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Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why the English Lost and Way Forward

England are out of the World Cup!! Not entirely surprising is it? After drawing with the US in the first match, struggling to a barren draw with Algeria in the second and beating Slovenia only by a solitary goal in their last match, the English, by their expected standards, have not quite been what many had envisioned them to be. It’s been a hapless performance from the team which boasts of household names in modern football spread from defence to midfield, striking and even the substitute’s bench.

But inspite of boasting of an unplayable striker in the name of Wayne Rooney, a midfield of every managers dream ochestrated by Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard and a defence that, on paper, should be a nightmare to opponents, this team always underperforms. And the 2010 FIFA World Cup hasn’t been any different despite the team commanding the intimidating 'Golden' Generation tag. A 4-1 thumping in the hands of Joachim Low’s eleven in the quarter finals was humiliating but not shocking. So just what went wrong for Fabio Capello’s men? Did the gaffer get his tactics wrong? Were the players playing out of position? Or were they not getting enough rest? And what happens next? Does the tactician go? And who should replace him?

Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the men from the Queen’s land and try to grind out a way forward .

1.    Mauricio Espinosa – “Another controversial encounter with Germany that ends with a controversial goal line incident at a key moment in the game, will we see technology in football soon?” This is how the England Football Team group on Facebook summed up the game. immediately after the final whistle. Notice these words - a key moment in the game. I agree with this point. The goal could perhaps have given England the psyche that is synonymous with Stephen Gerard and his charges at Liverpool. Had this legitimate goal been allowed to stand, may be, and just may be, the Three Lions could have won it.
Way forward – introduce goal line technology FIFA. And if Lampard is to participate in the next World Cup in Brazil, he has four years to start growing a little shorter so that his shots won’t be that towering.

Can you notice the difference between the picture on the left and the one on the right? The one on the left is that one, yes, that one that the English are understandably complaining about. The one on the right was Drogba's effort against North Korea. The ball in this case didn't cross the line, and the referee got the decision right.

2.    Wayne Rooney - OH. The boy whose shoulders were supposed to carry the hopes of a population of over 50 million people. But, an avatar of Rooney was brought to the World Cup. The real one was seen nursing injuries at a women’s hospital in Manchester. The other Rooney was last seen by millions of viewers playing sumptuous football in a Nike advert. That’s actually the closest this
Rooney should have gone to the World Cup.
Way Forward – don’t we all just love the Rooney with the beards? Why on earth did he shave!! The more bearded the Rooney, the more intimidating he is to his opponents, the more he can make Nike-like last minute tackles. By 2014, he’ll only be 30. He thus has four good years to grow that beard. And if the English don’t like it, he can migrate to Somalia where men are given 30 days to grow beards, play for them and when the time for the 2014 World Cup comes, under dual citizenship, he should get back to his mother country who will be fielding Robert Green as their striker because, well, he can score goals.

3.    Vuvuzela - The noise coming from the vuvuzela meant that the players couldn’t hear any instructions from their coach, David Beckam, who left Italian Fabio Capello out of the squad. This noisy horn also meant that Ashley Cole couldn’t get enough sleeping time, something that really affected his game on the left side of field.
Way Forward - The English team should abscond any event hosted in Africa in future. The vuvuzela is here to stay. Good news that Jamie Carragher won't be available for the next world cup since he's planning to buy this horn for his little ones.  

4.    Theo Walcott – Capello’s undoing? He’s a pure amalgam of speed. He has the power of a Didier Drogba. Dribbling skills comparable to that of Andrea Dossena. His telepathic understanding with Emile Heskey is undoubted and he scores more goals from the centre of the field than Michael Silvestre. He's sort of a Castrol EDGE Ultimate Performing Player. Why did Capello and Beckam leave him out? Because Beckam would rather see an injured Beckam in the World Cup?
Way Forward – Take him back to the Sol Campbell Football Academy to learn one thing -  football is about pace, skill and more skill and pace, not pace, pace and pace. He should be ready to roll for the next World Cup.

5.    Robert Green – What do you expect from a man who wears green, plays in a green surface and is colour blind to that effect. Had the jabulani ball been green and not white, hadn’t Capello introduce ‘Calamitous James’ in the consequent games, green could have still single-handedly kicked England out of the World Cup in the group stages, and saved England from an embarrassing defeat against Adolf Hitler’s sons.
Way Forward – If any future England coach has no confidence in Calamitous James, they should hire the free services of Manuel Almunia, or better yet, play a 5-4-2, with five defenders and no goalkeeper.

6.    Italy –the success of England in the World Cup depended on the longevity, or lack of it, of any Italian-related thing in the World Cup. Thus, the English qualified for the round of 16, only because the gods from Rome thought Italy would make it through. When they failed, the gods got so annoyed that it put the pace of Fabio Cannavaro on the feet of all England defenders. The result of this was all too clear for everyone to see. Actually, the Italians went to the world cup to fight, literally. See picture.
Way Forward – Simple. There’s nothing Italian in English. No Italian women, Italian food, and Italian coach. Not many Italians succeed in England. They need more time which the English are never interested in giving. Dossena was a flop, Aquilani is being called a flop, and Capello is a flap.

7.    Capello – What was he doing? Why didn’t he play Gerard in his favoured position just behind the striker? Why did he leave Walcott out and forced Carragher out of retirement? Why didn’t he carry some chewing gum to help fork him out of making bad decisions?
 Way forward – the English papers know it only too well. Get rid of Flapello and ban David Beckam from the touchline forever! Then, appoint all the football pundits in The Sun as co-coaches of the England national team. Also, higher the services of Nike Football Write the Future. These guys did an amazing job and almost predicted how the World Cup was going to take shape. See end of this article.

8.    Terry – Stripped off the captaincy and pelted with all manner of obscenities as a result of his infidelity, this man went to the World Cup without having gotten the much-needed psychiatrist help. If Tiger Woods has not performed in the golf course, how on earth did we expect Terry to pull the first one on the football field?
Way forward – Terry has tried but trial is never enough in a World Cup event. He’s suffered heartbreak one too many in the profession of football. In 2006, they were kicked out in the quarter-finals of the World Cup event. Terry cried. In 2007-08 season, he slipped and failed to convert a penalty that could have won Chelsea their first ever Champions League final. Terry Cried. Should he cry anymore? Quit the national team, quit Champions League football… actually, quit football and start training as a gynecologist. They rarely cry.

9.    Something wrong about the Germans – Who did Capello tell his players to mark. Bastian who? Tim who? Meta-what? The sheer ‘class’ of names the Germans have would get any tactician confused. And the few ones who have simpler names like Philip Lahm are so diminutive that they almost go unnoticed when they don’t have the ball and hence they can make runs into the penalty area without being seen by defenders. And did the Germans go to the field prepared for a World War III with the English?
Way Forward -  Bring the likes of Gabriel Imuetinyan Agbonlahor to the world cup.

10.    Fans – And am included here. Did we expect too much from the English? Is the English Premier League really the best in the world? Does it have the best players in world football? And are the English among these A-list footballers? Do people supporting England always expect too much from the players? Is the English media so complacent about just how good Premier league football is? So many questions that English players need to answer when they don the all red or white and red attires to represent their nation on the field. They always fail to give answers. Always. This is definitely not the umpteenth time.
Way Forward – May be we should not be expecting these players to transform their club forms into the international arena. England is like Nigeria in Africa. When you think they have come good, they work too hard to prove otherwise. They are never willing to play second fiddle to anyone but they put too little effort and end up being worse than second. The players are good from far, but far from good. The future of English football however relies the likes of Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Jonjo Shelvey, Gabriel Agbonlahor and the likes. They have pace and skill, an item that has been lurking in the England eleven for quite some time now. But we should not be made to believe that they are the best young players in the world. This is what kills English football. Believing that they are the best. 

Nike Football Write the Future -
Ronaldinho was never picked
Walcott was never picked
Cannavaro is out
Ribery is out
Drogba is out
Rooney is out
Donovan is out
Christian Ronaldo is... Out 
The future was well written by Nike. May be it's high time we started fancying the likes of Ghana, Argentina and Slovakia, teams that never featured in the advert. 

 And that's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Xenophobic Attacks May Resurface if Vuvuzela is Banned

The 12th Man is a term synonymous with many soccer teams across the world, but no team assumes more comfort in it than Liverpool Football club. When Liverpool beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions league in a historic comeback from 3-0 down, the credits did not only go to captain fantastic, Steven Gerard, midfield amulets, Xabi Alonso and Dietmar Harmann, but to also to one man who never kicked the ball; the 12th Man.

This quite important man who never gets to kick a ball and can only handle it if a player hits a wayward shot happens to be the fans. And no matter how big a game of football is, whether it is the passion-driven Merseyside derby or the pride and bragging rights aligned El derbi espaƱol, without the 12th man, there’s likely to be some dull kickaround and lack of the kind of passion that makes married men weep.

It’s the 12th man who would go to the streets to protest against misadministration of a club, it’s the 12th man who would lose his/her voice in support of their team, it’s the 12th man who gets ridiculed by the opponent’s fans when they get whooped by a lower division team, and it’s the 12th man who travels distant miles to show solidarity and support for the team.

But unlike the Kops from Anfield who sang You Will Never Walk Alone song for more than two hours in the thrilling encounter, the 12th man is not entirely reliant on his/her voice only. The Dutch have their conspicuous, bright orange colours, the Nigerians have their regalia comprised of the iro (top) and buba (wrapper) topped off with a gele (headwrap), the Argentines unfurl banners from Boca Juniours and River Plate as they chant slogans, the Mexicans have the infamous Mexican wave, the Brazilians have the Samba dance, the Ghanaians have their drums and, well, the South Africans have the vuvuzela.

So vital is the 12th man, their songs, instruments and body movements that sometimes a team’s good performance, or lack of it, determines whether the team swims in ecstasy of victory or wallows under the agony of defeat. How many times have we heard the coaches and players urge their supporters to come out in large numbers and ‘cheer the team to victory’? While victory is not always surefire when the fans make loud cheers in support of their teams and equally loud jeers for the opponents, such support actually does affect the player’s psychology.

The home team is always said to be under pressure to not only win, but also impress, and the fans’ satisfaction is the yardstick used to measure these two items. South Africa, which is hosting and participating in this year’s World Cup, is no different.

The host nation is not only under pressure to perform at home, but also not to be the first host nation to fail going beyond the group stages in the football premier event. To achieve this, they would have to go through an open group A which features 1998 champions France, two-time winners Uruguay and 1970 hosts, Mexico. They would need the 12th man to be at the top of their voice. Or is it horn?

Which brings the question of the vuvuzela. Should it be banned? If yes, what will happen to attendance in the matches? If no, will the players continue kicking the ball around without ‘being able’ to communicate to each other or hear instructions from the bench? What is it in the first place? What does it mean? Is it a distraction to the world cup as some critics are claiming? Does it have anything to do with culture and fan tradition? Should such distractive traditions be excused into world cup?

Unfortunately, not many people have been eager to get the answers for these questions. I know I don’t have the best of answers. Nobody does.

But I say, the vuvuzela is simply South Africa’s twelfth-and-a-half man. To break that statement down, we have the 11 players on the field, the 12th man who is the fan, and the half a man which is the vuvuzela. Should it be banned? I say not really. The 12th man in South Africa and the half a man are one. Ban the vuvuzela and you drive the fans away from the pitch. Drive the fans away from the pitch and you have players who simply cannot perform. This results into dull matches, no advertising revenue, reduced media coverage, no celebration and at the end of it all, no memories of a World Cup in 2010.

What happens next is anti-vuvuzela proponents would simply descend into their lieu de rendezvous, raise a champagne and then tune into the TV reports in their countries reporting that the worst ever world cup event to grace the earth was hosted in Africa, which happens to be least developed and most corrupt country in the world, and where the words doom and gloom must have gotten their origin.

FIFA, dominated by egotistic men from the west would then put rules requiring that for any nation to host the World Cup, they must have had at least an annual GDP growth of $300,000 as of 2009, hence South Africa, the top African country with $287,219 will be locked out and so will other African countries. US, the European Union, most Asian and South American countries will be eligible. But no room for Africa.

Anything good happening in Africa is graced by music, song, dance and, of late, blaring vuvuzela for good measure. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is good, very good for the continent. Thus, there shouldn’t be any restrictions as to which extent we should celebrate this once in a lifetime event.

Banning the vuvuzela will be like making South Africa play in an empty stadium. This will inturn have many repercussions. First, FIFA will have to refund the South African and other pro-vuvuzela fans the amount they spent on match tickets, that is, if they boycott, official beer sponsor Budweiser, unable to make sales will also ask FIFA to refund the millions of dollars it gave out on beer marketing rights, so will other brands which have invested in the gala.

And who knows, xenophobic attacks may just resurface in the Rainbow nation and perhaps a Third World War may break out due to xenophobic-induced mass killings. I can’t seem to stop wondering how South African fans in the black dominated areas are feeling about this whole ban vuvuzela debate. Racial tensions may as well be developing as can be gathered around different social sites where groups like (Fifa- Ban The Annoying Vuvuzela (Horn) From The South Africa World Cup!) have been formed. Some of the posts in the 'walls' of such groups have been utterly racial and the black community have been called all kinds of names which I would rather censure on this article.

Just like the traveling England fans are imperative for the success of the men from the Queens land in the tournament, the blaring horn and their owners are vital for South Africa’s progress in the World Cup. If it performs the desired function of urging the Bafana Bafana on and putting off the opposing team, then South Africa may as well win this tournament, if not go far beyond expectations. But first, they have to ignore the anti-vuvuzela crusaders who wouldn’t just let the locals celebrate this spectacle in the way they know best.

England and Liverpool defensive linchpin Jamie Carragher was quoted saying he would be taking some of the plastic horn home with him. "My kids have been on the phone and they want two. I've got two in my bag already," he said.

Is it so hard to emulate him?

The 2010 World Cup must live in the memories of many. Shocks like star-studded Spain losing to Switzerland will come and go. Goalkeepers will complain of the Jabulani ball but it will still be used anyway. But from what I have gathered so far, one thing will stand out tall from the rest... taller than even if Ghana win the World Cup or Spain or England fail to go beyond the quarter finals.

The vuvuzela will make the 2010 World Cup indelible in the memories of many. And I haven’t heard any Italian complain about it. They simply know that if you go to Rome, you either let the Romans do their things, or do as the Romans do.

Is it so hard to live with that?

And that's Thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ban Vuvuzela and Airlift This World Cup to Europe Before It's Over!!

Africa has inherited and learned many cultures from the West, some which have proved detrimental, others, beneficial. However, the reverse cannot be said of the West. They are simply okay with everything that they do, which is always right. Quite unfortunate.

Even more unfortunate is that they always try to convert Africans to seeing things using their own sunglasses, by portraying their (African) practices either as uncouth, or completely primitive in this 21st century. Quite unfortunate.

Not willing to be ostracized from the practices associated with the global village (which is defined by how the west wants everyone to live), the African man and woman have accommodatingly accepted whatever has been thrown their way.

At times, they have forced us to adopt their way of living. Colonization was one of them, homosexuality is becoming one of them. Never mind that so far, there’s no single native African language that has a word for gay or lesbian relationship, and there’s no single African native language that has a word for corruption, something that they also introduced in this society, taught our men and women who were eager to learn and adopt everything west. Now they are practicing what they were taught as a good student should, but you can see all the criticism.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone corruption. Never will. But the fact that the West tend to tell us what is wrong and right even when we know that we can decide for ourselves is, again, quite unfortunate.

This article has gone too far already. My desire actually is to opine on the recent suggestions doing rounds on the media that the vuvuzelas should be banned from world cup stadiums. Why? Because some light-skinned, fat-cheeked dude sitting comfortably in a spacious palace, able to afford a Dizzie Gillespie's Martin Committee Trumpet as a birthday present for his unborn child thinks that the vuvuzela ‘noise’ coming out of his 103-inch plasma display panel TV is discomforting.

Africa is about dance and music. I repeat; Africa is about dance and music. These are our fantasy du-jour. These are what make our world go round. These are what makes us Africans. These are our hamburgers and hotdogs that satiate our appetite in the stadiums. When our opposing team’s fans enjoy their cans of Coke, we draw in a lot of air and release it on our vuvuzelas. When the ‘noise’ that comes out from that Ghanaian in the last row of the auditorium rhymes with that coming out of the Kenyan watching the game outside the stadium, it connects us and reminds us that we share Africa, with its traditions and  ‘noise.’

The ‘noise’ has been likened to a herd of stampeding elephants. Elephants make us Africans. Critics also claim that it is a danger to hearing and completely camouflages the singing loved by many international supporters. International supporters is the key word here. Who cares about local supporters? I say this is Africa’s World Cup. We need to celebrate it our own way because no one knows if, not when, Africa will get another chance to host this event.

For those who want to sing, sing louder. If you cant, well, Arturo Freeman once said, ‘If you can't beat them over the years, ... you might as well join them.’

Bottomline is, we would rather embrace our ‘excessive noise’ than adopt the wayward spirit of hooliganism in our stadias.  The Mexicans have the Mexican wave, the English have their Three Lions song and Africa has its vuvuzela!!

Every nation has its own traditions and modus operandi. On his official Twitter page, FIFA President Sepp Blatter summed up everything saying, “I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?”

Ours is the vuvuzela. So for all the critics fronting for the ban of our stampeding elephant, buy some earplugs, switch off the tube or buy a vuvuzela and be part of the noise.

And that’s thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Confessions of a Serial Killer

He's killed 19 people since 2007 - none of them a relative - says he has 83 more homicides to commit, marvels at drinking his victim's blood, competes with God in the right to take a human being's life, can be easily called a psychopath or Narcissist with his remorseless face, is one of the few known G4$ employees who left the security firm without stealing and hiding millions of shillings under the carpet, he's getting more popular than the viral Makmende, and his cult, though without name is perhaps far worse than the Finger of god.

If you are a Kenyan, you must be cursing but shivering in fear at the thought of our latest inductee on the hall of cult fame. If you are not, the aforementioned profile belongs to one and only Philip Onyancha, or Onyan-cult as we will be refereeing to him in this article. He happens to be the only individual in Kenya who is effortlessly and successfully competing with the world cup craze in Kenya in every measure. As a matter of fact, football widows at least have gotten something to talk about as their men give them temporary separation for the love of the game. 

The women, who euphemistically love 'sharing' information have found a companion who they can talk about, albeit in disgust and disdain, and help them get the much needed break from football penalties, freekicks and red cards. Quite a pity though that this companion has come in the form of a serial killer.

But I bet on England winning the world cup that some would rather watch Onyan-cult's chilling story than tune it to a station showing 22 shaving men following "an air-filled sphere with a circumference, a  weight 410–450 g, inflated to a pressure of 0.6–1.1 at "at sea level", and covered in or "other suitable material, (juala?)" according to Wikipedia and Law 2 of the Game. of 68–70 cm leather

Back to Onyan-cult.

This former student of Kenyatta Mahiga High School confessed that he was introduced to a cult by his former teacher, who, before surrendering to the authorities, had gone AWOL after watching her former student in cult-ology, biology et all come out and confess that he draws pleasure from killing children women and drinking their blood. Whether this is what he was taught in school still remains a mystery.

For four years, Onyan-cult's charming, humble and loyal nature has helped this 'breadwinner', as he is described by his wife who has fled home, take the lives of 19 people, including prostitutes. Which brings me a discussion we had in a Christian Worldview class. What more do women need? Is it freedom or security, if not both?

Based on Onyan-cult's story, I know most women would say, security, and argue that had the men been more careful and avaricious with their properties (women and children if you belong to such cultures), Onyan-cult could have had no chance to commit his blood-curdling murders.

Or is it freedom? Had men so protective of the unfortunate victims and let the women stay at home, hence deny them freedom to roam, may be, and just may be, they could still be living.

But is Onyan-cult the really person to blame? Did he fall a victim of his much more intellectually superior teacher and gotten so much engrossed in the ills that he was taught to the extent that there wasn't a point of return for him? And now that we know how many lives he's wiped out of existence, is he the only member and how big is the cult and how many kills has the teacher made herself? Could she have taught Onyan-cult how to kill without having made kills herself?

"When I got involved, I didn't know what I was getting into," were the lamentations of Onyan-cult when he was asked about how he became so morally decayed in deeds and indeed action. His answer calls for a level of sympathy, if not understanding, but of course this differs depending on whether you are a victim or not.

As a teenager who was undergoing major transformations both physically and psychologically, Onyancha was quite vulnerable and the fact that he got swayed into joining the cult by the former teacher, Elizabeth Wambui Kimani just underlines the level of abandonment the parents are subjecting their children to.

How many stories do we hear and read about children and devil worshiping, especially in boarding schools? How many parents try to get insight into the kind of groups their children belong to? Your guess is as good as Onyan-cult's teacher who took advantage of his parent's negligence and let me pay school fees and no more attitude.

While Onyan-cult's deeds are utterly despicable, cannibalistic, brutal, gory and he deserves to be sent to Guantanamo bay, we cannot entirely crucify him for letting his vulnerability as a teenager get the best out of his 'disciplined, humble and loyal' nature.

It almost compares to Esther Arunga and Hellon's case. Who's to blame? Is it Esther or Hellon? Is it Elizabeth or Onyancha?

Kati ya Onyan-cult na Finger of god, ni gani kali? To answer this, lets keep up with the spirit of game and say...

The first game is played at Onyan-cult's Gusii stadium. The FOG are away. The referee is the House of Yahweh. Fiirrr... Onyan-cult wins on the home match, measured by the number of goals he's scored; where a goal is directly proportional to a kill, but inversely proportional to stirring controversy. The Finger of god salvages some points, based on the team name, ability to stir controversy, tongue-breaking but nonsensical vocabulary, their  present, though irrelevant muscle within the political arena and the ability to stop players from transferring to a different club (sorry Wilson Malaba).

In the return match, with the Finger of god at home and the paradigm being longevity, FOg wins outrightly, given that Onyan-cult's reign has come to an abrupt end before he scores his target of 100 goals (read lives taken) in God-knows how many years. However, Onyan-cult's coach, El-izabeth is still in the running to collect the coach's trophy together with Hel-on. What the H-El!!

Finger of god qualifies to the next round. But who do they meet in the finals? But what might the Fog transform itself to in the near future? What are they behind those cameras in Runda?

In the beginning of Rrrrichard, there was El-izabeth. In the beginning of Estherrrr, there was Hell-on. What the Hel or El is wrong with Kenyans? Why are Kenyans behaving like some mak...mende?

And that's thesteifmastertake!!