Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Aguero de Saviour and Messi's record

Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi are friends, and today they stole the attention in this round of the Champions League.
Aguero has before been the last minute saviour for Manchester City, and tonight, against mighty Bayern Munich, he was the saviour throughout. The first warning of his fast runs towards goal came when Mehdi Benatia brought him down in the area as the Argentine was getting through. Benatia was shown a red card and Aguero scored on the penalty.
But Bayern are Bayern: Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski brought Bayern ahead 1-2, and it did look good until "Kun" Aguero was given two gifts: first Xabi Alonso gave Aguero a free run towards goal, and in the last minute of the match a hapless Jerome Boateng lost the ball to Aguero who made it 3-2 to Manchester City. Manchester City will now face Roma in a final decisive match about who follows Bayern Munich to the next round.
I do not know if they like Aguero in Manchester City. But they should.
In the meantime Sergio Aguero's compatriot Lionel Messi scored three goals in FC Barcelona's 0-4 victory against Apoel Nicosia (Luis Suarez scored the last goal. His first for Barcelona). Lionel Messi is apparently in a "crisis", but still averages more than a goal per game (I guess you have to be Messi to call that average a crisis) and with these three goals he beat legendary Raul to become the most scoring player in Champions League history with 74 goals.
And I think it is a safe bet that he will score more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

The Africa Cup of Nations will take place in Equatorial Guinea in January, and the last qualifying matches took place today. One major surprise is that the defending champions from Nigeria failed to qualify: they needed to win at home, but only managed to draw 2-2 against South Africa. As Congo beat Sudan 0-1, they follow the Bafana Bafana to Equatorial Guinea. It will be great to have South Africa back among the best in Africa, although it is disappointing to see Nigeria out; the team was again hit by allegations of corruption and conflict prior to the match, and changes may be coming.
Another of the great African sides will not be there: A disappointing Egypt had already been eliminated before losing their final match to Tunisia, who won the group ahead of Senegal. In the meantime, the splendid Algeria that thrilled all of us at the World Cup lost 2-0 to Mali, but had already booked their place, while Mali will follow the North Africans with their victory. The giants Ivory Coast and Cameroon both made it to the finals by tying 0-0, while Ghana sealed their qualification with a 3-1 victory over Togo. In Ghana's group Guinea took the second spot by defeating Uganda 2-0. They were playing in Morocco because of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea. The same Morocco who forsook the tournament because of Ebola....
All in all, these are the 16 great sides that will compete in Equatorial Guinea:
  • Equatorial Guinea: the hosts
  • South Africa
  • Congo
  • Algeria
  • Mali
  • Gabon
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Ivory Coast
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Cape Verde
  • Zambia
  • Tunisia
  • Senegal
  • DR Congo
It could be a great tournament, hopefully not to be overshadowed by fear of Ebola, where big European clubs will not let their players join because of pure ignorance.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ebola football panic

I have returned to dear Liberia after two months where I had to leave because of the panic that has hit everywhere. This has also touched football, showing that irrational and idiotic fear based on prejudice and ignorance are as much a part of football as in the rest of society.
The first example that has really baffled me is Morocco's refusal to host the African Cup of Nations in January, amid fears of the spread of the virus. Of the three countries with the contagion, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, only Guinea has a chance, albeit very small, of qualifying. But as with Europe and US, the fear of Ebola seems to be rooted in a general fear of Sub-Saharan Africa, not to say racism, as described in a recent article I read. Despite WHO saying that they saw little risk (notwithstanding that the three countries will not qualify, I do not think Ebola patients were considering traveling to watch football), Morocco went ahead to cancel it. Fortunately, CAF has reacted by throwing them out, as the tournament has been moved to Equatorial Guinea.
I hope Morocco faces a long suspension.
Another example is Borussia Dortmund not letting their Gabonese player, Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang, not play for his national team in today's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Angola, which ended 0-0, and keeps Gabon with good chances of qualifying for Equatorial Guinea.
Now, Gabon has not Ebola, and does not border any of the affected countries. Angola has not cases and does not border any of the affected countries. Even in the unlikely case that someone had Ebola, would they be playing football...?
Borussia Dortmund may be ignorant. However, I think that Ebola is just major clubs latest excuse for not releasing their African players. Expect more of the same.
This is beyond football. It is ignorance. It is racism by other means, and if football is going to fight racism, it should also attack decisions based on ignorance.