26th May2014

Bafana Bafana – A bunch of losers?

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ak1Ahmed Kajee looks at recent issues linking to the South African National Football team, Bafana Bafana.

After the ABSA Premiership season ended, Bafana Bafana are scheduled to play two friendlies, on the 26th and 30th of May, against Australia and New Zealand respectively. These games are scheduled to be played in both countries. Unfortunately, it looks like Gordon Igesund will have to look to the U17 National team due to the mass player-withdrawal from the squad. Replacements had to be replaced! This is where my gripe lies with Bafana Bafana.

In total, fifteen players pulled out of the squad to travel to Australia and New Zealand, for various reasons. Some players had surgery to be done whereas others withdrew due to an influence from their mostly overseas-based clubs. Perhaps we could give the injured soldiers a break; Kagiso Dikgacoi is going for an operation on a knee injury and Siyabonga Xulu is recovering from an ankle injury. Fair enough, fellas – There is a fair bit of legitimacy behind your respective withdrawals.

However, and extremely unfortunately, there were many other withdrawals by players, due to many other reasons. These include club suggestions for players not to travel while some players decided to already leave on holiday with their families. Apart from these factors; somehow, within the matter of days, our beloved players turned into ailing pensioners with aches, pains and developed an extreme case of fatigue claiming that they were tired after a long season – Yes Teko Modise! I’m referring to you! Modise’s coach even gave him permission to travel. So much for commitment hey, Hercules!

Firstly, the honor of representing one’s country should bring the utmost joy and energy that is unparalleled to any other possible sensation one could feel. Has our national team lost all pride for the shirt that they wear? This shirt does not just represent only eleven men on a field, but also represents 50 million people. At the Press Conference held about the squad, which was to travel, Gordon Igesund looked more stressed than a matriculant on the eve of Matric Results. Yes, I was that stressed out Matriculant.

Secondly, had Bafana Bafana qualified for the World Cup, which is being held in Brazil, would our, uhm, soccer players be too tired to travel? I didn’t think so. I unfortunately have lost a lot of respect for the players who should be our nation`s footballing pride. Perhaps, it is situations like this that are the cause of our horrendous FIFA world ranking. I fear that the motivation is absent in the players who should be hailed as our nation’s soccer heroes. Personally, I would be very proud to represent my country on the football field. I have a passion for football, which runs deep. Many people would do anything to play football on a professional level. But the professionalism in South African Football has a lot to be desired for.

For our tired players, who claim it was a ‘long-season’, please stop crying. I beg the question if ‘injuries’ would have plagued the Bafana Bafana team had we also been preparing for the World Cup (We never qualified… We can leave that for another whole discussion)? Why not use this as preparation for AFCON 2015?

Back to the crybabies about being ‘tired’ – no wait! Babies cry for legitimate reasons – Cristiano Ronaldo also had a long season; a full Spanish La Liga season, UEFA Champions League, World Cup Qualification with Portugal and full preparation for that after the UEFA Champions League final. Talk about a long season? That is why he is arguably the World’s best player. (Sports fans & specifically Lionel Messi fans please notice that I used the word ‘arguably’). Oh and he still found time to woo Irina Shayk. Yes he did that as well! – Okay that’s only there because I think she is drop-dead gorgeous.

Now you may wonder why I chose Mr. CR7, the fact is simple, if you want to be the best, look at what the best have done to get to where they are. Look at what they have sacrificed. I am sure Ronaldo is also tired, and has been in the past. Did that stop him?! Once again, didn’t think so. It comes down to sacrifice, passion, motivation and the willingness to go the extra mile. Clearly that is lacking in high volumes in our Bafana Bafana squad. Or well, the lack of a squad.

After our unfortunate, and rather disappointing exit from the CHAN tournament, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula labeled the National Team a `Bunch of Losers`, which I felt was rather harsh. Following that, I attended our game against Brazil, which ended 5-0 to Brazil. We were outplayed, but we showed heart – after all, it is Brazil! Later Mbalula stated he said it out of love.

Our exit from the CHAN Tournament in January, paired with our 5-0 humiliation to Brazil is something I have no problem with. Yes we lost, but we tried our best and gave it our everything. Unfortunately, after the mass withdrawal of the Bafana Bafana players from the squad, they deserve to be called a `Bunch of Losers`. The only Loser is the one who never tries.

The blame here however does not lie with the players solely. SAFA had a major role in the organization and administration of these matches, which are being played on dates not sanctioned by FIFA for international friendlies. Perhaps Bafana Bafana are not the only ‘Bunch of Losers’.

In closing, I wish the players who travel to Australia and New Zealand the best of luck and despite the circumstances; you are the country’s pride and joy. As for the individuals who have pulled out the squad due to poor excuses, you are the biggest losers. I sincerely hope that the enthusiasm for our country’s footballing spirit increases drastically. Personally, if I had it my way, I would field an Under17 squad. Our country deserves better than incompetent, uncommitted public figures who call themselves footballers. Furthermore, to improve the country’s football, I would begin youth development in a ten-year program and start training academies for aspiring soccer stars. These academies should be opened for players from the ages of ten and above. Who knows, within the next ten years we could have a much-improved squad. Perhaps the 2022 World Cup is something we may actually be able to qualify for. Please listen to this aspiring writer, sports Minister.


19th May2014

Barclays Premier League review

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AK1Ahmed Kajee reviews the Barclays Premier League and discusses what he feels were the highlights of the season.

The Barclays Premier League this season has been the closest and most unpredictable one in many years. A victory was never guaranteed, nor was survival from relegation. With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring from Manchester United after a fantastic 26 year tenure, there was always going to be something different about the 2013/14 season. Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge as `The Happy One`, relative to his previous self-proclamation of being `The Special One`. Liverpool was looking to get into the Top 4 and make a return to the UEFA Champions League. Contention for the title was the Noisy Neighbours, Manchester City. Across town, David Moyes, `The Chosen One’, was in for one rough ride. The usual suspects were of course fighting for survival; the likes of Fulham, Norwich, Cardiff City and Sunderland.


The season started with one key absentee, self-inflicted and deserved of a ban, Luis Suarez missed the first six games of the season. Come on, Luis – did you really have to go all Dracula on Branislav Ivanovic?! Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and United all got off to winning starts. Unfortunately, Arsené Wenger`s Arsenal were stunned at home on the opening day. One wondered as to whether Mr Wenger was losing his touch. Behind-the-scenes action was frantic from all clubs as they rushed to meet the 2nd September Transfer deadline day in an attempt to bring in new players. Tottenham Hotspur really dug into their bank balance after the transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a record transfer fee, which is estimated to be in the region of £85.3 million. Chelsea topped the log with 7 points at the end of August, with City on 6 Points, along with Liverpool and Spurs who both had a game in hand. Manchester United was down in sixth while West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Swansea made up the bottom three.



Transfer deadline day saw intense movements with major signing being Mesut Ozil to Arsenal and Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United. Yeah – I wonder who thought Fellaini could be the midfield Maestro that United needed. Ten points to you, Mr Moyes. But more on that later on. Staying with United, their rivalry with Liverpool is unparalleled – Liverpool went on to beat Manchester United 1-0 thanks to a Daniel Sturridge goal. United went on to lose against West Brom and Manchester City in the derby. Life for David Moyes was definitely not getting easier. The next game for Liverpool marked the return of Luis Suarez and his partnership with Daniel Sturridge was blossoming like a sunflower on Steroids. The SAS were on fire! Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal were on top of the world and topped the log come end of September. Chelsea lost to Everton at Goodison Park which seemed to be a catalyst for a new chapter in Everton`s history. Crystal Palace was pulled toward the bottom three after a run of poor results, while Sunderland sacked Paulo di Canio.


The table began to level out somewhat from October and after 9 games being played, Arsenal remained top with 22 points. Followed by Liverpool and Chelsea, who were separated by goal difference, on 20 Points apiece. October brought the arrival of Gus Poyet to Sunderland and the departure of Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway after seven losses in eight games. Liverpool seemed to be on a run of note with the SAS firing at will. Luis Suarez bagged a hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion. The highlight of October and the only silver lining for Manchester United Fans was the emergence of youngster Adnan Januzaj, who scored the winner in his first start for United. At 18 years old, scoring winners for a World Class Football club! What have I done with my life? United finished the month in eighth with Norwich, Sunderland and Palace finding themselves in the Drop-Zone.


November saw the re-introduction to the Premier League of former Stoke manager Tony Pulis. He was brought in to replace Ian Holloway. He is a brilliant tactician and during his Stoke days, playing at Stoke was always a challenge. Manchester City trashed Andre Villa-Boas’ men 6-0 and Norwich 7-0 on either side of a shock loss to Sunderland. Arsenal stretched their lead to seven points after beating Liverpool 2-0 at The Emirates whilst Liverpool dropped a couple points after drawing to Everton at Goodison Park in a frantic Merseyside Derby. Arsenal`s only loss came against Manchester United with former striker Robin van Persie netting to give the Manchester club a victory over their London counterparts. Fulham dropped into the relegation zone. The highlight of the month was Stoke City Goal keeper, Azmir Begovic scoring against The Saints, becoming the fifth goalkeeper in the League`s history to score.


The Christmas period is always a hectic, extremely important part of the season for any club. It can make a season, or break one. December was action-filled both on and off the field. Four managerial changes resulted in Spurs, Cardiff, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham all parting with their respective managers. Perhaps Cardiff`s Malky MacKay got dealt the worst hand after Vincent Tan, the owner`s, decision making had a lot to be desired for. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was on fire! Scoring ten goals and surpassing a record of most goals in a calendar month made the Uruguayan the hottest striker in the land. His highlight, scoring four against Norwich City. Manchester United suffered two back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2002. Arsenal ended the year leading the pack despite Liverpool being top on Boxing Day. Tony Pulis was making inroads toward improving Crystal Palace`s league position. The bottom three remained unchanged from November. Sunderland looked in deep trouble.


With the New Year comes the opening of the transfer window. There were significant signings for many a club. The biggest talking point obviously being the signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea. – Seriously José? Other notable transfers were Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic from West Brom and Everton respectively. Chelsea brought in Mohamed Salah holding off competition from Liverpool. On the field Manchester City`s unbeaten run in January earned manager Manuel Pellegrini the title of Manager of the Month whilst Adam Johnson of Sunderland earned Player of the Month after helping The Black Cats out of the relegation zone. Liverpool had a high scoring victory against Stoke with a 5-3 win. Liverpool`s defence has been questioned since day one which was exposed in a 2-2 draw against Villa, although their attacking prowess was definitely a force to be reckoned with after smashing Everton 4-0 in front of a packed Anfield. Across town, Chelsea dispatched Manchester United at The Bridge with a 2-1 victory. Mission impossible for David Moyes. Calls for his axing became pretty rife amongst supporters. City and Arsenal ended the month in first and second respectively whilst Manchester United were struggling in seventh.


The month of love began with a few shock results. Manchester United lost to Stoke City whilst Liverpool drew to West Brom one-all. José Mourinho proved his tactical genius by beating Man City 1-0 at The Etihad. Relegation-threatened West Ham and Cardiff City earned three points each. Liverpool however, recovered with a bang against Arsenal going 4-0 up in the first twenty minutes, with the game ending 5-1, leaving question marks about Arsenal`s title credentials. The leader`s spot changed hands with Chelsea leading at the end of February with Arsenal, City and Liverpool following closely. United climbed to sixth, whilst Fulham were rooted to the bottom of the table below Cardiff and Sunderland.


March started off rather quietly with the usual suspects winning, although March was also a month filled with many mouth watering clashes. A Manchester Derby as well as a London Derby was scheduled as well as the old-rivalry of Liverpool and United being reignited. The first big clash of the month was at Old Trafford with Manchester United hosting an in-form and hungry Liverpool. United was completely outplayed losing 3-0 with goals from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, despite the former missing the third of the three penalties awarded in that game. United fans were really upset. The Saints beat Norwich 4-2 in a six-goal thriller. The high scoring continued into the next weekend of play with Arsenal being beaten 6-0 at Chelsea. Eleven conceded goals in two big matches for Wenger`s men was not a good sign. Liverpool beat Cardiff in a 6-3 rollercoaster, with Liverpool`s defensive frailties being exposed once again. Manchester City beat Fulham 5-0 to top off a high scoring weekend. The Manchester Derby was rather one-sided with The Citizens running out comfortable 3-0 winners. United`s parity was restored somewhat with a 4-1 win over Aston Villa. March saw the league table unchanged apart from Newcastle and Norwich moving up the log. Liverpool players Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez shared Player of the Month, whilst Brendan Rodgers claimed Manager of the Month.


The penultimate month of the League started off with City beating Southampton 4-1 and United beating Newcastle United 4-0. Wins were recorded for Chelsea and Liverpool whilst Everton stunned Arsenal 3-0 in a heated race for Champions League Football. The big game of the month was between City and Liverpool at an emotion-filled Anfield whose supporters believing even a Premier League title was on the cards. In an action-filled game, Liverpool ran out 3-2 winners with emotive scenes from the Captain telling his players to not let it slip. David Moyes` return to Goodison was not a good one as United were defeated 2-0. A bigger shock was to come when on-loan Liverpool striker scored against Chelsea to hand Mourinho his first defeat at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea Manager. It was two-horse race between City and Liverpool. Not letting it slip was unfortunately not on the side of Steven Gerrard come the Chelsea game after his slip lead to Demba Ba scoring at The Kop End. Chelsea went on to win 2-0 leaving the league door open to Manchester City. Connor Wickham of Sunderland earned Player of the Month whilst Tony Pulis captured Manager of the Month after getting his Crystal Palace out of the relegation battle. Liverpool ended April leading the pack, with City 3 points behind with a game in hand and a superior Goal Difference. Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham made up the Drop-Zone with Vincent Tan looking to go down even after employing Ole-Gunner Solsjkaer as Manager.


Two games left in the league and Liverpool had to simply not drop any points, win big and hope that City had dropped points and the title would have been heading to Merseyside. City had edged out Liverpool rivals, Everton 3-2 in an entertaining game putting pressure on Liverpool for their second last game against Crystal Palace. Liverpool went into their game against Palace needing nothing less than a victory. 78 Minutes in, Liverpool seemed on their way to victory, and in the hunt to close the goal difference gap with Manchester City. In nine minutes of pressure from Palace came three goals from Tony Pulis` men with the game ending 3-3. The game slipped away from Liverpool, potentially along with the Title. The Liverpool players were dejected as ever with Luis Suarez brought to tears after the final whistle. Everton had dropped points and looked to have handed Arsenal a spot in the Champions League. The final day already had Cardiff and Fulham and probably Norwich relegated. Liverpool needed west Ham to beat Manchester and still needed a victory over Newcastle. City went on to win a 2-0 and deservedly clinch the Barclays Premier League title with Liverpool finishing second after beating 9-man Newcastle 2-1. Arsenal finished fourth whilst May also saw the sacking of David Moyes – thanks to poor results and shares on the Stock Exchange falling, and rising after his sacking!

My thoughts

Congratulations to Manchester City on a deserved title and Congratulations to the New York Stock Exchange for running Manchester United. Also, Congratulations to José Mourinho on a few memorable moments on and off the field. Lastly, congratulations to Luis Suarez on a fantastic 31 goal season. – If you followed the season like most people did, you`ll understand the allusion.

The Premier League season of 2013/14 was definitely the most entertaining in many years, especially thanks to the return of form of Liverpool. I am a Liverpool fan so please let me have my moment of glory. Shock results are proof as to why this league is the best in the world. Closely contested games, no results are guaranteed and wonderful displays of football are the perfect reason as to why I love this League. I have not a shadow of doubt Manchester United will come fighting back next season and another lovely season will likely be witnessed. This league, along with Liverpool will just simply continue to Walk On.

14th Oct2013

Young Bafana hold Morocco.

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Motlalepula Maduna looks at the recent football friendly played between South Africa and Morocco.

mm1Bafana Bafana continued their unbeaten record against Morocco by playing to a 1-1 draw on Friday night at the newly built and packed Agadir Stadium in Morocco. Both nations have failed to qualify for the last round of the 2014 World Cup qualifications and Bafana seemingly used this game to build for the future. The game got to a frantic start and Bafana captain and goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune was called to duty as early as the 5th minute to produce a fine save from an equally well taken header just outside the edge of the area by Youssef El Arabi. In the game where Gordon Ingesund introduced several new and young blood in the team, the team showed determination despite the hostile crowd being against them. It was an ideal return for midfielder Daylen Classen in the national team set up after being absent for years as he set up striker Tokelo Rantie in the 8th minute to fire the visitors into an early lead.

Morocco attempts on goal were well dealt by Khune on one hand, and on the other, Bafana continued their impressive display after the goal and nearly doubled their lead when Wits captain, who was debuting for his country, was put through on goal and forced a saved from the Moroccan goalkeeper in the near post. Morocco showed more hunger to equalize in the second half especially after the introduction of their skilful and well-travelled Abel Taarabt who caused all sorts of troubles for Bafana left back Tsepo Masilela, who was later substituted by another debutant in the name of Kgosi Nthle. Morocco attacks on Bafana goals would finally pay off 5 minutes into the second half and it came courtesy of a well taken set-piece which was finished off by El Adoua. The game seemed to be losing its rhythm later on in the second half as both coaches made several changes to their squad, Bafana notably not being as sharp and threatening as they were in first 45minutes.

South Africa however managed to hold on against Morocco and continued with impressive record having won two games and drawn three against their North African counterparts. All in all, the friendly definitely served its purpose as players such as Ayanda Patosi, Kgosi Nthle and Sibusiso Vilakazi were all handed their first caps while Siyanda Xulu and Daylen Classen not only got a rare call up but also played the entire 90 minutes. Worth noting is that Bafana oldest player on the night was 28 years old, signalling the plan Ingesund has been preaching with regards to  building a young formidable team for the 2015 Nations Cup to be held in Morroco and FIFA World Cup in Russia 3 years later.

14th Oct2013

The Weekly Football Round up – Transfer News and Weekly Gossip

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Viraj Suparsad looks at some of the latest news in the football world.

The 2014 World Cup qualifiers are well on the way and this past week saw an exciting match between Netherlands and Hungary. The Netherlands’ captain Robin van Persie wowed the Home crowd with an impressive hat-trick. While the game did not matter to the Netherlands as they have already qualified for the 2014 competition they nonetheless won the game 8-1.


Manchester United Manager David Moyes is known for his hands on approach when scouting talent for his team. This proved successful when he was at Everton and he is now aiming for the same success with his new team. He was recently seen using the international break to scout for talent at a regional football game. Rumours suggest he was keeping a special eye on a midfielder and a defender.


New recruit at Liverpool Daniel Sturridge has spoken about his successful season so far as well as his chemistry with his new teammates.  Despite scoring on 8 of his 9 appearances this season he has emphasized that it was a team effort. He made special mention of fellow players like Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard (who he treats as his mentor) and Victor Moses as some of the players that add immensely to the game he plays.


In the light of Gareth Bale’s high profile transfer to Real Madrid earlier this year, a leading Spanish doctor has suggested that this transfer was a mistake.  The doctor claims that Bale is injury prone and may have a bleak future if his current back problem worsens.  The team however has supported their decision and have thus denied the seriousness of Bale’s back problem.


07th Oct2013

Stars too bright for Bucs

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Motlalepula Maduna looks at the recent final of the MTN8 football tournament.

dd47fd5227232bccba6afd57498272e2Last week Saturday, Platinum Stars defied all odds by recording one of the major upset in the MTN8 tournament history by defeating favourites Orlando Pirates on penalties at a rain soaked Moses Mabhida stadium. Buoyed by their 2-1 aggregate over bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs on heritage day, fans and pundits alike tipped the mighty Buccaneers to triumph against Platinum Stars, even overlooking Stars convincing 6-3 win aggregate over BIDVest Wits in the semi-final the same day. One could understand the overconfidence shown by Pirates supporters and their assistant coach in pre-match interviews leading to the finale of Wafa-Wafa considering the fact that, leading to this game, Stars had only won twice against Orlando Pirates throughout their existence, but as Free-State Stars coach once said, ‘statistics are like bikini, they don’t reveal anything.’ The Phokeng based side have now proved to be a strong reference to such as they threw the history books out of the window to claim their second silverware since joining the PSL.

0f12cf0c2d39818e7fd261aec7f8848f109Stars started the game on the front foot and were clearly looking for an early goal to unsettle their opponents. Although they lost a little momentum after 20minutes, they went on to score early in the second half courtesy of arguably the star of the tournament Robert Ng’ambi. After conceding the goal, Pirates showed a lot more sense of urgency going forward and created numerous chances but were let down by poor finishing, decision making and some would argue, poor officiating too as Kermit Erasmus goal was controversially ruled offside. With the clock ticking fast, Pirates firing blanks and Stars switching to a more defensive mode, it looked as though the game would end in a 1-0 score line until it took an individual brilliance from Pirates defender Thabo Matlaba to strike from distance with six minutes remaining from time to force the game into extra time.

The extra time saw little action in front of goals but Stars looked threating going forward after the introduction of veteran Henrico Botes while Pirates created half chances which were finished waywardly by the likes of Lennox Bacela and Joseph Molangoane who had, arguably, the best chance on extra-time. The game eventually led to the dreaded penalty kicks and it couldn’t get any more dramatic and unpredictable. Maestro Andile Jali was the only Pirates player to convert from the penalty spot. Rooi Mahamutsa, Ndumiso Mabena and Lennox Bacela were a typical example for budding football stars on how not to take a penalty kick as they all missed their kicks, much to the dismay of their fans who were the majority, despite the gloomy weather, at the world class Mabhida stadium. Bucs stopper Senzo Meyiwa saved former teammate Takesure Chinyama penalty but it proved to be ‘too little too late’ as skipper Vuyo Mere, Henrico Botes and Mogakolodi Ngele made no mistake and scored which resulted in Platinum Stars deservedly winning the game 3-1 on penalties to be crowned the 2013/2014 MTN8 champions.

07th Oct2013

The Weekly Football Round up – Transfer News and Weekly Gossip

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Tino Chiunda looks at the latest  news in the football world from the past two weekends.

Messi tax evasion charges

Lionel Messi has been accused of tax evasion in Spain where he has been a resident for 13 years. Messi’s father Jorge has taken full responsibility for this tax payment issue which frees Messi from any direct criminal charges. The amount Messi owes the Spanish taxman adds up to approximately R54 million which they failed to pay during the years 2006-2009. During these four years Messi was earning a substantial amount of money from the sale of his image rights. Many footballers especially in Italy secretly funnel in money through image-rights companies to avoid paying income tax. In the case of Messi, he has already paid the outstanding tax and but he might be required to pay a penalty fee. Sports commentator Jonathan Mahler is confident that Messi will not be severely reprimanded for his tax evasion crime because the Barcelona football club player is a very valuable Spanish asset. This soccer star dazzles the world with his enchanting football skills which is a major tourist attraction for Spain. Therefore, Messi will, at most, just get a slap on the wrist and then return to entertaining the world.


AVB versus Mourinho

André Villas-Boas (AVB) was mentored by manager Jose Mourinho during 2004 to 2007 and left during that period after being denied a promotion at Chelsea. In June 2011, AVB was put in charge of Chelsea after a successful stint at Porto where he won the Portuguese Premiere League and UEFA Europa Cup. After almost 7 disappointing months as Chelsea manager, AVB was fired by Chelsea and in July 2012 he was made Tottenham manager. On Saturday 28 September, AVB bravely faced his former boss Jose Mourinho who was reinstated as Chelsea manager this season. The two Portuguese managers were the focus of the weekend with the media describing this event as ‘the master facing his student’. Mourinho refused to speak about AVB at press conferences but AVB expressed his disappointing experience at Chelsea during 2004 to 2007 when Mourinho refused to give him a promotion. The final score of the London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham was 1-1 which left both managers as equals.


Sturridge and Suarez combo

Daniel Sturridge showed his class last Sunday when he netted one goal and provided two assists for his teammate Luis Suarez.  After a 10 match suspension, Suarez returned to the first team squad last week and guided Liverpool to a 3-1 win against Sunderland. He has developed an exceptional partnership with newly signed striker Sturridge and they have the potential to carry Liverpool and make them Premier League title contenders. Sturridge is currently the top goal scorer in the Barclays Premier League (BPL) and linking up with Suarez will only improve his performance. This was clearly evident because Sturridge was awarded man of the match and Suarez scored 2 goals. There is something special happening at Liverpool and I think that Liverpool will be in the top 4 this season and play Champions League football next season.


18 year old Januzaj shines

Adnan Januzaj was promoted from the under 21 Manchester United squad to the starting line-up of the first team squad. On his debut start, Janzaj scored two incredible goals which were enough to secure a 2-1 win against Sunderland this weekend. The young Belgian international scored two clinical half volleys: one with his left foot and the other with his right.  He exuded class and composure through-out the match and the goals he scored illustrated his versatility and confidence in front of goal. This player has injected life into the demoralized Manchester side because this is the clubs’ first win in three games. Maybe this new and upcoming teenage star may change the fortunes of the club.


Smoking Gunner

Arsenal attacking mid-fielder Jack Wilshere, 21, was photographed with a cigarette his mouth this week which add to the players growing bad boy image. The Gunners manager, Arsene Wenger, said that he would speak to the young English International concerning this recent smoking incident and he publicly condemned smoking because he believes that his players should be role models for the young fans. Also the British, especially the English, are very sensitive to smoking so Wenger had to treat this matter very delicately. In response to these allegations, Wilshere posted a picture of Zinedine Zidane smoking on twitter and also tweeted, “But for the record….I don’t smoke!” This can be considered as a desperate attempt to convince his fans that he is a healthy role model, but at the same time defending his actions by posting a picture of the revered soccer legend Zidane smoking a cigarette.



23rd Sep2013

Pirates Book ACL Semi-Final Spot

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Motlalepula Maduna looks at the African Champions League matches that took place this past weekend.

mm1After a dismal qualifying campaign which saw South African national football team failing to reach the last round of qualifiers for Brazil 2014 World Cup, Orlando Pirates seems to have restored some pride of South African football after qualifying for African Champions League (ACL) semi-finals following a goalless draw against Egyptian giants and defending champions, Ah-Ahly played at the Orlando stadium.  Included in the group deemed to be the ‘group of death’, Pirates had to overcome African football super powers like Ah-Ahly, Zamalek, emerging giants AC leopards, not to forget their famous battle against TP-Mazembe in the last sixteen of the competition.

The Buccaneers went into this game needing at-least a draw to stand a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the competition. The last time they advanced this far in the tournament was in 2006 until Tunisian outfit CS Sfaxien knocked them out 1-0 on aggregate. Pirates, as expected started the game brightly but lacked the ‘killer instinct’ up front while their opponents were just happy to sit at the back since they only needed a point to top the group. The home-side were then dealt a major blow after news that AC Leopard have taken the lead against Zamalek, who had nothing to play for except pride, in the game played concurrently. This meant that Pirates were on their way out of Africa’s prestigious tournament; however the football ‘Gods’ seemed to be with the team known as the ‘Sea Robbers’ as Zamalek not only drew level but also took the lead in the dying minutes of the first half.

mm2The early stages of the second half saw both teams venturing forward but without success of finding the back of the net. The main culprits for Pirates being Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Daine Klate who both missed one-on-one chances while on the other game, the Leopards onslaught continued in El Gouna stadium. The news that Zamalek were leading 4-1 seemed to have somewhat affected the rhythm and pace of the game in Orlando Stadium as the team approached the game with caution seemingly content with the draw which would see the teams reaching the last four of the competition. This result mean that Pirates finished second in Group A and will now face Tunisian Giants Esperance, who finished as leaders in Group B. The first leg of the match will take place on the weekend of 5/6 October in Orlando Stadium.

23rd Sep2013

The Weekly Football Round up – Transfer News and Weekly Gossip

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Tino Chiunda looks at the latest news in the football world.

Bale score on Debut

Gareth Bale has managed to score on his debut for Real Madrid. He showed his worth by scoring a crucial equalizer against Villa last Saturday. This is an excellent start for the Welsh player and I believe that he will continue to excel at Real Madrid. He has managed to quickly adopt the Spanish style of play and prove that he is truly an outstanding player. As a form of motivation, Bale received new endorsement deals from several brands such as Adidas which show that his move to Real Madrid was decorated with several perks. This could be one of the many factors which influenced his eventual decision to move to Spain to play for the most accomplished team in the in UEFA Champions League. Bale is also committed to permanently residing in Madrid because he is willing to purchase former Real Madrid player Mesut Ozil’s R15.8 Million (£1 million) house located in Madrid. Ozil left Real Madrid on the last day of the transfer window and he is believed to have moved Arsenal be because of Bale’s arrival at Madrid.


Ronaldo earns twice as much as Bale

Cristiano Ronald has signed a new contract with Real Madrid which is reported to be twice as much as Gareth Bale’s annual income. Ronaldo will be earning R4.5 million (£288 000) per week after tax which makes him the highest paid player in Spain. Lionel Messi is believed to have requested for a wage increase shortly after Ronaldo officially signed his new contract. There is now great anticipation surrounding whether Barcelona will respond to Ronaldo’s new contract by offering Messi a new and more lucrative contract. Gareth Bale, on the other hand, receives R2.3 million (£150 000) per week after tax which is more than R1 million less than Ronaldo’s weekly wages. This clearly shows that Ronaldo will retain his title as the most valued player at Madrid.


Mikel finally ends his dry spell

John Obi Mikel scored his first Barclays Premier League goal for Chelsea after 185 games. He has been playing for Chelsea for over 7 years and on Saturday he finally ended his goal drought. However, his position does not require him to score because he plays a more defensive role and less of an attacking role. Mikel is also the captain of the Nigerian national football team and he has scored several times for his national side. In his post-match interview, Mikel expressed his happiness but he graciously downplayed the significance of his achievement by praising his team mates and acknowledging that their 2-0 win against Fulham was a team effort. The Nigerian international also briefly mentioned that Chelsea players are struggling to adapt to the new team philosophy introduced by the new manager.


Uncertainty at Chelsea

Chelsea seems to be experiencing internal problems because some players who were always in the starting line-up last season are failing to make the squad this season. For example Juan Mata has been left out of the squad on 3 occasions this season even though last season he was the star attacking midfielder for Cthe team with over 12 goals and numerous assists. It is believed that there is rift between new Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, and Mata because there is no public explanation from the club which clearly justifies Mourinho’s decision to exclude Mata from the Chelsea squad. However, this could be a squad rotation strategy being implemented by Mourinho and this supposed feud between the two parties may be non-existent.

Manchester United loses Sunday derby

The first Manchester derby between Manchester United and Manchester City was convincingly won 4-1 by Man City. The Man United players were very lethargic during the game and they were not able to hold onto possession long enough to cause any damage to the Man City defence. The entire game was dominated by Man City and they were playing aggressively with sole intention of winning the game which they managed to comfortably achieve. It was very unfortunate that Man United top strike Robin Van Persie was ruled out with a thigh injury which he sustained a day before the derby. This obviously resulted in a sudden change of strategy less than 24 hours before the game and it came as a big blow which is evident in their 4-1 defeat. This is the second time Van Persie has been injured during training since the arrival of David Moyes as manager of Man United. Moyes is known for his aggressive training tactics and these coaching methods may be too strenuous for the Man United star striker. Both Man City and Man United had mid-week games before the Sunday derby but unlike Man United, Man City players seemed well rested and less fatigued. Maybe David Moyes’ coaching philosophy is doing more harm than good.


16th Sep2013

The Weekly Football Round up – Transfer News and Weekly Gossip

by admin

Tino Chiunda looks at some of the latest news in the football world.

Spending more to Survive

The 2013 football transfer window closed on the 3rd of September 2013 and the total fees which all the Premier League clubs spent on transfers amounted to over R9 Billion (£630 million). There are also new and more lucrative broadcasting deals which have been agreed on by English Premier League (EPL) clubs and sports broadcasters such as British Sky Broadcasting (BskyB) and British Telecommunications (BT). Moreover, the value of the broadcasting contracts has increased by 71% where BskyB and BT will pay a combined fee of approximately R47 billion (£3 billion) over 3 years. This deal allows for EPL teams to be more competitive because smaller clubs will have extra funds to strengthen their squads and provide attractive salaries to prospective and incumbent players.



Ozil Moves to Arsenal

Arsenal has broken its transfer record this season by signing Mesut Ozil for R662 million (£42 million). The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, believes that Ozil will add more quality to the quick passing style adopted by Arsenal because he possesses outstanding vision and his passing is considered as near perfect. Ozil is expected to link up with Jack Wilshere who is also praised as a clinical playmaker with pin point passing accuracy. If these two passing wizards are able to work well together then Arsenal may possibly end its 8 year trophy drought. The signing of Ozil is referred to by analysts such as John Cross as being beneficial to English club football because he bring a unique style of play to the EPL. Arsenal managed to acquire this superb player who is only 25 years old, highly experienced and, most importantly, he fits into Wenger’s long term plan of building a youthful Arsenal side.


Chelsea Upset

Everton defied the odds by defeated Chelsea 1-0 this weekend at Goodison Park which is the Everton home stadium. The Everton defence was very solid on Saturday and this frustrated the Chelsea strikers. After Steven Naismith scored the only goal of the match in the 45th minute, Chelsea immediately launched desperate attack with the intention score an equalizer but nothing came of it. Samuel Eto’o was struggling to find the back of the net and Fernando Torres also had a disappointing game. These two Chelsea strikers failed to penetrate the resolute Everton defence and their attempts at goal were wasteful. Hopefully, the Chelsea squad will pick themselves and put in a better performance during the mid-week UEFA Champions League group stage match against FC Basel.

Fellaini and Rooney enjoy the spotlight

Marouane Fellaini made his debut appearance for Manchester United this weekend. The former Everton mid-fielder ran on as a substitute in the 60th minute of the match against Crystal Palace. He received an approving applause from the crowd as he joined his team mates on the pitch wearing the number 31 jersey. This meant that there were 2 former Everton players representing Manchester United; Fallaini and Rooney. Rooney was in the starting line-up for this game which came as a shock because he had sustained a head injury less than two weeks ago in the form of a deep cut on his forehead. He seemed untroubled by his head injury which he is still nursing and he went on score as a result of taking a curling free kick in the 81st minute to seal the 2-0 victory. Manchester United is in fifth position on the log and 2 points behind EPL table leaders, Arsenal.

UEFA Champions League group stages

The UEFA Champions League group stage matches kick off this week and there will be several clashes between the top European sides such as Galatasaray and Real Madrid. Each group has 4 teams from the football premier league competitions of several European countries which are members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). This year the group selection process was amended to avoid contenders from the same country competing in the same group for the quarter final. This ensures diversity within the groups and this prevents each team from competing against a local or compatriot clubs during the group stages. Consequently, this may entice many fans because the contrasting teams have different styles of play and this could further result in the popular giants being unexpectedly outplayed and beaten by the less well known clubs. Therefore, the possibility of major upsets occurring could increase the anxiety and excitement of the fans in response to the heightened uncertainty.


26th Aug2013

The Weekly Football Round up – Transfer News and Weekly Gossip

by admin

Tino Chiunda looks at some of the latest news in the football world.

Top Stories

-Gareth Bale is on his way to Real Madrid because the Tottenham technical director Franco Baldini was spotted in Spain which suggests that the deal is being finalized. Moreover, Bale’s jersey number was briefly for sale on the Real Madrid website and this is considered as teaser ahead of his move to the Madrid side.


-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has hijacked Tottenham’s target signing, Willian Borges da Silva. Abramovich personally phoned his fellow Russian compatriot and Anzhi Makhachkala owner, Suleiman Kerimov, and the outcome of this phone call was Anzhi Makhachkala rejecting the bid from Tottenham and speedily accepting the £34 million bid from Chelsea.


Arsenal is beaming with confidence after winning 0 – 3 against Fenerbahce. Arsene Wenger is also confident that he will sign Yohan Cabaye, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria before the close of the transfer window.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes is attempting to sign Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe and a loan possiblity seems to be on the table.

-Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez was given an option to leave United and join Valencia but refused to move from Old Trafford because the striker is keen on fighting for his position in the squad.

– In my opinion, the lesson learnt from the opening week of the 2013/2014 premier league European football season is that buying big does produce desired results. Although there are relevant arguments surrounding the fairness of this big buying policy, the truth is that it seems to work for most teams with deep pockets. This past weekend most of the big spending sides such as Manchester City, Chelsea Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich won their opening matches. This proves, for meantime, that spending lavishly for the best players will produce satisfactory results. At the close of the 2013/2014 football season I will assess whether this theory of extravagant spending is valid or not.

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