Thursday, April 28, 2011

This is what makes the coach special

The El Classico has come and gone with Barca putting Madrid to the sword by a 2-0 scoreline in the UEFA 1st Leg Quarter-final, with the final version to close the chapter on the corner. More on that with the EXTRA TIME with Vususmuzi Mourinho Ndlovu tomorrow. As for now, I have been keeping an Eagle’s eye and keeping my mouth shut about how bad Manchester United and how good Arsenal are. I have been tempted to say how average Chelsea and Spurs have become. All I manage to say was that the bottom of the English Premiership is now of more interest than the top.

There has not been lack of questions about the 2nd place and the final top 4. After their home 2-2 draw, Harry Redknapp showed how much of a top-notch coach he is. This is one man who does not put any pressure on the players. He puts things into perspective and realistically push players to give their best. This is his reaction in a post match interview.

“It’s going to be difficult but it’s still all to play for. I find it hard that now everyone expects us to be in the Champions League. Tottenham had never been in it before until this season and suddenly it is like ‘we have to be in the Champions League’. Manchester City have gone out and spent God knows what to get above us. Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are there every year, Liverpool will be there next year. It’s difficult to get fourth. It has been a great season but it’s not over yet.”

 The issue of managers took a centre stage for a moment when people started thinking Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are both heading for the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson once hinted opting out of Old Trafford years back but stayed put. He has not given a hint of leaving and already it’s like Jose will replace him tomorrow. Redknapp and Guardiola have been linked with Chelsea but then it is reported Chelsea have met Andre Villas-Boas’s agent in an attempt to lure the 33-year-old Porto manager to West London in the summer.

The void Mourinho leaves at Madrid is said to be an Arsene Wenger’s space. If Guardiola goes to Chelsea, who takes over at Barcelona? Who will replace Wenger should he go to Madrid and will Redknapp take the England job after Fabio Capello leaves, and who will be in charge at White Hart Lane?

(Originally from

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Benjamin Moyo - Rest in peace

Hard as it may be, a dear friend, brother, father and husband, Benjie is no more. The late Benjamin Moyo, coach of Mimosa Platinum was a holder of a UEFA Coaching Licence. Benjie, as we all knew him, brother to Benedict Moyo, was a passionate and philosophical coach.  He was a late football bloomer  and did not play much football at the top.  He however donned the Highlanders reserve side jersey several times and attained his coaching badges  as age caught up with him.

Benjie started  his coaching  by attending classes in 1994 at Raylton Recreation Club in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. I was privileged to have been in class with him together with other great coaches like Pernel McKop, Bongani Mafu, Charles Mhlauri, Willard Khumalo, Jairos Tapela, Morgan Dube and the late Tito Asani, to name but a few.

He went on to coach Highlanders and Aamzulu of Zimbabwe before travelling to Swaziland. Swazi football did not meet his quality standards and he left for overseas where he was until the recent appointment by the rich platinum mining team for the 2011 Castle Premier League season.

Moyo always had ideas to take the game to another level and sometimes misunderstood for his love for doing things right. He was one man who knew that the short-cut was not always short. He  never accepted mediocrity and wanted the best for his players all the time. To some of us, he was always like a childhood friend, having graduated from the same football coaching kindergarten upto tertial levels of the game. It was never imaginable to have a course where the group was not complete.

It was going to be a matter of time before Moyo would win the championship and head the Zimbabwe Warriors. There is no doubt that he was destined for great things as his current employers seemed to be providing the exact platform he thrived on. His football intelligence can not be rivalled as many who worked with him can testify. Just from Facebook messages, you can see how much of a huge impact in people's lives he was.

Sadly, he will never realise his ambitious dream of conquering Africa and the world. His qualification in coaching proves how much he was prepared to work for the game. He will be missed by those who knew him and the lives he touched. Football is poorer without him and may his soul rest in peace.

Friday, April 22, 2011

EXTRA-TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu: EL CLASSICO, To Be Continued ....... .......

EXTRA-TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu: EL CLASSICO, To Be Continued ....... .......

The last two El Classicos have been a total different ball game from the first this season. Los Braugrana may be having one hand on the La Liga but the Kings of Spain cup defeat will surely hurt especial ahead of the Champions League semifinals.

After that massacre at the Nou Camp, a Barca fan expressed relief when he said he was happy because Mourinho had no answer to Spanish football but was quickly reminded of
what happened to them in last year's Champions League semis. A renowned local Catalan told me that they won’t lose to a team that is not disciplined defensively.

Against the best passing and most offensive club in world football, Mourinho opted for three defensive midfielders, one playmaker and two wingers upfront in a bid to prevent Barca get into their rhythm and utilise CR7's pace upfront. If there weren't disciplined defensively Barca could have torn them apart within 120 minutes. It took Casillas more than 70 minutes to save a goal bound shot which further highlights how well-organised the Carvalho led defense was. Something very special was needed to break that water-tight defense.

A respected overseas based academy coach was spot on in saying that Mourinho like most tacticians, doesn't lose twice to the same team. A popular sports presenter jokingly said that
Mourinho was the man of the match, in reference to his shrewd tactics that handed Real Madrid their first over Barcelona in three years.

The semifinal El Classicos will be totally different as shown by how Los Blancos controlled the first half followed by Barca dictating the pace after the interval. Guardiola has to find another keys, the locks have been changed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coming of age for Real

Real Madrid beat dreaded Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey to record the Super Cup for the first time since 1993. It took a 108th Cristiano Ronaldo header to give Jose Mourinho the first trophy as Madrid coach. With 3rd and 4th El Classicos coming in the two legged UEFA Champions League semi-final, this is the biggest psychological advantage Real could have ever needed.

The English Premiership appears to have been decided as predicted in these shores a few hours earlier. Arsenal needed to win all their remaining matches, and against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, they had a 2 goal cushion they threw away. That is not championship material. Potential champions take matters into their own hands and deal decisively in totallity in a ruthless manner with opponents.

What is only left is a fight for 2nd place with Chelsea. It is a contest with less pressure and matching inconsistancy.They may even find better sparing partners in Spurs and Manchester City for 3rd if they are consistantly inconsistant. Chelsea beat Birmingham City 3-1 to move to 2nd spot and feel more like true contenders now as they did at the beginning. They say, it is not how one starts but how they finish.

Arsene Wenger is experienced and witty enough to know that to say the same things over and over to the same players will not motivate the players any further. It will not be surprising to see key figures leaving the Emirates and a lot more experienced youngsters coming in. It is not hard to see that Wenger can win everything with anyone elsewhere. The same young team he has now can beat any team any day. The pairing, for psychological reasons will not work.

The coach-player relationship is tired and redundant and surely, change is coming to the Emirates.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arsenal donates title to United in a golden platter.

Contrary to popular belief, beef does not come from the supermarket. Arsenal are like a child who goes to buy beef at the butchery when a fat bullock is about to be slaughtered. Manchester United are the greying chief with his intact teeth, who shows up to the cattle pan armed with salt, pepper, chillis, ketchup, toothpicks and all, during a traditional skinning of the beast.
You may still recall how a rural witchdoctor from Limpopo who scratched the backs of the players of one team I took to greatness ages ago, how he said he was very popular with Liverpool supporters for his juju. After Sunday’s Liverpool exploits, the confusion is cleared. The sangoma was serious.

Looking at the picture of the Barclays Premier League right now, you will see how United don’t need to do a thing to win the title. That is when I think that the Premiership is faulty. I must say that while Chelsea and Manchester City are the boys that hold the knives and skin during the slaughter of our bull, Liverpool are abandoning their duties of cleaning tripe and offal.

There is no guessing who the actual skinners are here. They will be labouring until the last match of the season. This they do with good course. The seniors in this department are Everton, Aston Villa, Fulham and Stoke City. They are supervised by iron fisted Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs’ main duties are resigned to making fire for the barbeque/braai.

Of the lot at the top of the table, when the deal is done and it’s time to eat, only Chelsea have at least the dentures. They have always been far more dangerous at their worst than Arsenal at their best. The problem is that their worst spell took far too long for United to worry about. Sir Alex Ferguson knows the title is in the bag, even though The Blues are the only ones with balls to wrest it away. Actually, it was theirs until they lost it.

All remaining fixtures are now academic. We await El Classicos as Jose Mourinho is getting frustrated in his efforts to remain Special.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

EXTRA TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu - FOOTBALL LEGENDS: Luis Figo v Ryan Giggs

Upon consulting many fans about the Luis Figo and Ryan Giggs debate I wasn’t surprised finding out that most fans are biased towards their favourite teams.

It was crystal clear that Red Devils fans will stick with Giggs whilst the Merengues faithful will opt for Figo. To me, Figo’s switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid alone was enough to sway the Catalans fans’ vote to the Welsh wizard.

Giggs remained on top of his game for many years. Its funny how many people underrate consistence. Figo’s fans talk of awesome displays at his last two years at the Nou Camp and his first two at the Bernabeu, some Giggs’ fans say if Ronaldinho played like he did at Barca for the rest of his career he would have surpassed Zidane and Maradona. In this they emphasize that consistence is key. Where is Figo now? He has faded out: thus their quick response.

Both were great ballcrossers and freekick specialists. Giggs being a speedy agile dribbler, Figo was more of a slow technician known for his close ball control. United fans bragged about Giggs’ numerous medals. What did Figo do that Giggs couldn’t? Surely, how is he still running at 37? They asked.

Figo reached a higher level because he raised his game to the highest sphere of football. Giggs has never been close to the “world player of the year tag”. Figo won the 2000 European footballer of the year award and the most prestigious award a player could get when he got the FIFA world player of the year award the following year.

Playing for many years doesn’t automatically makes you a better player, where was Zizou at 17 and at 37? The case that Giggs played for the same team with the same manager knocks out some points on his side because he didn’t have to settle in and adjust, something you have to do when you transfer to another club with a different coach.
I think they mustn’t be judged on medals they have because that would put a player like Fransisco Gento on top of wingers’ charts. Figo featured prominently on international level which further puts him ahead of Giggs.
Having played football on the streets, junior and lower leagues of Zimbabwe, I have never heard any player calling himself or being called Giggs.

Figo might have had more fans and more influence. However, the opinion of many isn’t always correct, no matter how loud they may be. What’s your opinion: Luis Figo or Ryan Giggs?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why Does South America Shun Africa?

Why Does South America Shun Africa?

Despite ignoring Africa on many occasions, I which and hope CONMEBOL give us a chance to parade our talent in this year’s Copa America. Hugely talented and favourites Argentina hosts this year’s South American football showpiece which is set kickoff on the 1st up to the 24th of June.

Due to the fact that CONMEBOL has only 10 nations registered with FIFA, they invite 2 nations who are registered with FIFA from any other federations. This year’s invitees were set to be Mexico and Japan. Mexico have confirmed that they will send their 2012 Olympic team since their senior team will be competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup which is scheduled to take place as from the 6th of to the 25th of June. To be held in USA, no invitees will feature in this year’s Gold Cup.

Reigning Asian champions Japan have stated that they won’t be able to participate in Argentina because of the tsunami and the earthquake that took place on the 11th of March. Japan’s local league is currently suspended but will be in full swing by the time Copa America takes place.

The news of Japan’s withdrawal wasn’t bad news to me. They need time for their J-League which is currently suspended. Their withdrawal presents Africa with a chance to be selected to compete in Copa America. It presents another chance for CONMEBOL to take a look at African talent, perhaps they will see what we are made of.

I’m baffled by the criteria they use to select their invitees. Tougher opponents from Africa and Europe have never been invited, beside the recent they sent to reigning World and European Champions, Spain. Are they satisfied competing with a junior Mexican side or they are just pleased in helping fellow Americans in their Olympics games preparation? Copa America is the most prestigious trophy in South American football and the winner represents the continent in the FIFA Confederations Cup. Perhaps they don’t want an invitee that will go all the way to win the trophy. Unlike CONCACAF which gave us a chance in inviting the Stuart Baxter coached Bafana Bafana in 2005, CONMEBOL continue to ignore Africa.

Though Japan is currently ranked higher than all African countries, Ghana is just one spot behind them. In the top 50, Africa has 9 countries compared to Asia’s 4. Beside South Korea’s extra-ordinary run that saw them reaching the semifinals on home soil in 2002, Africa has had more impact at the World Cups and the Olympics. We even boast of quality players that can not be compared to the Asian stars. Egypt raised the African flag very high in the confederations Cup, but I’m not saying they are the ones that must be chosen.

So talented is Africa such that the legendary Pele was very impressed but became the prophet of doom when he predicted that an African country would have won the World Cup by the end of last century.

It seems CONMEBOL just wants to add two teams to make them twelve and create 3 groups, so they will continue selecting teams like the Mexican U-23 and those Asian countries that won’t give them any problems in beating. Even though Africa and South America were attached to each other, as some Geographical sources say, South America continue to shun Africa.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Champions League - Chelsea should have known better

Chelsea were beaten home by arch-rivals, Manchester United, at home by a solitary goal. While they will have a chance to turn the tables on the slender lead of United, I am amazed at how much noise they made about a 'non-penalty' when they played United. United is and always will have the backing of UEFA and The FA for the remainder of our lives, both on the domestic scene and in Europe.

Like Barcelona, they will enjoy the support of the former 'men in black' especially at crucial times. Chelsea were victims of that mild incident against Barca when Didier Dogba made a polite statement about his humble opinion on the referee. While it became a lsesson to a lot of teams, The Blues did not take notes, and will continue to sing the blues.

Some teams are created great. Other teams achieve greatness. These have greatness thrust upon their shoulders. It may just happen that Real Madrid may find themselves in the same situation as Chelsea. Crying will not win the Cup. Usually, the referees make money in 90 minutes, while the coach has so much work to do until match day. If there is anybody who cares less about the resources and families of coaches, it is the referees. The just destroy these lives with a blow of the wind.

Barcelona registered a 5-1 win at home. We await the 2nd legs eagerly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Real take Spurs to the cleaners

Italy President, Silvio Barlusconi is facing one of numerous sex offences his presidency had been marred with. I am not familiar as to who is the accuser here, but I am certain the lesson to learn from all prostitute engagers is to ask first, ‘How old are you?’ And do not take the prostitute’s answer at face value. Go through the handbags and all until you have all facts verified. It may be worthwhile to have a receipt for all the transactions made and the actual acts paid for. With money and power of a Berlusconi, I don’t think anyone can see a President having sex, especially with a Moroccan 17-year old. I am not judging.

In what is called a white-wash, as expected in the UEFA quarter-final, Real Madrid of Spain made light work of Tottenham Hotspur of England in the first leg at the Bernebeu. With Spurs potential attacking prowess clearly known, any hopes of a comeback against Jose Mourinho’s Madrid can’t be imagined even by the most insane of us.

Mourinho will know that playing a team without any pressure of winning in front of their home crowd is not an easy task, just as Harry Redknapp is a realist enough to tell you that scoring 5 or at least 4 against 9 time European champions is like walking on water. Naturally, all attention will shift to other English clubs expected to play better, owing to their experience at this level.

Manchester United and Chelsea are likely to pull off good results, or at least respectable scores that can be reversed in the reverse fixtures. Spurs can take solace in that Inter Milan got a hiding, being hit for 5. Some will argue that Inter are not the powerhouses they used to be, given that Spurs actually hammered the Italians.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The moment has come, but not Spurs.

It has been a while since we started beating the drums for Tottenham Hotspur. When they face Real Madrid in the 2010/11 UEFA Quarter-final at the Santiago Bernebeu, it will be the time for them to strum their own instrument. If the tune is good, we will dance. As for now, we just pay the piper.

Spurs have been a force in English football for just 2 years now, and their prowess has been limited to sporadic domestic shows and stunning revelations in Europe. For all their antics, it all boils to this week's challenge. The moment has come, but not Spurs.

Spurs have beaten Inter and AC Milan to reach this point, but all that is almost forgotten. They may beat Madrid and even dispatch Manchester and/or Barcelona along the way.  Even then, unless they lift the Cup, no one will remember them.

It has always been inability to balance domestic league, Cup and International form, that has been their achilles. While there are these big names ahead standing between them and glory, we all know that betting against them is a risky affair. Nonetheless, while the road may end here and now, Harry Redknapp has bigger fish to fry. Gary Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, Steve Pienaar, Aaron Lennon and the rest of the gang, want to play at the same level next season. They are however not seen to be working towards that.

The Barclays Premier League is experiencing confusion that may work in their favour. No one has seen such regular inconsistance in football. The league is so unpredictable, that Man United always win even when they are not playing. As for the rest, I guess they play, but never win. That's a topic for another day, but as it stands, Spurs are risking being a distant memory in the near future if they they lose it now and fail to secure the spot for next season. They can actually do both under the circumstances.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Big earners of football cash

On seeing a WD40 can labelled 'CFC Free', a Chinese friend of mine wanted to know whether it was necessary to have the CFC as he did not have to pay for it, or look for a cheaper brand of 'loosening spray'. WD40 is a water displacement agent that acts by removing the water that oxidises metals forming corrosive effects that locks components together. To free these, the water has to come out. The manufacturer had made 39 attempts prior to the final product, hence the name, Water Displacement agent at the 40th attempt (WD40) name.

God is for Roy Hodgson and all of us. The former Liverpool boss was given just £7.3 million pay-off after being fired by Liverpool at the beginning of 2011, grossing £8.8m in that short stinct, or earning an average of £320,840 a week. If this guy can earn this money, you and I can. Not that there is nothing special about the man, but we can be as special.

The Special One at Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho is said to be rated at £228,000 a week and the same report according to Eurosprt, classifies Messi as earning £210,000 a week, Wayne Rooney on £200,000 and Cristiano Ronaldo on £191,000. The charismatic David Beckham gets £120,000 weekly.

These monies do not include endorsement deals or other incomes not classified as salaries. It goes on to show that earning big is now a small task. Keep checking my name (and yours) on the Forbes' Rich List. It's called faith, but faith without deeds is dead.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Known and untold - Real lose and Barca win.

A regular round of events took place at the English Premiership this weekend, but then, let us talk Special. Before we do, in 1865, NOKIA starts business by building and operating a pulpwood mill. Later they get in the rubber business, making rubber boots.

Manchester United beat West Ham United 4-2 with Wayne Rooney grabbing a hat-trick. Players like Rooney, as many other people in life, they need to do something others usually do and the world marvels. Dimitr Berbetov can score 10 in a match, and there will not be as much noise.
Arsenal blew their own chances by their very hands and feet in front of a home crowd at the Emirates against struggling Blackburn with a 0-0 draw. There were other results that are not yet significant in this league, as long as United are winning.

The story here is that of a special fact known and yet untold, that Jose Mourinho is human after all. For the first time since 2002, The Special One lost a home match. This came at a crucial moment as the challenge for La Liga title evaporated with the points.

This is least surprising as the obsession started by media and statisticians of this ‘never been beaten at home since…’ was overtaking the tactical aptitude of Mourinho. Jose must have been hooked onto this himself, but we all know that the fear to lose something results in the loss of that very item.

Real Madrid lost 0-1 to Sporting Gijon at home and they are likely to play better football without thinking of chasing Barcelona, 1-0 winners over Villareal, and keeping records intact.

Friday, April 1, 2011

EXTRA TIME with Vusumuzi Mourinho Ndlovu - Is FIFA shifting goalposts

Naturalisation is taking centre stage mostly in Europe but much to my surprise FIFA seems to be the catalyst on this deed.

If this trend is anything to go by, then there is certainly a method to ensure that you never hit a dry spell talent-wise because you can always import players you may need for particular positions.

Article 18 of FIFA’s Laws reads: Any player who is a naturalised citizen of a country by virtue of that country’s laws shall be eligible to play for that national or representative team of that country. FIFA does not care if a nation grants citizenship on basis of parentage, regardless of place of birth. If a player is deemed citizen under a particular country’s law, he is eligible to play for that country.

Players with dual nationality, who had already played for a country’s national team at junior levels were only allowed to switch loyalties until the age of 21. The age limit has been removed but players who have played for the senior national team are barred from switching.

Recently, Brazilian born Internationale Milan midfielder Thiago Motta fired in a winner for Italy’s European championships qualifier against Slovenia. With less than 5 years playing or living in Italy, Motta got the Italian citizenship because of his grandfather who was an Italian.

However, Motta’s case baffles in that he has 2 senior caps with Brazil. Having played for their U-17, he played for Brazil at the 2003 CONCACAF GOLD CUP. Due to the fact that the Selecao was participating in the FIFA Confederations Cup, Brazil sent an U-23 team to represent them at the GOLD CUP. Motta was part of that U-23 team that that played as a senior national team.

The Azzuri capitalised on Dunga’s reluctance to select Motta for Brazil and hooked him up. They probably dangled a sweet juicy carrot in front of him. Who knows? With the absence of Andrea Pirlo, Motta may form a formidable partnership with Danielle de Rossi in the engine room. Cesare Prandelli, the Azzuri coach recently said, “Motta has maintained the Brazilian technique and acquired a European mentality.

As to how Motta plays for Italy after playing for Brazil remains a puzzle that can only be solved by the Zurich based Sepp Blatter led federation.