Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I am not a professional book maker, but I love the game of football and have seen in previous editions how the predictions of our so-called book makers have failed to provide the eventual winners. There judgment though has always been based on what they see of the pedigrees of the team coaches, the caliber of players paraded by the various teams and maybe the football history of the teams at the mundial.
In recent past, many of our football analysts or book makers had tipped counties like Spain, England and even Germany to win the world cup but at the end most of the tipped teams crash out the tournament in a woeful manner. Who would have given it to Italy in the last edition held in Germany; although these so-called experts are not answerable to anybody as they are only involved in expressing their personal views which in no way has anything to do with the outcome of the tournament.
In predicting the outcome of a tournament as big as the world cup, so many factors would have to be considered. I will discuss a few of these factors for the benefit of my readers;
1. THE LUCK FACTOR: Most countries lose the very best of their players playing top flight football in Europe, South America and all other continents where well organized club football are played to injuries before major tournaments like this one. Let’s consider the case of Chelsea’s Michael Ballack who happens to be the captain of Germany, the other time it was about the much hyped David Beckham of England, Michael Essien of Ghana and so on, the list is endless. It is therefore the luckiest teams which have got a very large chunk of their star players injury-free that stands a better chance of making meaningful progress and impression in the world cup.
2. OFFICIATING: I do not intend to crucify the match officials as they are mare humans that are not immune to mistakes. Quite often we see terrible officiating that are so obvious but because the man at the center has the final say, nothing ever happens there-after. I have never seen the outcome of a football match over-ruled because of officiating errors; so, most good teams could become victims and whoever benefits from these flaws advances in the tournament. We have seen clear offside goals being allowed due to the error factor which can never be ruled out; after all it is one of the excitements of the game as they become talking points there after. Also clear appeals for penalties are often punished with cards because, in the judgment of the referee, simulation had taken place. Even when there are cases of play-acting on the part of some clever players, some referees get easily fooled to issue cards to purported offenders who where in the true sense innocent of the offense they are being punished for. So many teams have had their best players sent off the pitch for offenses they never committed.
Goals have also been scored with hands; for instance the famous ‘Hand of god’ goal scored against England by Diego maradona was a talking point in the very vocal British press and world over, but did that change the outcome of that match? NO. FIFA have failed to provide any answer for this kind of awkward way of winning a football matches. Recently, in the journey to qualification to this year’s world cup in South Africa, French player; Henry Thierry in their match against Ireland, used his hand to bring into play a ball that was outside bound before scoring the goal that got France their qualification thereby denying Ireland a fair chance of playing in the biggest football event in the universe. Did FIFA do anything to see that justice was done to Ireland? NEVER! So France qualified in a questionable circumstance. Whoever must win must win fairly, otherwise all the noise about Fair-Play could just be mere hypocrisy.
3. THE TEAM UNITY FACTOR: The team with the most united front has the greatest chance of moving ahead in the tournament. Once there is a crack within the players or between the technical team and the players or between the teams and their administrators, the kind of issues that crops up in most African teams to major events like the world cup. It ranges from unpaid match bonuses, non-kept promises, ego issues where some players see themselves as super-stars who deserve VIP treatment and others as minors. This breeds acrimony in teams and make them lose focus. Any team that must do well must be a team of united gang of players with a single motive and business like attitude devoid of any distractions.
4. SURPRISE FACTOR: Who would have ever dreamed that South Korea of all countries would get to the semi finals of Korea/Japan 2002 FIFA World cup which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea?
The progression of Korea in that edition of the world cup came as a big surprise to the football pundits’ world. Who would have also predicted that Ghana could go all the way to win the last edition of FIFA under 20 world cup hosted by Egypt at the expense of great football nations like Brazil, Spain, Argentina and even Nigeria that has a pedigree in youth football tournaments having won the maiden edition the under 16 world cup which was hosted by China a championship they have won thrice, also having won silver medals at various editions of the under 20 world cup and in 1996 winning the soccer gold at the Atlanta Olympics, the only soccer glory that has eluded the almighty Brazil who nearly won in 1996 only to be denied by Nigeria.
In 1994 no one gave it to Nigeria against Bulgaria, but Nigeria went ahead to win convincingly with the best ever set of football players to come out of Nigeria coached by the Dutch tactician Clemence Westerhof. In 1998, no one ever thought Nigeria could ever match up against one of that year’s favorite team; Spain, but Nigeria dealt a big blow on Spain’s ambition beating them 3-2. I will never forget in a hurry that long range volley from Sunday Oliseh that proved to be the winner.
Lastly amongst other great surprising upsets, is the famous humiliation of the defending champion to the 2002 world cup having won the previous edition they hosted in 1998 by unknown Senegal that came to the tournament just to acquire some experience and enjoy themselves.
All book makers gave that match to France, but Lo and Behold, the much dreaded France was beaten by Senegal with a group of average players. It turned out to be one of the greatest upsets of the world cup of that year. The surprise factor therefore could play a role in producing the eventual winners.
In conclusion, on paper one would be tempted to simply hand over the world cup to the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Spain, England, Portugal, Italy, Germany based on current forms of there various players. I will like to take a look at the various teams and predict which team would eventually make it to the second round of this year’s world cup.
Group ‘A’, which has South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France, I am tipping France and South Africa (with massive home support from the partisan South African supporters behind their beloved team)to advance.
Group ‘B’ which has the ‘almighty’ Argentina with the likes of merciless Messi and Diego Milito in their attack, Nigeria (a country blessed with individually gifted players but lacking in the technical department because of hitherto absence of a sound technical team), Korea Republic and Greece. As a Nigerian, forgive me if I allow patriotism to overshadow my reasoning. I would therefore like to tip Argentina and Nigeria to move on. Nigeria have a way of springing surprises when you least expect them to perform well, but with coach Lars Lagerback’s coaching pedigree, one should expect a respectable performance from the ‘Giant of Africa’. Nigeria like I said before is blessed with great talents, but has always lacked the technical support which many other average teams have that help them to soar beyond expectation.
In group ‘C’, where England, USA, Algeria and Slovenia will be slogging it out for a place in the second round, I am tipping England and Slovenia to qualify.
From group D I am tipping Germany and Ghana to qualify ahead of Australia and Serbia.
Group ‘E’ will produce Netherlands and Denmark ahead of Japan and Cameroon. Group ‘F’ I see Italy and Paraguay qualifying ahead of Slovakia and debutant New Zea-land.
Group ‘G’ will undoubtedly produce Brazil and Portugal ahead of Cote d’Ivoire and People Republic of Korea.
Group ‘H’ will provide Spain and Chile ahead of Switzerland and Honduras.
Whatever happens contrary to my prediction will be credited to the surprise factor which cannot be ruled out. But I believe that the surprise factor can only produce less than 10% of any changes to my predictions.
On the issue of who wins the South Africa 2010 FIFA World cup, I will keep my fingers crossed for now pending the outcome of the first phase of the tournament. I promised to continually post updates in this blog for the benefit of my readers
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Playing football between nations is just like going to war as some countries now use it either to settle political scores or show their sporting superiority. A case in hand is the incident that occurred during the qualifying rounds of the forth-coming South Africa 2010 FIFA World cup, between African champions Egypt and their perennial rivals Algeria, which led to a lot of off the field squabbles leaving many wounded and almost led to serious diplomatic face-off between the two nations.
A country like Nigeria came into lime-light after winning the 1996 Atlanta Olympic game soccer event. This single soccer goal eclipsed any other medals won by the Nigerian contingent to that year's Olympic games, regrettably though, Nigeria has not been able to make a major impact at the senior world cup; her best performance so far being a second round qualification at both the 1994 and 1998 editions, they however could not go beyond the first round in Korea/Japan 2002 and were not able to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany as they were edged out by a less footballing nation like Angola. This actually shocked the world sending a signal to the so-called football world powers that there are no longer any minors in the world of football.
Among the 35 nations joining host South Africa for the first ever edition of the mun dial on African soil (Thanks to Sepp Blatter for his love for mother land Africa), there has been so much hype about which country is more favoured to lift the greatest, most prestigious silver ware in the world. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, England, Portugal are being taunted as possible winners by soccer pundits based on current form of their players plying their trade across the globe or past records. Although we all know that records don't play football. Some have even raised the hope of some African countries by speculating that this might just be the chance for an African country to lift this most coveted trophy.
As laughable as this might sound, some African football federation have begone to give their coaches some tall orders. For instance the newly hired Swedish born Nigeria's coach Lars Lagerback has been asked to take Nigeria to the semi final stage of the mundial. I don't know where they got this rare confidence from.
For the exponents of the possibility of an African country lifting the cup, they base their belief on the recent accomplishment of the Ghanaian under 20 team that set a new record by being the first African country to win at that stage of the competition and the accomplishments of some African countries including Nigeria at the youth level of football. They say, if Ghana could win at that stage, then why not at the senior level. What is not known by these exponents is the dearth of youth development programs in these countries to be able to sustain the various successes achieved at all the youth championships, sustainable programs must be put in place to build on the successes achieved.
I have chosen not to be a pessimist, but realities staring me in the face tells me that no African country has the administrative discipline nor technical properties to win the world cup, not in the next 20 years.
Come June 2010, book makers would be proved right or wrong as speculations would begin to pave way for realities. Dreams would be met and dreams would be dashed, but the euphoria of the FIFA world cup would linger on for as long as history could hold it.
My worries are these, amongst the 36 nations eyeing the the FIFA world cup in South Africa, how many countries have opened training camps, how many friendly matches are being played, how much does friendly matches determine the true strength of a team, how far can countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Ivory-Coast, Ghana and even host South Africa go in the competition. At the end of the mundial reality would definitely replace all the sentiments.
Do you have a different opinion? Please drop some comment here, let's talk about it.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Kudos must be given to the world governing body of the beautiful game of football FIFA for their high level of management and for turning the game of football from a mere recreational sport to a full professional sport that has turned so many young players from hitherto poverty stricken regions of the world from state of hopelessness to a state of affluence.
The game has so grown that even the powers that be in the world are putting everything into it to be able to make a sporting statement in the world.
The issue of celebration of goals by pulling off of jersey by players has constantly earned players unnecessary caution or yellow cards which could jeopardize their chances of continuing in the present game or make them miss some crucial future matches. Does this mean that the players themselves are not aware of the rule of this aspect of the game or that the various managements of the teams overlook this aspect? I imagine a situation where the fortune of a team takes a negative dive because their star player who have just scored a beautiful goal, got sent off for a second yellow card, the second card coming from the act of removing his jersey to celebrate the much awaited goal.
It is so painful that professional players still fall foul of this simple rule of the game. I would like to quote from the FIFA rules on this aspect of the game, with the hope that it would help reduce the continued occurrence of this avoidable foul in the beautiful game of football.
Celebration of a Goal
While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive.
FIFA recognized in Circular No. 579 that such reasonable celebrations are allowed. The practice of choreographed celebration is not to be encouraged when it results in excessive time wasting and referees are instructed to intervene in such cases.
A player must be cautioned when;
- In the opinion of the referee, he makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory.
- He climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate goal being scored.
- Removes his jersey in celebrating a goal.
- Leaving the field to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence in itself but it is essential that players return to the field as soon as possible.
- Referees are expected to act in a preventative mode and to exercise common sense in dealing with the celebration of goals.
Celebration of goals is the main fun of the game and that is the one of the main excitement fans get to see when they go to the stadium to watch football matches. It should not be allowed to kill the joy of the entire team just because someone got so excited and loses touch with the rule of the game.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The annually held African Footballer of the year award was intended by the founding fathers of Confederation of African Football (CAF) to promote excellence in the game of football, encouraging the youths to stay off crime and play football to make a living and to keep fit. It was also intended to recognize those footballers of African origin that have distinguished themselves and have either won individual laurels or contributed immensely to their club’s glory and country’s accomplishment in year under review.
It is quite a welcome development for Africa to tow the lines of UEFA, FIFA and other confederations saddled with the responsibilities of administrating football in their various continents and at the world level.
Recently, the most prestigious award in the field of football in Africa has ceased to produced the standard and suspense required for an award of that magnitude.
See below a list of past winner since 1993 and the clubs they play for.
Year- /Winners /Nationality Club
1993 - Rashidi Yekini - Nigeria /Victoria Setubal
1994 - Emmanuel Amunike - Nigeria /Sporting Lisbon
1995 - George Weah -Liberia /AC Milan
1996 - Nwankwo Kanu -Nigeria /Ajax Amsterdam
1997 - Victor Ikepeba -Nigeria /Monaco
1998 - Mustapha Hadji -Morocco /Deportivo La Coruna
1999 - Nwankwo Kanu -Nigeria /Arsenal
2000 - Patrick Mboma -Cameroon /Parma
2001 - El-Hadji Diouf -Senegal /Lens
2002 - El-Hadji Diouf -Senegal /Liverpool
2003 - Samuel Eto’o -Cameroon /Real Mallorca
2004 - Samuel Eto’o -Cameroon /Barcelona
2005 - Samuel Eto’o -Cameroon /Barcelona
2006 - Didier Drogba -Cote d’Ivoire /Chelsea
2007 - Frederic Kanoute -Mali /Sevilla
2008 - Emmanuel Adebayor -Togo /Arsenal
From the above table it should be noted that of all the winners since 1993, no single winner plays for any African Club despite the fact that every year the Confederation of African Football organizes their own version of the Champions league which is supposed to be the most prestigious club football glory in Africa. It is quite unfortunate that no past winner of the African Champions League has been able to win the African Footballer of the year award since 1993.
The big question is this; what are the CAF administrators doing to encourage our African players to look inwards, if the only way you could stand a chance of winning the most outstanding award in Africa Football, is by plying your trade in Europe.
This has not in any way helped to improve the values or development of the game of football within the Africa continent. Egypt won the 2008 edition of the African Cup of Nation hosted by Ghana with predominantly 90% home based players taken from the Egyptian league and coached by an Egyptian coach; making nonsense of our over reliance on foreign coaches and Europe based players most of whom play with little or no commitment to their national teams.
Little is known about the various football leagues in Africa whereas too much is now known about the European league here in Africa, various fans club of top European clubs are found in the remotest of hamlets and villages all over Africa and on every match day commercial television viewing centers are jam packed with fans cheering their various European clubs whereas the various stadium in most parts of Africa are virtually empty when top league matches are being played. Some Football Associations shift important matches to other days, simply because a top club in Europe is playing a league match that same day. The reasons are obvious; people would rather pay to watch the Europeans clubs on TV than to go watch an important international match for free at any of the stadium.
CAF has helped in enhancing the growth of interest in the European leagues by their criteria for selecting or deciding who wins the African Footballer of the year.
In the last edition (2008) won by Emmanuel Adebayor, a Nigerian born Togolese national team and Arsenal football of England player, shows that Africa football administrators are still miles away from promoting the growth of the game in Africa.
In 2008, one cannot actually hold on to any particular accomplishment of Emmanuel Adebayor, he did not emerge as highest goal scorer in the premiership nor did he help the national team of Togo to win any title. Arsenal did not win any silverware in the whole of 2008.
Mohammed Aboutrika of Egypt and Al-Ahly football club on the other hand was instrumental to Egypt’s 6th Nations Cup title win, he also won the Africa Champions League with his club Al-Ahly; both honors came in the year under review.
To most football pundits, Mohammed Aboutrika who was born on November 7, 1978 in Giza, Egypt is the ideal African Footballer of the year 2008. His greatest disadvantage comes from the fact that he plays in Africa. And by this, the administrators of the game of football in African has confirmed as inferior, the game of football in Africa. I see it as gross injustice against one of the best football playing nations in Africa; Egypt that has one of the best organized leagues in Africa.
I guess the only way for Mohammed Aboutrika to win African Footballer of the year is for him to leave Africa and head for Europe since our administrator do not seem to attach values to those Africans working relentlessly to promote the growth of the game by remaining within the continent of African.
Unfortunately, young Africans have continuously been victims of fraudulent scouts who promise them heaven on earth and make them believe that once they get to Europe they would be handed juicy contracts to play for top European clubs, only to see themselves playing for low division clubs whose standard is not comparable to where they are coming from.
African Administration must as a matter of urgency review the criteria used for choosing future winners of this important award.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Scolari came with a lot of confidence and hope promising to return the club to winning ways after the sack of Mourinho’s successor; Avram Grant. This however has not been the case since Scolari took over at Stamford Bridge; he has shown his lack of ‘experience’ in club football management. His string of losses and scandalous draws most especially at home ground has broken the hearts of millions of fans world wide who week in week out throng out to support their darling Chelsea Football club.
During his short spell as head coach of Chelsea FC, the once dreaded London club became so vulnerable that the weakest of teams could now hold their own again Chelsea. The string of losses and scandalous draws at Stamford Bridge; the home of Chelsea football club did not help matters either.
In the current season, Chelsea has become the weeping team of the other clubs that make up the legendary ‘Big 4’ recently losing scandalously to Liverpool, Arsenal and the ‘almighty’ Manchester United.
Scolari possesses an intimidating international record; having achieved the highest glory achievable by any football coach, by winning the world cup with his native Brazil in 2002. He also did very well as head coach of Portugal, turning them into a world power in international football.
The lesson for Luiz Felipe Scolari however is that success at the world scene or country level does not automatically translate totally to success at club level; where the stars are groomed and nurtured. The world scene is just an avenue to showcase the stars that has been made at the club level. The club challenges are however more enormous, tasking and challenging as you have to deal with day to day training, discipline and welfare of your players and crew. At club level a lot of matches are played sometimes twice in a week, strategies are mapped out and reviewed with every match and you do not have the luxury of time to experiment as it is the case at country level.
Scolari lost his job after about 7 months in charge in which period he played a total of 25 premier league games as head coach of the Blues. He has only won 4 premier league matches in the last 12 matches. This is the first time Chelsea has not been able to collect 50 points from their first 25 games since Roman Abrahimovich acquired the London club. Their main ‘Achilles heel’ however has been their inability to garner enough points at home and their loss of their invincibility at home, losing their once taunted ‘unbeaten run’ at their home ground to Liverpool football club.
Among the top 5 premiership clubs, Chelsea has dropped the most points at home having dropped a total of 16 points at home. Chelsea is no longer dreaded and if things were allowed to continue the way it was going they could stand the risk of not qualifying for the 2009/2010 Champions’ league, and at worst not even winning any trophies or silverware for this current season.
The life of a football coach comprises of two major events; HIRE and FIRE. When you do well, you stay when you fail to deliver; you are shown the way out. Scolari is a great coach, but I believe he still has a lot to learn about football at club level. That goes to buttress the saying that “there is no end to learning” and in the world of NOKIA, is this beautiful thought provoking phrase “No One Knows It All”.
I wish Luiz Felipe Scolari the best in his future endeavours.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
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Tuesday, June 3, 2008
How your Excuses can stall your MLM goal
The multi level marketing system is a great business system that presents a level playing field for all categories of people irrespective of their academic qualification, experience and societal standing or status.
I have heard green horns in the multi level marketing system make great boasts about starting big. A friend of mine has been preparing to launch it big for about a year now. His reasons are as follows;
- He wants to be able to design and host a world class website where he would kick start his multi level marketing business.
- Wants to play safe by not talking to anyone personally about his business, but still wants to make his multi level marketing business very great.
- Hates being rejected by prospects.
- Wants to guarantee that he has a lot of money to be able to meet with the monthly order of products.
After listening to these excuses, I advised him thus.
- The start up capital of any good multi level marketing business does not have to be huge; this is one of the things that distinguish it from a traditional business setup.
- There is no way you can start and run an effective multi level marketing business without talking to people, mouth to mouth advertising has proved to be a very effective means of selling goods and services.
- Rejection is one of the excitements of the multi level marketing business. More often than not, you see some of the people that had rejected you in the past coming back to you when they begin to see you succeed.
- A good multi level marketer should be able to manage what he has to get what he wants.
Our limiting beliefs can become the major setback to effective start up of our multilevel marketing business and the sooner as we are able to overcome these objections, the more successful we could become.