Saturday, March 30, 2013

Zimbabwe Castle Lager Premier League First Week Results

Shabanie 0 - 2 Highlanders
Graham Ncube scored after 29 minutes. Play was temporarily stopped after 23 minutes as the match referee was waiting for reinforcements when supporters from both teams engaged in running battles and it resumed after a 40minutes stoppage. Njabulo 'Tshiki' Ncube scored the second goal for Bosso.

Black Mambas 1 - 1 Dynamos
Nicholas Alifandika scored after 24 minutes. Tawanda Muparati put Dynamos level after 66 minutes of play.

Buffaloes 1 - 2 FC Platinum
Nelson Maziwisa netted after 12 minutes and Ali Sadiki scored after 18 minutes. Buffaloes pulled one back through Tawanda Mareya after 47 minutes.

Black Rhinos 3 - 2 Monomotapa
Nelson Melson got a goal after 33 minutes with Black Rhinos equalising through James Mukombwe on the 39th minute. Hillary Mugoniwa scored Monoz's second after 73 minutes. Rhinos equalised through an own goal from Kuda Musharu with Brighton Mugoni scoring Rhinos' 3rd in injury time

Chicken Inn 2 - 1 Triangle
Lameck Nhamo netted with a Flashing header after 2 minutes. Chicken Inn equalised through John Mbiriri with a sharp shot from outside the box after 53 minutes. Mkhokheli Dube came in with the second in the 53rd minute with just 4 minutes on the pitch after coming in as a second half substitute.


# Team................­....P W D L Gf Gd Pts
1 Highlanders.........1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2 How Mine..............1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
3 Black Rhinos........1 1 0 0 3 2 +1 3
4 Chicken Inn...........1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
5 Fc Platinum..........1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
6 Harare City........... 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
7 Black Mambas.....1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
8 DYNAMOS...............1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
9 Hwange..................1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
10 Motor Action.... 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
11 Monomutapa.....1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0
12 Buffaloes..........­....1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
13 Triangle...............­1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
14 CAPS united.......1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
15 Triple B...............1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
16 Shabanie..............1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

World Cup qualifiers technical and atctical dramas

The week of 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup qualifiers comes to an end and I have tried to keep opinions to myself. Let me keep trying but before I shut up there are positive things that can be enjoyed only by coaches and not journalists. As a football fan, you are likely to understand and assimilate a journalistic version of events, naturally.

Zimbabwe got beat by Egypt 2-1 but I still have to see how the whipping went. South Africa had the Central African Republic bent over and their behind whacked too good in Cape Town last week. To many, there was a justified excuse to cry rivers over missed chances. Sports writers fail to see the light by design or by default. 

What was there to see were the two goals and the three points. They were deserved, beautiful and meaningful. That is what I saw and all there was to see. Patriots will agree with me and nothing else mattered. 

Professional footballers need you to appreciate that all events and occurrences of that night and even more can happen and still the results remain undesired or negative. The CAF team ranked way up the ladder in the world than Bafana Bafana and they are in the top ten in Africa. 

Leaving the entertainment part and showbiz element of the game, let us talk football. On that night, South Africa produced a single complete performance to be proud of. It was in the mould of the first half of their Mali encounter in the AFCON 2012. 

Generally the inconsistent decision-making was obvious but drowned by a more perfect execution of all technique from ball control, passing, tackling or running with the ball. The strength of that win was solely based on detail. The small angles, speed and acceleration, turning and timing of the passes were on the mark for long periods at important junctures of the match.

At first glance, one got tempted Gordon Igesund had a new man in his technical team, or he had just come from a refresher course in either Brazil or Europe, but surely, he changed some elements big time. It could be he acquired some essential and expensive software to draw attention to many things normally missed by the naked eye.

Whatever the trick, Bafana were on the money and with a little consistency, they will be in Brazil next year, but knowing the team, it may be a praise too soon. In any case, there is no need to judge what may happen, so we will sing praises for what we saw. It was a display that would have many prophets of doom mince their words for a while. 

In Europe, England massacred San Marino 8-0, Germany won 3-0 over Khazkstan and Portugal were 2-0 winners over Azerbaijan. I had picked these matches for the same reason. As the David versus Goliath encounters, my interest was the seasoned campaigners' authority over minnows or the reaction of the later over the former.

However, the same trend was obvous across board. All other matches of small versus big team followed the same pattern. The renowned countries did not wait to massage the egos their opponents as they took the game to them from the word 'go'.

That fancy polished passing and patterned attacking approaches were thrown out over the touch line. Balls were quickly launched to the final third and shots fired at any given opportunity. Nothing scares a novice than their fears coming true and these teams worked strongly on that. Direct play became the main ingredient and it payed off. There were times these smaller teams tried to counter-attack but the ruthless defending put paid their attempts which became token. 

Most scorelines were based on the failure of bigger teams to capitalise in some instances while at others, there was no reward for pushing too hard as that managers and coaches were looking further ahead. Spain tried to 'tiki-taka' Finland and failed to net. It was a Barcelona without Lionel Messi. The unidimensional way of playing died a natural death a few seasons back, as did the defensive tacity of the Italians and unsurpassed concentration traits of the Germans.

Football ceased to have secrets long ago and the detail of events in the collective, the single individual behaviour and tendencies and the undrstanding of rectifying mistakes while working to influence the flow of the match are the issues not just to know but to work with. 

It is in this vein that the difference between good players and great players tend to be a debate from those who know and those who people think know. This is not about Messi and Ronaldo, nor indee the legecy of Messi as the greatest ever. When we recall historical players, many seem useless as their contribution in the game can be measured on a poor performance of a single game.

As for the qualifier that Bafana won over CAR, the missed chances could have been something for GI to work on. It will be the reaction of the next training session that will determine the perormance of the next match and one hopes the results will be good. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Messi is incredible

Most clubs possess a 'Messi' of their own. Manchester United's Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez of Liverpool, Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur and the list is endless and it all depends on the coach and the fans.

Barcelona have their own 'Messi' and that is Lionel Messi. It does not matter the opinion of pundits, media, coaches or any fans. Messi is great, greater than the greatest players because of the way he has carried a very weak and unable Barca on his own. With every cough, the Catalans struggled and struggled big time.

At this point, I do not need an opinion about how bad La Liga champions-elect are. They have been bad, and for a long while, only the mask performance of one Messi seduced us to believe they are good. They pass the ball well, yes, but they defend like school boys. Maybe that is good enough but I am not sold on that one.

The abilities of Iniesta and Xavi are undoubted, but Barca can easily do without each or both, but not without Messi - never. May I mention that after losing 0-2 to AC Milan in Italy two weeks ago, we all wrote Barcelona off. Their 4-0 victory is nothing short of a miracle. Without Messi, that scoreline could have easily belonged to Milan, believe it or not.

The Italians arrived at the Camp Nou believing being Italian is a defensive strategy on its own. They were almost right and they crowded both Messi and the spaces he works it. It worked wonders and nobody could have done a better job. I have never witnessed Messi have such a bad day in office. He lost the ball in one match more than I have seen him in a year.

On such a bad day for the magician, a glimple of who who is came in 5 minutes with a stunner from as little a space as could fit an ant. He squeezed the ball through a needle's eye with the accuracy to goal to match. One may have seen similar goals but the difference here is that the little Argentinian knew what he was doing and had every intention of doing that.

Five minutes from the break, with as little space from similar circumstances, maybe a little demanding, he coughed out the same deadliness and his intentions were less clearer, only this by his standards. Whether he is the greatest ever football player will remain a matter of opinion, as many measure that in term of accolades and team achievements. As an individual, Zinedine Zidane, Pele, Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho have been very close to what Messi is giving us, and maybe they gave more but an I doubt.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Suarez's actions are totally racist

I praised the exploits of one Mousa Dembele, the name by which I am now known by here in West Central Africa. His performance against Liverpool was almost to prove me right, only that the whole team structure collapsed after an unforced error followed by another. Liverpool deserved to win 3-2 but Tottenham Hotspur were the better team until their gift to the Reds.

Amongst other bad thing Luiz Suarez does to other people, I seem to pick up the ones he does to blacks. To many people who live out of Africa, the less politically informed, racism is what people say to other people of a different race. That is not the case. As a black African, call me nigger, kaffir or just black as long as the intentions, emotions and mindset is innocent of evil and exploitative derogatory attitude.

Racism is the mentality that one is stupid because of their race - black. Words can be empty but those who carry the attitude do not have to say the words. Suarez's behaviour against Dembele deserves sanctions and imagine if I was the man with the authority to carry the verdict. He could have called the Belgian of Malian origin, 'sweetheart or sweetpie' for all he cared, but that behaviour is purely racist.

I have seen that several times where Suarez just 'mis-acts' and then run away from the situation as if caring only about his own business of football. I would not have been forced to write this if it was once, twice or thrice but it is now a worrying trend since his high profile case against Patrice Evra. By the time someone really wants to make a case, the dynamics will have scurried off in another direction, but without accusing the Uruguayan as racist, his acts are.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Highlanders and local football must learn

As Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur today, many see it as a Luiz Suarez versus Gareth Bale, the same way it becomes a Messi v Ronaldo in La Liga El Classico. The inconsistent Liverpool can beat anybody but Spurs are buoyed by incredible performances that have made the world stop and watch, in most cases, Bale.

Statistically, it is with good reason given how Bale scored incredible goals of high importance. Suarez for Liverpool has been a revelation for comparably the same reason, but in this fixture and in all Spurs performances, if one watches football, there is one man of incredible quality and work-rate.

In the whole league, I can only think of his rival as one Yaya Toure but only just. This top-class performer is Mousa Dembele. Bale's individual brilliance is God-given, but the tactical freedom permitting his versatile escapades are a result of the solidity provided by the Belgian. You may have noticed that by now, and if not, take note.

The Orlando Pirates visit to Kaizer Chiefs at the National Stadium (FNB/Soccer City) will be beamed to over a 110 million homes this afternoon. This takes both brands around the world and soon other planets will be interested. It is the work of the clubs, Supersport and the ABSA Premier League marketing ventures that have seen this product in demand or marketed this well.

Pirates need the points much more than Chiefs but their recent form has been questionable as to whether the quest to retain the title is feat achievable. For the neutrals, that is not even important and that is right. I do not want to dwell on the possibilities there but rather admire the abilities of the people from whom neighbouring country leagues could copy and paste.

Highlanders Football Club of Zimbabwe particularly need to take notes. Not all the money generated will be banked by Chiefs as the home team, nor be shared between them and Pirates. There is an individual making a killing as a man. The process, contrary to Bosso beliefs, is not milking. It is called 'busibess'.

Highlanders are perennially broke and have been beggars for time immemorial. They spend most of the time negotiating the structuring of payment or scrapping the bills with debtors. Many years back, we suggested that they engage money-hungry and success-loving people with a strong business acumen to harness the small potential the brand 'Highlander - Bosso' has.

Many of us have tried to approach the club Executive committee with ideas requiring no input from the club, team, players or leadership. The negative responses were that people wanted to take advantage of the club. That is very true and that is exactly business. If a man used Highlanders name to make $10, it surely cost over $7 to make that $10 anywhere in the world, whatever the product. Sharing the remaining $3 with Highlanders on a 50-50 basis is no robbery and that is exactly what the club does not understand.

The Highlanders Executive committee wanted the whole $10 banked in their coffers, a comical understanding of the business mind. Nothing works that way in the world and the 50-50 is the extreme best. The astute businessmen would come up with deals whereby the club benefited 50 cents out of the $3 profit considering the running costs of a business empire. That one enriches himself by banking as much as the team at $1,50 is being naive.

Now, Bosso is not getting $1.50 per item of anything anywhere. They could be getting 10, 100 or 1000 of those, or 10000, a 100000 or even 1000000 from many sources. That should be irrespective of what the source is getting, but in known cases, that has been made clear but the born of contention has always been that people wanted to enrich themselves using the club name.

I would be a billionaire and make Bosso a millionaire and if that is bad, let the woes continue. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Can Bosso rise?

At the weekend, Njabulo Ncube scored a brace to inspire Highlanders to their first win of the year when they played host to Tripple B in a friendly match at Barbourfields Stadium but then news that the club claiming a huge fan-base was out muscled together with reigning champions, Dynamos from a season opening Charity Cup sponsored by NetOne.

The Bulawayo giants were defeated 2-1 defeat by Gwanda Ramblers last month and by visiting Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa before then. Bosso also lost twice to Dynamos in the Bob 89 Super charity matches. These may be disappointing times given that the team played well in the last campaign, giving the followers hope that happy days are coming again.

The club management had to deal with problems of their own in trying to contract the technical teams to work with Kelvin Kaindu, who himself has a one year left on his contract. Given the level of the game in the Castle Lager Premier League, one hopes these factors could be insignificant but the scope of operation for the club that wishes to be best, professionalism can never be compromised.
Highlanders' assistant coach Bekithemba Ndlovu described the victory as a booster and the boys need other external boosters to remain at the level they were last time around and bigger forces to raise the bar an inch. An inch will not be enough as much as good is never good enough.

Highlanders need to conquer the town, the province, country and then Africa. Those who do not see that as a possibility do not deserve to associate with the ambitious club. The vision must be set to be the standard of the game in the country and continent. The leadership should be working on bettering the image of TP Mazembe as a brand of African football.
Bosso plan to climb the ladder this season with new signings, Hillary Madzivanyika, Douglas Sibanda and Njabulo Ncube who played last weekend. Sibanda stamped his authority in the defensive midfield role winning a number of balls with Njabulo justifying his presence by scoring two goals. Madzivanyika failed to live to the pre-match billing but coaches know he can deliver, hence the confidence to sign him.
The worrying fact for now besides the Executive hiccups with a few issues and lack of results, is lack of popularity of the club on the ground as underlined by being voted the 6th popular team in Zimbabwe. As a brand, Highlanders falls short in all facets. Few things can be rectified but that lack of consistence by the followers and leadership get swept under the carpet when the coaches and players are not delivering.

The handicap of the followers, a trademark crippling tendency of ages, is the deserting behaviour when the team struggles and the throwing stones at glass windows and spanners into the works. The leverage of the misbehaviour is used by the leadership as an excuse to incur debt. It becomes a spring board not to deliver as the clubs finances which largely hinge on match day attendances dwindle and of course, it is a fact that sponsors follow the crowds.

At this point, Highlanders have missed out on the opportunity to take part in this year's NetOne Charity Shield after they failed to make it among the top four in the sms voting process. The credibility of the mechanism is immaterial but the picture is worth a thousand words and figures do not lie. NetOne also feel aggrieved as they banked on having Bosso and of course Dembare to attract interest, but a newcomer uses current figures to feel the temperature on the ground. The club could have garnered some cash in the charity match.

The competition features the four teams that garnered the most votes during the voting period in the last month. Monomotapa, CAPS United, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum will play in the semi-finals scheduled to begin at the weekend. It could be that their supporters are richer and can afford cellphones or airtime. It does not mean these teams have the potential and muscle to flex when push comes to shove, but if Bosso lead the pack, it means exactly that but that opportunity is lost.

The usual damage control will be to seek plan B, but why not get the basics right and have plan B as a back-up plan? This is given that the club seem to thrive on plan B perennial, often utilising plan C, that is in cases where there is a plan to start with. To many supporters, there is no strategy and the truth is that people will never know. I guess that is exactly the plan; that nobody know the absence of the plan.

Anyway, if you remember the figures, Monomotapa got 20 825 votes, CAPS United 16 013 votes, Chicken Inn 15 558 and FC Platinum had 11 585 votes. Those numbers combined easily make what could be a Highlanders support base despite a fair share of fans being in the diaspora. To be a little fair to Highlanders, their wide support base in the country could have made the Charity Cup worthwhile.

For a record, Dynamos who claim to be boycotting the event suffered the same voting apathy which must make Bosso feel secure and when Dynamos led the votes last Wednesday with Highlanders also in the top three, it seemed proper and orderly until something took a turn and bent things over.
Highlanders aggression is making it a desirable brand to associate with, to make it a winning team and to be a club of choice for both the neutrals and the converted, all stakeholders need to pull their socks. Those without socks will have to buy and then pull them. There is something wrong with the present picture, regardless of the reasons, and there is always something someone can do. If it is you, please honour up and act now.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Forget Nani sending off; Real Madrid beat United clean

An energy supping and emotional taxing Manchester United exit from the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford by the English football darling of the past was the least palatable venture for the players, manager and players considering the circumstances.

Real Madrid who are coached by former Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, fulfilled the fixture amid an atmosphere of expectation and natural levels of fighting appetite that can only be bred and nurtured in the jungle for consumption by predators like lions, panthers, tigers, leopards and other man-eaters.

As pumped up by their back to back victories over Barcelona, there was no way they were going to lose to Manchester United on the day, despite the United sublime 4-0 win over Wigan over the weekend. It was obvious this was going to be very sore as Cristiano Ronaldo, a former employee at Old Trafford is in scintillating form.

As an ex-EPL member alongside Mourinho and the other goalscorer in Luka Modric, Ronaldo was respectful after scoring the killer goal, as did The Only One by leaving the field of play early. So modest was Mourinho he confessed 'the best team lost'. If it is not the craziest thing he has ever said, I do not know him that well.

Many people spend much of their time transmitting the energy radiated by the players, Sir Alex Ferguson and the TV commentators about how ridiculous Nani's sending off was. Let the world stop sugarcoat the case to afford themselves the license to lament. As unintentional as the case was, that was dangerous play. That Nani did not mean it has no bearing to the danger poised by the foot on the player fouled. Arbeloa may have suffered even to death, had his head been that low and coming to contact with Nani's foot.

That qualifies that scenario as dangerous play and the consequences of such are in black and white. Sympathy and being human always see off a few cases and that has made people and TV commentators to believe certain issues need to be qualified in a reasonable way. In most cases they are, but in others, the rule of the book takes over and yesterday, it faced Nani and he had to walk.

My point is that United did not need the sympathy of match official to win that match. Even without that sending, they were not the masters of their destiny. I am actually convinced they actually played better after Nani's sending off and they fought harder. exactly the way they should have from start to finish.

SAF left Wayne Rooney on the bench, maybe due to fitness issues and there are many things United could have done to rescue the match before and after Nani was sent off. It is not necessary to make the referee the man of the match. Many found out the referee follows Real Madrid and Ronaldo ot twitter and not United or a United player. They question his impatrtiality and coincidence of the case.

Just because they did not that, they were never the best team in that match. They hoped Real Madrid would be a notch less competent. It was going to be interesting to see them lose with eleven men on the field and now because they did not, it seems we have a field day talking about how bad the referee's decision was. Actually, the referee's worst decisions were denying United penalty kicks, I think twice.

As for the sending off, give us a break. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Highlanders and Dynamos supporters are out of Zimbabwe

GIANTS Highlanders and Dynamos have missed out on the opportunity to take part in this year's NetOne Charity Shield after they failed to make it among the top four in the sms voting process.

This year's competition features the four teams that garnered the most votes during the voting period in the last month and will see Monomotapa, CAPS United, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum playing in the semi-finals scheduled to begin at the weekend.

Winners will progress to the final on a date to be announced.

Monomotapa emerged the fans' favourite with 20 825 votes while CAPS United were second with 16 013 votes.

Chicken Inn took the third slot after receiving 15 558 votes and FC Platinum completed the top four teams with 11 585 votes to their credit.

In a rather shocking outcome, DeMbare finished fifth and Highlanders were sixth despite the two clubs' command of a huge fan base compared to any other team in the country.

For the first time in four years, Dynamos will miss the season-opening tournament and the voting apathy on the part of their fans could be linked to their standoff with the sponsors, who withheld their US$50 000 prize money last season, after clashing on kit branding.

The row also involved BancABC who are, ironically, also the principal sponsors of Highlanders.

DeMbare, who won the Charity Shield in the last three years, had made it clear that had they were not going to take part in the tournament even if they got the votes among the top four.

NetOne Cellular Corporate Brand Manager Rutendo Chabururuka said the results were verified by an independent auditor before they were released yesterday.

Chabururuka said the draw will be conducted at the official launch tomorrow where venues and dates for the final are also set to be revealed.

Organisers have indicated that they would want to spread the games across the country this year.

"It wasn't about the general expectations of the football community or the popularity of the clubs but it was all about how the fans voted.

"A club may have many supporters but if those fans didn't vote for their teams then that's it. The teams that get the most votes will play in the semi-finals,” said Chabururka.

Interestingly, Dynamos led the votes last Wednesday with Highlanders also in the top three but the figures  had turned dramatically by Sunday afternoon with Monomotapa, CAPS United and FC Platinum taking the lead.

The voting, which began on March 8, closed at midnight on Sunday.

The sponsors this year moved away from the norm, which pitted the reigning league champions and winners of the major cup tournament, from the previous season, to a new criteria that involves a huge input from the supporters.

The fans were allowed to can cast unlimited votes for their teams

"There was an interesting trend on the last day (Sunday). All the while, votes were coming at a slow pace and we were actually shocked by how people suddenly started voting for their teams and how the overall table turned out,” said Chabururuka.

Newcomers Tripple B had the least votes as only 32 people voted for them while Harare City who appear a formidable outfit this season had 68 votes.

NetOne, who are in their third and final year of the sponsorship deal, have promised a bigger tournament this year.

They pumped in US$200 000 for the inaugural NetOne Charity Shield in 2011 and then increased the package to $250 000 last year.

The company's managing director, Reward Kangai, hinted at the launch of the voting platform that they were eager to extend the marriage with PSL.

NetOne voting results
Monomotapa              20 825
CAPS United              16 013
Chicken Inn              15 558
FC Platinum              11 585
Dynamos                  10 275
Highlanders               8 080
Shabanie                  1 406
Mambas                     463
Hwange                     318
Buffaloes                  307
Black Rhinos             206
Motor Action             195
Triangle                  149
How Mine               105
Harare City             68
Triple B                  32


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Real outclass Barca again as Ba sets bar

Rafa Benitez endured a rough week after his tough talk about the realities at Stanford Bridge given the rant of Chelsea fan. Short of showing them a middle finger, he stressed how ridiculously ungrateful the fans were, and that they should spend energy spurring the team forward rather than pulling them down.

While his hostile stay in London may be a fruitful one, it may be one to forget - a sour-sweet experience. No human being deserves such treatment and the team performance vindicated him with a Demba Ba strike bringing smile to his face on a day protests about his presence as Chelsea manager were supposed to be fever-high.

Harry Redknapp also had to deal with malicious reports questioning his management skills after he took the team to Dubai where they were reportedly too drunk to train the next morning after an all-night out. To prove a point, his Queens Park Rangers ran away with maximum points at Southampton with a 2-1 win, their third of the season. Redknapp was a happy man who hoped the win would work well for the confidence of the team as they fight for their top-flight life.

Shingi Kagawa's hatrick is talk of the town as Manchester United managed a 4-0 ahead of the UEFA Champions League tie with Real Madrid. It was the first Asian to score a hatrick in the Barclays Premier League. As a milestone, Ba had his - the first Africa to score 15 goals or more in successive seasons, somehow something the great Didier Drogba did not achieve.

Talking of Real Madrid, they rubber-stamped their superiority over Barcelona this season by yet another victory, a 2-1 La Liga win after their Copa Dela Rey a few days back. It may be that Madrid's dominance over bitter arch-rivals who proved to be bad losers has been made permanent. One thing for sure, it will be for Jose Mourinho to savour to seasons to come. As less significant as it was for Real since they can not expect to win the league, rubbing it in was all it was, salt, chillies and all. Winning the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League may atone for what had been turning out to be a dismal season for Mourinho.

The two giants, United and Real, will battle it out after their contrasting successful respective league confidence booster encounters, in which key players were rested.