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Heck Of A Spot-Kick Bersant Celina.

Football had seen great spot-kicks, such as ‘the Panenka kick’, made even more popular by the likes of French icon, Zinedine Zidane, Italian legend, Andreas Pirlo, even defenders such as Sergio Ramos had done the Panenka spot-kicks, However, there are awful spot-kicks too, who will forget Italian Simone Zaza bizarre, mazy run up to a spot-kick against Germany in Euro 2016, the David Beckham spot-kick that went up into the sky in a Euro 2004 qualifier, the hilarious Henry-Pires failed spot-kick against Man City, the list goes on. Despite the long list, Bersant Celina spot-kick on Wednesday 13th will find it’s way up to the top of the worst spot-kick ever. This is an unfortunate spot-kick that caused Celina’s team a come-back result in the English Championship tie on Wednesday.

4th place on the Championship log table and promotion hopeful, West Brom hosted 15th place Swansea City in a midweek tie, and the match ended in favour of the home side 3-0. However, the real talking point of the match was the missed spot-kick by Swansea’s Bersant Celina 5 minutes from the interval.

West Brom is seeking a 1st win since the sack of manager, Darren Moore, and what a way to respond by the Baggies. Caretaker manager, Jimny Shan recalled captain, Chris Brunt into his team, and the Northern Ireland winger duly justified his inclusion in the starting lineup. The Baggies took a 19th-minute lead through Brunt’s free-kick, but Swansea City was given a way back into the match in the 40th minute when City skipper Mike Van Der Hoorn was brought down in the box by West Brom’s Craig Dawson, with City’s top scorer and regular spot-kick taker is still out injured, Bersant Celina stepped up and this happened;

the stand-in spot-kick taker opted for a panenka kick style, and just as he approached the ball, he slipped and ended up miskicking the ball in a bizarre fashion, one kick he won’t forget so soon, and his manager agreed with me, he was quoted saying;

It was one of those moments that you don’t wish on anybody… It is just a horrible moment that he will have to get over and deal with…It is easy to mock, of course, and I am sure he will get a bit of that, but that is just life – Graham Potter

With Swansea missing their chance to pull level, West Brom pulls further away after the restart, in the 54th minute when Brunt swung in a corner which was timely connected by Mason Holgate, and then, made the game safe with a 3rd goal through striker, Jay Rodriguez in the 85th minute.

So, was it a wicked slip or a panenka gone wrong, either way, it was a stroke of bad luck, one that put Bersant Celina into an unwanted list of bizarre/missed spot-kick.

Like Bersant manager, Graham Potter said, …that is just life, He just has to deal with it,

it’s a minor setback so to say, and the thing about setbacks;

A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons – Richard Branson

also,

…Look at the disappointment as lessons don’t waste time beating yourself up. Just get back on track and focus on what you want…-Jorge Cruise

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The All-Conquering James Harden

James Harden wrote his name in the history book by becoming the only NBA player to have scored 30 or more points against all 29 opponents in a single regular season when he scored 31 points of Houston Rockets’ 121-105 win over Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, a feat that can be like to Cristiano Ronaldo achievement in his penultimate season in the La Liga, where he scored against all 19 clubs he played against. James Harden also added 8 rebounds and 10 assists to his 31 points on the night at the Philips Arena.

James Harden impressive season also includes a 32 consecutive 30 or more points that were put to a halt in the Rockets’ 119 – 111 win over Tuesday night’s opponent, Atlanta Hawks, where James Harden finished with 28 points. With the Tuesday win, Rockets completed a regular-season double over their opponent for a 2nd successive year. James Harden has now overtaken 2 of the 3 previous records of longest 30+ points streak held by Former NBA star, Wilt Chamberlain, who had a steak of 65, 31 and 25. I personally don’t think any player will ever equal or beat Chamberlain’s 65 30+ point streak.

James Harden ruthlessness in front of opposition basket has never been in doubt ever since his days as Oklahoma City Thunder, but his defensive play had raised eyebrows. However, since his trade to the Rockets, his all-round performances have been top notch. James Harden started the season on a rough patch with the Rockets though, going 4-7, many attributed it to James Harden missing 3-straight games due to injury, but with Harden back in the team, Rockets went on a 5-game winning streak.

James Harden’s 30+ points scoring run did not start until mid-December 2018, and against who else? a team that has another James in her ranks, LA Lakers. James Harden ran LeBron James and the Lakers raged scoring 50, 10 & 11 (Pts, Reb & Ast) in a 126 – 111 victory, with LeBron limited to just 29, 5 & 4. James Harden never looked back since that victory, even in defeats such as the 117-112 loss to the former team, where James Harden still finished with 42 points. A scoring run that also includes career-high points, 61 points in Rockets 114 – 110 defeat of the New York Knicks.

Harden’s points streak may be over, He still leads the NBA with a staggering 36.3 points per game on the average, way ahead of former record 30.12 per game, held by Chicago Bulls’ Michael ‘air’ Jordan. Harden has scored 50+ points in 6 different games this season against Washington Wizards-54 pts, Memphis Grizzlies-57 pts, Brooklyn Nets-58 pts, LA Lakers-50 pts, New York Knicks-61 pts, Miami Heats-58 pts, joining the likes of Michael Jordan in a few elite group that scored 50+ points in more than 5 games in a regular season.

All hail James Harden!

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Selected Weekend Summaries From Europe Top Leagues.

Back-To-Back Losses For United:

United loses only there 3rd match in all competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Old Trafford. Wolves which I consider as the premier league boogie team pulled another upset yet again, they confirmed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United to their 2nd successive defeat in all competitions, having lost to Arsenal in the EPL a week again ago. Wolves impressive performance of the season has seen them defeat 4 of the top 6 clubs, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and now Manchester United are the big guns that have been fed to the Wolves.

Having eliminated Arsenal and Chelsea on their way to the quarterfinals, United were the clear favourite to advance into the last 4, United was also boosted with the return of some of their key men, Anthony Marshall, Jessie Lingard, Ander Herrera was passed fit to start for United

United started the match with the larger percentage of possession, but with little or no threat to Wolves goal, Wolves, on the other hand, were full of energy, pace, and sure ran United ragged, it was a matter of time before such display earned Wolves a goal. Joao Moutinho skipped past 3 United players and found Raul Jimenez who seemed to have lost his footing but somehow regained control and fired the past couple of United bodies, past Sergio Romero for the games opening goal in the 70th minutes. 6 minutes later, it was 2 nil in favour of Wolves, a quick breakaway down the middle saw Wolve’s Diogo Jota shrugged off a challenge from United’s Luke Shaw and fired past Romero. United got a late consolation in the added time of regulation time, 90+5, through Marcus Rashford, 2-1 it ended in Wolve’s favour at the Molineux.

United most realistic chance of winning a title faded into thin air, they still have the UCL as an outside chance though, with Barcelona standing between United and semifinal berth.

Quadruple Still Alive For The Citizen:

Manchester City’s quest of a quadruple was given a scare by championship side Swansea City in the quarterfinals. Swansea is having a difficult season in the league, and a result against high flying EPL side Manchester City, which are coming from a mauling, 7-0 of another team, was highly unlikely. Manchester City gave a much-needed respite to their talismanic striker, Kun Aguero, who started from the bench.

The match started with a plum, Swansea took a surprise 1st-half lead when City’s standing-in left back, Fabian Delph fouled Swansea’s right-back, Connor Roberts in the box, Matt Grimes duly convert the spot-kick to give Swansea a 20-minute lead, 9 minutes later, it was 2 nil, former Man City midfielder, Bersant Celina delightful curler beat Man City goalkeeper, Moraes Ederson to stun Man City. With defeat staring at his face, Pep Guardiola brought in Sterling and Aguero, and their impacts were immense. Man City staged the 2nd-half fight back, though 2 of Man City’s goals were contentious with VAR not in use at the Liberty Stadium. Goals from Bernardo Silva, Swansea’s goalkeeper, Kristoffer Nordfeldt own goal, in off Kun Aguero”s spot-kick, after Sterling was brought down in the box, and an Aguero’s diving header completed Man City’s win.

Manchester City was let off the hook with the absence of the VAR, and head into the FA Cup semifinal with the dream of a quadruple still alive.

Champions Elect Stunned At Genoa:

Juventus travelled to Genoa in the Serie A match-day 28, hoping to extend the point gap between them and nearest rival, Napoli to 21 points, but they were brought to earth by a resolute Genoa. Genoa who sits a distance 12 place on Serie A log table, no longer have the ruthless Krzysztof Piatek in their ranks anymore, but yet were unfazed by the star-studded Juventus side. The Serie A runaway leader had not tasted defeat in the 28 league matches so far, won 24, and drew just 3, one of which was a 1-1 draw against the same opponent earlier in the season, and the odds were in their favour not to lose.

Juventus rested their top goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was not included in the squad to Stadio Luigi Ferraris and were made to rue the decision as the Old Ladies lacked his finesse in front of Genoa’s goal. There was 2 overturned decision by the VAR at either end of the pitch, firstly, a penalty awarded to Genoa at the half-hour mark due to a contentious handball in the Juventus box, then a Paulo Dybala goal due to an offside in the build-up.

The breakthrough goal finally came in the 72nd minute in favour of Genoa, when substitute, and on-loan Juventus ace, Stefano Sturaro curled in from just outside the box to beat Juventus goalkeeper, and former Genoa, Mattia Perin. Genoa made the maximum points save with the 2nd goal when veteran and 33-year old Macedonian, Goran Pandev scored with just 9 minutes remaining. The defeat is inconsequential as far as the league table is concerned but Juventus will not have an unbeaten season after all.

Inter Milan Edged Derby Di Milano:

Derby di Milano or simply Milan derby is one of most fierce derby in world football, both Inter Milan and AC Milan share not just City but Stadium too. The history between these 2 clubs is old and is dated back to 1909, and will most definitely exist as far as football still exists.

The last time both teams met was a Serie A 1st-leg meeting in October last year, Inter ran away with a 1 nil winner, with Mauro Icardi scoring a stoppage-time winner. Fast forward the months and a lot have changed since October, Milan now has a certain Krzysztof Piatek in their lineup, and he has been massive to Milan course so far, scoring 6 league goals already since his January arrival, and are undefeated in their last 5 matches, winning 4 and drawing 1 in all competition. Inter, on the other hand, are having a patching run, with just 1 win in their last 5 matches across all competition, and will be missing the services of a rebel, Mauro Icardi, injured Radja Nainggolan, Joao Mario, Joao Miranda among other key players.

Despite Inter’s injury absentees, they took an early 3rd-minute lead when Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino combined for the latter to score. They scored a 2nd when De Vrij headed in to make the game safe, but Tiemoue Bakayoko half the deficit for Milan, to make it 1-2. Lautaro Martinez restored Inter 2-goal cushion via a spot-kick, but Milan pulled 1 back again 4 minutes later, and so it ended, 2-3 to Inter Milan. Inter have now leap-frog their rivals to 3rd place, 2 points clear, with 10 matches to go.

Contrasting Results For The Madrid Teams:

ZIDANE WON ON HIS RETURN; All the pre-match talking point was the return of Real legend both as a player and manager, Zinedine Zidane to the dugout at the Bernabeu, Zizou as Zidane is popularly referred to was reappointed after Santiago Solari was relieved of the job following a string of poor results that includes an embarrassing 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Ajax Amsterdam.

Zidane’s starting line-up drew a few eyebrows, with the recall of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, left full back, Marcelo, Midfielder, Isco and attackers Asencio and Gareth Bale, all who are a major actor in Zidane’s 3-year dynasty. No qualms as Real Madrid started Zidane’s 2nd reign with a 2-0 victory. Real have to wait until the 2nd half before they finally break Celta Vigo down, Karim Benzema’s cross found Isco, who scored from a few yards out. The 2nd goal came 15 minutes later, Marcelo made one of his trademark forward burst, and then squared the ball to Gareth Bale who fired home, in off the woodwork, to secure the 3 points.

ATLETICO MADRID LOSES AGAIN; Still hurting from the UCL exist, the Diego Simone tutored side went into the La Liga Matchday 28, hoping for a response and a result at rival’s, Athletic Bilbao, which is still in the hunt for a European spot. However, rather than a response from Athletico Madrid, it was more misery as they fell to goals from Inaki Williams and Kenan Kodro at the San Mames Stadium, home of Bilbao.

The slim chance of Atleti catching Barcelona further diminishing, they now trail their rival with 10 points, and Real closing up on their heels, with gap cut to just 2 points.

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LeBron Drowning With The Lakers, Playoffs Seems To Be Out Of Reach.

Sunday’s defeat of the LA Lakers, 107-131 by the Boston Celtics was the 5th consecutive loss for the Lakers, they now sit on 11th position on the Western Conference table, though they still have a mathematical chance of still making the playoffs, but realistically, with the way Lakers are playing, it will take something special and dramatic for the Lakers to make the playoffs, with just 17 games to go, and thus, LeBron’s incredible 13 consecutive playoffs is in great danger. Only 3 players had more consecutive NBA Finals appearances than LeBron; Bill Russell-10, Sam Jones-9, Tom Heinsohn-9, Frank Ramsey-8, LeBron James-8, and even fewer had more consecutive playoffs, as shown below,

Wiki

LeBron James, widely known as the GOAT of the NBA because of his achievements right from his draft into the Cleveland Cavaliers, to his trade to the Miami Heats and the present. His remarkable 13 consecutive years in the playoffs, 8 straight NBA finals since 2011, and 3 championships are worthy of all the accolades he’s received. His 3 championship wins, includes a back to back triumph with the Miami Heats in 2012 & 2013, and on his return to Cleveland Cavaliers, he helped the Cavs to win their 1st ever title in 52 years in 2016.

So, what happened to LeBron? could his recent dip in form be attributed to the injury sustained early in the year? or Is he just being caught up in the Lakers’ playoffs drought? The Los Angeles Lakers last appearance in the playoffs was an opening round loss, 0-4 to San Antonio Spurs in 2012-13, and last won the NBA championship in 2009-10, defeating Boston Celtic 4-3, a 3rd successive defence of the title from 2007-08. Their 5-years playoffs drought may have played a major role in bringing in LeBron James at the beginning of the season, to bring back the good old glory days, but it was not the season both LeBron and Lakers had hoped for so far.

Where did it go wrong for the Lakers? It started right from the 1st-3 matches of the regular season where Lakers lost the 1st game 119-128 to Portland Trail Blazers, then the next, a home loss, 115-124 to Houston Rockets(a game that was also marred with on-court scuffle), and the 3rd, an agonizing overtime loss, 142-143 to San Antonio Spurs. Though the Lakers picked up from the losses, and win the next 2 games, they never really get hold of the season, as they could not go 5 straight games without a defeat, more like 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards.

Lakers 5 games losing streak includes 120-131 loss to Milwaukee Bucks, 109-118 lost to Phoenix Suns, 105-113 loss to Los Angeles Clippers, 99-115 loss to Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics respectively, highlighted a topsy-turvy season Lakers are having. LeBron cut a frustrating figure in some of the losses, he was seen walking out of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks before the final buzzer, it is hard not to feel for him.

Will LeBron inspire one of the greatest comebacks ever record in the history of the NBA? It will be a miracle if Lakers make the playoffs. However, if LeBron and Lakers missed out, which looks likelier, it’s a disappointment but not the end of the world.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,

regroup and come back next season stronger.

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4/4 Into The Last 8, EPL Teams Taking The UCL By Storm

Which league is the most competitive or strongest in Europe?

This is a debate that has been on the lips of football fans across the world for a long time, and while remaining a heated debate till the ‘end of days’.

European governing body, UEFA, uses statistics called UEFA Coefficients to rank countries or associations according to the collective performances of clubs in UEFA competition which includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, and it’s current ranking put Spanish association as number 1 as shown below.

The Spanish La Liga had consistently produced 3 teams in the quarterfinals of the Europe elite competition, UCL, for the past 6 seasons, a feat dated back to 2012-13 season, with Real Madrid and Barcelona even ever present for a longer period, Spanish association surely deserve their status as the number 1 ranked association. The last time another association rather than the Spanish La Liga produced 3 teams in the UCL quarterfinals was in 2010-11 season, when the English Premier League produced Chelsea FC, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs, a campaign where Manchester United went all the way to the final, losing 1-3 to, guess who? Barcelona FC of the Spanish La Liga.

It seemed the tide is turning towards the English Premier League, as Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are bringing back the glory days back to England, all advancing into the quarterfinals.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Leading the EPL charge was Tottenham Hotspur, the North London club became the 1st English side to advance into the last 8 after a 4-0 aggregate win over German side, Borussia Dortmund. Spurs put themselves into the driving seat with a 1st leg 3 nil win at White Hart Lane, goals from Son Heung-Min, Jan Vortonghen and Fernando Llorente settled the 1st leg, and they did it without their injured talisman, Harry Kane. Spurs knew they would have to weather the storm in the return league at the Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, and they had their French goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris to thank for not losing the 3-goal advantage early in the 1st half. A Moussa Sissoko through pass found Harry Kane, who held his nerves and coolly slotted past Roman Burki in Dortmund goal to make it 1 nil on the night, and 4 nil over the 2 legs, Spurs 1st quarterfinal place since 2011.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United joined Spurs in the last 8 with a historic 3-3 aggregate comeback victory on away goal rule over PSG, having won 3-1 on the night at the Parc Des Prince, Paris. All odds were stacked up against United who lost the 1st leg 2-0 on home turf, Old Trafford, goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kilian Mbappe condemned United to their worst home defeat in European competitions. However, United Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is no stranger to great comebacks, having helped United as a player staged a comeback 2-1 final win over Bayern Munich 20 years ago, pulled another masterpiece away at PSG. A seemingly mission impossible is now one of the greatest come back of all time (1st team in the UCL and European cup history to overcome a 2-goal margin home 1st-leg deficit). United achieved the feat without the services of 10 1st-team players, having lost Paul Pogba, Anthony Marshall, Juan Mata and others to either suspension or injuries.


MANCHESTER CITY

United ‘noisy’ neighbours, Manchester City joined their EPL counterparts in the last 8 with a 10-2 aggregate whitewash of Schalke 04 of Germany. The 1st leg had ended 3-2 away win for the Citizen, a double spot-kick from former Spurs ace, Nabil Bentaleb had put City in the back foot, but former Schalke o4 ace, Leroy Same scored a delightful free-kick to stage a comeback, then, Raheem Sterling finished off with a late goal.

City come into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium with the 3-away goals, a goalless draw could have been it for City, but City sure put up a ruthless display, once again, it was former Schalke 04 lad, Leroy Sane that orchestrated Schalke 04’s downfall, 7 nil it ended in favour of City, their biggest ever European win. Only Bayern Munich’s 12-1 aggregate win over Sporting CP in 2008-09 UCL round of 16 ties, was a bigger win than City’s 10-2 win over Schalke 04.


LIVERPOOL FC

Liverpool tie against Bayern Munich was seen as many as the tie of the round, and so it proves to be. The German heavyweight faced an inform Liverpool at Anfield for the 1st leg, and after an evenly contested 90 minutes, nothing could separate the 2 clubs as the tie ended in a 0-0 scoreline, making the return leg at the Allianz Arena even more gingerly poised.

Liverpool showed character in Germany, took an early 26-minute lead through Sadio Mane, Bayern equalized through a Joel Matip own-goal, but Liverpool would not be denied victory, as they regained the lead through defender Van Dijk header. Sadio Mane put the final nail to Bayern’s coffin, to make the scoreline 3-1 on the night, and on aggregate.


English Premier League is producing 4 teams in the quarterfinals for the 1st time since they did it back-to-back in 2007-08 and 2008-09, when Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United reached the last 8. It is an outstanding feat that will surely fuel the old argument of the strongest league in Europe once again. Is this another year for the English Premier League teams? time will tell at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

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Another Twist To The EPL Top 4 Race, It Is Going Down To The Wire.

The race for the top 4 finish is getting hotter, with Manchester City and Liverpool destined to occupy the top 2 places, Tottenham Hotspurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea justle for the remaining 2 places. Earlier in the season, Spurs looked to have a firm grip on the 3rd place, and the 4th place was to be contested between Arsenal and Chelsea, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led Manchester United has remarkably recovered and thrown themselves back into the mix, plus Spur dip form has thrown the race all open again.


Tottenham Hotspur’s Dip continues;

Spurs’ firm grip on top 4 finish has gradually loosened, and now hangs on a tread, they now lead the chasing pack led by Arsenal with just a single point, and 3 points ahead of United in 5th place on the EPL log table, having lost to Southampton on Saturday.

Just like Harry Kane’s return from injury was marred with a 1-2 defeat by Burnley at Turf Moor, his teammate, Dele Alli’s return from an injury suffered a similar fate, as Spurs were defeated 2-1 by a struggling Southampton at St Mary Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur is in a poor run of results with just 1 point from a possible 9 of their last 3 matches, Spurs’ last win was in early February when they defeated Leicester 3-1 without either of Kane or Alli. They started the match against Sutton in the best possible way, took the early ascendancy in the match, as shown above, Kane and Alli combined for the former to score a 26th-minute goal, but Spurs’ defensive worry was highlighted again as they conceded an equalizer through Sutton’s Yan Valery, Spurs 6th-goal conceded in the last 4 domestic matches. Just when it seemed the game will end in a draw, Sutton’s James Ward-Prowse converted a delightful free-kick in the 81st minute to condemned Spurs to a 3rd defeats in 4 matches.


Chelsea Slipped Yet Again;

Chelsea was on the brink of another home loss before a sublime Eden Hazard 92nd-minute curler rescued a point for the Blues. The Blues picked up from the 0-6 mauling at the hand of Manchester City with back-to-back wins over London rivals, 2-0 over Spurs and a 2-1 triumph over Fulham respectively, but they come up against EPL boogie team, a team just below them on EPL log table, Wolverhampton, which has also seen a dip in form with just 1 win in their last 4 matches.

Chelsea dominated the proceedings at Stamford Bridge as shown in the stat above but was unable to a stubborn Wolves, Wolves sat back and defended resolutely against Chelsea and hit back on a swift counter-attack to take the lead through Raul Jimenez, after an interplay between Diogo Jota and Jimenez. Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain, Pedro among others, did everything right but could not go past Wolves’ goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, until the stoppage 92nd minute, Hazard found space and took his chance from outside the box. 1-1 it finished at the Bridge.

Chelsea remains in 6th position behind Manchester United in 5th, just 3 points behind 4th place Arsenal, with a game in hand.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Unbeaten Gravy Train Halt Finally By Arsenal;

The biggest EPL match of the weekend was the tie between old rivals Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirate Stadium, as Arsenal claimed the bragging rights over Manchester United, with a 2-0 home win. A win that put an end to United caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s domestic 12-match unbeaten run and 9-straight away win in all competitions.

The history between these 2 clubs is as old as time itself and became even more fierce in the 90s during Sir Alex Ferguson and “the Professor”, Arsene Wenger time as United and Arsenal managers respectively. United holds the advantage over the Gunners on the head-to-head stat as shown, but it was Arsenal who took a 1st half lead when United goalkeeper, De Gea misjudged Granit Xhaka’s 25-yard swerving shot in the 1st half, and then double their lead with a 2nd-half spot-kick from Aubemayang. There were injury scares for Arsenal when Sead Kolasinac and Laurent Koscielny were attended to. United might felt undone by luck as they hit the woodwork twice, firstly, Lukaku hit the crossbar, then, Fred hit the side post, and had more shot on target than the Gunners, as the stat suggested, but Que sera sera.

Arsenal sure getting the most out of Aaron Ramsey ahead of his summer exit, the Juventus-bound ace had another good match, a man of the match display by the Welsh man that saw him won 8 tackles – most in match, won 12 duels – most in match and covered most ground, 12.7km – most in match, He is vital for Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League place push. Arsenal’s home form also playing a pivotal role, 9 wins out of their last 9 home matches was a massive improvement to last season’s home form.


With 8 matches to go, there is no clear cut favourite for the UCL remaining 2 places, either of these 4 clubs can stake a claim. Fixtures above show the run-in for the 4 clubs in question, points will be dropped no doubt, and if Spurs poor form continues, it looks like she might not make it.

Image 1, and for more stat see link

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Sly Fox, Ramos Antics Caused Real Madrid Badly.

Some see being cunning or sly as smartness that surpasses strength [German proverb],some others disagree, they liken the cunning to a fox, which is as murderous as the violence of the wolf [Thomas Paine], both groups have their reasons, for me, I feel if there are no rules of engagement, then there is no harm or shame in being cunning. The game of football like every sport is guided by different rules and regulations, any sort of antics and trickery outside those rules and regulations are not acceptable and can be term as ‘violence’, ‘improper’ conducts amongst other conduct violations.

Sergio Ramos, fully aware of the rules and regulations, chose to ignore them or probably tried to outfox everyone. The Spaniard was booked in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties against a familiar foe, Ajax Amsterdam of the Netherlands, but it was later discovered by UEFA’s ethics committee that it was a premeditated act by Sergio Ramos, Ramos was then slammed with a 2-match ban which ruled him out of the next 2 UEFA matches.

HOW IT UNFOLDED;

Ramos, improper conduct went down in the 1st of the 2-leg match of the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Ajax at the Johan Cruff Arena, Netherland, Ajax home ground. Real Madrid had taken a respectable 2-1 lead and was holding on till the final whistle, but then, Ramos in his ‘sly wisdom’, picked up an 89th-minute booking (his accumulated 3rd), for what seemed to be a careless tackle on Ajax’s striker, Kasper Dolberg, but during the post-match interview, Ramos was quoted saying;

I would be lying if I said I didn’t force the booking…

His comment apparently showed that his ack was premeditated rather than careless, a comment that had UEFA open a disciplinary investigation and eventually found Ramos guilty by the panel. An additional 1-match ban was added to the initial automatic 1-match ban incurred from the booking. The ban ruled Ramos out of both the return leg against Ajax, and the 1st leg of the quarterfinal should Real go pass Ajax( unfortunately Real didn’t go past Ajax).

Awkward moment for Dolberg when Ramos offers a handshake after been booked, this guy should be sober, Dolberg thought in his mind.

Rubbing salt to Ramos’ injury was the fact that, in his absence, Real Madrid were humiliated in front of home fans 1-4 in the return leg, as they exited the competition 3-5 in aggregated to Ajax, his leadership role at Real Madrid’s defence backline as well as the team as a whole was missing.

WHAT UEFA REGULATION SAYS;

•UEFA rules stipulated that accumulation of 3 cautions carry an automatic 1-match suspension.

•It also says that all yellow cards pick up will be wiped clean after the quarterfinals.

with the rules in mind, Ramos wiping his booking slate clean, reduced the risk of being unavailable for the crucial stages of the competition, well, so it seemed if his plan was successful.

IT HAD HAPPENED BEFORE;

Sergio Ramos is no stranger to cunning conducts and controversies. In 2010, Ramos alongside teammate, Xabi Alonso, deliberately picked up a 2nd booking and then sent off against the same team, Ajax, having taken a comfortable 3-0 lead at the Dutch club home ground. Real goalkeeper, Iker Casillas received instructions from their coaching staff headed by Jose Mourinho through reserved goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, Casillas, in turn, informed Ramos and Alonso of the purported plan from the bench. The red card meant Ramos and Alonso would miss the last group G match for Real Madrid against Auxerre, and enter the knock out phase with a clean slate. Mourinho, Ramos and 3 other Real Madrid players involved in the improper conduct were charged, fined and suspended by UEFA.

Absolutely no room for unsporting conduct in the game will all love. Sergio Ramos cunning ways were caught by the long arm of justice both on and off the pitch. A wise man once said;

You can be more cunning than others but you cannot be the smartest of all – François de La Rochefoucauld

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A Dethroned King, And A Potentially Birth Of Another

Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League defeat of reigning champion, Real Madrid, at home turf, Santiago Bernabeu, at the hand of less fancied Ajax Amsterdam, can be seen by many as the end of a golden generation, the dethroning of a true king, and the birth of a new generation of Ajax players. Real Madrid had ruled UEFA Champions League for 3 successive years and was 1 of the fancied clubs to win, but a 1-4 home defeat to Ajax, despite holding a 2-1 advantage, was the least on the bookmaker’s list.


The 1st leg between these 2 clubs ended 2-1 in favour of Real Madrid, an action-packed contest, but overshadowed by controversies. The 2 major talking points that marred the match played at Ajax’s Johan Cruff Arena was a disallowed goal and an intentional yellow card. Nicolas Tagliafico headed opener was disallowed by VAR for a Dusan Tadic’s offside, and then, Sergio Ramos picked up a booking which was later discovered to be a premeditated action by Ramos, which ruled him out of the return leg at the Bernabeu, an action that will now haunt him for a while, as his leadership role was missed in the Real Madrid backline in the return leg defeat.

A masterclass display from former Southampton of English Premier League player, Dusan Tadic, saw the Dutch side took a 1st half lead, 2-0 in an explosive 1st 18 minutes. The Serbian then scored a subline 3rd goal in the 2nd half to pull the match away from Real Madrid. Real pulled a goal back through Marco Asensio, but a 4th Ajax’s goal through Lasse Schone meant Real Madrid will not be defending the UEFA Champions League for a 4th successive year.

The 2nd leg was supposed to be a difficult mountain for the Amsterdam club to climb, but a spirited display by the Dutch side saw them CAME to the Bernabeu, SAW, and CONQUERED, 4-1 on the night, and 5-3 on the aggregate to progress to the quarterfinals stage since 2003, 16 years ago.


DETHRONED KING

Real Madrid’s 1011 days(2years, 9 months, and 5 days since Athletico Madrid defeat in 2016) as champion has been ended by a new generation of young lads from Ajax Amsterdam. The beginning of the end of a talented Madrid squad that includes current world footballer of the year, Lucas Modric, Welsh star, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, former world cup winners, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, and ex-Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo among the Galacticos.

Real parted ways with their talismanic striker, Cristiano Ronaldo in the last summer transfer window, and arrogantly refused to replace him with adequate cover, the current struggle in front of opposition goal is a clear indication that the Portugal international is hugely missed. Real Madrid had reached at least the semifinal since Ronaldo’s 2nd season, 2011-12, at the Bernabeu, players such as Bale, Benzema, Asensio and the young Vinicius Jr found Ronaldo’s shoe too big to lace. Home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu is no more the fortress it used to be as Real has now lost 2(0-3 loss to CSKA Moscow & Ajax) home game already in this UCL campaign, Sergio Ramos’ disciplinary records getting worst by the season, among other worries for Real Madrid.1-4 defeat to Ajax was Real Madrid’s heaviest in a knockout game in Europe, It’s Real Madrid’s 4th lost at the Bernabeu since 2004, their 3rd in history, 1st reigning champion to fail to advance past. round of 16 since Inter Milan in 2010-11, among other stain on their pretty records.


AJAX’S NEW GENERATION

It’s almost a decade and a half since the golden generation of Ajax team ruled Europes elite club competition, the Louis Van Gaal tutored side won the UCL in the 1994-95 season with an exciting youthful team, with an average age of 23 years, a side that includes the likes of Frank De Boer, Edwin Van Der Ser, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Kanu Nwankwo, Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanem among other great names of such a talented group. A lot had happened since the generation ended, Ajax struggled to put together such an elite group to challenge in Europe. The best Ajax could achieve in the UCL since then was a quarterfinal place in the 2002-03 tournament, and had failed to advance past the group stage since the round 16 exits in the 2005-06 season.

However, a new wind is blowing, looks like another era has begun with the Dutch side Ajax, a group of young lads have done well for themselves this season. Ajax manager, Erik Ten Hag’s team has performed so well in the current campaign, getting remarkable results especially away from home, Erik side has not lost away from home this UCL campaign, including a 1 all draw at the Allianz Arena, Bayern. The youthful side with an average age of 24, includes much sorts after duo of, Matthijs De Ligt and Frankie De Jong, strikers, Kasper Dolberg and Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyech among others.


Ajax defeat of Real Madrid was a remarkable feat, and the lads deserved all the accolades that are been showered on them. They joined a group of trio clubs to have scored 4 or more goals at the Santiago Bernabeu, they become only the 2nd team to eliminate Real Madrid from European competition knockout tie, having lost the home tie. Does this herald another golden era in with the Dutch club, time will certainly tell?

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Another Milestone For King Roger Federer

Roger Federer once again proves that age is just a number, as he achieved another milestone in his illustrious career. He now writes his name in the history book by becoming the 2nd male tennis player to win and reach a 100 ATP singles title, with his Dubai Championship triumph over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 37-year-old Federer is now just 9 singles titles shot of equaling the most title wins, a position that is currently being held by Americas Jimmy Connors, who is on 109 singles titles.

What more can one write about a man that has dominated the sport, Roger Federer broke into world stage since 1998, during an era that includes great tennis players such as the duo of Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt to mention few, Roger Federer has not looked back since then.

Federer started 2019 tennis season on a winning note, with a successful defence of the Hopman Cup alongside female countrywoman, Belinda Bencic( who also won the female singles in Dubai). However, a disappointing 4th-round defeat to rising star, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas meant, there won’t be a 3rd-time defence of the Australian Open for Federer.

Federer’s hunger for more glory was reiterated recently when he said he aimed for more titles and not ATP top ranking, and he showed such hunger with another championship win, his 8th title in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, adding to his victories in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2014 and his 2015 victory over archrival, Novak Djokovic.

En route to his triumph, Federer dropped 2 sets, certainly not one of his vintage performances, but he got the job done. A round of 32 wins, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over German’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, then, he dropped his 2nd set in the tournament with a round of 16 victories, 6-3, 3-6 6-3 win over Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, for a place in the quarter-final. His quarter-final contest was also exhausting as Federer was stretched into a tie-breaker, a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Hungarian, Marton Fucsovic. A much easier win for Federer in the semi-final over Croatian, Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-2 straight set triumph. The final was against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, Federer’s conqueror at the Australian Open, a couple of months ago. This time, the Swiss Maestro got his revenge, a 6-4,6-4 straight set win over Tsitsipas.

8th Dubai Championship for Federer, 100th career title win and still counting, give it up to the Swiss MaestroRoger that!

Images are Getty Images’ 123

and blog can be found on my Scorum account also

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Brendan Rodgers In For Claude Puel, 5th Mid-Season Managerial Shakeoff Of The EPL’s 2018-19 Season.

The English Premier League 2018-19 season is not over, yet, another manager had been shown the exit door, Claude Puel of Leicester had been replaced by former Celtic Manager, Brenda Rodgers. This managerial replacement at Leicester made it the 5th across the EPL in the current campaign, having seen Fulham replaced Slavia Jokanovic with Claudio Ranieri, Southampton replaced Mark Hughes with Ralph Hasenhuttl, Manchester United replaced Jose Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Huddersfield replaced David Wagner with Jan Siewert, Who says coaching job is an easy one?

OUT GONE CLAUDE PUEL;

Puel was sacked after just 16 months in charge of Leicester City. He led Leicester to a 9th place finish in his 1st season, 2017-18, after taking over from Craig Shakespeare, but a string of poor results has seen his Leicester City team falling down the EPL log table, 12th place, just 8 points from safety, and any hope for European qualification is all but gone.

Leicester poor run started since the turn of the year, since the new year day 1 nil away victory over Everton, the team has been on a free fall, a 7-match-winless run in all competitions, a poor run that includes a FA Cup 3rd-round 1-2 defeat to lowly Newport County, and 5-EPL defeats and a single draw out of 6 EPL matches, just 1 point out of a possible 18 points. Leicester had also lost her last 4 home matches during this poor run, the last time Leicester lose 4 or more (5) home matches in a row was in 1959, some 60 years ago, and the last time Leicester lost 4-EPL matches in a row was in December 1999, a run that extended into January, into a 7-match winless run. They have also conceded 15 league goals since the new year, only Cardiff City had conceded more this year.

It’s hard to figure out what went wrong. Tracking back to December last year, Leicester was flying, a remarkable 1 nil defeat of Chelsea at the Bridge was quickly followed by a 2-1 home win over high-flying Manchester City, but then, a disappointing home loss to Cardiff City laid the foundation for what followed in months after.

Claude Puel had now joined the growing list of mid-season manager casualties, and also joined Leicesters list of sacked manager, 3rd in just less than 2 years.

CAME BRENDAN RODGERS;

Rodgers needs no introduction to the EPL clubs and fans, his feat at Swansea City especially, announced him to the EPL, as he managed and helped Swansea City gain promotion into the EPL, and became the 1st Walsh club to do so. His managerial touch made Liverpool came calling in 2012, to replace King Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers helped built the famous, deadly, strike combination trio, SSS; Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling, and were on the brink of winning the 2013-14 EPL title for the 1st time in 28 years, but an unfortunate and infamous Steven Gerrard slip, put the dream to the sword, and ultimately Rodgers reign at Anfield came to an end in 2015.

However, Rodgers quest for glory would soon be realized in the Scottish Premier League. Neil Lennon had just left his post as Celtic manager, and Rodgers soon took over at Celtic Park in 2016. In his 1st season in charge, Rodgers won a domestic tremble; Scottish Premier League title (with 30 points ahead of 2nd placed Aberdeen), Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup, setting a record of 47-domestic-unbeaten run in the process. Rodgers repeated his 1st season success by retaining the tremble in his 2nd season. He had already won the Scottish League Cup for the current campaign, bringing is a total hall to 7. Safe to say Leicester got a manager with a champions mentality.

The burning question is, has Rodgers taken the right decision? No doubt he wanted a new challenge, having won everything that needed to be won in Scottish football, but taking the job of a struggling club might stain his credentials, all the new managers brought in by Fulham, Southampton and Huddersfield have not been able to improve situations on the ground.

Can Brendan Rodgers perform the magic at Leicester and turn around their fortune? Time will tell.

ps: all images are Getty Images, and blog can be found on my Scorum account 

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Maurizio Sarri, The Architect Of His Own Misfortune.

Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri may have sealed his fate at the hands of Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovic. The Chelsea owner still hurting from the 0-6 humiliation of his Chelsea club since he assumed ownership, was slapped in the face with another damaging FA cup exit, 0-2 home loss to Manchester United. Victory over FC Malmo in the Europa Cup on Thursday night a much needed respite, but EFL Cup final defeat against familiar adversary, Manchester City on Sunday, may have ended Sarri’s reign at the Bridge, as news making the rounds already suggested that Chelsea chiefs are already considering the duo of former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane and former home ace, Frank Lampard as Sarri’s likely replacement.

Sarri started his reign at the bridge with an early-season-winning run, but things have changed since those remarkable start. So, what went wrong for Sarri and his tactics? How did things get to this stage? He has not even completed a season, and yet, he is about to join the growing names of Chelsea mid-season casualties as shown above;


SAME OLD POSSESSIVE PLAY AKA SARRIBALL;

Sarri’s possessive play, better known at the Bridge as Sarriball seems not to be bringing the early-season success, and with seemingly no plan B to navigate this hard time. Clubs like Burnley are very difficult to break down by just passing the ball around, you’ve got to go long and direct if need be to win against difficult teams as such, how many times have we seen Liverpool rescued a result from long balls and setpieces. Chelsea is failing in this direction and the blame has to be Sarri’s, who remains adamant on his Sarriball style of play. According to Skysports stat, Chelsea’s possessive play is not bringing success or results as much as it does for Manchester City and Liverpool who are also rank high with possessive play, Chelsea’s possessive play is not resulting as much as it should into chances created or goal.

JORGINHO OVER KANTE AS MIDFIELD ANCHOR MAN;

Sarri remained defiant playing Jorginho rather than Kante in the holding midfield role despite strings of poor results, raised more question than answers. There is no denial of the fact that Sarri and Jorginho know each other too well from their time at Napoli, and bringing Jorginho to Chelsea seems sensible, but Chelsea already has a world class player in the holding midfield role, Ngolo Kante. Kante’s exploits as an anchor-midfield man are well documented, right from his breakthrough season with surprise English Premier League winner, Leicester, to his warrior-like display to help Chelsea win back the League title, and not to forget his 2018 FIFA World cup heroics with France, all as the midfield anchorman. Yet, Sarri favours Jorginho over Kante, even when Jorginho is sometimes out of sorts. Clubs seem to have decoded Sarri’s tactics, stop Jorginho and you will stop Chelsea, such were the stories when Chelsea played Westham, Everton, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United to mention few.

PREDICTABLE SUBSTITUTIONS;

Sarri’s like-for-like substitution is well too predictable, either in victories or in defeats, it is all too similar. Ross Barkley for Mateo Kovacic substitution is growing too popular, the latest duo interchange in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United was the 20th times in all competitions that both players will be swapped for each other under Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea’s other talented midfield players that are being constantly overlooked by Sarri includes the duo of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and enterprising young winger, C. Hudson-Odoi who can both come in and win a match, little wonder some of these lads are refusing a new contract.

Managers are known for being too adamant and defiant with their approach and philosophy, and it has really not helped most of these Coaches and certainly might not help Sarri too. We’ve seen the likes of Arsene Wenger, who despite widespread calls for him to change his approach, to invest in a weakened Arsenal defence year in, year out, but he refused, and he ultimately paid for his stubbornness, as his long-year affair with Arsenal was brought to a less ceremonial end.

The English Premier League is a tough league, managers have to be dynamic and unpredictable with their tactics and approach, any manager who failed to do that will have himself to blame, other managers will figure him out. It seems to me that Sarri has failed with his tactics, or maybe he just needs more time to perfect his tactics and his Sarriball style.

What do you all think?

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What Went Down In England, My Take On Selected Weekend Results

Plenty to talk about from English weekend football, both English Premier League and English Championship presents a kind of competitiveness that makes them one of the most watch around the world, this weekend was not an exception. Plus, the EFL Cup final between Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s barely 2 weeks since City thrashed the Blues 6-0, a nail-biting defeat that certainly set the tone for this cup final.

CITY’S QUEST FOR QUADRUPLE IS ALIVE;

Where else can one start the weekend review than the EFL Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester City? Chelsea aiming to avoid a repeat of the humiliation suffered at the hand of their opponent some couple of weeks ago, adopted a more cautious approach this time, allowing City to have the possession but with no real threat to them. City still managed 3 shots on target compared to Chelsea’s 1, but no breakthrough, not even extra time could produce a goal, thus, the ultimate spot kick to decide the contest. After enjoying success last season from the FA-Cup-shootout win over Manchester United, Chelsea were hoping to repeat the feat against City, but poor kicks from firstly, Jorginho and then, David Luiz, meant Chelsea would leave Wembley Stadium empty-handed, while City, despite losing a spot kick through Leroy Sane, still won 4-3 from the shootout, and Manchester City’s quest for 4 trophies still very much alive with EFL Cup in the bag.

HARRY KANE’S RETURN MARRED BY SPURS DEFEAT;

Tottenham Hotspur title push may have hit a snag, with a damaging defeat at Turf Moor, Burnley. Spurs were beaten 2-1, to slip 5 points further behind 2nd on the log, Manchester City. News of Spurs leading scorer, Harry Kane’s early return from injury ahead of initial March schedule was met with excitement and joy among Spurs officials, teammates and fans, but Kane’s return was marred with a defeat. Burnley yet again showed they are a tough nut to crack, they seem to have shrugged off their early season poor performances, with just one defeat ( to Man City) in their last 8 matches, a run that includes a remarkable 2 all draw at Manchester United to halt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning gravy train.

It was the visitors that took the early ascendancy as expected, but with no real threat to Burnley’s goal, Burnley was happy to sit back and weather all storm blew at them by Spurs, and find their goal in customary Burnley fashion, fast breaks and set pieces. The 2nd half was where all the action were, as Burnley took the game to Spurs, Burnley took a 57th-minute lead through Chris Wood via a disputable corner kick, Harry Kane showed no sign of rustiness from injury lay-off, with a come-back goal, to level matters in the 65 minutes, but spirited Burnley got their deserved winning goal in the 83rd minute through Ashley Barnes, to end the contest 2-1. Burnley’s run of unbeaten 2019 continues while Spurs slim chance of title further fades away.

FULHAM DESTINED FOR RELEGATION;

The Cottagers are having a torrid season, and are languishing in relegation waters, not even the appointment of the Tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri could transform the fortune of the West London Club.

Looking for their 1st win since the 4-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the end of January, Fulham took an early 3-minute lead through the Dutchman, Ryan Babel, in the London derby, over Westham United, but a 29th-minute controversial equalizer by Javier Hernandez put Fulham on the path of defeat, replay showed that the Mexican had scored with his hand, but the goal stood. Issa Diop’s 40th min header and Michail Antonio’s goal sealed the comeback win for the Hammers. It was Fulham’s 18th league defeat of the current campaign, and are still rooted on 2nd from bottom on leg table with just 17 points from 27 matches, with a huge -35 goal deficit, only a miracle can prevent a relegation.

INJURY-RAVAGED CONTEST AT OLD TRAFFORD;

The much talked about rivalry match between title favourite, Liverpool and rejuvenate Manchester United ended in a goalless stalemate. It was almost a horror show rather than an entertaining showpiece, with 4 1st-half injuries that took the delight out of the game. Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced into making all his substitution in the 1st half due to injuries, both Ander Harrera and Juan Mata got injured in quick succession, firstly, it was Herrera in the 21st minute, and Mata just 4 minutes later, both players were replaced by Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard respectively. It got uglier for United when substitute, Lingard limped off, to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez in the 43rd minute. Liverpool was slammed with their own injury worry too, stylish striker, Roberto Firmino was replaced in the 31st minute by Daniel Sturridge.

A point was enough to move Liverpool back to the summit of the EPL table on 66 points, a point ahead of title challenger, Manchester City, in 2nd place, and 6 points clear of 3rd place team, Spurs.

CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE RACE IS 3-HORSE RATHER THAN 2-HORSE RACE;

Championship title race gets even more interesting now, with Sheffield United thrown into the mix, alongside Norwich City and Leeds United. The blades as Sheffield United are popularly called, have been on a 5-match unbeaten run prior to Saturday’s victory over West Bromwich Albion, they now sit in 2nd position on the Championship log table with 64 points after 34 matches played, just 2 points adrift of log leader, Norwich City, with Leeds United also on 64 points, having played a game less.

It could be recalled that both Norwich City and Leeds United recorded a slim win respectively, to keep the race hot and to the wire. Table topper, Norwich, held on to their grip on top with a hard-fought 3-2 home victory over Bristol City, while Leeds also had a 2-1 home victory over struggler, Bolton Wanderers to stay in touch with Norwich and Sheffield United.

DERBY COUNTY IN DANGER OF MISSING THE PLAYOFFS;

Frank Lampard has done a very great job since he assumed the managerial role at Derby County, his good works have not gone unnoticed by his former club, Chelsea, who are considering him to take over at the Bridge. However, Derby’s push for promotion either through the automatic slot (which seems so unlikely) or the playoffs (which is more attainable), was hampered with a damaging 0-1 home loss against relegation-threatened, Millwall, last Wednesday. Derby County now sits on 7th place on Championship log table, just outside the playoffs spot, with 2 outstanding matches too though.

OTHERS;

Another notable point of discussion was the home defeat of Leicester City, 1-4 by Crystal Palace on Saturday late kick-off, a defeat that signalled the end and sack of manager, Claude Puel after just 16 months in charge. Huddersfield doomed for relegation after another 0-2 loss at Newcastle United, they are rock bottom on the league table.

These were just a few spotlights of what went down in England this weekend from my points of view, you can add your talking point or spotlight in the comment section.

ps; all images are from Getty images, and can be found on my scorum account 

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AJ vs Big Baby! Psychological Games Have Started In Earnest.

The June 1st showdown between the 29-year-old Briton, Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua and the 30-year-old American, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller draws ever closer, and thus the customary press conferences and the usual antics and mind games from the boxers had already begun with a bang.

I am never a fan of mind/psychological games, for me, it feels like boasting, haughty or pride, and like the old wise saying;

pride goes before a fall

How hard can it be, to go into the press conference, show respect for your opponent, the AJ style and let the fight’s outcome or result speak for you, just like it has been speaking for AJ, and, how ridiculous can it get, after one makes so much noise and boasting, and then, end up losing. I will rather go for the former. Yes! Most will argue that mind games are good for the sport, it helps build the momentum, and also, a lot of games/bout are won even before stepping into the battlefield, as Iron Mike Tyson used to almost always match his pre-bout antics and mind games with results, and in contrary, a certain Dereck Chisora, who despite his pre-bout war call and antics against Dillian Whyte, lost twice.

The press conference between AJ and Big baby was held at the famous Madison Square Garden, New York, USA, and it was Jarrell Miller who drew the 1st blood if mind games count. The shorter 6ft 4in Miller pushed his taller 6ft 6in opponent, Joshua off balance during their meeting on Tuesday, causing a short-lived brawl, and now, with such hostility building, boxing fans are in for explosive warfare come June.

Miller’s assault on Joshua did not end at the standoff, he further rained more insults on the current IBF, IBO, WBA & WBO champion, Joshua, saying amongst other things;

…He’s lucky I didn’t punch him in the face, but as I said, I ain’t got no time to play games. I don’t play boxing, this is what I do. Breathe, eat, sleep this c**p.
…He knows that I’m not playing. I don’t care. I knock him out right now. I’m a warrior. I don’t care about any of that.
…You’ve never seen anybody with mental fortitude like me, he said. No matter what he does, what he hit me with, how many punches he throws, he ain’t going to beat me, he ain’t going to stop me.
…I’m a walking monster. On June 1, I’m uniting the world.

Anthony Joshua who had never encounter such bullish act since probably the pre-bout press conference to 2016 Dillian Whyte bout, in his response to Miller’s action said;

You can see Dillian Whyte – they are cut from the same cloth, I don’t expect anything else from characters like those.

A quick look into Jarrell Miller stats as shown above, he is certainly not a pushover, AJ will definitely have is work cut out against his “Monstrous” opponent who has got as much win success in the ring as Joshua. Miller who also had a successful kickboxing career from 2006-2014, with 21 wins out of 23 fights, with just 2 losses will pose a great threat to Joshua’s world titles.

Anthony Joshua needs no introduction, the British star status was rubber-stamped when he knocked out Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017 to add the WBA belt to the IBF title he won with a 2nd-round stoppage of Charles Martin in 2016. Though, boxing fans may be disappointed for his choice of Jarrell Miller, they have been hoping for a unification fight against WBC holder, Deontey Wilder, or a Tyson Fury fight or even a rematch against Dillian Whyte, AJ’s prowess is never in doubt and his 100% win record as shown above is a testimony to that.

Boxing fans around the world eagerly await next episode of AJ-Big Babys mind games.

ps: images are BBCSports’ and GettyImages’

Thank you all for taking the time out to check my blog.

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Another Crazy Scoreline From Europe’s Pro League, 20-0! Is Such Scoreline Good For Soccer/Football?

Just when you thought you have seen it all, then BOOM! it is starring right into your face all over again. 10-0 scoreline is embarrassing, but even worse is a 20-0 scoreline, which can be damaging to any leagues competitiveness. Soccer fans are still trying to wrap their head around a 10-0 scoreline in modern pro leagues, then came another 20-0 scoreline. A certain Serie C club, Pro Piacenza was pummeled 20-0 by their Serie C opponent, AC Cuneo, in a rather unfortunate fashion. One begins to wonder if it was a soccer match or a rugby game.

Serie C is the 3rd highest football division in Italia’s 9-tier-football division, and it includes 59 teams/clubs divided into 3 groups of 20:20:19 (Grp A: Grp B: Grp C) respectively. Both AC Cuneo and Pro Piacenza are in Group A of Serie C, and both also sit in the bottom half of the league table, While Cuneo sits on 13th position, it is ever relegation battle for Pro Piacenza who sits rock bottom on the league table.

Pro Piacenza, also known as the Rossoneri found themselves making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It was a mess that started way back last year, 2018, and remained unresolved till the present day. Players went on strike action over months of unpaid wages prior to a league fixture against log leaders, Pro Vercelli, adding insult to Pro Piacenza injury was the local council who sealed up the Rossoneri’s rented home stadium, Stadio Garilli over unpaid fees. With all the internal crisis, Pro Piacenza was unable to put together a team for matches, which in effect meant an automatic 3 goals, 3 points conceded. The league rule stipulates that if a team/club failed to turn up for 5 leagues fixtures, such club will be liable to expulsion from the league, in a bid to avoid expulsion, Pro Piacenza rallied a team for the match against AC Cuneo.

With most 1st team players still out on strike, Pro Piacenza turned out against AC Cuneo with just 7 players, a 7-man team that includes 6 teenagers among which an 18-year-old Nicola Cirigliano dua as team captain and team coach, hilarious huh! FIFA rules stipulate that the minimum number with which a team can start/begin a match is 7. So, the Rossoneri had just enough to begin the match against AC Cuneo, a huge mistake on their path.

Pro Piacenza was thrashed 20-0, as AC Cuneo went riot with 7 different scorers. The goals started raining down as early as the 3rd minute, and by half time, it was 16 nil, 4 more goals at the restart condemn Pro Piacenza to a humiliating defeat.

See highlight below;

Cuneo Goal Scorers :

Hicham Kanis-6 goals (8′, 10′, 17′, 30′, 32′, & 36′)

Edoardi Defendi-5 goals (3′, 4′, 16′, 20′, & 22′)

Francesco De Stefano-3 goals (15′, 31′, & 84′)

Michele Emmansso-3 goals (38′, 44′, & 89′)

Guiseppe Caso-1 goal (24′)

Francesco Ferrieri-1 goal (58′)

Nicola Alvaro-1 goal (78′)

AC Cuneo who had only scored 18 goals in their previous 24 league matches, now double their seasons tally in just 1 match.

After the match, a worried and disappointed President of the Italian Football Federation described the result as;

insult to the sport,…Our responsibility is to protect the passion of the fans, healthy entrepreneurs and credibility of our championships,…The one we unfortunately witnessed will be the last farce.

Now, CD Nacional who lost 0-10 a couple of weeks ago and her fans can breathe a sigh of relief, a much-needed respite at a point in need. Conceding 10 goals apparently is not the worst scoreline anymore.

Do you think scorelines such as 10-0, 20-0 at any league division is good for football?

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Son Heung-Min Leading Tottenham Hotspur’s Title Charge In Kane And Alli’s Absence.

Tottenham Hotspur made it 4 straight wins in all competitions since Harry Kane and Dele Alli got injured, having defeated their German opponent, Borrusia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday night. The win followed Spurs wins over Leicester City, Newcastle United, and Watford respectively in the English Premier League, and 1 man who is leading Spurs charges for glory in the absence of 2 of Spurs’ main players, Kane and Alli, is the South Korean Ace, Son Heung-Min. The Spurs forward has been crucial to Spurs’ wins since his arrival from international duty(Asian Cup), scoring a goal each in all the 4 matches mentioned earlier.

When the news 1st broke out that Spurs’ striker, Harry Kane and Midfielder, Dele Alli would be out on treatment table until March, it was met with so many long faces and disgruntled Spurs fans, and in all fairness, they could be cut some slacks, both Kane and Alli had been so instrumental in Spurs 4-front-title chase, both could have made a difference had they played in the Chelsea and Crystal Palace losses, plus, the injury news came at a time when another important Spurs player, Son Heung-Min was away on international duty. Though, Spurs Manager, Mauricio Pochettino tried to allay the fans fear and concern by saying his team have enough firepower to continue the title charge without the trio, but a back-to-back defeats/exits from cup competitions at the hands of Chelsea in the EFL Cup, and Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 4th round, aggravated fans concern, but just when it seems Spurs title charges are over, there came a light at the end of the tunnel, South Koreas quarter-final exit at the Asian Cup meant Son would be returning to Spurs earlier than expected, and boy what an instant impact he has made since his return.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-0 BORUSSIA DORTMUND UCL ROUND 16

Spurs played host to Dortmund on Wednesday nights UCL round of 16, It was a match few could have predicted the scoreline. Spurs were widely expected to have it tough against the German club, but it was not that tough after all, the home side got a deserved and comfortable 3 nil win. Guess who set the ball rolling? You guessed it right, Son Heung-Min. Spurs wing back on the day, Jan Vertonghens pitch-perfect cross was met with Son’s right-side-footed volley to score 1st goal, out of the night’s 3 goals for Spurs. It turned out Son loves playing against Dortmund, BBCSports stat tells that, Son’s goal on the night was his 9th against Borussia Dortmund in 11 games in all competition.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-1 LEICESTER CITY EPL MATCHDAY 26

Spurs played host to Leicester City in an English Premier League match-day 26. Spurs still without the duo of Kane and Alli, up against a team that had defeated title chaser, Manchester City and Chelsea in this current campaign, but yet again, Spurs won with a convincing 3-1 scoreline. Davinson Sanchez and Christian Erikson and given Spurs lead, but Jamie Vardy pulled 1 back to make the scoreline 2-1, and just when it looked like Leicester will complete a fightback, Spurs sealed the win with the 3rd goal through, yes, you got the name right, Son Heung-Min. A Spurs break-away put Son through on Leicester goal from inside Spurs half, the Korean race on, and with the keeper to beat, He coolly scored.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 NEWCASTLE UNITED EPL MATCHDAY 25

Spurs victory over Newcastle United was a hard-fought win. The Magpies, brimming with confidence after a recent victory over Manchester City, Newcastle match was a potential banana peel. It took a late 83rd-minute strike from Spurs ace, Son Heung-Min again, to break down the Magpies, a man-of-match performance from Son that got his manager elated

Sonny is like a battery that you have, you work, work, work until the battery is gone…He gives you everything… said Pochettino.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-1 WATFORD FC EPL MATCHDAY 24

Spurs 4-match-winning streak started against Watford, Spurs were just coming back from a back-to-back defeat at hands of Chelsea and Crystal Palace, and then needed a hero to inspire the team, a hero they found in Son Heung-Min, who had just returned from International duty. It was an EPL match against high- flying Watford Fc which had not lost in 5 straight matches. Watford scored 1st through Craig Cathcart, it took 42 minutes for Spurs to level up, thanks to their South Korean Striker, Son Heung-Min, 6 minutes later, Spurs went ahead through their Spaniard, Fernando Llorente who sealed the win with a header.

Son Heung-Min might not be making the headlines as he should, his importance to the Tottenham Hotspur team is as valuable as Harry Kane’s and Dele Alli’s, and statistics duly shows that Son Heung-min’s 11 goals and 5 assists made it 16-goal involvement for Spurs in his last 12 appearances in all competitions, Son is courageously holding the fort in Kane and Alli’s absence.

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Rangers

An Explosive Match At The Pittodrie, Aberdeen 2 vs 4 Rangers Match Review.

Rangers bid of securing a Scottish Premiership title for the 1st time in about 8 seasons was kept alive with a resounding 4-2 win over hot on their heels and 3rd on log table, Aberdeen on Wednesday evening, goals from Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and substitute, Jermain Defoe secured Gerrard-led Rangers’ 4th win in a row.

The matchup between these 2 clubs had always been feisty, in fact, the last 2-league meetings had produced 3 red cards, 1 for Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove and 2 for Alfredo Morelos, seems Morelos have a personal vendetta against Aberdeen. Also, the last 3 meetings had seen Rangers dominated proceedings but were undone twice by a 1-nil scoreline and the 3rd match ended in a draw.

There had been much debate whether Rangers coach Steven Gerrard should stick to his 4-3-3 that has brought him an instant success at Ibrox or deploy a traditional 4-4-2 formation to accommodate new loan signing, Jermain Defoe and in-form striker, Alfredo Morelos. Both players were used in a 4-4-2 formation against Kilmarnock some 4 matches ago, but ended up losing 1-2, Gerrard quickly debunked the notion that the loss was due to change of tactics and formation, he resorted back to the preferred 4-3-3 and Rangers had gone on to win 4 in a row including this win over Aberdeen.

Key Moments: Aberdeen 2-4 Rangers,

It was an entertaining end-to-end matchup that contained everything a match has to offer, Goals, Spot-kicks, Cautions and Dismissals;

20′ ; It was Rangers who lit up the stadium in the 20th minute, when Liverpool loanee and in-form Rangers forward, Ryan Kent made a run into the box and then fired a shot at Joe Lewis in Aberdeen goal, the goalkeeper could only parry the ball unto the path of Morelos who duly obliged and scored.

31′ ; Aberdeen would not go down without a fight on home turf, just 11 minutes after they conceded, Aberdeen responded with an equalizer through the Scottish league top scorer, Sam Cosgrove. Almost a replica of Rangers goal, Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson well-connected volley ricocheted off Rangers’ players and fell unto the path of Cosgrove, who side-footed into the net.

38′ ; Rangers really meant business and regained the lead, once again, it was Kent-Morelos combination, the lively forward was a constant menace to the Aberdeen defence, and his pass picked out Morelos who left-footed into the bottom corner.

43′ ; Rangers steered clear with the 3rd goal, another penalty in their favour, making it the 4th spot-kicks in last 2 league matches ( scored 3 spot- kicks in their 4-0 victory over St Mirren). James Tavernier initial free-kick was handled in the box by Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna, Rangers’ captain duly scored his 3rd from 12 yards in last 2 games.

47′ ; The 2nd half barely started when Aberdeen pulled 1 more goal back, Sam Cosgrove drew a foul from Rangers captain, Tavernier and the referee pointed to the spot, Cosgrove dusted himself up to tuck away the spot-kick to make the scoreline 2-3.

55′ ; Alfredo Morelos found himself in the bad book again, the Colombian, just like his 2 previous matches against Aberdeen, was sent off after involving in a tangle with Aberdeen’s James McKenna, the referee, Bobby Madden also sent off McKenna for violent play.

90+4′ ; With both teams playing with 10 men, it was all Aberdeen trying to find the equalizer, they threw bodies forward and left themselves open at the back and were duly put to sword by Rangers, a quick break-away saw substitute, Jermain Defoe unmarked at the far end, and he smartly fired home the 4th for Rangers.

Rangers still sit in 2nd place on the Scottish Premier League, 6 points adrift of log leader, Celtic, but are now 5-point clear of their rival, Aberdeen in 3rd place.

Steven Gerrard has not even completed a season as Rangers manager yet, but he is already making a name for himself not just at Ibrox but in the league at large. If he can upstage Celtic to the league title remains to be seen, that will be one headliner if he does.

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LeBron

+32,000 Career Points For LeBron, But Not The Result He’d Hoped For.

LeBron James became only the 5th player in the history of the NBA to score +32,000 (32,008) points after scoring 18 points in Wednesdays match up with the Indiana Pacers, sadly, LeBron ended up on the losing end after the LA Lakers went down 94-136 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Arena, home of the Pacers. LeBron now suffered the worst defeat of his illustrious NBA career, having not previously lost by more than 36 points to any team, the defeat condemned Lakers to another back-to-back lost in this calendar year having lost 101-115 to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

LeBron James returned to the lineup after been rested in the loss against the Warriors, but he could do little as the Lakers back-and-forth season continues with the 27th defeat of the regular season, winning 27 and sit 10th on the Western Conference log table.

Indiana Pacers were on a run of 4-straight defeats before they rallied with a back-to-back wins, the losses respectively includes ; a 103-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a 100-132 loss to the Golden State Warriors, a 87-107 loss against the Washington Wizards and then a 100-107 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic, but they snapped out of those defeats with a hard-fought 95-88 win over the Miami Heat and another narrow 109-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, what a recovery they have now, with the 3rd straight win over Lakers.

Despite not been at his usual ruthlessness, having recently returned from a groin injury, LeBron still led his teammates in points (18), rebounds (7), and assist (9), but the overall performance of the Lakers was abysmal, Lakers only scored 4 3-pointers all game compared to Pacers 19 3-pointers. It was all Pacers from the start to finish, the Lakers could not even win a quarter of the 4 quarters. Lakers had 5 players in double figures, the closest to LeBron’s points was JaVale McGee who played just 15 minutes and scored 16 points, 4 rebounds with no assist, followed by Lance Stephenson with 13 points, a rebound and 2 assists, Brando Ingram and Kyle Kuzma had 12 points each, Ingram with 6 rebounds and an assist, and Kuzma with a rebound, no assist, Lakers seem ordinary without a fully fit LeBron.

Indiana Pacers on their path did the needful, they successfully limited LeBron’s influence on the game, Pacers outscored the Lakers in all quarters, by the time it was half time, Pacers had opened up a 23-points gap, with a score of 69-46 points. The onslaught continued in the 2nd half, as the Pacers ensured that the day belongs to them and not LeBron with a full-time score of 136-94. 7 players were on double figure for the Pacers, led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s game-high 24 points, a rebound and 5 assist, he was closely followed by teammate, Myles Turner with 22 points and a rebound, Domantas Sabonis had 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, Aaron Holiday and Edmond Summer also had 17 points, Holiday with a rebound and 3 assists, while Summer had 2 rebounds, other players are Cory Joseph, who had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and Thaddeus Young who also had a decent 21-minute game and scored 12 points, game-high 11 rebound and 8 assists, a remarkable display by the Indiana Pacers.

Brando Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and others need to come to the party and support LeBron James if Lakers really want to be a force to reckon with, no wonder the widely speculated news of LeBron pushing for a Lakers’ trade for New Orleans Pelicans star, Anthony Davis.

It was indeed a milestone achievement for the King, LeBron James, but one he will remember for the good and ugly.

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Qatar Crowned Asian Cup Champion, Japan’s 5th-Title Push Hit A Snag.

The 17th edition of the continental football showpiece, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup has been decided, After a 4-long week of fiest competitions that started on the 5th of January and ended on 1st February of current year, between 24 teams, UAE 2019 final match was contested between 4-time winner, Japan and the oil-rich nation, 2022 FIFA world cup host, Qatar, and the deserved champion is Qatar. The Maroon defeated Japan 3-1 to win the Asian Cup for the 1st time ever.

JAPAN: The Samurai Blues are the tournament most successful team with 4 titles to their name, prior to the final match: 1992; Japan hosted and won the championship defeating Saudi Arabia 1 nil in the final. 2000; After failing to defend their title in 1996, Japan returned to Lebanon to reclaim the title with a 4-1 win over the defending champion at the time, Saudi Arabia. 2004; Japan successfully defended her title with a 3-1 win over host, China. 2011; Japan last triumph came at Qatar with a narrow 1 nil win over Australia. The Samurai Blues had scored 11 goals in their 6 matches played before the final and conceded 3, a slight worry against an unstoppable force like Qatar. Japan’s run to the final includes;

3-0 Iran (semifinal)

1-0 Vietnam (quarterfinal)

1-0 Saudi Arabia (round of 16)

2-1 Uzbekistan (group stage)

1-0 Oman (group stage)

3-2 Turkmenistan (group stage)

QATAR: The Maroons had never been in the Asian cup final before, despite hosting in 2 different occasions, firstly, in 1988, when they hosted and never made it out of the group stage, then, in 2011, in which they were knocked out 3-2 in the quarterfinals by the eventual winners, Japan. In a bid to have a reputable tournament in the 2022 world cup, Qatari football federation promoted former youth coach, Spaniard, Felix Sanchez Bas to handle the senior team, and boy what an impact Sanchez has had over the Qatari team. The Maroons had not conceded a single goal in the 6 matches played prior to the final, scoring 16 goals in those matches, they were not just an immovable object, they were also an unstoppable force. Qatar’s run to the final includes;

4-0 UAE (semifinal)

1-0 South Korea (quarterfinal)

1-0 Iraq (round of 16)

2-0 Saudi Arabia (group stage)

6-0 North Korea (group stage)

2-0 Lybia (group stage)

The buildup to the game as seen host nation, UAE filed a protest against the legibility of 2 of Qatar’s players. Tournament top scorer, Almoez Ali (8 goals before the final match) and son of former Iraqi international, Bassam Al-Rawi were both alleged to be ineligible, However, UAE’s claims were thrown out and thus both players were given the all clear by AFC.

It was the Samurai Blue that took the early initiatives to the Qatari but they just could not break down the defensive wall put up by Sanchez lads, Against the run of play, it was Qatar that drew the 1st blood in the 12th minute through, you guessed it right! Almoez Ali for his 9th goal of the tournament, Almoez was afforded too much space and time to turn and control before taking a spectacular over-head kick past Japan’s goalkeeper, Shuichi Gonda. Japan prowl and probe for an equalizer but was stunned instead in the 27th minute with another beauty of a curler from outside the box through Hatem Abdulaziz. Finally, Qatar’s defence was bridged for the 1st time in the tournament when Japan’s Takumi Minamino’s 69th-minute chip over Qatar’s goalkeeper made it 2-1. Unfortunately, Japan’s rally for an equalizer was hampered in the 83rd minutes when Japan’s Maya Yoshida was penalised for handling the ball in the box, Qatar’s Akram Hassan Afif duly converted the resulting spot kick, 3-1 it ended. Astonishingly, all the 4 goals in the match came from the only 4 attempts on targets, the ESPN statistics throws more light on the contest. Japan’s quest for a record-extending 5th title will have to wait for another 4 years. Qatar not just boast of a formidable attack, but also boast of a dependable defence and had shown the world they are battle ready for the next world cup. Tournament top scorer, Almoez Ali was also named the tournament MVP.

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Asian final

Japan Plays Qatar In The Final, As Irans Great Wall Finally Cracked And Host UAE Bowed Out.

The Asian Cup UAE 2019 is going to be contested by the 4-time winner and the oil-rich nation, Qatar. The Samurai Blue clinically broke down Iran’s impregnable defensive wall with 3 unreplied goals to stake a claim in Friday’s final, while The Maroons as Qatar are known reached their 1st ever final by putting 4 goals past the host, UAE and yet to concede a goal.


Having not conceded a single goal in the tournament prior to the match against Japan, Iran seems like an immovable force, the Carlos Queiroz tutored side hopes to go one better with such impressive defence against experience and dogged Japanese side who knows how to grind out results in difficult circumstances. The table was set at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, as about 23000 crowd cheers on in favour of Iran expectedly, Despite this, Japan showed their experience and quickly took early ascendancy of the match, about 66% of the possession to Irans 34%, but Iran grew in confidence as the match progress and took over possession. It was a competitive 1st half with no goal.

The real action started in the 2nd half as the goals rained in, 11 minutes into 2nd half, Japan had a breakthrough goal, Iran’s defender neglected his duty to complain to the referee about a call that never came, the Japanese player in question raced to pick up the loose ball and swung in a cross to an unmarked teammate, Werder Bremen striker, Yuya Osaka to nod in a 54th-minute goal. Yuya Osaka scored again in the 67th minutes from the penalty spot after Irans Morteza Pouraliganji handled the ball in the area. Iran huff and puff to get back into the match but to no avail. The Icing was put on Japans cake in the stoppage time, 90+2 minutes when Genki Haraguchi scored the 3rd goal. Japan 3 goals came out of a few 4 shots on target, how clinical can they be compared to Iran’s 2 shots with no goal.


 

Qatar and UAE have both had a great tournament so far, having reached the semifinals defeating the likes of South Korea and Australia respectively along the way. Both teams squared up in a gingerly poised contest, and what a match it turned out to be. The host knew they had it all to do if they are to go past a Qatari defensive strong wall, and we’re hoping their 12th player, the home supporters could help jeer the Qatari wall down, it was not meant to be. Playing under the watchful eyes of over 38000 supporting crowd, UAE failed to break down Qatar’s back 4. The crowd jeered and booed the Maroons, but despite all, it was Qatar who shocked and silenced the home crowd with a 22nd-minute goal through Boualem Khoukhi, who raced away and side-footed through and under UAE goalkeeper, Khalid Lisa’s hands, the goal sparked a reaction from the crowd who rained down missiles unto the pitch, however, it did not dampen Qatar’s spirit as they got their 2nd goal in the 37th minute through a fine curler just at the edge of the box from Qatar’s Almoez Ali.

The host fans had hoped for a turn around in the 2nd half, but it was the Maroons who picked up from where they left it with another breakaway goal in the 80th minute, Hassan Al Hagdos latched unto teammate, Akram Hassan Afif’s flick to chip over the on-rushing UAE goalkeeper, it was game over at this point yet there were still late dramas, a stoppage-time red card to UAE’s Ismail Ahmed for elbowing Qatar’s Salem Al Harris face after a VAR review, and then, Qatar’s 4th goal in stoppage-time 90+3 through Hamid Ismail, to complete the onslaught. The 2022 FIFA World Cup host will play in the Asian Cup for the 1st time in their history and did so without conceding a single goal yet all tournament. The Felix Sanchez Bas’ team are truly moving in the right direction in preparation for the world cup.


Japan vs Qatar is going to be a great and entertaining match up, judging by the past meetings between this 2, Japan looks the favourite having won their last encounter 3-2, and in fact, won 2 and drew 1 over Qatar in the last 3 matches. So will it be The Samurai Blues or The Maroons come Friday evening? Time will tell.

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IMG-20190127-WA0003

Asian Cup Into The Semis, The Defending Champion, Australia, South Korea Among Others Had Been Sent Packing.

The Asian Cup, UAE 2019 has now reached the semi-finals, and among the teams that were eliminated included the defending champion, Australia, pre-tournament favorite, South Korea, China and Vietnam, and their conquerors includes the Host, UAE, Qatar, Iran, and a new favorite, Japan.


Vietnam 0-1 Japan: The 1st quarter-final match saw the former 4-time winner, Japan squared it up with tournament surprise team, Vietnam. Playing at this stage for the 1st time ever, Vietnam had nothing to lose, Japan, on the other hand, was the favourite to progress from the match, and it was supposed to be a walk in the wood for Japan, but it seems there is no such thing as easy match in football anymore. It took a dramatic 2nd half penalty before Japan could break down a dogged Vietnam. Japan was given a lifeline by the VAR in the 57th minute after the center referee had initially dismissed Japans call for a foul in the 18-yard box on Maya Yoshida, but reversed his decision and awarded a spot-kick after a VAR review. Ritsu Doanscored the spot-kick to edge Vietnam 1 nil. Vietnam could have earned the 89th-minute equalizer but Nguyen Cong Phuong blasted the ball over from an unmarked position. Japan now faces a stern test against a former 3-time winner, Iran in the semi-final.


China 0-3 Iran: Iran proved their Asian heavyweights status by easily dispatching China 3 nil in the 2nd quarter-final match. The Carlos Queiroz tutored side came into the match with a mean defense, having not conceded a single goal so far in the tournament, and had scored a respectable 9 goals in the 4 matches they have played, while their opponents shaky defense was in question, China had conceded 4 goals in their 4 matches played so far and scored 7, Iran duly obliged, and exploited the Chinese weak defense. The Marcelo Lippi side, China were out-muscled and out-classed by the Iranians. Iran open the scores in the 18th-minute when Iranian striker, Mehdi Taremi was afforded too much space and time in the box by Chinese defenders to tucked home, 22 minutes later, it was 2 nil, Chinese defense went to sleep again as a long ball over the top found Iranian’s Sardar Azmoun who rounded the goalkeeper, Yan Junling to slot home the 2nd goal, then, a stoppage-time Iranian through ball sent Karim Ansarifard clear to score the 3rd goal. China’s long search for the 1st Asian Cup title still continues while Iran advanced to the semi-final for the 1st time since the year 2004.


South Korea 0-1 Qatar: Qatar showed the rest of the world how much they are progressing and battle ready for the next FIFA world cup which they host in 2022, by defeating pre-tournament favorite, South Korea 1 nil in the quarter-final. Qatar has shown so far in the tournament that they are a force to reckon with, having scored 11 goals in their 4 matches played and conceded none, yet they were not expected to defeat a strong force like the South Koreans. The former 2-time winner, South Korea, led by Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min, were searching for their 1st title since their last in 1960 and were highly favored to lift the UAE trophy were sent packing by a determined Qatar side. The oil-rich nation has not enjoyed a whole lot of support all-tournament due to the political tension between them and host UAE, Saudi Arabia, and some other neighboring Nations, but that did not deter Qatar from some commendable performances, and surely a big win over South Korea. It was a match with few chances created as both teams canceled each other out in front of a crowd of just below 14000 at the Zayed Sports City. The deciding goal came on the 78th minutes from the left foot of Qatar’s Abdulaziz Hatem, a long-range effort from outside the box that ended Korea’s title hope. South Korea now failed to reach the semi-final for the 1st time since the 2004 tournament and 59 years long wait for Asian Cup win continues while Qatar head into the semis as the 2nd team after Iran not to have conceded a goal after 5 matches and will now engage with the UAE in a potentially politically charged semi-final match.


UAE 1-0 Australia: The defending champion, Australia‘s quest/hope to retain her title were dashed by a spirited host, UAE. The host had had a decent run-up to this stage, having won 2 and drew 2, scoring 7 goals and conceded 4 of their 4 matches played prior to the quarter-final match against the Socceroos. With the crowd playing the 12th player role tremendously, UAE fancied their chance against an Australian team that were not at their best in the tournament, Australia recovered from a 1st group match defeat to Jordan to win their next 3, with their 3rd and round of 16 match win came in a 4-2 shoot-out victory over minnows Uzbekistan, seems the Socceroos missed their talismanic leader, Tim Cahill who had since retired after last years summer world cup. Australian defeat was their own making though, a weak back pass from Milos Degenek was intercepted by UAE’s Ali Mabkhout, who rounded up the Australian goalkeeper, Matt Ryan before slitting into an empty net, Australians felt hard done by, having seen Milos Degenek fouled in the build-up to UAE’s goal, all their protest fell into the deaf ears of the center referee. The host started with intent, with a 1st-minutes long-range attempt by Ismail Al Hammadi which was dealt with by Matt Ryan, Al Hammadi called Matt Ryan to action again in the 19th minutes. Australia had chances of their own too with Trent Sainsbury‘s looping header and Apostolos Giannou shot called UAE’s goalkeeper, Khalid Essa to smart saves too, and even had the ball at the back of the UAE net, but was ruled offside. And so, the 68th-minute UAE goal decided the contest, UAE had successfully avenged their semi-final loss to Australia 4 years ago.


The semi-final line-up; 

Iran vs Japan, 

Qatar vs UAE

will be played on Monday 28th, January, will be played on Monday 28th, January, you can catch up the results and highlights on AFC ASIAN CUP, UAE 2019.

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uae

Asian Cup Into The Quarter-Finals, The Race Is Nearing The Finish Line.

The Asian Cup, UAE 2019 round of 16 has been decided, and all the pre-tournament favorites still fight on. Among the quarterfinalists includes Australia, China, Iran Japan, Qatar, South Korea, UAE, Vietnam.

Jordan 1(2) vs 1(4) Vietnam:

Surprise quarter-finalist, Vietnam, won their round of 16 knock-out match for the 1st time in an Asian Cup at the expense of Jordan. It could be recalled that Vietnam qualified into the round of 16 by the whisker, having reached the stage via a spot in one of the 4 best 3rd-placed finishes, In contrast to Jordan who won their group B, beating Australia along the way. It was the Jordanian that took a 1st half lead through a spectacular tight corner free-kick through Baha Abdel-Rahman in the 31st minute, but the Vietnamese pegged Jordan back in the 2nd half, a Nguyen Cong Phuong‘s 51st minute shot inside the box to level matters and held on till the end of 90 minutes. The additional 30 minutes could not separate both Jordan and Vietnam and thus, it has to be decided by spot kicks. The Jordanian duo of Baha Seif (who hit the crossbar) and Ahmed Saleh (whose kick was saved) missed their kicks, while the Vietnamese had better luck with their kicks missing only 1 through Tran Minh Vuong, and then winning the kicks 4-2. Vietnam reward is a quarter-final berth against Japan.

Thailand 1 vs 2 China:

It was China‘s turn in the second round of 16 matches against Thailand. The 2-time runner up, desperately in search of their 1st ever Asian Cup title had to fight their way back from the jaws of defeat after going 1 nil down to a 31st minute goal from Thailand’s Supachai Jaided, but China leveled, thanks to their 33-year old lanky striker, Xiao Zhi, who came of the bench in the 64th minute to clinch a 67th minute equalizer, before another China forward, Gao Lin converted a 71st minute spot kick to ensure a deserved victory for China. China will host Iran in their quarter-final.

Iran 2 vs 0 Oman:

Former champion and 3-times Asian Cup winner between 1968-1976, Iran, was hoping to put to an end, their 43 years long wait for another title, and fancied their chance against lowly Oman. Having qualified from group D with 7 goals scored and none conceded, the odds favor Iran to go past Oman, who managed to qualify through the best 3rd-finish. Iran did not disappoint, with 2 1st half goals more than enough to put the game to bed, firstly, an Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s 32nd minute finish, then, an Ashkan Dejagah’s 41st-minute spot kick. Oman would have themselves to blame though, after squandering a 2nd-minute spot kick to have taken the lead, but it was not meant to be.

Japan 1vs 0 Saudi Arabia:

Match of the round was definitely between Japan and Saudi Arabia in terms of status and titles, with 7 titles shared between them, 4 for Japan and 3 for Saudi Arabia, it would not be wrong to have tagged it clash of the Titans. The last 6 matches between these two had seen them winning 3 each, it was an intriguing match with no pre-match clear cut favorite. Japan deploying a traditional 4-4-2 formation saw less of the ball, with Saudi Arabia controlling the game, having deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation. However, despite sharing the larger possession of the ball, Saudi Arabia were not clinical in front of the Japanese goal, with 15 shots and only 1 was on target, they were punished by Japan who fared better in front of goal, having just 5 shot, 2 on target, with the lone goal through Takehiro Tomiyasu. Japan now through to the quarterfinals for the 8 consecutive time in the competition.

Australia 0(4) vs 0(2) Uzbekistan:

The defending champion Australia was made to go the extra miles before they could go past Uzbekistan. It was a fairly even match that could not produce a winner after 120 minutes of football, and it had to be decided through the dreaded spot kicks. Both teams had qualified to this stage after coming 2nd from their respective group B and F, yet the odds slightly favor Australia, who had won the previous 3 matches between them and Uzbekistan scoring a combined 9 goals and conceding none. However, the Socceroos had a less admirable 1st half where they troubled-not the Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov. Australia turned on the gas in the 2nd half but had Nesterov in Uzbekistan goal to beat, the ball just won’t go past him. Nesterov was eventually beaten but it was in the shootout, Australia scored 4 of their 5 spot kicks and had their own goalkeeper, Maty Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper) to thank for his heroics, saving 2 spot kicks from Uzbekistan’s Islam Tukhtakhujaev and Marat Bikmaev, and thus won 4-2. The Socceroos will now slug it out with the host UAE in the quarter-final.

UAE 3 vs 2 Kyrgyzstan:

Every tournament wants the host to go far in a competition, so, the locals will be delighted to see the host, UAE advanced into the last 8. It did not come easy though, as the host needed an extra time spot-kick winner to advanced ahead of an unfazed Kyrgyzstan. It was an even game, with both side threatened in the attack, the host slightly edge in control of the game with a 56% possession to Kyrgyzstan’s 44%. UAE got their noses in front from a Khamis Esmaeel goal, but were pegged back just 12 minutes later through Kyrgyzstan’s Mirlan Murzaev, the host regained the lead in the 64th minute through Ali Ahmed Mabkhout and thought they have secured the win but were shocked in the 90th minutes when Tursunali Rustamov equalized for Kyrgyzstan to push the game into the extra time. UAE’s blushes were saved when substitute striker, Ahmed Khalil came off the bench to net a 103rd-minute spot-kick winner.

South Korea 2 vs 1 Bahrain:

South Korea is arguably the strongest team in the tournament, the 2-time champions were expected to have it easy over Bahrain, but it was not to be, as the minnows gave a good fight, and bowed out of the tournament 1-2 after extra time with their heads held high. The Koreans had the larger share of the possession, 68% to Bahrain’s 32%, but that was as good as it got for the Koreans, it took them almost the entire 1st half to have a breakthrough, Hwang Hee-Chans 43rd minutes goal was thought to be the beginning of the in flocks of goals, but the Bahrainians were resolute, and even got their equalizer in the 77th minute through Mohamed Al Romaihi, to extend the match into extra time. South Korean made their quality counted in the extra time with a Kim Jin-Su 105th header to book a quarter-final match with Qatar.

Qatar 1 vs 0 Iraq:

Qatar came into the round of 16 with the meanest defense, having conceded zero goal in the group stage, and scoring 10 goals, and was expected to score against Iraq who on the other hand had conceded 2 goals and scored 6. In the end, it was a scrappy match in which the oil-rich nation, and 2022 world cup host edge with a lone goal, a delightful free-kick scored by Bassam Al Rawi, amazingly (or shockingly) the son of ex-Iraqi footballer international, Hisham Al-Rawi. Despite the boos aimed at the Qatari from the fans in disapproval of the Gulf blockage by Qatar, they held on to claim their victory.

The complete quarter-final line up starting from later today is as follows:

Vietnam (VIE) vs Japan (JPN)

China (CHN) vs Iran (IRN)

South Korea (KOR) vs Qatar (QAT)

United Arab Emirates (UAE) vs Australia (AUS)

For more information highlights and pictures on UAE 2019, check website

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manny

Congressman Manny Pacquiao At 40, Old War Horse Still Going On Strong.

They say age is just a number, perhaps so, Manny Pacquiao certainly thinks so, the 40-year-old Filipino congressman was in scintillating form in his 70th career bout, to outbox his younger challenger, 29-year-old Adrien Broner in a unanimous decision to claim his 61st career wins and retained his WBA Welterweight title. Coming into the bout, the older Filipino weighing 146lbs was a bit lighter than his American challenger who weighed 146.5lbs, and thus, few questions were asked if the ‘Pac-Man’ has got enough stamina to cope with ‘The-Problem’ as Broner is popular called, however the Pac-Man responded emphatically, attacking Broner all the way from the start to the finish. Returning to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA, for the 1st time since the defeat of another American, Timothy Bradley in 2016, the Pac-Man showed more than stamina.

Round 1 started, and it was Pacquiao who got off with great intent, the round was pretty much of both boxers sizing each other out, Pacquiao turned on the heat from Round 2 on, showing much aggression and intensity, Broner was confined to holding and backing to the corners but did land a right-handed counter punch later on. Round 3 saw Pacquiao landed a clean left jab that got the crowd shouting. Round 4 was perhaps Broner’s best round as one of his left hooks made Pacquiao retreated to the ropes. The slight shift in momentum runs into Round 5 as Broner continued to counter punch Pacquiao, while the Filipino could not found a clean shot of his own. The Pac-Man regained control and landed his 23rd body shots compared to Broner’s single body shot. The crunching body shots kept coming with Broner having no answer to. Round 7 was Pacquiao’s biggest round, with countless shots and jabs to Broner’s head, Broner could only back up to the ropes and resorted to the head clinch, could have been knocked out in the round but was saved by the bell. Round 8 looked the closest of the rounds, with both boxers throwing counter punches at each other. Round 9 saw Broner reeling and backing into the red corner with hooks and jabs from Pacquiao. By then, Pacquiao seems to have lost his pace but not his aggression, and by this round had landed 42 body shots compared to Broner’s 2. Broner seems to be comfortable with Pacquiao leading the charge, he was mistaken, he should have pushed for the knock out, it was Pacquiao that finished strongly, by the time the bell rang to end the match, a Pacquiao’s win was unanimous as the judges scored in favor of Pacquiao 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112. It is now 61 wins(39 KOs), 7 losses and 2 draws for the Filipino congressman.

Manny Pacquiao had said a day earlier;

it is just a number. I have turned 40 but I still feel young and tomorrow I have something to prove, that I can still perform now at 40.

The Pac-Man said after the bout;

I really don’t think my career is over,…I proved in my last fight against Lucas Matthysse and now I proved it again. The journey will still continue.

Some of Manny Pacquiao’s finest moment includes;

2003 defeat of Marco Antonio Barrera, the victory was widely regarded as the one that announced the little known Pacquiao to the world.

2008 blockbuster bout against ‘Golden boy’ Oscar De La Hoya, the 8th round knock-out of De La Hoya was one of Pacquiao’s proudest moment.

2009 stunning second-round knock-out of Ricky Hatton was easily the most ruthless finish of Manny Pacquiao boxings career.

▪Still, in 2009, Manny Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto to become the 1st boxer to score 7 world titles in 7 different weight classes.

2018 knock-out of Lucas Matthysse in the 7th round showed the world that the Pac-Man still got something to offer in the ring and not just in politics.

ps: All images are sourced from Getty Images.

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Asian Pix

Asian Cup Heads Into The Knock Out Stages, Boys Are Being Separated From The Men.

The 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup is going thick and fast. It is a FIFA certified international men’s soccer championship that is been held every 4 years and this year’s championship is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates(UAE), started on the 5th January and will run through to 5th 1st February. It is the 1st time this championship that 24 teams will be participating in the showpiece having been increased from the 16-team format. The 24 countries include; Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

The 16 teams qualified for the round of 16 is almost completed, with just 3 places remaining to be filled up, among the already qualified are; the defending champion, Australia(2015 champion), Host UAE, 4-time champion Japan, 3-time champions Saudi Arabia and Iran, 2-time champion South Korea, China amongst others.

 

GROUP A

Host UAE emerged from this group as the winner alongside 2nd place Thailand, completing the group are Bahrain and India. It was a keenly contested group with all 4 teams getting a win each, but the host added 2 draws to their win to earn 5 points ahead of Thailand and Bahrain who managed 4 points apiece with Thailand edging Bahrain on the head-to-head advantage, leaving India at the bottom of the group with 3 points.

GROUP B

Group B comprised the defending champion Australia, who were given a scare of qualifying with an opening match o-1 defeat to eventual group winner Jordan, but Australia rallied with next 2 wins over other group campaigners in Palestine and Syria to earn 6 points and secure their 2nd place slot. Jordan won the group with 7 points with 2 wins including the wins over Australia and Syria and a nil-all draw against Palestine who finished in 3rd place with 2 points having drawn with Syria in their 1st match, Syria crashing out with just 1 point.

 

GROUP C

Group C paired 2 of the Asian heavyweights together, South Korea, China alongside Philippines and Kyrgyzstan completed the group. It was a straight forward win for both South Korea and China over their lesser competitors, living up to their big boys status. Then it was the battle for the group winner between these two, and it was the South Korean that claimed the bragging right with a 2 nil win over China. South Korea with maximum 9 points, scoring a total of 4 goals so far and conceding none, China finished with 6 points to qualify also for next round, Kyrgyzstan also earned a win over group whooping team Philippines to have a chance of still qualifying to the round of 16.

GROUP D

Group D also saw 3-time champion Iran slugged it out with seasoned campaigner Iraq, It was a stroll in the park for these 2 over other group competitors, Yemen and Vietnam. Iran with 7 goals so far from 3 matches and conceding none, qualified for the round of 16 with 7 point, edging Iraq who also finished with 7 points on goal difference, after head-to-head could not separate them both, Vietnam occupied the 3rd place with their solitary win over Yemen and hope other results go their way to qualify for next round.

 

GROUP E

3-time winner Saudi Arabia, Qatar, North Korea, and Lebanon occupied group E. It was all too easy for Saudi Arabia and Qatar who had 2 wins each over North Korea and Lebanon, both teams squared up in a supremacy matchup and it was Qatar that won the group with a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia, Lebanon also trashed group whooping boys North Korea 4-1 but was not enough to see them earn a place in the 4 best 3rd-place finish.

GROUP F

Asian cup highest winner, Japan with 4 championship trophies to their name have qualified for next stage, they qualified alongside Uzbekistan, both already won 2 games each against the group’s other teams, minnows Oman and Turkmenistan. Japan and Uzbekistan squared up to determine the group winner and it was Japan that edge the contest 2-1 to top the group, while Oman secured a 3rd place finish with a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan.

 

4 3RD-PLACED TEAMS

The 4 best 3rd-placed team have been decided too, and Bahrain top the list of 4 with her 4 points total more than enough, closely followed by Oman, Kyrgyzstan, and Vietnam, all on 3 points each. All 4 had been added to the other 12 qualified teams in the next stage fixtures; Jordan vs Vietnam Thailand vs China Iran vs Oman Japan vs Saudi Arabia Australia vs Uzbekistan UAE vs Kyrgyzstan South Korea vs Bahrain Qatar vs Iraq.

Now that the boys are being separated from the men, it is the knock out phase and there is no room for error, the winner takes all from here on. No doubt the stand out match will be between Japan and Saudi, and whoever wins the matchup might go all the way to the final, the odds also favor South Korea, Australia to go far in the competition.

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Gunnar

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Rebuilding Manchester United’s Cracked Forte

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot take any foot wrong presently, the Norwegian has been an instant hit at the theater of dreams. The babyface assassin as Solskjaer was fondly called because of his ruthlessness in front of opposition goals returned to his old hunting ground this time as a caretaker manager at a period many regarded as a turbulent time for United. Not many would have expected such instant turn around, believe it or not, the results are speaking for Solskjaer. The defeat of Tottenham Hotspur makes it 5-straight win in the premier league and 6-straight in all competitions, beating former United manager Sir Matt Busby’s straight wins of 5.

Sir Busby’s 1st 6 matches wiki

Sir Alexander Matthew Busby was Manchester United manager between 1945-1969 and then 1970-71. He was one of the greatest manager Manchester United ever had second to only the greatest Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Busby’s reign at United brought a lot of laurels to Old Trafford, he started well with a winning streak of a 5-straight win which was halted by Chelsea in a 1 all draw at home.

Sir Alex 1st 6 matches wiki

Manchester United greatest manager to date, Sir Alex Ferguson did not have a rosy start to his reign, He started with just 1 win in his 1st 6 matches, Sir Alex started with a 2 nil defeat at Oxford United and his 1st win came in his 3rd match with a 1 nil home win of Queens Park Rangers. In fact, it was widely reported that Sir Alex was on the brink of losing his job in 1990 having been employed on November 1986, but a FA Cup win over Crystal Palace saved his job. The rest they say is now a story, Sir Alex’s 27-year reign produced trophies like never before in the club’s history.

Sunday’s win over title hopeful Tottenham Hotspur was Solskjaer 6th in a row in a competition and it was not just the win but the manner at which United was achieving the wins. The match against Spurs was regarded as Solskjaers 1st real test, only a few gave United a chance to pull such result at Wembley stadium, it was a test Solskjaer duly passed. The result now blew the race for UCL spot open and more feisty, only goals difference separates 6th placed United from 5th placed Arsenal, it could be recalled that the point gap between Arsenal and Manchester United was 8 points when Solskjaer took over from Mourinho. Solskjaer has been able to revitalize United’s underperforming big boys, it was vintage David De Gea in goal for United against Spurs, as he produced some magnificent match-winning display, and not just De Gea but other United players too, Paul Pogba now playing like the Pogba United invested hugely in, Pogba’s delightful pass found pacey Marcus Rashford who controlled the ball into his stride and finished off clinically from a tight angle.

Roll back the time to just above 3 weeks ago Dec 19th, 2018 when Solskjaers appointment raised eye-brows with divided opinion on his managerial track records and status for United pedigree. Many United fans were disappointed not to see Frenchman and former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane who is unattached, take over at Old Trafford, as his records and status better suits United. Ole Solskjaer started his coaching career with Manchester United U-23 squad in 2008, in his 3-year stint with the U-23, he managed a total of 25 matches, won 16, lost 4 and drew 5. He then moved on to seek greener pastures with a Norwegian club side, Molde FK (a club he once played for) in 2011, and guided them until 2013, during this time, Molde Fk won 68 matches, lost 31 and drew 24. He was soon on the move back to the UK, with Cardiff City where he managed them until he was relieved of the job in 2014 for poor performances, winning just 9 matches, lost 16 and drew 5 in a total of 30 matches. Solskjaer returned to Molde FK in 2015, and guided them in 118 matches, won 66, lost 33 and drew 19, He was still with Molde FK when United came calling.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as so far proven to be a worthy manager since joining United and there are calls to install him on a permanent basis, a valid or overzealous call? Nevertheless, Solskjaer has made history for Manchester United and deserve the accolades showering on him, however, calls to make him a permanent coach should be approached with caution as things can go bad as quickly as they start well. Let his end of the season assessment decide his fate.

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Tim

Tim Dittmer Made A Mess Of A Simple Back Pass, What A Gaffe From Him

Star Sixes is a new Competitive soccer tournament making the rounds of late. It is a 6-a-side indoor soccer game that brings together former legends of the game, ex-football association international players representing their nations. The 2019 regional tournament was hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, at the indoor arena of SSE Hydro, a 3-day event between the 4th and 6th of January.

https://www.facebook.com/SportsJOEdotie/videos/2062146823868120/
Tim Dittmer’s gaffe

Rep of Ireland was one of the participating nations for the regional contest and certain players led by Tim Dittmer put up some hilarious and less admirable performances. Tim Dittmer was the man in goal for the Rep of Ireland in their 1st match against Wales and he almost cost his team victory. It was an entertaining contest that ended in a 4-3 victory for the Rep of Ireland, but the talking point came when the scores were still locked at 2-2, Tim Dittmer’s teammate and ex Liverpool ace rolled back a simple back pass to Tim but Tim made a howler out of it, somehow allowing the ball to roll beneath his foot and into the goal for his team to go behind 2-3, but his blushes were saved with his team turning the result around to win 4-3.

The drama didn’t end there for Rep of Ireland as two of her other players were sent off for unsportsmanlike behavior in 2 separate matches. Firstly, it was Stephen Hunt who was involved in a scuffle with Scotland’s Barry Ferguson and then Jason McAteer who also squared off with England’s Michael Owen. Maybe my week’s moanday blog should have been dedicated to the Rep of Ireland team instead.

A ball juggler
cheerleaders

Star Sixes is an entertaining football tournament that also has other side attractions like ball juggling and cheerleading. The inaugural edition was the world’s tournament that took place on July 2017 in London’s O2 arena, England, and it involves 12 nations in Brazil, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Scotland and Spain and they were split into 3 groups of 4. The groups top 2 winners alongside 2 other best 3rd place team advanced to the knockout stage, eventually the final was between France and Denmark with France coming on top with a 2-1 victory with goals from Ludovic Giuly (3′) and Youri Djorkaeff (22′) for France and John Jensen (81′) for Denmark, for the 1st ever winner of the Star Sixes. The regional tournament was supposed to take place later same year but the plan was scrapped.

England

This year’s regional tournament was contested for by 6 teams, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland and Wales plus an All-star rest of the world in a round-robin contest with the top 2 competing in the final. The 2 finalist was England and all-star rest of the world, and it was England that carried the day with Michael Owen starring with 2 goals, brings back the good old days. It was the All-star that took the lead through Danish Martin Jorgensen but were pegged back by England’s Michael Owen, All-star regained the lead through Spaniard Gaizka Mendieta but England leveled again through Joe Cole, then Michael Owen ensured the day belongs to England with the 3rd goal, England winning the regionals 3-2.

I guess the senior football citizens were tired of watching the game they once grazed from the sidelines and so they came together to create this tournament, less duration time of 30 minutes and slightly different rules to accommodate their ageing legs, but even though they still feel like they’ve got it in them, seems football had left some of them. Tim Dittmer, for example, is the head of goalkeeping at English FA, maybe he should stick with that role.

This kind of gaffe is so hilarious and makes one just smile as Mallory Hopkins says;

Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.

For Tim Dittmer and co, you’ve already given your all to football, these errors and mistakes are inconsequential as far as your careers were concerned, a wise saying goes thus;

As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes. – Mel Brooks

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ps: all images are sourced from Star Sixes site, you can check for more here

Ufc news

Robber Attacked The Wrong Lady, Met His Waterloo.

A Nigerian adage says;

Every day is for the thief, one day is for the owner.

Which simply interprets as; one can lie, cheat, steal and do whatever evil one could, one is sure going to meet downfall someday. This was the case of a robber who must have been robbing innocent and helpless people for a hobby but got caught up by karma when he tried to rob a Mixed Martial Art lady (MMA).

Polyana the Iron lady

Meet Polyana Viana Mota aka Poly or The Iron Lady, an MMA fighter, standing at a formidable female height of 5’7” and a reach of 67.0′, the 27 years old Brazilian has a good MMA record of 10 wins and just 2 loses. She also adds fashion to her MMA finesse by endorsing and modeling products ranging from clothes to equipment on Instagram, with her Instagram account boasts of about 400000 followers.

It was on a quiet evening , Saturday the 5th, 2019, Polyana was outside her apartment in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil waiting for her Uber to arrive when the evil perpetrator approached her and asked for the time with an ulterior motive of stealing from her, a smart Poly had sensed something was not right about him quickly hid her phone and was alerted like the boy scouts motto says ‘Be Prepared’, soon after the would-be-robber demanded Poly hand over her phone, threatened her with a ‘gun’ which turned out to be a paper made gun. Ha Ha Ha! ‘taking a paper to a martial art fight huh’.

robber’s gun

Give me the phone. Don’t try to react, because I am armed – the robber said

The Iron Lady reacted as a martial art expert would;

He was really close to me, so I thought, if it’s a gun, he won’t have time to draw it, so I stood up and I threw 2 punches and a kick – Polyana explained.

Poly further said she caught the robber in a martial art’s rear-naked choke move and succeeded in incapacitating the hoodlum till the police arrived to apprehend him. This was not the first time Polyana has been attacked by thugs, another incident was reported sometimes whilst she was away at her home town of Belem, Brazil, when 2 robbers on motorcycle tried to take her phone off her, but she punched one of them in the face to scare them off and away on their motorcycle. Justice set and served in both cases, isn’t it?

Bruce Lee will look down wherever he is and chuckled in agreement with Polyana, that’s my ‘gurl’ he would say.

Polyana is a trained and skilled MMA fighter and to some extent could be justified for resisting and fighting back robberies, but to some of us that can not even throw a punch let alone a martial art-like moves, I will advise not to resist a robbery, there could be a real gun/knife or other dangerous weapons and it could get really messy. It is better to live and fight another day so to say.

On a lighter note, I wish there are many more MMA fighters in the neighborhood to help fight off robbers or teach some lessons into the heads of these hoodlums or better still, more people learn MMA. It was speculated that;

Robber Union in Rio de Janeiro is asking that the UFC should please give a fight to Polyana soon! They are worried about their safety while she is [loose] out there and with nothing to do!

For me, my little brother knows a thing or 2 about martial art, it is time I eat a humble pie and meet him for some tutorials.

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other sources

winners n losers

Winners, Sinners & Loser Of English Premier League End Of The Year’s Hectic Fixtures.

End of the year hectic fixtures is a period when English Premier League Clubs play as much as 4 matches in little space of about 12/13 days, this period has always been a bone of contention between English Premier League coaches and the league body, most club managers had complained about the fatigue and injuries it brings on the team and had called for a break instead. It is a period where clubs/teams are stretched to the limit, the real spine and makeup of clubs are revealed during this period. Outgone year 2018 hectic fixtures had proven to be a pain in the rear for some of the ambitious clubs among the big/top 6 EPL clubs as far as title race and top 4 race is concerned, and there were winners, sinners, and loser of this year’s period fixtures.

WINNERS:

Manchester United: The clear-cut winner of the hectic schedule was Manchester United with maximum 12 out of 12 points from 4 matches. Former home favorite, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the mantle of affairs at the Theater Of Dreams after Jose Mourinho was shown the exit door, and what a time to take charge at Old Trafford. It was a dream start for Solskjaer as United won in emphatic fashion, 5-1 away victory against Solskjaers former employer Cardiff, it was the 1st time United would score as many goals since the big boss himself Sir Alex Ferguson left United, United fans have almost forgotten what it takes to score that much. United attacking display did not end there, it was soon followed days after with a desirable 3 straight win with goals aplenty, 1st a 3-1 home win against Huddersfield, then another 4-1 home win versus Bournemouth, and capped it all with a fine 2-0 win away at Newcastle. It was not just the win, but the manners at which they got it, with miss firing big boys like Pogba and Alexi getting their mojo back. Seems like the race for the top 4 just got fired up.

Liverpool: Closely followed up on winning table was Liverpool though not with an excellent points total of 12, but 9 out of 12 points not bad either. It was a period that saw Liverpool overtook their rival at the summit of the league table, after spending much of the early season breathing down Manchester City’s neck. It looks like Liverpool were going to end up with a perfect 4 just like United, especially after a commanding display against Arsenal, but they were cut shot by title chaser Manchester City 1-2 their last match of the 4 ended. Nevertheless, Liverpool still on top with 4 points over their closest rival City, thanks to their earlier wins; 2-0 at a tricky Wolves, 4-0 home whitewash of Newcastle and the emphatic 5-1 home win over Arsenal. Most teams that led at the turn of the year had gone on to win the EPL title, hopefully, Liverpool will replicate such feat.

Tottenham: Tottenham sure looked like they have made the 3rd place position theirs with equally very good return of 9 out of 12 points, only an unlikely collapse can see their London rivals overtake them. Started well with a rain of goals in their 1st 2 matches of the hectic period, 6-2 away thrashing of Everton was followed by a 5-0 home drubbing of Bournemouth, but Spurs were shocked by a tricky Wolves 1-3 at home, we seen Wolves taken points off Chelsea and Arsenal this season. Spurs picked themselves up to win their last match 3-0 at Cardiff. When you have rival clubs dropping as much as 5-6 points, earning 9 points is really a victory for Spurs.

SINNERS:

Chelsea: Sinners are the Clubs who could have had it all or done better than they did, and Chelsea falls under this category because they could have had it all (12 from 12 points). A return of 7 points out of 12 was never going to do their title chase any good, with rejuvenated Manchester United hot in the chase behind them, top 4 is even more of a concern now. Chelsea’s new manager Maurizio Sarri got his work cut out with his 1st baptism of fire of EPL annual busy schedules, a totally new one from where he was coming from (its winter break in Italy). Chelsea started the lined up fixtures with a shock 0-1 home loss to Leicester, picked themselves up with 2 straight slim away wins, 2-1 at Watford and a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, and then ended the fixture by a disappointing goalless draw at home against Southampton. Sarri and his Chelsea team will be kicking themselves for letting such valuable points slipped away.

Arsenal: Seasoned campaigner Arsenal was almost certainly going to be in this list, it has always been since the famous invisible, Arsenal fans were hoping the post-Wenger era will usher a new beginning, well! maybe next season because this past hectic schedule was the same old story. Nobody saw Arsenals early turn around coming, the strings of back to back wins had suddenly raised Arsenal fans to hope so high, so high that the top 4 seems achievable. It was Unai Emery’s 1st shot at busy schedules too, and realistically, it looks like a 9 points sure bet out of 12 ( with a Liverpool lost inevitably), Arsenal kick-started with a decent 3-1 home win against Burnley, then the disappointing 1-1 away at Brighton & Hove Albion FC, soon followed by the embarrassing 1-5 lost away at Liverpool, though Arsenal capped it all with a 4-1 home thrashing of Fulham, total of 7 out of 12 points for a Champions League spot chaser is a sin. Hard to see if Arsenal won’t rue this at end of the season.

LOSER:

Manchester City: Manchester City could easily fit under the sinners list, but just 6 points out of 12 points for a title challenger made them the sole loser of the busy fixtures. Manchester City had led for the majority of the season so far, and look like they were coasting home despite Liverpool’s hot chase, however, their gravy train was stopped by an unfazed Crystal Palace in a 5-goal thriller. Palace stunned City at home 3-2, the dust had not even settled, the Citizen was shocked again, this time away at Leicester. Though City rallied with quick fired double wins, 3-1 win at Southampton and a hard-fought 2-1 win to disrupt Liverpool’s unbeaten season, yet, 6 points out of 12 points is disappointing for City and had seen them dropped to second place on the log table, 4 points short of their rivals, and certainly will be hoping for a miracle to overtake high flying Liverpool.

Though the season is still far from over, and a lot can still happen between now and end of the season, each points matters, and one cannot afford to lose them lackadaisically.

ps: All images are sourced from Getty images and Sky Sport.

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hopman1

Serena vs Federer! 2 Of The Greatest Tennis Players Met For The 1st Time

American female tennis player, Serena Williams, and Swiss male player Roger Federer need no introduction to tennis community, they both are 2 of the greatest players that have grazed tennis court and still grazing, with 43 grand slams between these two, 23 for Serena, and 20 for the Swiss master, they sure rule their worlds.

hopman2.jpeg
Serena & Federer in 2010

Though Serena and Federer had met in a charity match-up in the past, 2010, an exhibition match for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, the Hopman Cup match-up between them presented an opportunity to slug it out in a competitive encounter, and it was a glorious match rather than competitive.

Hopman Cup is an Australian championship for nations named after one of Australia’s tennis legend, Harry Hopman, founded 30 years ago in the year 1989. It is a tournament that pairs 8 participating nations into two, A & B groups, 4 each in a round robin contest, with the group winners of the 2 groups competing in the final. This year’s championship had grouped the Switzerland, USA, France & Great Britain together in group B.

hopman3.jpeg
Team USA vs Team Switzerland

All eyes eagerly awaited the match-up between the Americans and Switzerland, it was a contest that would see the pair of Serena Williams & Frances Tiafoe for team American squared up against Swiss pair of Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic in a mixed double, after the singles matches had ended 1 apiece for both nations. It could be recalled Federer had early defeated Americas Tiafoe in a straight 6-4, 6-1 win to take a 1 nil lead for Switzerland, but America fought back when Serena came from a set down to beat Swiss Belinda 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. The tie had to be decided with the mixed double.

The encounter was described as;

The most anticipated contest involving a male and a female player since the battle of the sexes in 1973, when 39-time Grand Slam Champion, Billie Jean King defeated former Men’s number 1, Bobby Riggs in straight sets – BBCSports

Serena teamed up with her compatriot Tiafoe for the first time were no match for the Swiss team of Federer and Belinda (who are the defending champion). Swiss team capitalized on the non-cohesion of the Americas pairing to win in a straight sets 4-2, 4-3 (5-3).

Serena Williams said in her post-match remarks;

I was excited and literally, it was the match of my career… The guy is great, He is the greatest of all time. There is a reason why he is so great, He has a killer serve…maybe I could get tips from him later on,

In his remarks;

what an honour and pleasure… I was nervous returning because people talk about her serve so much… She is a great champion, you see how focused and determined she is, Federer said.

It was a rare meeting between these 2 tennis legends, a rare one tennis community will savor for a long time if they will meet again in a singles match-up before they both quit an illustrious careers remain to be seen.

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kamara n Mitrovic

Disrespectful Kamara Placed Ego Over Team, Almost Cost His Team Victory

Every soccer team either at the national level or at the club level has its regular spot-kick taker, there is a reason for that; for consistency for starters, to avoid standoff among teammates is another. So, it is understandable when Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri branded his own player, Fulhams striker Aboubakar Kamara disrespectful after he tussled with Fulhams regular spot-kick taker, striker, and teammate, Aleksander Mitrovic, a spot-kick Kamara failed to score.

Saturday afternoon 29th of Dec, 2018 EPL fixture between Fulham and Huddersfield was an important match for the home side, Fulham desperately in need of points to rescue their season had drawn their last 2 matches, a home win against bottom of the log Huddersfield is an opportunity to cover ground on other struggling rival clubs, but it was the visitor that started well, Huddersfield dominated almost the entirety of the 1st half of the contest.

Fulham boss made early second-half changes, and brought on Ryan Sessegnon and Aboubakar Kamara, with the latter imposing his presence in the Huddersfield 18 yard box. Drama then ensued in the 83rd minute when Huddersfield player, Chris Lowe was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box following a Kamara shot. Kamara quickly grabbed the ball with the intention of taking the spot-kick knowing fully well whose responsibility it is when it comes to spot-kicks, of course, his teammates and hot favorite spot-kick taker Mitrovic protested but to the deaf ears of Kamara who insisted, Mitrovic eventually relented allowing Kamara to have his way. However, Kamara’s weak effort was duly saved by Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to the despair of Fulham fans who responded with resounding boos across the stadium.

 
spot-kick missed

However, the heavens were to save Kamaras blushes, it seemed as if the match was headed for a goalless draw, then a quick break deep into stoppage time 90th minute, saw fellow substitute Ryan Sessegnon, threaded a pitch-perfect pass into the path of Mitrovic who in turn took the ball in his stride and fired into the net through the onrushing Lossl’s leg, 1 nil to Fulham.

In another instance or match-up, probably against a more worthy opponent, Fulham could have lost the game due to such Kamara’s ego over team behavior, but luckily for him, he was not made to rue his actions.

Have a listen to Kamara’s manager, Claudio Ranieri;

 
Ranieri’s post-match comment

So, was it Kamara’s ego or he was just naive?

If it was his ego, Kamara should think about this;

When any man is more stupidly vain and outrageously egotistical than his fellows, he will hide his hideousness in humanitarianism – George Moore.

Or, perhaps he was just naive;

It’s one thing to be innocent and another thing to be naive or willfully ignorant – Eric Metaxas

Nevertheless, his coach had branded him disrespectful, so I am going to leave him with this wise saying;

Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners – Laurence Sterne.

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gerrard

Steven Gerrard Masterminded 1st Old Firm Derby Win For Rangers Since 2016

The Old Firm Derby is the Scottish League match-up between 2 Glasgow heavyweights, Rangers and Celtic. These 2 are the most successful football clubs in Scotland, and their rivalry like many other soccer rivalries across the world has become part of Scottish tradition. The 2 clubs have won a total of 103 league championships between them, with Rangers winning more, 54 crowns compared to Celtics 49. So, any meeting between these 2 is always a feisty and competitive one. The latest Old Firm Derby was not an exception.

Ever since Rangers emerged from relegation to play in the 2016/17 league championship season for the 1st time since their relegation for financial difficulties in 2012, Rangers have been in the shadows of arch-rival Celtic. Every meeting between the duo had gone the way of Celtic except for some few draws, in fact, the last time Ranger won against Celtic was a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win, after regulation time scores ended 2-2, in a Scottish Cup semi-final, some 13 years ago, April 2016.

In came Steven Gerrard, who took the mantle at Ibrox at the beginning 2018/19 league season for his 1st managerial role, and what a quick turn around it has been for Rangers. Saturday, Dec 29 Old Firm Derby was Gerrard’s 2nd, his 1st was a narrow one-nil lost to Brenda Rogers Celtic back in September. A controversial one, as far as Gerrard and Ranger’s camp was concerned. It would be recalled that Rangers felt undone by the center official when their player Ryan Jack was fouled by Celtic’s Tom Rogic in the build-up to Celtics winning goal scored by Olivier Ntcham, and Ranger’s manager Steven Gerrard claimed to have overheard the 4th official shouting

foul, foul, foul’ down the mic.-BBCSports

The kind of controversies that makes derby matches a must to watch, Isn’t it?

Coming into this reversed fixtures, it was clear what Rangers had in their mind, to avenge the September lost, and what a dominant display by Rangers, Celtic were on the back foot for the entirety of the match, and if not for the heroics of their goalkeeper Craig Gordon, Celtic would have been whitewashed at Ibrox. Rangers midfield trio of Ross McCrorie, Scott Arfield (with the Man of the Match performance) and Jack Ryan alongside forward and Liverpool loanee Ryan Kent were magnificent on the day, with Kents fine work down the left side and a cut back for Jack to side footed through Gordons leg into the net for Rangers goal. Celtic had the ball in Rangers net in one of the few opportunities they’ve got but was correctly adjudged offside.

here are the highlights;

youtube

In his post-match remarks, Ranger’s coach Steven Gerrard said;

this moment is all about the supporters, they’ve been through a lot, and certainly, in this fixture, they’ve been punished a lot…-Skysports

That speaks a lot about what the Old Firm Derby means to Rangers and its supporters.

In his remarks, Celtics manager Brenda Rogers agreed to been outplayed by Rangers, he said;

I thought the best team won. Rangers played well in the game, and we had a lot of unforced mistakes, did not create as much as wed like, we’ve got no excuses.- Skysports

Sounds like a coach that takes the blame for his team and not some certain moaner.

It is an important and well-deserved win for Gerrard and his Rangers, a derby win that Gerard will relish for a while.

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Happy New Year Lovely people

horse

A Brief Peep Into Some Of World’s Popular Horse Racing.

Horse racing is an interesting sport with huge money invested both on and off the tracks, with the huge betting by the side, the sport is becoming even bigger by the year. Horse racing boast of great events as it has always been over the years, and 2018 is not an exception. Here is a brief peep into some renown horse races across the continents of the world.

justify-ridden-by-mike-smith.jpg
Justify & jockey Mike Smith source

Kentucky Derby: There is no way horse racing will be discussed without the mentioning of Kentucky Derby. It is an annual race in the United State of America, Louisville, Kentucky to be precise. This is a 2.0 km race that lasts just about 2 minutes, and it has been a historic tradition held every 1st Sunday of May, since the year 1875. The outgoing year 2018 race saw the duo of 20 horses and jockeys competed for the 1st place, and the duo of Justify and Mike Smith (horse and Jockey) won ahead of Good Magic and Jose Ortz in 2nd place, and Audible and Javier Castellano in 3rd place.

lanfranco-dettori-the-jockey-of-enable.jpg
Enable & it’s rider Frankie Dettori source

Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe: This race is widely regarded as the biggest horse racing event in Europe, It is held every 1st Sunday of October in Paris, France. A race over a distance of 2.0 km too, worth €5m (approx $5.7m) with the winner pocketing approximately €2.9m (approx $3.3m). This year 2018s event was won by the duo of horse and jockey, Enable and Frankie Dettori, who Successfully defended there 2017 title, coming in 2nd place was horse and jockey, Sea of Class and James Doyle and in 3rd place was Cloth of Stars and Vincent Cheminand.

Melbourne Cup: It is one of the biggest Australian horse race, a tradition that can be dated back to 1861, the 3.2 km race is held annually every 1st Tuesday of November. It is more of a carnival rather than just a race as it also held an on-field fashion competition for the best-dressed men and women of the spectators. The $7.3m 2018 worth of race was won by horse and jockey, Cross Counter and Kerrin McEvoy who walked away with $4m for their efforts, and in 2nd and 3rd respectively were the duos of Marmelo and Hugh Bowman, and Prince of Arran and Michael Walker.

jockeys-shinichi-ishigami-riding-oju-chosan.jpg
Oju Chosan & Shinichi Ishigami source

Nakayama Grand Jump: This is a Japanese horse race started not quite long ago, 1999. The steeplechase annual horse race is been held every mid-April and it is a race over a distance of 4.2km worth about ¥150m (approx $1.5m). The defending champion horse, Oju Chosan and jockey Shinichi Ishigami won 2018 yet again, followed in 2nd place was a horse and its rider, Up to Date and Mitsuaki Hayashi, with horse and jockey duo of Nihonpiro Baron and Yuzo Shirahama coming in 3rd place.

The Royal Ascot: This is another age long tradition since the year 1711, it is a week-long race series held in England. A race filled with traditional spectacles on and off the tracks, with beautiful and fancy fashions in display and some of the yummiest cuisines in the UK. Series of races rages from the Queen Anne Stake to Kings Stand Stakes, to Duke Of Cambridge Stakes among other races are competed for in a 5-day long event. A whopping £7.3m ($9.6m) was competed for in this year events held in June 2018.

African countries are not left out in horse racing, though less popular but equally interesting and fun-filled, the South African TABGold horse racing and Nigeria’s Sukuwa in Kano are a couple of numerous horse races in Africa.

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Compliment of the season to Y’all

bad boys

Smith, Warner And Bancroft, Your Names Appeared On Santa’s Naughty List.

Cambridge Dictionary defines;

Sport as a game, competition, or similar activity, done for enjoyment or as a job, that takes physical effort and skill and is played or done by following particular rules.

However, some sportsperson will do anything that includes things out of the rule books just to win at all cost, when this is done, sport is no more enjoyable for anyone except for the cheater maybe.

This was the case of Australia’s Cricketers led by the then Captain Steve Smith, Vice-captain David Warner and Batsman Cameron Bancroft in a Cricket Test in Cape Town against South Africa in March of the outgoing year 2018. Smith along side Warner and Bancroft in a desperate attempt to win the Test tampered with the Cricket ball, TV cameras captured Batsman Bancroft rubbing some yellow object which was later confirmed to be a sandpaper on the ball and then hid it back into his trousers, an unsportsmanlike conduct that Bancroft admitted to, and then by his Captain Smith, who infront of reporters confessed to the plot, and also said the plot had been contrived by the leadership of the Australian Cricketers, though wont give out names but exonerated his head coach Darren Lehmann of any wrong doing.

Bancroft 

The Cape Town Test was bound to hit the headlines anyways, prior to the ball tampering by Bancroft and co, Vice-Captain, David Warner was involved in an heated argument with a spectator while walking down into the locker room after he had been dismissed by South African fast bowler, Kagiso Rabada on day 2 of the Test.

The scandal rocked Australian Cricket community and the act was tagged “shocking disappointment” by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball. The 3 Cricketers were immediately stood down and sent home from the remainder of the Cape Town Test.

Vice-Captain David Warner was found guilty by Cricket Australia to be the initiator ‘in chief’ of the plot and was rightly suspended, Captain Steve Smith was suspended too for his part, he knew about the plot before hand but opted not to prevent it, he was also ridden off any future leadership role until further notice, and to the on pitch perpetrator, Batsman Cameron Bancroft got his fair share of the Cricket Australia punishment too for carrying out the plot, though he got the least punishment of the 3 Cricketers.

Smith, Warner and Bancroft promptly expressed regret over their ugly actions, and admitted they have let everyone down in Australia. Despite these lads apologies, their actions have not gone unnoticed by Santa Claus who was having his yearly long winter nap in the North pole by the time of the shameful act, and the plump, jolly fella in his full, white-bearded face cannot help but raised his big white eye-brow in disapproval and penned down the lads names in his Naughty list,

You lads have been a really bad boys Santa exclaimed.

I have sometime blogged about the side effect of winning at all cost mentality, this is a typical example of the shame and disappointment that comes with if any sportsperson is caught/guilty of any wrong doing in an attempt to win at all cost. Sport is more than just winning, it is use to promote peace and unity, i wonder what sort of unity that will come out of a team/someone that cheated to win. It is almost impossible to see a team or individual sportsperson goes all the way, winning (without controversies) and not losing at all. The old saying of;

Win some and lose some

still applies to every sportsperson, the earlier they admit this reality, the better for them and the sport we all love.

So, to Smith, Warner and Bancroft, Santa has got this to say to you, abide by it and have a clean slate,

Every game has rules, obey the rules, win the game; disobey the rules, lose it; the game of life has loser and winner, play fairly and win – Israelmore Ayivor

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ps: all images are getty images sourced

derek-chisora-recieves-medical-treatment-after-being-knocked-out-the-picture-id1074609120

Chisora Declared War But Lost It.

WBC Heavyweight Title Elimination bout between Derrck Chisora and Dillian Whyte on Saturday night ends with a knock out in favour of Dillian Whyte. It could be recalled Chisora who wore a face cap with an inscription ‘War’ declared war against Whyte and threaten to pound him from the get go of the bout.

The gruelling encounter started much like it was in 2006, with both boxers almost marching eachother pound for pound, jab for jab and hook for hook with Chisora exerting more pressure as expected, he declared the war. He stormed out of his block like a gravy train throwing different combos at Whyte, but with every punch he threw, Whyte responded with a counter combo of his own. The grudge bout was so pulsating and got the two boxers entangled as early as the second round. The third round was even more feisty as both Chisora and Whyte swung and ecchanged punches at an incredible pace, with Chisora unleashing more and got Whyte covering and absorbing and throwing smart counter punches when needed.

Dillian Whyte had good moments with his cautious approach in the opening round with one of his counter punches, a hard right handed punch to Chisoras face, a 2nd round uppercut which caught Chisora in the eye, and another blow to the body that got Chisora startled in the 8th round, however, Chisora with most of the ascendancy had his moments too especially in rounds 5 and 6, an impressive body shots and a left hook to Whytes head in the 5th round, and another right hook in the 6th round.

Despite been docked of a couple of points for a repeated low blows in round 8, and an elbow in round 11, it was widely reported that Chisora was up and ahead, with two of the 3 judges scoring in his (Chisora) favour. But unfortunately as the bout rounds extended, Chisora aiming for an early knock out of Whyte grew tired yet again and became sloppy, a careless punch from Chisora got him exposed and was met with a crushing counter left hook to the face from Whyte, a crushing blow to the face that knocked Chisora out in the penultimate round.

Chisora declared the bout against Whyte as a war, and he looked prepared and was up for it, apparently his preparation was not enough, as his stamina let him down yet and again just like the last time both boxers met. This defeat is more damaging to Chisora’s pride rather than whatever was at stake, as Chisora believed he was a better boxer between him and Whyte. It is now 9th loses out of 38 fight for Chisora. Meanwhile, Whyte after his triumphant display called out WBA and WBO champion Anthony Joshua for a rematch of their 2015 fight, Whyte only defeat to date, and Anthony Joshua rightly responded by placing Whyte on a queue down the pecking order behind Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury respectively. It is now Whytes 18 KOs out of 26 wins.

I looked very hard for an inspiring words for Chisora, when a man loses a battle, he can simply regroup and restrategise for the rematch , but when a man loses the war, isn’t that the end? Well! I found a quote for him, hopefully he finds solace in it.

There will come a time in your life when you lose something that matters to you,  But what really matters isnt the war youre waging,  it is that you dont lose the person you are in the midst of the battle (in this case War) – Author J Sterling.

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NB: All images are from getty images

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Chisora

Will Chisoras Hallelujah and Amen Really Hunt Down And Pound Whyte?

Dereck Chisora threaten to pound Whyte with his Hallelujah and Amen arms, pointing to either of his biceps in turn;

“…this is Hallelujah and this is Amen”, he said.

Saturday night, Dec 22, is the D-day, the much anticipated boxing bout rematch between 30 year old Brixton, Dillian Whyte and his British counterpart, 34 year old Finchley, Dereck Chisora, the bout is schedule to take place at the London O2 Arena.

Most of the pre-fight tirades have been pretty much done by Chisora, who (along with his fans) felt the last fight between him and Whyte should have been called in his favour;

“It does not matter what he’s done, remember what i said, he cant hurt me, he hasn’t got a powerful shot that bothers me. I am going to find this guy, hunt him down and beat him up”, he said.

Chisora also said, taking a dig at the judges; “we have to knock him out, we dont want to leave it to the judges, we are coming there with a knockout mentality, no points, nothing else…”

I am afraid Chisora is right on this one, seems the only way to win clean and avoid judges controversies in boxing these days is by/through a knockout.

In his responses to Chisora’s jibes, Whyte has been uncharacteristically subtle;

“what can i say? Good luck to his hunt and pound…”, Whyte says

“He (Chisora) can say what he wants…He says a lot of things and he does a lot of things, but its good that hes coming to hunt me down and hes coming to pound me and whatever”.

The grudge and bad blood between these 2 could be traced back to when Whyte was brought in as a sparring partner to Chisora who was the then British champion.

“I took an immediate dislike…” Whyte said.

“Dereck is just an arrogant, ignorant guy, now he says he is a born again Christian but lets see”, Whyte added.

L) Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora (R (getty image)

It was just about 2 years, Dec 10, 2016, that these 2 heavyweight met in a WBC Heavyweight Title Elimination fight at Manchester Arena, Manchester, England. It was Dillian Whyte who came out top with a close split decision over Dereck Chisora. Bout judges Howard John Foster and Michael Alexander scored in favour of Whyte 115-113, 115-114 respectively, while only judge Steve Gray scored 114-115 to Chisora. It was Chisora that dominated the early exchanges especially in rounds 2,3,5 where he had great moment and 8 where he almost floored Whyte, however, Chisora lacking stamina grew weary and allowed Whyte to gained control and ultimately won the bout.

So, going into Saturdays showdown, the big question is if Chisora have worked on his stamina? Chisora certainly thinks so;

“i am born-again, i have a new manager (David Haye) and a new training regime and i am just loving life”.

The winner of this bout stand a chance to challenge Anthony Joshua for his world titles at Wembley Stadium next year April.

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_104833693_fielding

Fielding Couldn’t Stand Alvarez’s Body Punches.

Boxer Fielding was taken to the cleaners by his opponent Alvarez in just 3 rounds in a WBA Middleweight World Title bout on Sat night, Dec 15, 2018, Fielding was floored in all the 3 rounds prompting the referee to called a TKO in Alvarez favour.

When 28 years old Mexican, Canelo ‘Cinnamon’ Alvarez announced sometimes in Oct, 2018 that he was moving up a weight category from his Middleweight to Super Middleweight, to fight the British Challenger, Liverpudlian Michael ‘Rocky’ Fielding, only few felt Alvarez had bitten more than he could chew, majority believes Alvarez is capable and will definitely defeat Fielding.

The Brit and 31 year old Fielding is no push over, his records speak for him, with 28 professional fight, 27 wins, 15 by KOs, and just 1 loss. He became the WBA Super Middleweight World champion in June, 2018 when he defeated German and holder, Tyron Zeuge by a 5th round KO.

Fielding hitting the floor 

The Saturday night bout between Alvarez and Fielding was the 1st of a newly mega deal between Alvarez and video streaming service giant, DAZN, a deal that worth £278M ($365M), for the next 5 years. The bout was held at the Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, and it was Fielding 1st title defence fight, He never really put up a good defence, despite his height advantage of 6ft 1in and reach of 75in compared to Alvarez height of 5ft 9in and reach of just over 70in. Fielding never impose himself on Alvarez.

Alvarez aka Cinnamon widely known for his devastating body punches, lived up to his name, as he battered Fielding with ruthless body punches, right from the word go, and it was a matter of time before Fielding was on his knees, he recovered and saw off the 1st round.The 2nd round resumed in like manner with Alvarez picked up from where he left it, with combinations of jabs and body blows, Fielding soon found himself on his knees for the second time, like it was in the 1st round, he mannaged to saw off the round. By the time the 3rd round started, Alvarez brimming in confidence, saw his chance and took it, he stepped up the gas, and it was not long before Fielding was back on the floor, this time the referee had seen enough, and had to call it halt, and gave it to Alvarez on TKO.

Canelo Alvarez can now boast of having titles in 3 weight categories with this WBA Super Middleweight World champion, after already been champions in Middleweight WBC and WBA titles, and WBO champion in the Light Middleweight. His career fight now stand at 50 wins, 34 by KOs, 2 draws and a solitude defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

An elated Alvarez said in his post match comment; “fortunately for me, he came to attack, and that was the error he made, but i did my thing in there”.

He also said; “that was the plan in the gym, that was the plan to hit the body…”

What more can one expect from a man that got his game plan worked out perfectly fine for him.

For Fielding, i feel sorry for you and only can urge a man that got hit below the elbows to pick himself up and try again, remember the wise saying;

“Ones best success often comes after their greatest disappointment” – Henry Warx Beecher.

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ps: all images are google sourced

Thank you all 

derbyCoaches

An Intriguing EPL Derby Day, Early Goal, Spot Kicks and Injury Time Winner, Just What Every Derby Matches Needed.

English Premier League fans were treated to a truly super Sunday with 3 sumptuous derby matches in West London derby, North London derby, and the Merseyside derby, What a match they all turned out to be.

Super Sunday kicked off with an earlier afternoon match between home side Chelsea and their West London rival, Fulham. It was an easy 2-0 win for Chelsea, with Pedro and substitute Reuben Loftus-Cheek getting the goals.

My take from Chelsea’s point of view;

▪Sarri remains adamant on using Jorginho at the base of Chelsea’s midfield. There have been calls after the defeat to Spurs for the Chelsea coach to restore Ngolo Kante back to his natural position, a place now occupied by Jorginho, no cause for alarm this time though as Fulham posed little or no threat, as Chelsea won comfortably. Sarri has reiterated that Jorginho is still his anchor midfield man.

▪Reuben Loftus-Cheek deserves more playing time. The young lad came off the bench to double Chelsea lead. Coaching team should look into Loftus-Cheek shout for a regular playing time.

The second derby match of Sunday afternoon was between Arsenal and their bitter North London rival Tottenham. Boy! What a match. Fans and spectators were treated to a 6-goal thriller, as Arsenal claimed the bragging right with a 4-2 win over Spurs.

My take from Arsenal’s point of view;

▪Emery sure knows what he is doing with his Arsenal team. His response and decision during the match were spots on. He started with a 3-4-3 formation, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on either side of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack, 3 central defenders with wing-backs, He then made changes immediately at start of 2nd half and switched formation to 3-4-1-2, Aaron Ramsey playing behind 2 central strikers with substitute Alexandre Lacazette joining Aubameyang in attack, he then reverted to traditional 4-3-1-2 when Shkodran Mustafi got injured. That’s a man with plan B.

▪Aubameyang and Lucas Torreira are making name for themselves at the Emirate, Aubameyang scoring with ruthless precision and Torreira sweeping the midfield for Arsenal. They both are bringing back the good old days’ memories of Thierry Henry, Gilberto Silver, and co.

▪Arsenal still struggling in the 1st half of matches. This is a worry for the coach, if every Arsenal matches were to finish at the halftime, Arsenal would have been rooted rock bottom of the EPL table. How long will their 2nd half performances bail them out of trouble, it remains to be seen?

Away from London, to the Merseyside where Liverpool hosted arch-rival Everton. It was the home side Liverpool that stole a dramatic injury-time 1-0 winner. The result did not reflect the full story of the match, it was an entertaining end to end match, it could have ended in a 3 all draw, or a 5 all draw. The match was heading towards a nill all draw until a 96th injury time error from Everton goalkeeper Pickford handed Liverpool’s substitute striker D. Origi with a last-gasp winner, a goal that got Liverpool manager running onto the pitch to celebrate with his goalkeeper Allison.

Talking point from Liverpool’s point of view;

▪Liverpool on the heels of league leader Man City. Liverpool isn’t ready to give up on the league, they keep grinding out results even when they are not in full throttles, for me that is a mark of a champion.

▪Allison proving his worth for Liverpool. He made some great saves to keep his team in the match, reason why the manager went to celebrate with him when Liverpool scored.

▪Liverpool Manager ran onto the pitch to celebrate his team’s late winner. Klopp could not control his emotion, as he ran to celebrate with his goalkeeper Allison, and there have been calls condemning his action. We are all humans, sometimes the flesh got the better of us.

I cannot remember the last time fans got to watch 3 derbies in a day, Sunday the 2nd was such day and fans certainly got the worth for their money across the world.

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Alonso

Fernando Alonso Bowed Out , as Curtain Dropped on F1 Season.

2018 F1 season came to an end in Abu Dhabi last Sunday 26th, a week after MotoGP counterpart ended. And it was a familiar face that stood head and shoulder high above other drivers on the podium.

The 4 major talking points from the seasons ending race in Abu Dhabi were:
▪Fernando Alonso bid farewell to F1
▪Lewis Hamilton took control from start to finish
▪Hamilton’s 11th win of the season
▪Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg survived horror crash

Fernando Alonso bid farewell to F1.

2-time (2005 & 2006) F1 champion Fernando Alonso retires from F1. The Spaniard and McLaren’s driver completed his last race for F1 on Sunday where he finished 11th. His career started way back in Aug 2001 in the Australian Grand Prix. Leading the accolades for a worthy competitor were Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. So long, Fernando Alonso, F1 is in good hands.

Lewis.jpegLewis Hamilton. Getty images

Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi race.

This won’t come as a surprise to many as Hamilton not for the 1st time this season, produce a dominant race ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and age long rival Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. It was Valtteri, not Vettel that staged an earlier challenge with Hamilton, but he soon faded away as he was overtaken by Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo.

Hamilton’s 5th career win

It was Hamilton’s 5th career championship win. He had already secured championship before Abu Dhabi race. Abu Dhabi race was Hamilton’s 11th victory of the season. His other victories were Azerbaijan, Spanish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Singapore, Russian, Japanese, and Brazilian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s drivers of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are championship 2nd and 3rd respectively.

nico-hulkenberg.jpgHulkenberg crashed car skysports

Nico Hulkenberg crashed

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg survived horror crashed. A little race accident that involves French and Haas driver Romain Grosjean, and German and Renault’s driver Nico Hulkenberg led to the latter flipped over and crashed against the barriers. Thankfully he came out of the crash unhurt. More reason why safety measures must be taken seriously.

here is a highlight from the race:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMcSGDJoS7o&feature=youtu.be

 

2019 F1 season is just around the corner, is there any chance for a rookie driver to stage an upset, or is it still the same old rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Time will tell.

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WhatsApp Image 2018-11-26 at 10.14.23 AM

Despair for Lerma, Delight for Arsenal on a Premier League Sunday Afternoon

Every soccer/football player find so much joy and delight in scoring goals against their opponent, regardless of whether forward players, defensive players or even goalkeepers, the wild celebrations after every goal scored explains it all. Having said that, scoring into one’s own goal post brings as much as agony and despair, especially if such own goal cost your team victory. Such is the story of Bournemouth’s Colombian international midfielder Jefferson Lerma on Sunday afternoon 25th Nov.

Check the highlights below;

youtube

It was an English Premier League match between Bournemouth and Arsenal FC at the Vitality stadium, a matchup that saw the away side Arsenal claimed victory over Bournemouth, thanks to Lerma’s 30 minutes first time volley from edge of his own 18 yard box into his own net/goal post that put Arsenal on path of victory.

The host fought relentlessly, even Lerma at some point rattled Arsenal crossbar to atone for his mistake, and on the stroke of half-time got their deservedly equalizer when Josh King delightfully curled into Arsenal’s net.

If the first half was close, the second half was even closer, looks like the match was heading to a stalemate when the away side managed a combination of passes, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and Sead Kolasinac combined well and the latter squared to Aubameyang to slide home for Arsenal’s winner.

The home side, like it was in the first half prowled and probed for an equalizer, but the combinations of the woodwork, Arsenals goalkeeper and a dogged defense prevented them.

My take on the match

Arsenals Unai Emery opted for 3-man central defenders, fully aware of the threat Bournemouth pose, a tactical change that paid off, as the extra man in the defense helped kept Bournemouth at bay.

This lost to Arsenal was the 3rd straight defeats by Eddie Howe’s team, a couple of 1-2 loss to Manchester United, Newcastle United and now Arsenal FC. I think putting a 2-1 scoreline on Bournemouth matches could be a bet banker these days.

There are plenty matches to play yet, so you can atone for your mistake Lerma, you can as well talk to your manager for a change of position, maybe into a striker, that goal was one beauty of a goal.

the post was originally posted on scorum

Thank you all for taking time out to check the post out.

motogp

A Race to Forget for 14 MotoGP riders on a Slippery ValenciaGP Tracks

It was 2018 MotoGP’s season-ending race at Valencia on Sunday 18th Nov, as 24 riders rivaled each other for a place on the podium, riders include reigning champion, Spaniard and Honda’s Marc Marquez, 7-time champion and Italian Valentino Ross, Yamaha’s teammate and Spaniard Maverick Vinales, 3-time champion Spaniard and Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo.

It was a race with a lot to ride for as the championship 2nd and 3rd places were yet to be decided, though Spaniard Marc Marquez already retained his title yet again when he won the Japan Grand Prix to make it 3 championships a row for him and 5 careers overall.

The race started as planned but nature had other ideas as the heavens were opened for a downpour, and it wasn’t long before the imminent effects of the slippery tracks began to manifest, and the falls and crashes kept piling up and just won’t stop. Eventually, the organizers succumb to the will of nature, and flagged the race red for 30 minutes, as the tracks became unsafe for riders.

Here are the highlights of a wet Valencia MotoGP race;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSaPsNF458g&feature=youtu.be
you tube

It was a 27-lap race which had to be restarted at 13th lap, by which time only 15 riders were able to put their bikes back on track out of 24 riders that started the race. Thank goodness there were no serious injuries except for minor bruises here and there.

The race was won by Italian and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso closely followed by Spaniard and Suzuki’s Alex Rius, with another Spaniard and KTM’s Pol Espargano coming in 3rd, after notably names that include Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, and even Jorge Lorenzo had slipped and fallen by wayside so to say. It was Ruiz that led for the majority of the race before been overtaken by Dovizioso. It was the Italian 4th win of the season that ultimately made him championship 2nd, with Rossi who finished the race a distance 13th coming overall 3rd.

If there is anybody wondering what MotoGP season is?

Grand Prix Motorcycle racing season better known as MotoGP season is the road racing world championship – Wikipedia.

Series of road races are being hosted across the world, and the rider that accumulated the highest wins and points wins the championship.

A wise man was quoted saying;

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. – Frank Lloyd Wright

I guess the organizers failed to study the weather that day or they underestimated the weather, and it sure failed a handful riders. I believe we should all pay attention to weather forecasts.

I made the original post on Scorum

I appreciate all supports, thank you all

Novak-Djokovic-1047068

Novak Djokovic Lost Again to Another Young Prospect, Is Power Changing Hands?

2018 ATP final hosted at the O2 Arena, London was the season-ending tennis tournament between world number 1and 31-year-old Serbian Novak Djokovic and world number 5 and 21-year-old German Alexander Zverev. It was a match-up where the odds understandably favored N. Djokovic.

The ATP finals are the 2nd highest tier of annual men’s tennis tournament after the 4 Grand Slam tournaments – Wikipedia.

N. Djokovic against A. Zverev was another stern showdown between experience and youthfulness, just like it was in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hosted in Paris between Djokovic and Karen Khachanov about 15 days ago, and just like in Paris where Khachanov shocked Djokovic, lightning struck twice as Zverev also stunned Djokovic in London. It seems the young lads are gaining a whole lot of ground on their older counterparts.

The omens were there as Zverev battled past world number 3 and 37-year-old Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) in the semi-finals to book a place in final against Djokovic who had an easy semi-final win of 6-2, 6-2 over South African Kevin Anderson.

The final was not what Djokovic had hope for, as he struggled to imposed himself over Zverev, Zverev was the better player, Powerful serves than Djokovic, fewer errors than Djokovic, and he eventually took both sets 6-4, 6-3 to win the finals.

skysports-alexander-zverev_4485587.jpg
A. Zverev sky sports

▪Zverev became the 1st player to beat both Djokovic and Federer in the same ATP final.
▪He is also the first to beat the top two seeds in the semi-finals and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.
▪Zverev is the first German winner since Boris Becker in 1995.
▪He at age 21 years and 6 months became the youngest champion at ATP final since Djokovic in 2008 – BBCSports

Take nothing away from the young German for his win, but Djokovic was the architect of his own defeat, he was far from his usual best. His performance was characterized with unusual weaken serves, I mean he had not lost his serve coming into the final, and just 1 ace compared to Zverev’s 10 aces tells the story, coupled with 1,2 unforced error too many.

With Zverev and Khachanov coming through the ranks and breathing down the neck of the big boys, Tennis fans around the world are relishing a tantalizing 2019 tournaments already.

Here is a little highlight of the Djokovic vs Zverev;

youtube

post originally posted on scorum by me also

Thank you all for stopping by, all comments and criticism are welcome.

Monaco Manager Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry’s Nightmare Continues, Somebody Please Wake Him Up.

In his playing days, he was mecurial and prolific, he was know for different alias across footballing communities, in Nigeria he was unanimously known irrespective of club supported as “Igwe” which means “King”. Yea! Thierry Henry was that good and prolific for both club and country.

However, his playing days has long gone and the 41 years old Frenchman has since moved on to next chapter of his career, coaching! He was assistant coach to the Belgian national team coach Roberto Martinez, before he was recently named as Monaco manager on the 13th Oct, 2018 after former coach Leonardo Jardim was sacked for a run of poor results.

This is Henry 1st big test as a manager, and boy what a heck of a test it is turning out to be for him. Under Jardim, Monaco had won only 1 match in 10 in all competitions and are languishing in 18th position of Ligue 1 log table. Henry knew what he was walking into, he was inheriting a team who was a shadow of the team it was some 19 months ago when it against all odds won the Ligue 1.

Henry knew it was not gonna be easy but he certainly did not know it is gonna be this tough. Reminds me of one of my favourite Coldplay track ‘the scientist’, down the lyrics it says “…Nobody said it was easy, No one ever said it would be this hard, Oh take me back to the start…”.

UCL Group A standing ( BBCSports News )

Tuesday night UCL match defeat at the hands of Club Brugge of Belgium was 5th match without a win in all competitions for Henry and his Monaco, a result that ultimately saw Monaco exited UCL as they sit rock button of the group A. Again, Sunday night 4-0 thrashing at home at the hands of PSG now makes it 4 loses and 2 draws for Henry and Monaco in all competitions. Monaco now sit 19th place on Ligue 1 log table.

Has Henry jumped the gun to soon, i love Henry but i personally think Henry is not ready for such a big task, he could have remained with R. Matinez for atleast year more, pick up one or two pointers from him, but it is what it is.

Monaco’s last 6 matches under Henry ( Fctables news)

Henry had prior to his appointment as Monaco manager said it was fate that brought him to the club it all started for him as a footballer, it could be recalled that Henry stated his playing career right there in Monaco, well, i hope that same fate won’t lead Henry to the exit door as quickly as he came in. We have heard so many times that accomplished footballers does not necessarily mean accomplished Manager, it is probably to early to call though but Henry has to turn around the fortune of Monoca and fast, because patience is a rare word in club owner’s book nowadays.

Keep the fight Henry, remember …

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also,

“Tough times never last, but tough people do”—Robert H. Schuller.

I made the original post on scorum 

Thank you all for taking time out to check this post out.

 

First Blood Inter, 2018/2019 Serie A Season’s First Derby Della Madonnina Ends With Yet Another Captain Icardi Late goal.

 

 

Derby Della Madonnina or Derby Di Milano or simply put Milan Derby is an Italia Serie A football match between two city of Milan rival clubs of AC Milan and Inter Milan. A rivalry that started right from when Inter Milan was formed.

AC Milan was founded in the year 1899, and just after the turn of the century, there was a disagreement within the board of the club on the number of foreign players to play for AC Milan, thus Inter Milan was formed by some break-away AC Milan board members in the year 1908, thus giving birth to a rivalry that last forever. The rivalry already kicked into motion even before the first ball was kicked.

The Milan derby has featured so many classic matches from time past, so 2018/2019 season first Serie A fixture was expected to be explosive, it was a match played at the Giuseppe Meazza know as the San Siro football stadium, it was a match that the Nerazzurri as Inter Milan are popularly known largely dominated, the Rossoneri as AC Milan are popularly called were happy to seat back and soak the pressure from their rival and break away on the counter attack. The scoreline was 0 – 0 going into the break, and the scoreline suggest, it was a fairly even contest. The 3 major talking point for the half was an injury to Inter’s Radja Nainggolan at the half hour mark 30′, 2 correct offside calls, one from either sides, Icardi for Inter and Musacchio for Milan the culprits.

here is the goal highlight for those that missed the match:

Second half was going much the way of first half until the 90th minutes when AC Milan goalkeeper was found in a noman”s land, and Inter’s captain M. Icardi made him paid, 1 nil to Inter, and with few minutes left, AC Milan undone by another Icardi late goal just like last season

here are the two (2) highlights of 2017/2018 season Derby Di Milano that saw Inter Milan won 4 points over two(2) legs off their rivals AC Milan:

1st fixture 2017/2018:
reverse fixture 2017/2018:

After seeing AC Milan salvage a late late equalizer by Christian Zapata, Inter were a team on a mission for the reversed fixture, and like the 1st fixture, there was another late drama as Mario Icardi completed his hat trick with another late but controversial penalty to win it for Inter with the scoreline at 2 – 2. AC Milan’s goal were scored by Joaquin Suso and an own goal from Inter’s Samir Handanovic.

With Inter drawing the first blood this season, it will be interesting what response AC Milan will give on the reverse fixture.

Thank you all for checking by.

this write up was also posted on scorum :

thank you all

 

 

 

SIBLING RIVALRY! ADIDAS & PUMA’S SIX(6) DECADE OF HEATED ANIMOSITY

 

Adidas & Puma are amongst world giant sport wear companies, not until recently, i never knew they were siblings, and i am sure there are others like me that are in the dark.

The Dassler brothers Rudolf ‘Rudi’ (the eldest) and Adolf ‘Adi’ (younger) are the co-founder of DASSLER BROTHERS SPORT SHOE COMPANY as far back as the 1920s, in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Dassler logo & Shoe back in the days…

Adolf ‘Adi, Dassler was the introvert, a crafty designer that designs and made the shoes, while the older brother Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Dassler was more of an outspoken salesman that was responsible for the sales of the the shoes.

In 1936 Berlin Olympics, American athlete Jesse Owens wore the Dassler brother’s shoe, Owens won four (4) gold medals and thus the brother’s shoe became popular.

American athlete Jesse Owen…

Come with the fame is heated tension between the brothers, soon after, their relationship went south. Several reasons were rumored to be the cause of the conflict, the bottom line was that the conflict ended the brothers partnership, after world war two(2), the brothers split the company assets and employees thus ended Dassler Brother Sport Shoe Company.

In 1949 , Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler coined his trademark name “ADIDAS” from is nickname ‘Adi’ and his last name ‘Das’-sler

Adidas logos from time past til date…

while his older brother Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Dassler named his brand initially “RUDA” from his first name ‘Ru’-dolf and last name ‘Da’-ssler, then changed it to “PUMA”, which is more suited to the fast and agile nature of athletes.

Puma logos then and now…

The brothers even built their factories on opposite side of a certain river Aurach right there in Herzogenaurach.

Years after years of lawsuit and counter lawsuit against each other on all sort of designs and trademarks issues that must have cost fortunes went by.

This feud even precipitated down to the local communities, to the extent that local people picked sides, you are either for Adidas or against it, either for Puma or against it. Love affairs between employees across either company were forbidden,the rivalry was so bitter that the town of Herzogenaurach was known as “the town of bent necks”, simply because local people had to first looked and checked out the company’s shoes you wear before associating with you.

Rubbing into Puma’s face was the fact that they had to do catch-up with Adidas, no surprise, because Adidas had all the technical guys to his side during separation.

Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Dassler died in October 1974 (age 76) and within four (4) years of his death, his younger brother Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler died, in September of 1978 (aged 77).

Both were buried at opposite ends of the same graveyard in Herzogenaurach far away from each other as possible.

However, in 2009, employees of both Adidas and Puma came together to call a truce to end six (6) decade of acrimony between them by organizing and playing a benevolent soccer match. An honorable move by both companies employees i say.

peace match between Adidas and Puma staffs…

Thank goodness there are so many other sport wear companies this day, we get to pick according to taste and not sentiment.

check links below for my source

https://www.shelflife.co.za/blogdetail/FactsFriday-The-Dassler-Brothers-A-tale-of-three-stripes

this article was also posted on scorum: https://scorum.com/en-us/other/@peman85/sibling-rivalry-adidas-and-puma-s-six-6-decade-of-heated-animosity

Thanks for stopping by to read and encourage.

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