are taken concerning what is going right, in comparison to training, and how things can be improved. Statistics is taken to prove some points and to help design further training methods.

Quite a number of things go wrong during the match. The coach's worry is usually a few simple mistakes that players should not be making. It may take reminding a few guys one or two points, hence the pointing of fingers and throwing of arms. There is nothing hew to say to the team. The same is true at half time. The coach does not ask players to do things they do not know. He cannot coach them. All he does is remind them about the training they had. Anything fancy with big words and emotions, is a waste of time and usually done to impress the ignorant journalists.

For a record, it is usual for a coach to shout and signal to a player who responds by a thumbs-up. If you have the opportunity and the gust, ask the player what the coach said to him. You will be surprised that he gave a thumbs-up for hearing nothing. Sometimes it is the same in giving instructions before a substitute comes on. They are too eager to play and only hear the coach’s blah blah. I usually talk my substitutes during the match. They follow the match and my thoughts as well.

The general management of the dressing room at this time must be dominated by attending to injuries, individual worries and general relaxation and rehydration. Have you seen the team owners walking into the dressing room during half-time? They do it to destroy the coach they are paying a lot of money. That is the best way to lose a good coach like myself.

Instead of asking what the coaching say in the dressing room before matches or at half-time, or on the touch-line, ask what the players have been taught at training. Then you will know what the instructions being given are.

Real advance at long last

I guess we all had forgotten that Real Madrid had won the UEFA Champions League title 8 times before, thanks to Lyon's dominance over the Spanish Galatico. Real won 3-0 against the French at the Santiago Bernebeu for the first time after 7 previous attempts.

Marcelo, Benzema and Di Maria were the scorers. We rae left to wonder if this is Jose Mourinho's year. The Special One is under the microscope as he attempts a record that may never be broken; winning the European championship with 3 different clubs fron different leagues.

Chelsea qualified for the quarter-finals and didn't have to win to do so. They fired blanks all night and the 0-0 with Coppenhagen draw was enough to see them go through. It remains to be seen what the draw brings on Friday. For many, it will be a moment of truth, especially Real.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Manchester United look dangerous for Arsenal's liking

Manchester United played a match Arsenal should have not watched. The Red Devils devoured Marseille 2-1 in a UEFA Champions League encounter last night, proving to be both lucky and well managed.

At this point of the season, all teams hope to see fatigue setting in in other teams to their advantage. United, having an inside out season and being at the summit of the Barclays Premier League, seemed to be peaking. For their fans, it is welcome news.

The fans and players on chasers, Arsenal and leaders, United is justified given the Gunners will have far less matches to play than Manchester United. It is tempting to suppose they will rest more, being fresher for most of their league matches and suffering fewer injuries. United could be thought to be at risk with the opposite happening in their camp.

However, shrewd as Sir Alex is, United may be getting all the high level practice there is to collect his second or third treble. There is no reason to believe they will burn out, given their main striker is playing the final 20-30% of the matches these days.

Top scorer, Dimitr Berbetov has been set aside by SAF who is giving Chicharito and Wayne Rooney more playing time. The Mexican is proving to be hungry to cement the starting 11 place and is impressing. This makes United very dangerous, and as a Gunner fan, this is not the news you should be reading.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where are the Thunderboots?

Owing to my superior body frame and physic amongst my peers, I fancied myself as a striker of note because I could bulldoze my way through and steamroll to the goals. Not only that. The final delivery in parting with the ball would be a ferocious thunderbolts that resulted in goalkeepers leaving posts unguarded upon my approach. Hence, I was nicknamed Thunderboots.

Two things that came out of this, was the apparent lack of interest in others to play against such an imposer, while fellow team-mates lost their playing position or even the opposition. The compromise was diplomatic, that I played in goals to keep everyone happy. I had no doubt about my talents there, but I could not help feeling I am there as a appeasement, making me resentful of the position.

Anyway, my point is to express my wonder at how we no longer the Thunderboots of yesteryear. I am not talking of decades here. It has been a long while since we have seen daily drives we used see from Ghanaian Tony Yeboah. Tony was basically legs of thunder and it was his custom to treat us to those thunderbolts. He played for Leeds United, hitting the roof of the nets from distance.

We see spectacular shows here and there once in a while. Jimmy Flloyd Hasslebank was also good at that. It is rare to remember his tap in goal. The balls were always driven from between the centre circle and the D-zone. Whether it was a grounder or a roof netter, it was always a high class canon.

Both these players had fast muscle twitch fibre, taking off at lightning pace and accelerating at great pace. They did not need much room or time on the ball. They shot in full flight and under pressure. The sporadic scenes of nowadays are usually obvious cases that come far in between. Even so, they are very rare.

The last traditional thunderbooter of our time was Pedro Mendes. Chronic injuries robbed us of a top striker of the ball in Mendes. He differed in his style as a midfielder from those strikers, being slower and making it look all too easy. Then, Nigel Winterburn and Ray Palour chipped in with those wonder strikes.

What is the missing part nowadays? Is it the stocky huge calved built with thunder thighs or just poor training methods that neglect key factors in technique training? Maybe both. With an approach from straight behind the ball, the non-kicking foot planted square in line with the ball; contact is made in the vertical centre of the ball with excessive force, as if to slice the ball open into 2 equal parts. The head is kept steady over the ball. As a rule of thumb, eyes must always be on the ball, as if you didn't know.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Nasri the real deal?

I have a novice footballing culture and concept cultivated from a Brazilian football school mentality and experimented on using mediocre amateur footballers. The team composition of the likes of Arsenal has the latitude and luxury of playing with 10 men, regardless who they play. If they cannot do that they are not good enough and must convert to the Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs or Liverpool way.

Barcelona are a cool example of the flair you get from playing football to win without trying too hard. The priority is to play the way you want. In that style, there is not a single need for Lionel Messi to perform defensive duties. Arsenal had matches where their own Messi, Samir Nasri cleared the balls off the line. That is abuse if you are in a team blessed with Alex Song, Jack Wilshire and Cesc Fabregas. What can be said to be unfortunate for Arsenal is the injury to a potential discovery of the decade in injured Frimpong. Would the Gunners have exempted a mercurial play maker from defending with him? I wonder.

The 10 men plan basically requires grinding out a result with ten players. The worst you expect is a goalless draw. All it takes is a roving playmaker who penetrates and curves opportunities for one versus one situations with goalkeepers for himself and others. The idea is to have this man receiving the ball at his freshest every time so as to continually execute with deadly venom. The concept frees others as time goes by. If you have always wondered why Barca look like they have Xavi, Iniesta and Messi as extra players on the pitch, that is why.

Is Nasri the real deal? Nay, not at all. He is a one season wonder. Samir Nasri has been a dear to many this season, and has been to some of us, all along. His rise has not been steady or guaranteed, but rather sudden. The potential was always there and it was threatening never to blossom until the summer.

Alex Song has been the one making a telling statement in the last few seasons and he has arrived, save for a few suspensions and injuries. Like has been the case with the flash wonders of injury prone Theo Walcott, Nasri has matured his game tremendously at the beginning of the 2010/2011 season, but will need to keep that tempo going to stay on top.

Nasri has the deception and ability to win matches on his own. The best thing is that he has the nurturing hand of coach Arsene Wenger, who moulds youngsters into great shape. Nasri will become a big name if the whole Gunners side pulls up their socks to win the league. Save for that, Nasri and his captain, Cesc Fabregas, will be pedestrian next season. Fabregas must have his overdue move completed soon, not that he is bad, but no more good for the team.

As of now, the young Frenchman is the toast of the league and on top of the world and that gift needs a reward. I am not convinced Wenger has any new tricks left to outwit Sir Alex of Manchester United, nor Arsenal enough cash to topple Roman Abrahamovic of Chelsea. The Gunners needed Nasri in their failed bids for the Carling and FA Cups, the Champions League and only then, could we say Nasri has arrived. As for his talent, he is a gem of first grade quality.

My concepts may be novice and unartistic, but they are basically football engineering. Being practically applicable in the game, the components must be the right material to withstand offensive onslaughts of the marauding unsuspecting attackers who think they have an extra man. As soon as the advantage bites, they are caught on the wrong side of action and a deadly finish of your Messi, they will be buried. As a caution, please do not try this if you have a small budget.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Messi or Ronaldo?

If the team is Barcelona, then it Messi. For Manchester United, definitely, Ronaldo. Cristiano is finding his Man U form at last. Big names moving to big clubs are likely to suffer the ‘Thierry Henry effect’. This is a phenomenon whereby one is a ‘cult leader’ in his team and then moves on to be an ordinary ‘Jack and Jill’ at another man’s cult centre.

There has been cases of Ronaldinho, Robinho, Adebayor, Berbetov, Hargreaves, Ballack, Shevshenko, Kaka, the list is endless. Ronaldo seemed to be immune but quickly faded until the arrival of Jose Mourinho, his countryman, at the Santiago Bernebeu. Save for that, he was a mighty flop.

Big name footballers thrive on their idol status where they are. This definitely drives the Portuguese Ronaldo. He wants to be important, and only when he feels so does he act important. He plays to outshine somebody all the time. He is exquisite and elegant in many ways.

As for Lionel Messi, he is a humbled flambouyant playful magician who plays for himself. He is like a kitten, least concerned about whether we are watching or approving him. Messi keeps himself happy only for himself. Selfless as his nature is, his delights comes from personal special execution of technique in dribbling, passing or scoring.

For Ronaldo, it is all glory, at whatever the cost and the price, and he does not care whether we like it or not. His arrogance is excellent for an underdog team, especially when the teams rises to the occasion and win. All must revolve around him. Only then is all well. For that reason, Ronaldo tries far too hard to get his way, by hook or crook. Messi deals in hook only and he does it well.

Given the 2, I would choose Ronaldo if I succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson, and Lionel Messi if I took over Barcelona. That is far too biased to make an opinion, but I will get neutral. Let us take the English top 5. United has already taken Ronaldo, so for City, I would take Messi, Spurs Ronaldo, Liverpool without doubt, Messi as well as Chelsea.

I am not sure you are clear why. Manchester City has the personnel necessary for Messi to play his football without altering much play or pattern of the whole structure. Many players would be in Ronaldo’s way and their pace would be far too slow for him.

As for Spurs, it is where Ronaldo would thrive exceedingly well. Harry Redknapp plays too much fluidity from midfield going forward and the way Gareth Bale and Luka Modric move, Ronaldo would have a field day exploiting the spaces they provide, or else, they would be the ones that wreck havoc, together with van der Vaart. Messi would be lost in that team, unless Steven Pienaar and Aaron Lennon play upfront and then rest being defensive players.

Liverpool have reasonable solidity and their confidence would do with a cutting edge of the diminutive Argentinean. Messi would win all Liverpool matches single handedly. A plus would be the supply line to Luiz Suarez being opened. David Ngog and Dirk Kyut would also have a field day. Ronaldo would completely kill the team and fade in that mud that The Reds play nowadays. He would be as disastrous as his first year at Real Madrid.

Like City, Chelsea have all Messi needs to tear a lion apart. With Michael Essien solid in the defensive role, Flourent Mouluda would flow everywhere and Didier Drogba would be at his best. There is no way Ronaldo would be recognisable in that line-up and his role seemed to be cancelled by Malouda, Salomon Kaloe and Drogba. He would never be an extra dimension there, but a duplication of an unfunctioning mechanism.

Friday, March 11, 2011

EXTRA-TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu -


High- flying pacesetters Orlando Pirates are scheduled to visit second placed Ajax Town Cape on the 16th of this month, in a potential decisive six-pointer which pits two great Dutch coaches. Rudolf Krol, who played a pivotal role in much revered Ajax Amsterdam’s “total football” side of the early 70s, has had his critics eat humble pie after steadying the Buccaneers’ ship and guiding it against all recent storms and sea waves. His counterpart, the experienced Foppe de Haan is credited for turning a youthful Ajax side into title contenders.

de Haan’s excellent work mirrors that of another great Dutchman: Bert van Marvijk who stirred the Orange machine to the World Cup finals. The 67 year old former Heerenveen coach was recently re-awarded when he won the February Coach of the Month Award. Pirates coach, Krol won the same award in January which testifies how good they have been.

A defender is his heydays when he captained Ajax Amsterdam and the Netherlands national team, Krol’s top priority has been safety first. As they say a good coach starts by shutting the back door, Pirates has been very difficult to breakdown this season. The Happy People have the best defensive record in the league and have been very impressive, especially on the road. They have hit the crucial half a century mark.

Bucs have collected the most points away from home and are the best travelers. The clash against the Urban Warriors is a mouth-watering tie as Ajax trail Bucs by a single point. Ajax have gathered the most points at home, winning their last 5 games at home, they have let in 5 goals in 11 games at home whilst the Bucs have conceded just 6 goals in 12 away games and managed draws against fellow contenders; Kaizer Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtics.

In their last match, Bucs showed a lot of character and championship credentials when they held an unstoppable Celtics side in their Seisa Ramabodu fortress. I am eagerly waiting to observe whether Terror Fanteni will do a Sphelele Mthembu on Pirates again this week. Mthembu, who is on loan from Pirates combined with former Bucs winger Bennet Chenene to equalize and jeopardize Bucs’ title hopes. Pirates’ 16 match unbeaten run will be severely tested as Ajax are rampant on home ground winning 9 of their 11 game.

De Haan will leave no stone unturned in a bid to bag maximum points. He will need the experience of Hans Vonk, Brett Carelsee, and Brent Evans who has just reached a 300 game milestone with the Urban Warriors. Youngsters Thulani Hlatshwayo, Sameeg Doutie, George Maluleke and Khama Billiat reflect Ajax’s philosophy but their deadliest weapon is none other than Thulani Serero. Serero has the potential to reach Steven Pienaar’s standards. Having scored 9 league goals so far, Serero will be a top contender for the footballer of the year if the Urban Warriors manages to clinch the title.

This season Pirates were crowned MTN 8 Champions and came runners up in the Telkom Knockout and the Telkom Charity. They have had many excellent performers this season and amongst the top ghosts have been goal minder Moeneeb Josephs, and mobile defender Happy Jele. Andile Jali and Oupa Manyisa’s profiles rose dramatically when they dictated the pace against seasoned campaigners like Tinashe Nengomashe and Reneilwe Letsholonyane.

Katlego Mashego and Thulasizwe Mbuyane are danger men who cannot be left unattended to. They have notched in some very crucial goals and will be a constant threat to the Ajax rearguard. On his day Tlou Segolela can be a tricky customer to deal with he will give them a torrid time and a busy day in the office.

Krol led Egyptian club Zamalek when they won Africa’s most prestigious club trophy; the CAF Champions League in 1996. Foppe de Haan, a legendary Dutch coach guided the Netherlands U-21 side to successive UEFA European U-21 Football Championship in 2006 and 2007 spearheaded by Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar and Royston Drenthe. He was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau in 2004 and was rewarded with the Rinus Michel award for his contribution spanning his entire career.

The Ghosts have had an upper hand over the Urban Warriors in recent games, especially in the league. Winning the first leg 3 – 0 and having beaten Ajax home and away last season, this may work for them psychologically but this may be a total different ball game. With their comebacks, Bucs have shown great resilience, they have shown mental strength, enthusiasm and hunger for success. Krol and his Sea Robbers will try all they can to grind out a result, consolidate their lead at the top but de Haan will dig deep to make sure Ajax stays in contention. Ajax will surely give them a run of their money.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The bigger Spurs fight is to secure CL spot next season

Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League by beating AC Milan on a 1-0 aggregate despite an average drawn match at White Hart Lane. Not only did Spurs beat AC, they vanquished Inter in the process. It is not a feat anyone can tell you is easy by any measure.

Spurs progressed from a very tough group stage and their novice status made their participation a question of numbers and fulfilling the fixtures. Now they are a worry to many teams. Being a new book in this league, I guess even power houses in the game, they will try not to stroke Spurs ego but few will hope to meet them after a draw next week.

On their part, and rightly so, they would not care less whether they meet Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester United. Why should they after toppling two Italian teams in a single tournament? Their lack of care in this regard is what makes them dangerous as they do not have pressure to perform. From now on, it is all for the fun of it and it can be very fulfilling.

To put it mildly, they are like a boxer who had complete rest after a good night sleep fighting another who spent a night in a bar. I am not saying that Spurs will win this thing. Of course they have the pedigree as long as their full complement of the squad is at their disposal, hence putting your life’s saving against them winning it would be fatal.

There is a tougher task ahead of Harry Redknapp’s team than a quarter-final fixture. The Londoners have performed worst in the domestic scene after success in Europe. For them to dance with the stars again next year, the trend must stop immediately. They have been erratic in overtaking Chelsea and Manchester City in the title race for the 4th spot. Spurs could have left the rest of the tams fight for 4th with their 3rd position secure. Like Arsenal, they threw away easy points.

After the champagnes of last night victory, let us leave the party to go on and the boys to enjoy the lime light. It is not something that came on a silver platter. There are so many highly rated teams that would have loved to be in their position, but are leaking their wounds with their tails between the legs.

God bless Tottenham Hotspur of White Hart Lane, London.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today Spurs represents

For a moment tonight, friends and foes gather in spirit from several parts of the world at White Hart Lane. Many are in high spirits after Tottenham Hotspur beat 6 time UEFA Champions at the San Siro. Spurs are having their first shot at the Cup in modern times. The others are of heavy spirit after a dismal Arsenal performers who bowed out to superior Barcelona 24 hours ago.

For all Engish football lovers, Spurs have to revenge the Gunners tonight. All the hype and fuss is not unfounded. Spurs are capable. After so many doubts of their abilities, they pulled off a string of astonishing results and records. With their last victory coming in the absence of Gareth Bale, there is no doubt that their abilities are anchored on team work. Bale may play a part tonight, byt Rafael van der Vaart is the man to do the damage.

Spurs have been very unlucky with injuries and for them, this fixture is a fun game and that relieves all the pressure to perform. AC Milan have a reputation to prove. Some men can stand up and be counted when it matters the most and there is nothing to suggest this will be their moment. Spurs have a crawd, the ground and the players behind them. Not to reward evil, there is no way Gattusso's antics will be unpunished by the Creator.

At the end of the day, Harry Redknapp has all the keys and buttoms he needs to land the Londoners on the moon tonight. All ye Spurs, can you feel it?

The rot of the Beautiful Game, courtesy of UEFA

Barcelona beat Arsenal because they were a better team. The referee messed up not only his job, but the livelihood of several grown-up men with families and a couple of teenagers. It may have been a genuine mistake, but how many times does football survive fatalities like this?

A couple of finals ago, UEFA showed how rotten they were in preferring Barcelona to Chelsea for revenue purposes. Didier Drogba was eventually fined and suspended for politely putting his humble opinion across.

In the transfer window, you remember how Howard Webb was not ‘available for sale by Manchester United’. A few people have cried foul on how lenient United are treated by the FA.

The rot is not only manufactured in the FA and UEFA offices as many can testify. England has been diplomatic in trying to explain how they lost the bid to Russia to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Questions are still being sought about the strength of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid. Some think that the winning bids guaranteed the President a life-time of fortune.

FIFA courts controversy with chilling accuracy. Their top officials were ready to sell their votes for hosting the World Cups like dried fruit in an African market. At the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, the ‘no-goal’ by Frank Lampard was the climax of their blunders. The Cameroon 2-1 defeat to England in Italia ’90 was one pure conspiracy. There are many.

They are not alone. CAF own other football associations which are football dinosaurs. They do not to pull off any antics anymore to qualify them for African Nations Cup or the World Cups. It will not be surprising if qualifier matches are cancelled altogether. The only reason they are actually still being played is that they provide further level playing ground for looting funds. Syndicates have to make money.   

The CAF Presidency is a full-time career and there is no successor born yet. Zimbabwe was supposed to host the 1998 AFCON Cup. It was whiskered off to the north. Only South Africa hosted the Cup until the 2010 Edition in 2010. It will be a long time before the region sees another. The North and West has hosted and won everything besides South Africa who hosted and won the 1990 version. African Player of the Year awards are the domain of French speaking nationals.

Where is the beautiful game of football going? A gentleman like Arsene Wenger will not let his honest opinion to protect his character. Jose Mourinho has been labeled ‘loud mouthed’. These guys will find it hard to be honoured for the way they revolutionised the game. One day, they will tell all.

Coming to Arsenal, they dig their own grave anyways. It is not once or twice, but almost always that when they matters in their own hands, they give away the initiative. That is the mentality of boys. The Gunners cannot be old boys anymore. If they cannot be men enough, Wenger should wield the axe and chances are that the boys may mature ‘footballically’ if the manager himself is axed.

These players and Wenger have been involved in a perennial and sterile relationship for a long time to necessitate external fertilisation or surgery. If you read me correctly, that change must happen whether the Gunners bag both the league title and the FA Cup or are empty handed at the end of this season. It may a revolution his troops are fighting but without hearing any gunshots, how are we to know?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Barcelona in big trouble.

If Arsene Wenger was an amateur coach, one psychological cheap line he would use for team preparation and pep talk, would be how much a life-line Liverpool have thrown to them and how badly hit Manchester United’s title chances are. All this is true, but when you are gunning for the championship and your immediate task is playing a 2nd leg UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, the last thing you want to hear is how great or better someone is, regardless of their feats.

Arsenal are likely to beat Barca tonight. It is a no brainer that they are on cloud nine by observing the above developments. To many, it was the results of United’s defeat that mattered. To the true Gunners, it is Nani’s injury. This is what tilts the title challenge to their favour, if they take favours.

Manchester United failed to seduce me in the days of the great Eric Cantona, Steve Bruce, Peter Schmichaels, Paul Ince(piration), Andy Cole, Dwight Yoke, Andrei Kanchelskis and Ole Gunner Solskjaer. I did not expect much of the talismanship of David Beckam either, but the presence of Cristaino Ronaldo at his peak, set United to almost the same dizzy heights. Nani may not be on the same class of the former greats, but in the crop of the present squad, he is head and shoulders above the rest.

Nani is the last things United had to lose. Frankly, I rate him so highly proven by his arrogant exploits. It is unfortunate we have to compare him, but he a jewel in the crown United may miss by a whisker. Thanks to Jamie Carragher.

This, the Gunners read very well and all memories of Birmingham City are forgotten. Their injury worries to especially Alex Song are temporarily off their list and focus is on the possibilities of beating Barca, winning the league title and the FA Cup once again. Believe it or not, there was a morning no one in their camp believed this but this is how everyone views it now, and that is very important.

In an article earlier, I explained how lighting strikes twice. Not that the Gunners have a lot of players of African descent, but when that lighting stroke at the Emirates, it laid eggs, and today, it will be going back for them, hence the strike again. Barcelona are in real big trouble

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bosso lose the wrong match

One Denver Mukamba of team Dynamos humiliated giants Highlanders Ariel Sibanda and the beautiful Bosso family with a direct goal from a corner-kick. There were 85 minutes to make amends, but the match may as well have ended. It was a pre-season friendly at Rufaro Stadium.

Earlier in pre-seasom matches, Dembare blasted Caps United and look very dangerous indeed. They are reported to be preparing to host the Glamour Boys from South Africa, Kaizer Chiefs at the National Sports Stadium on March 27 in the Hexagon Venture Challenge Cup.

Highlanders played well like Arsenal, but likewise lost by failing to convert chances that came their way. It was apparent that there is need to step up operations in preparing for the new season. International and local opposition would see them get the necessary confidence and experience they need.

For their part, Dynamos defence proved resolute as they thwarted Mkhuphali Masuku's army attacks. Bosso lost 0-1.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Arsenal want you to know ...

It is amazing that for a underperforming team of the Barclays Premier League, perennial underachievers hog the limelight. For one, I am the biggest fan of Arsene Wenger. Arsenal botched their FA Cup against a lower division side a few days after they outclassed Barcelona. To their fans, it was a statement. Indeed, it was, but you all read it wrong.

The Gunners lost the Carling Cup to Birmingham City against all odds. They came back strong and walloped helpless rookies by almost half a dozen of goals. The point they were driving across is that they could have beaten Birmingham and won the Cup, if there are given a chance for a replay.  So you must this believe if you are a big fan.

For the sober minded neutrals, Arsenal are the same team that handed the button to same Manchester United more than once before. That is not exactly their message. It is reality. The Gunners will tell you it is early days and there are 33 points at stake to fight for. Exactly not my point. They will be telling us after the season ends, that they would be champions on a rebound.

My point is neither about the points picked up. The picked up points would matter lots because they are in the kitty. All I am saying is that they points dropped and I am frightened by the fashion and comfort in which they are dropped. To be generous, it is done in style. There is no reason to believe that their dismal home performance against Sunderland last night, drawing 0-0, was the last one. It is one guarantee Arsenal are not giving anyone.

If they were the only team in the Premeirship, I would believe anyone who habours thoughts the Gunners will be crowned anytime soon. To me, the ambitions of the players do not match those of the fans. For now, to remain sane, let us find that justifiable given our abilities to play the game does not match those of the protagonists. Our battles will forever be in the stands or terraces and living rooms. Rest assured, where we are, Arsenal will bring it home.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Germany Never Surrender

Germany are usually there or thereabout when the honours are handed out, their sights and expectations are always set high. Their success is based on deep reserves of experience, great tactical awareness and the ability to rise to the occasion in major tournaments. Clinical efficiency and unbending resolve rather than sparkling skill are the hallmarks of Die Mannschaft as they are affectionately known worldwide. Taking a closer look at the team that paraded the Germany flag at the recent World Cup, I wondered whether they were running short of pure German talent but quickly recalled that even Adolf Hitler, arguably best known German of all time was not born in Germany, but in Austria-Hungary.

The current Mannschaft has what it takes to acquire a world-class billing. Half of the team that took bronze at the World Cup last year was once eligible to play for other countries as well. Five of them were not born in Germany. Mentor Joachim Loew’s injection of young blood paid dividends as Germany became faster and offensive after promoting six youngsters from the U-21 side that conquered Europe in 2009. Five of those youngsters could have featured for other countries other than Germany.

Goal machine, Miroslav Klose who is Germany’s second all time top goal scorer and World Cup 2996 Golden Boot winner was born in Poland. He is the only man to have scored five goals in consecutive World Cups. His 14 goals puts him second behind Ronaldo in the World Cup highest all time scorers charts. Germany has never lost  when Klose had scored. Speaking to a Polish daily newspaper Klose said; “It will be better if not to be paid German or Polish, but European.” Another Polish born player is Lukas Podolski. Podolski migrated to Germany when he was 2 years old. He has been a key figure in the national team setup and was once rewarded when he won the Best Young Player accolade at the 2006 World Cup.

The right of return for those of Germany roots is a Germany law that allows people of Germany descent living in Eastern Europe to return to Germany and claim citizenship, under which Piotr Trochowski’s parents returned to Germany from Poland, where he was born. Her mother’s numerous letters she sent to the Polish FA informing them about her talented son did not bear any results. In 2005 Trochowski made it clear where his heart was when he said: “My heart is closer to Poland, but nobody there was interested in me, so I play for the Germans.” Stuttgart attacker, Cacau gained citizenship after living 8 years in Germany whilst Marin, was born in Yugoslavia and moved to Germany when he was 2 years old.

Mesuit Ozil, of Turkish descent recites Quaran verses before all his matches to help him stay focused. He was quoted saying: “My technique and feeling of the ball is the Turkish side of my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all mentality is the Germany part. I pray and my teammates know that they cannot talk to me during this brief period.” Loew has altered his formation to accommodate this precocious talent. Chief playmaker, Ozil is providing dose of subtle skill, quick thinking, unpredictability and wrecks havoc in the opponent’s final third. He was a catalyst in Germany’s successful European U-21 campaign.

Jerome Boateng who has a German mother and a Ghananian father chose Germany ahead of Ghana which was chosen by Kevin-Prince Boateng. Sami Khedira, like many, chose Germany though he had a Tunisian father and a Germany father. Dennis Aogo came through the Karlsruhe Academy and has a Germany mother and a Nigerian father. Serdar Tasci was also eligible to play for Turkey as well because of his Turkish descent and Germany birthright, whereas Mario Gomes chose Germany ahead of Spain where his father comes from.

Of the 22 men who represented Die Mannschaft at the World Cup, only Toni Kroos was born in East Germany. East and West Germany entered a reunion in 1990. Die Mannschaft has what it takes to acquire world-class billing no doubt. Three times, they have conquered the world and Europe.

By Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu