Category Archives: Sports

Messi praised for record-breaking goals

AUGUST 19, 2009 - Football : Lionel Messi of B...

AUGUST 19, 2009 - Football : Lionel Messi of Barcelona in action during the Joan Gamper Trophy match between Barcelona and Manchester City at the Camp Nou Stadium on August 19, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Tsutomu Takasu) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been widespread praise for Lionel Messi in Barcelona after he beat the club’s 60-year-old goal-scoring record of 232 with a hat-trick against Granada on Tuesday (March 20).

The 24-year-old three-time World Player of the Year, who now has 52 goals in all competitions this season, beat the mark set by Cesar Rodriguez. Messi did it in 314 appearances and Rodriguez in 354.

Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Josep Maria Fuste, who played against Rodriguez after the record holder left Barca, said on Wednesday (March 21): “Cesar was a more complete player because Messi is a very good player in the midfield and up front, but Cesar could play everywhere on the field. He could do many things, though many people only remember his headers. But he had feet like very few have. Therefore, I think Cesar was a perfect player, but a little bit slower than Messi. He has a special speed. We had never seen that speed before, he is perfect at that.”

Fuste said Messi was already better than former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano and Brazil’s Pele.

“I’ve been very lucky being able to play against Di Stefano and I know he was a fantastic player and then Pele, who was the most spectacular player at my time. But Messi is over them thanks to his speed, his liveliness. He is only 24 years old and he has won everything already. He is a boy that will go down in history and I think it will be very hard to find somebody like him,” said Fuste.

Barcelona striker Thiago Alcantara said Messi is a unique player.

“Some people say ‘I saw Pele play’, ‘I saw Maradona play’. I can say I’ve seen Leo Messi play. He is a player of a different kind, he is a player who has gone down in history, is making history and will make history in football. There are few adjectives left to describe him. Unique, as always,” said Alcantara.

At the busy Barcelona store at the Camp Nou stadium on Wednesday, many tourists were still basking in Barcelona’s 5-3 win over Granada.

Yusaku, from Osaka, had travelled to Barcelona just to watch his favourite team and he was in no doubt that Messi was better than Cesar.

“He sets more and more new records. I think he is a better player than Cesar. His goals are very artistic, I think; group shots, mid-shots — he can do any kind of shot. I think this is very good. I think he is better than Cesar,” said Yusaku.

Pedro, a Mexican tourist travelling around Europe with his family, said watching Messi break the record at the Nou Camp was a dream come true.

“It is a very special feeling to see Messi play and beat Cesar Rodriguez’s record with the three goals he scored yesterday. Coming from America to see Barcelona and Messi play was like fulfilling a goal for us. A dream come true for my kids and me, so we are really excited,” said Pedro.

Barcelona are through to the last eight of this season’s Champions League and will play the King’s Cup final against Athletic Bilbao in May.

However they are five points behind Real Madrid in La Liga with 10 matches left.


We deserved to win says Zambian Keeper

Zambian Team celebrating their victory

Didier Drogba’s ghosts returned to haunt him as Zambia won the African Nations Cup for the first time after beating Ivory Coast 8-7 in a drama-filled penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw on Sunday. Stoppila Sunzu converted the winning penalty after three successive efforts had been missed in a long and nervy shootout that totalled 18 kicks.

But the goalless match might not have had to go to the shootout had Drogba not ballooned a 70th-minute penalty well wide to deny his team victory inside 90 minutes, repeating his miss in the 2006 final which the Ivorians lost to Egypt.

The loss was another near miss for the Ivorian’s golden generation, who had been expected to win African football’s top prize at the last four editions but failed every time. Two of their English Premier League players – Kolo Toure and Gervinho – missed kicks in the shootout.

Zambia, who had gone into the game as underdogs, won over the 40,000 crowd in the Friendship Stadium in the Gabon capital with their positive play against a surprisingly timid Ivorian side who failed to take the initiative in the game. After winning, the Zambian team held up banners remembering their side that died in a air crash not far from the stadium in 1993 and whose memory they had honoured on the eve of the game.

At times, Zambia showed complete disdain for their star-studded opponents, with showy tricks on the ball and some clever routines although they also lived dangerously in defence.

Yaya Toure and substitute Max Gradel both went narrowly wide for the Ivorians but it was Drogba who could have been the hero after Isaac Chansa had pushed down Gervinho in the penalty area in the 70th minute and the Senegal referee Badara Diatta bravely awarded a penalty.

But Drogba hit his shot well over and then seemed to sink into a sulk for the rest of the game. He was brave enough, however, to take the fifth penalty for the Ivorians in the shootout.

The first 14 kicks were successfully converted before a reluctant Kolo Toure had his shot saved at 7-7 but Rainford Kalaba then missed for Zambia. Gervinho, who also did not want to take a kick, then missed before Sunzu won the cup for Zambia, who had suffered two previous defeats in the 1974 and 1994 finals. It was the seventh Nations Cup final to be decided on penalties.

The most recent was when Egypt beat the Ivorians 5-3 in the 2006 final, which also ended goalless.

Zambia’s goalkeeper Kennedy Mwenee said that his team had deserved to win against a team that did not concede a goal outside of the penalty shootout in the finals.

“We deserved it, maybe people will say we don’t deserve but we deserve it,” he said. “From the start to the end we deserve it. Like we say the Ivory Coast have not conceded a goal. We told ourselves the same. Even if they don’t concede a goal they can lose. I think that is why it went to penalties. They went out without conceding a goal but they went on to lose.”

Wenger prefers to leave England Management to the FA


Arsène Wenger

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has refused to speculate on who should become England Manager, preferring to leave the problem with the FA.

The Frenchman strayed away from commenting on Fabio Capello‘s controversial departure and would not be drawn on his suggestions for a replacement.

“England is a big football country, 65 million people with a big passion for the game. I love england and I want them to do well and therefore I let the FA deal with that problem”

Wenger also ruled himself out of contention, saying he has always preffered being a club manager.

“No, no because I was always under contract I always respected my contracts in my life and I have never been really tempted by the national team job because for me it is a completely different job, I’m in a marathon job inside the club and the national team job is a sprinters job”

Last Saturday, Arsenal re-discovered some form with a seven-one demolishing of Blackburn Rovers. The game included a hatrick (three goals) from in form striker Robin Van Persie and two from young english winge Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“It eased off the minds a little bit because we were in shock after having lost three games and then the cup game against (Aston) Villa, even the Bolton game, where we felt we had a decent game on sunday, helped to rebuild the confidence”

Arsenal have had to contend with multiple defensive injuries over the christmas period, with Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelan, Kieren Gibbs amongst the absentees.

“So everybody who was available last week is available this week, we still have (Abou) Diaby and (Jack) Wilshere who are not availabe but it looks good because (Kieran) Gibbs is back in full training aswell now, so overall the situation looks much more positive as we go into the period that will decide our season”

The Arsenal manager feels his team are approaching a pivotal period in their season, beginning with Saturday’s encounter with Premier League form team Sunderland.

“I think it is that important because in one week we play three games in three different competions and in every single competition we are in the position where we want to win our game.”

“No, because I felt that Sunderland were a bit unlucky at the start of the season with Steve Bruce, but sometimes when a team has a recent negative history they lose confidence. A new manager coming in with the experience of Martin O’neil always helps to boost the side, they are a good team and I am not surprised.”

Arsenal are currently 6th in the premier league with 24 points, Sunderland sit seven points back in 8th.

Chelsea not to blame for Capello resignation says Villas-Boas

Well Chelsea fans! Coach Andre Villas-Boas said on Thursday that Chelsea were not to blame for setting in motion the chain of events which led to the resignation of England manager Fabio Capello.

The Italian quit his position on Wednesday after John Terry‘s trial on a charge of allegedly racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand was delayed until July, Chelsea having written to the court requesting that the trial be delayed until after the domestic season and the European championships were completed.

The English Football Association‘s (FA) decision to strip Terry of the captain’s armband without consulting Capello provoked a furious response from the former Real Madrid coach, who went on television in his homeland to criticise the FA’s decision, prompting Wednesday’s talks between Capello and his employers which led to his resignation.

The FA would have preferred the Terry court case to have been he

English: André Villas Boas as a head coach of ...

ld before Euro 2012 in June, but Villas-Boas said that the decision was down to the judge, not Chelsea.

“I think it’s a court decision, in the end it was the court’s decision that took it. We had our preference of course but I’m not sure that it was our preference that made an impact on the court’s decision to delay the case. Whatever the consequence of events that ran after we had nothing to do with it,” said Villas-Boas.

“I am not in a position to say what triggered the consequences of the consecutive events that terminated with Capello’s resignation because I don’t have that inside information, neither do I know if the FA’s information spread out to us was the reason for the resignation. But I can say it’s a surprise and a pity to lose such a successful figure in world football.”

Villas-Boas said that Terry, who missed Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United last weekend through injury, has been given a few days off to recover.

“He has a couple of days off with his injury, nothing regarding the turmoil and the media attention,” he said.
Chelsea currently lie in fourth place in the Premier League 14 points behind leaders Manchester City and only one point ahead of fifth placed Newcastle United.

With only the top four qualifying for next season’s Champions League Chelsea face a tricky trip to face Everton on Saturday (February 11).
“Basically the objectives we have for the season are pretty much outlined. Those are two competitions where we look better, one competition where we have to dilute the damage and try to finish fourth at least which is not a very honourable position for the dimension of this club,” he said.

Black Stars drop out at AFCON semi finals.

Black Stars of Ghana

Ghanaians never expected their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations experience would end like this. The Black Stars were tournament favourites and analysts predicted a final between Ghana and Ivory Coast. But a 78th-minute goal by Zambian Emmanuel Mayuka at the Bata stadium in Equatorial Guinea ruined Ghana’s hopes of lifting the cup for a fifth time and fans following the game back home on outdoor big screens were crushed.

The game could have turned out very differently had Asamoah Gyan not missed an eighth-minute penalty. Ghana dominated the game but struggled to create chances.

“Now we are very disappointed, we should have won the cup and now we cannot determine when we would win it again,” said Gideon Ofori a fan in Accra.

A fervent Zambia side pushed Ghana — some analysts say the southern African copper bullets were inspired by the opportunity to honor the players that died in a plane crash in 1993 off the coast of Gabon, the venue of their final clash against Ivory Coast on Sunday (February 12).

Ghana’s performance brought back bitter taste of the 2010 World Cup where they managed to reach the semi final but not the final.
“We should recruit the young ones and train them better because we should not rely on the senior ones, they are always giving us heart problems, you know when we follow them we will waste our time on football,” said Michael Ahorsu, another Ghanaian fan.

In Mali, fans also in outdoor screening venues were less tense yet hopeful that Mali could cause an upset against Ivory Coast, in the same way Zambia had against Ghana just over an hour before.

But an individual goal from Gervinho put Ivory Coast into the African Nations Cup final with a 1-0 win.

Ivory Coast proved too powerful for their fellow West Africans and might have won by a bigger margin but both sides were visibly tired and struggled to find their rythm.

Fans in Bamako said they were proud of their Seydou Keita-led team for making it to the semi finals even though they did not reach the final.

“We have never had a team like this. Frankly speaking these are youngsters that have all the future for them, and in every respect the people of Mali are ready to motivate them. Sincere thanks to the trainer, because we Malians didn’t expect the Malian team to come so far. We are happy in every respect and very satisfied with them, they did a good job,” said Yacoube Kante, a Malian fan.

“They showed us something with the match today. I am very satisfied with them, very proud of them. I appreciate today’s performance. We are all happy and no one is disappointed, except they didn’t win, but that’s a matter of luck,” said Keita Soire, another fan.
Sunday’s match will be third final for the Ivory Coast, who won the tournament in 1992.
Zambia will also play their third final having previously lost in 1974 and 1994.

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