Daily Archives: February 8, 2012

The Reducer: Week 24, Why We Fight

Fernando Torres
“‘It was a great game for the neutral watching,’ said Sir Alex Ferguson, in what might have been a knowing nod to the many Americans — new or newish to the English game — who had just casually watched Manchester United play out a six-goal draw with Chelsea on Sunday. Had United come up short in their comeback, or had they never mounted one at all, Fergie would probably not be feeling so concerned about the experience of the neutral, American or otherwise. He would have been too busy turning purple, inventing new Scottish profanities, and finalizing plans to sell Jonny Evans to a third-division club in Kazakhstan. But as it happened, all was full of love.” Grantland (YouTube)

Zambia 1 – 0 Ghana

“Emmanuel Mayuka’s second-half strike was enough to send Zambia through to the final of the African Nations Cup as they upset ten-man Ghana in Bata. Star Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan was made to rue his seventh-minute penalty miss, and a host of other chances, as the unfancied Zambians reached the final for the first time in 18 years.” ESPN

Zambia 1-0 Ghana: Ghana fail to break down deep opposition and Zambia subs win it
“Emmanuel Mayuka came off the bench to score an excellent goal, and Zambia are in the final. Zambia coach Herve Renard made a couple of surprising moves, dropping Mayuka to bring James Chamanga in the side upfront. He also went more defensive in midfield, meaning no place for the tricky Chisamba Lungu, and Isaac Chanca pushed out wide. Ghana coach Goran Stefanovic was without Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, so Derek Boateng started in the centre of midfield. Sulley Muntari was only on the bench, with Kwadwo Asamoah and the Ayew brothers supporting Asamoah Gyan.” Zonal Marking

The 2012 African Cup Of Nations: The Quarter-Finals
“They huffed and puffed. And Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, Africa’s two best footballing nations according to Fifa’s rankings (so it must be true), are looking good to contest Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final, without looking good in getting there. That said, they form half of what was nearly a semi-final line-up that some (i.e. me) thought ideal – the two favourites against the two most exciting and capable underdogs. Zambia have been in that latter category literally from day one and their expansive first-half display against tournament flops Senegal. Co-hosts Gabon, and their vibrant young side with a vibrant old centre-forward, would have been ideal semi-finalist number four.” twohundredpercent

A life less ordinary
“Almost anywhere in the world you can get a t-shirt with a variation of the expression, ‘Football is life, everything else is only detail,’ emblazoned on it. In most places the actual meaning of that slogan is nothing. It’s cute, it’s catchy, it speaks to the dedication, commitment, passion and even obsession of lovers of the game but it still does not amount to anything but words.” ESPN

Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham: neither side step it up in the second half

“A decent game but no goals. Kenny Dalglish had Luis Suarez available again but kept him on the bench. Jose Enrique missed his first game of the season, so Glen Johnson moved to the left with Martin Kelly at right-back. Harry Redknapp was absent from the match. Tottenham had various injury problems so went for a conservative 4-5-1 shape, with Jake Livermore in the centre and Niko Kranjcar out wide.” Zonal Marking

Liverpool 0 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur
“Luis Suarez’s long-awaited return from suspension could not inspire Liverpool to victory over Tottenham at Anfield as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw. The Uruguay international, having served an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, had not played since Boxing Day. And although he gave his side another dimension when he appeared as a second-half substitute, he could not end six weeks’ of frustration with a decisive intervention, missing a golden chance from close range late in the game.” ESPN

Match Of The Week: Liverpool 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
“The weather has not been a friend to football supporters of late. The cold snap did for a majority of matches scheduled below the Premier League, and this evening, an hour before kick-off at Anfield, there is a possibility that it might strike again, with a thick fog over Liverpool. The fog clears in time for kick-off, though a lack of clarity will turn out to be a common feature of the evening. The top of the table has the feeling of being a house built on shaky foundations.” twohundredpercent

Miracle man Kalusha Bwalya behind Zambia’s rise as they take on Ghana

“Look at all that is good about Zambian football and you will see the hand of Kalusha Bwalya. He scored a hat-trick when Zambia beat Italy at the 1988 Olympics. After the air-crash of 1993 had wiped out almost the entire team, he was the rallying point the new side was built around. And, as Zambia look to reach their first Cup of Nations final since that remarkable renaissance side of 1994 in Wednesday’s semi-final against Ghana, it is Kalusha, now president of the football federation, who drew the blueprint.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Mali’s heroes weep for a nation at war
“There were a lot of tears in Libreville on Sunday. There were the tears of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, overwhelmed by having missed the decisive penalty in Gabon’s shootout defeat to Mali and there were the tears of Seydou Keita as he used his side’s progress to the semi-final for the first time in 10 years to highlight the crisis overwhelming his country.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Kljestan’s brilliance in Belgium merits long look from Klinsmann

“When the NCAA men’s basketball tournament takes center stage in about a month, we’ll hear plenty usage of the term “blind résumé.” It is a comparison method for decision-makers to look at the body of work for teams on the tournament-field bubble without being clouded by predetermined bias linked to a school’s name or conference affiliation. While it is far from an exact science, the blind résumé provides a meat-and-potatoes breakdown of who merits consideration for inclusion based on tangible accomplishments, leaving name and reputation out of the equation.” SI

Copa Libertadores a cradle of talent

“This year’s major international tournament, the European Championship, was first disputed in 1960 – which makes it a mere youngster in comparison with the South American version, the Copa America, held as far back as 1916. But in terms of club competitions, rather than national teams, the seniority is reversed. The competition now known as the Champions League, originally the European Cup, first kicked off in 1955. The South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, only came to life five years later – and was a conscious attempt to emulate the European competition, so that the champions of football’s two traditional continents could fight it out for the world title. Why the discrepancy? It is not too hard to explain.” ESPN – Tim Vickery