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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mourinho Says Referees Favour Barca, Albiol Rues Crazy Red Card, Pique Thinks they should have been Two while Adebayor Labels Barca ‘Cry Babies’ - Have your Say

There have been sharp reactions from the Real Madrid and Barcelona camps following Wednesday night’s Champions League encounter at the Bernabeu. As expected, Pepe’s red card, which surely was the turning point of the game, has especially drawn out contrasting and heated reactions from both camps. I picked out a few reactions from Barca and Real players as well as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. What’s your take? Have your say by leaving comments on the comments section.

Mourinho’s was clearly baffled
“But I just do not understand why Barcelona always receives the help of the referee. All my life I will be asking myself this question, and one day I hope to receive an answer. I don't understand why Barcelona have this power. It happened two years ago to Chelsea (in the 2009 semi-finals), almost to my Inter last year, and also to Arsenal this year… Why do the opponents of Barcelona always have a man sent off?"

Cristiano Ronaldo Backed his Coach
"It's always the same with them [Barcelona]. This is the fourth consecutive season that something like this has happened. Mourinho is right, just look at what happened with Arsenal, Chelsea and Inter.”

And so did Xabi Alonso
"Until the sending off we had not seen anything new from Barcelona. Referees need to make these decisions more carefully because it's a Champions League semi-final and the score at the time was tied.”

Albiol rues a ‘crazy’ red card
'The referee has decided the game. It was the only major decision. The red was crazy."

Gerard Pique thinks it should have been 2 reds for Madrid
“The red card (Pepe’s) was a red card. He tackled really strong and for Daniel Alves it could be painful and after that there was another reaction, I think Marcelo against Pedro – it was another red card. The referee can’t see it, but I think that finally we are really happy for the win and we’ve taken a really good step to go to the final.” 

Barca midfield engine Xavi thinks Real got lucky in Copa del Rey
"We got the result that we deserved. We were again superior. We're a team that wants to play attacking football and have fun on the pitch. They (Real Madrid) are just hoping that we'll make mistakes. That worked in the Copa del Rey final, but not this time.” 

Guardiola reserved praise for Messi

"We are lucky to have Messi. At the age of 23, he's the third top scorer in our club's history and that's impressive… We have to recover for (Saturday's) league match and the second leg next Tuesday, but we are not at Wembley yet.”

Adebayor thinks Barca is made of ‘cry babies’
"Football is a game of men. Whenever you play against Barcelona, whenever you touch them, they are on the floor crying like a baby. Whenever you make contact in a 50-50 they are on the floor, crying, putting their hand over their face, and their manager, their fans, they are always crying.

But Afellay’s baby dream came true
"This really is an incredible feeling. This is the kind of stuff you dream about when you're a kid. Making the difference in such a huge game between two arch rivals is simply fantastic. It was a nice individual action.”

San Iker Bite his tongue
“We can only keep quiet, bite our tongues and think about the second leg," Casillas said to AS. "It is going to be very, very difficult, but when we get there we will try to recover from this position."

While Mascherano looks ahead to next encounter
"I'm very content with the outcome from this match, but this doesn't change anything about the second leg. There is another game to be played and Real Madrid are a very strong team that will do their utmost to turn things around."

Pele reserved praise for himself
"For me Pele is the best. Nobody has done more than Pele. He's the only player to be World Champion at 17, winning three World Cups and score over 1,208 goals."

What’s your say?

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona: Mourinho ‘Peppered’ as Pepe Red Card Puts Barca on Pole

Mourinho gives assistant referee a wink
Barcelona’s mercurial superstar Lionel Messi scored a brace in the final fifteen minutes to give his team a 2-0 win over archrivals Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu. Messi’s 76th minute goal from an Ibrahim Afellay cross and a sublime solo effort in the 87th minute put the Blaugrana in the driving seat in the two-legged encounter as the 18-day, four-match odyssey reached its penultimate stage.

The highly tensed but extremely poor match ended in a stalemate at half time. As the players moved down the tunnel into the dressing room, a fracas emerged between the two teams which saw Barcelona reserve keeper Jose Manuel Pinto given his marching orders.

 The second half started much brighter and although Madrid were losing on possession at 29% to Barca’s 71% immediately after the break, they were the ones getting in Barca’s faces and creating chances. However, the game took a crucial turn that has been customary in the last five El Clasicos where a Real Madrid player has been red carded. This time, it was Portuguese defender Pepe who was sent off on the half hour mark when he lunged on Daniel Alves and German referee Wolfgang Stark went for the red and not yellow card in his pocket.

The sending off frustrated Mourinho on the touchline and he was also sent to the stands with a red card. From this moment, Barca took control, or should I say, Messi took control.

The credit for the Argentine’s first goal could all go to second half substitute Ibrahim Afellay. The Dutchman twisted and turned Marcelo on the right flank before crossing for Messi who simply tucked the ball between Casillas’ legs to score his 10th goal in the competition and give Barca the lead. 

The second goal, a sublime solo effort, fully demonstrated why Messi is considered by many as the best player of his generation.

The diminutive Argentine collected the ball 30 yards from the goal, eased past Lassana Diara, cruised past Raul Albiol, dogged Marcelo and Sergio Ramos before rolling the ball past a helpless and faultless Los Blancos custodian Iker Casillas.  

 It was the 11th goal in the Champions league this season for the unplayable 23-year-old Argentine who could equal or surpass Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Champions league high of 12 in a season if he scores against Madrid in the return leg next Tuesday or in the final if they get there which looks highly likely. 

Thus, it looks likely that this season’s Champions League final at Wembley on 28 May will be a repeat of 2008–09 season when Barca and Manchester United (who hold a 2-0 first leg advantage over Schalke 04) contested the final. Barca won the match 2-0 with Samuel Eto’o and Messi scoring the goals at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

But before then, all eyes and attention shift to next Tuesday when Real Madrid, without Pepe and Sergio Ramos who are both suspended, will try to stage a comeback and beat Pep Guardiola’s men at the Camp Nou. Real will miss the presence of Mourinho on the touchline after the dismissal and so will the suspended Pepe and Sergio Ramos.Khedira and Fernando Gago are still nursing injuries and will not be fit for the match. Barca will miss reserve keeper Pinto after his dramatic red card, while Abidal, Adriano and Maxwell are also unlikely to feature due to injuries. 

Barca however will do with the return of Andres Iniesta in the middle of the pack while Real will consider the return of Carvaloh a bonus in the defence.

Tuesday can't come any faster.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When FernandoTorres Scores, It’s Not Just News...

The biggest news of the Easter weekend in the world of the 'Beautiful Game' was neither the 6-3 mauling of Valencia by Real Madrid nor the 5-0 thumping of Birmingham by Liverpool. It was the fact that one Fernando Torres, that fiery striker, finally got his name on the score sheet after 732minutes without one for Chelsea and 903 minutes for both club and country. That’s over 15 hours of non-stop football FYI. Actually this was not just any other news. It was BREAKING NEWS.

That’s just how low the former Liverpool hitman has fallen this season. After making an astonishing £50m British transfer record move from the Merseyside to his new employers at Stamford Bridge, most people expected El Nino to hit the road running with a goal after another even though his penultimate time at Liverpool suggested that his form was sulking. But after featuring in a game after another for the Blues, Torres had been unable to find the back of the net, so much so that there has been speculations that he could leave Chelsea during the summer transfer window with a return to Atletico Madrid, the club where he announced his arrival in the international stage, in pole position of snatching him.

After scoring an offside goal against West Brom last weekend, Torres could only start on the bench again as Carlo Ancelloti instead settled for Florent Malouda and Solomon Kalou flanking Drogba on either side of the attack. The heavens at Stamford Bridge opened before kick-off but Frank Lampard put the home side ahead just two minutes before the break when he latched onto an Ashley Cole cross from the left after some good work from Drogba. It was Lampard’s first goal at the Bridge against his former club.

Torres was introduced after 75minutes with Drogba making way. It took him only 8minutes thereafter to open his Chelsea account. A long goal kick from Petr Cech was headed down by the West Ham defence, only for Anelka to collect the loose ball and place it on the path of Torres who worked his way inside the 18-yard box. The ball then appeared to have been stuck in water confusing the Hammers defence. However, Torres turned sharply and unleashed a left-foot strike that beat Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green and ended El Nino's 15hour goal drought for club and country, sending the Stamford Bridge crowd into delight as his teammates mobbed him.

Florent Malouda added the third for Chelsea in stoppage time but there was no doubt whose day this was. The win moved Chelsea to within 6 points of leaders Manchester United who edged ever closer to their 19th title with an 83rd minute Javier Hernandez headed winner over Everton.

But Fernando Torres was not the only player breaking his goal-scoring duck this weekend.

Manchester City’s £27 million signing from Wolfsburg, Edin Dzeko, scored his first Premier League goal after 573 minutes on the pitch to give Roberto Mancini’s team a 1-0 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park. The Bosnian international scored the only goal of the game in the 75th minute to help The Citizens consolidate their 4th position in the league and open a 4-point lead over Tottenham and a 7-point gap over Liverpool.

In Spain, David Villa ended his own Torres-esque goal-scoring drought when he scored the first goal for Barcelona in their 2-0 win over Osasuna. The goal ended El Guaje’s 11-game run without finding the back of the net.

After the West Ham match, Torres said, “It was not beginning I was expecting when I signed, but it’s never easy when you arrive in January at a massive team like this... there’s less pressure for me now, now I can enjoy it.” His boss, Ancelotti said, "It was a fantastic moment. It will help him move on quickly. I think that the bad moment is gone and now his future will be fantastic here, at this club with his team-mates."

Even his teammate, Didier Drogba savoured the moment. "I was in the changing rooms but just wanted to run and jump as well," he told ESPN.

So has Fernando Torres Scored for Chelsea? Find the answer Here and compare to; Has Andy Caroll scored for Liverpool?

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Weekend Sports Wrap Digest

Madrid Set Stage for a Thrilling Champions League Clash

After picking up the Copa Del Rey trophy at the Estadio de Mestalla in midweek with a win over Barcelona, Real Madrid moved back to the famous stadium to meet the home team, Valencia, as they tried to pile more pressure on league leaders Barcelona. A Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick and a brace from Kaka and Karim Benzema gave Jose Mourinho’s side a 6-3 win over Valencia, whose goals were scored by Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Jordi. It was Valencia’s eighth loss of the season but a morale-boosting win for the Los Blancos heading into their crunch two-leg champions league matches against Barcelona.

The win temporarily moved Real to within 5-points of leaders Barca who were to play Osasuna much later. When they did, David Villa ended his goal drought as he put the Blaugrana ahead within 24-minutes of kick off to break an 11-game run without finding the back of the net.

The impressive Lionel Messi then scored his record-breaking 50th goal of the season to give Barca a 2-0 win over the hard fighting Los Rojillos and reestablished Barca’s 8-point gap that puts them well in pole to win their third successive La Liga title as only five games remain.

Pep Guardiola rested Messi, Iniesta and Xavi but they were all introduced in the second half as Osasuna looked likely to snatch a point from Camp Nou.

Liverpool Hit Birmingham for Six

The biggest win in the English Premier League over the weekend was the 5-0 whitewash of Birmingham against Liverpool. Maxi Rodriguez scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool as the Europe-chasing club ran riot at Anfield. The Argentine international scored a brace in the first half as Liverpool headed into the break with a 3-0 scoreline with Dirk Kuyt scoring the other goal, his 7th in six matches. Maxi then hit a volley from a Luis Suarez cross and substitute Joe Cole completed the rout as Kenny Dalglish’s men moved to within three points of fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur who drew 2-2 with West Brom, although Spurs still have a game in hand.

Europe dreams are still very much alive for the Reds and a win for them against Newcastle this coming Sunday, coupled with a loss for Spurs against the in-form Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will take Dalglish’s men on top of their London rivals for the first time this season. Liverpool’s +12 goal difference is superior to Spurs’ +8.

A Javier Hernandez header in the 83rd minute was enough to give Manchester United a solitary goal win over Everton and tighten their grip at the Premier League apex. Torres scored his debut goal for Chelsea to help the Blues win 3-0 against bottom-placed West Ham and keep the pressure on the Red Devils. Israeli international, Tamir Cohen scored an emotional last-minute winner for Bolton against Arsenal and surely put an end to the Gunner’s title charge. Bolton took the lead via a Daniel Sturridge header just seven minutes before the half time break.

Robin Van Persie equalized just three minutes into the second half but Cohen’s 90minute header won it for Owen Coyle’s men.

Milan Winning Scudetto Race

In Italy, Robinho scored for AC Milan the only goal as Massimilano Allegri’s side dismissed Brescia 1-0 at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti to breathe life into their hopes of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 2004. The Samba start scored in the 82nd minute to restore Milan’s 8point gap over city rivals Inter Milan as they marched towards an 18th Serie A title.

Earlier, Samuel Eto’o scored in the 53rd minute to finish Inter’s comeback against Lazio at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Mauro Matias Zarate had put the home team ahead after a well taken penalty in the 24minutes when Nerrazuri custodian Julio Cesar had fouled him in the box, earning him a straight red card. Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder pulled a goal back for the visitors with a well-hit free kick just five minutes before the break and Eto’o finished the comeback 8 minutes after the break to give Leonardo’s men a fighting chance.

Bari were relegated to Serie B after a 1-0 loss to Sampdoria with Nicola Pozzi scoring the only goal through a penalty, while Udinese’s champions league hopes were given a blow when they lost 0-2 to Parma with Amauri scoring a goal either side of the half.

Marseille Retain French Cup

Nigeria left-back Taye Taiwo drove in a low shot in the 80th minute to give Ligue 1 title chasers Olympique de Marseille a 1-0 victory over Montpellier in the French Cup final at the Stade de France.

The win meant that the Les Phocéens became the first side to win the French League Cup in successive seasons. It was Montpellier’s second loss in six days to the Ligue 1 defending champions following a 2-1 home defeat last weekend in the league. Taiwo, also scored the winner during that game with a well-taken 82nd-minute penalty. The victory also put Didier Deschamps’ men on road to repeating a domestic double it achieved last season.

Kubica Leaves Hospital

With no F1 races till the 8th of May Turkish grand prix at Istanbul Park, the biggest news coming out of the racing circuit was the departure from hospital of Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica. The Renault driver left the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure, Italy, where he has spent the last 10 weeks nursing injuries he sustained in a rallying accident back in February 6.

There were fears that Pole may never race again after the freak accident which put him under a seven-hour surgery process. It’s still unclear whether or how soon he will get back behind the wheel but he said, "I am starting to feel a lot better now. My recovery is moving in the right direction. My strength and weight are increasing day on day." 

German driver Nick Heidfeld (currently placed 8th in the F1 standings) replaced the 26-year-old on the Renault team this season.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Madrid End 18-year Copa del Rey Trophy Drought, Only for Ramos to Drop the Trophy under the Bus

On June 26, 1993 at the Estadio Luis Casanova -Mestalla in Valencia, Real Madrid lifted their 17th Copa del Rey trophy after beating Real Zaragoza 2-0 in the final, thanks to goals from Emilio Butragueño and leftback Mikel Lasa Goikoetxea.

It was the last Copa del Rey, also known as Spanish Cup, trophy that Real Madrid won before their triumph last night against Barcelona which brought to an end an 18-year long wait for the cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo headed the only goal of the game (and his second against Barca in the last two games) in the first half of extra time after the teams had finished the 90minutes of the game in a stalemate in front of 55,000 fans. Madrid Captain Iker Casillas had to endure a barrage of attacks from the Blaugrana side and was forced to make some several stunning saves in the last 15 minutes of added time to deny Pep Guardiola and his team an equalizing goal that might have given them a chance of winning their 26th Spanish Cup.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia handed Casillas the trophy and the caravan of winners soon set off to rain-soaked Madrid to meet and greet jubilant fans.

It was along the streets of the beautiful and grand Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid where Sergio Ramos, aboard an open-top bus, took hold of the Copa del Rey trophy, held it high above his head as the bus moved graciously and then... Dropped it! The trophy crashed under the front bumper of the bus but the police moved to clear the mess!

BBC Day reports that it ‘slipped out of his hands’ but this is more euphemistic than anything else. Surely, after winning a trophy for the first time in 18 years (and the first trophy of any kind since 2008), couldn’t someone be just a little more careful? Imagine if it was Arsenal who had won for example the Carling Cup. We all know the situation at the Emirates. Perhaps Wenger, who Mourinho jibed over Arsenal’s protracted trophy drought, could have barred Eboue the chance to lift it high above his head.

Nevertheless, this small ‘mishandling’ of the trophy by Ramos didn’t stop the celebration.

Madrid’s last two Copa del Rey triumphs have now come from the Mestalla Stadium, a venue where they first played their final in 1929. The victory also earned Los Blancos their first trophy under Coach Jose Mourinho (who has now tasted domestic cup glory in four different countries - in Portugal with Porto, in England with Chelsea, in Italy with Internazionale and now in Spain with Madrid) and will give them a major boost heading into two decisive UEFA Champions League semi-final clash. The first leg of the matches will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu on April 27, with the decisive second game in Camp Nou, Barcelona, six days later.

Below are the highlights, first of last Real's 1-0 triumph over Barcelona, and second is Madrid's last triumph in 1992-93 against Zaragoza...

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fernando Torres’ Goal Drought Continues

866 - Fernando Torres has failed to score in his last 866 minutes of football with club and country. OptaJoe

Fernando Torres failed for the umpteenth time to put the ball in the back of the net 'legally' as he made his 12th appearance in Chelsea-blue after a controversial £50m move from Liverpool in January. ‘Legally’ because the former Atletico Madrid captain found the back of the net in the Blues’ 3-1 victory over an error-prone West Brom side but his goal was rightfully adjudged offside.

Ivorian international Didier Drogba scored one and was involved in Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard’s goals that won the game for Chelsea after Nigerian Peter Odemwingie had put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead in the 17th minute. Drogba was hauled off after putting a man-of-the-match performance and was replaced by ‘El Nino’ in the 82nd minute. A summary of Torres’ contribution read the way his season has been so far:

82nd minute – comes in to replace Didier Drogba
1st contribution into the match – offside
2nd contribution – shows close control, skill and composure to score a stunning goal – but he’s offside
3rd contribution – falls or was it ‘dives’ inside the penalty area after a slight challenge from West Brom defence
4th – miss-kicks the ball horribly inside the penalty area
5th – West Brom defender Youssouf Mulumba easily dispossesses him off the ball
6th – Caught offside again
7th – Loses a header challenge in the box
8th – pain goes on as he walks off the field. Twelve games and he hasn’t paid back a penny of the 50 million pounds Abramovich used to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

Everyone in the Chelsea dressing room is desperate to see the Spanish international score his maiden goal for the club. His goalless streak has already started educing reports that Chelsea owner Abramovich may sell him when the January transfer window opens. The sale will definitely be at a loss especially if Nando fails to revive himself in Chelsea’s remaining fixtures. His will be a one-game-at-a-time affair.

Chelsea’s next three fixtures will be played at Stamford Bridge. Birmingham will come visiting this Wednesday (April 10), West Ham on April 23 before Tottenham knock on the door on April 30. A clash with Manchester United on May 8 at Old Trafford, followed by another home game against Newcastle and a visit to Goodison Park to play Everton will climax their campaign this season.

Surely, can Torres fail to find the back of the net in these six games? No, not Nando. But he’s failed to score in 12. 

Check below some funny Photoshopped Torres pictures a certain KOP friend of mine recommended to me.

Captain 'Kick-tastic'
Scoring is the Liverpool way - just stand and watch
£50million still in the bag


And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Sports Wrap Digest

Not many weekends are normally packed with such level of rivalry and competition within the sports field as was witnessed this weekend. There was one of the oldest and utterly euphoric derbies, El Derbi de Espanol or El Clasico, pitting arguably two of the best teams in world football, Barcelona and Real Madrid. In England, the Manchester derby, pitting Manchester City and Manchester United was being played out at the Eastlands with a spot in the FA Cup final up for grabs.

To add icing to the cake, there was the match between Arsenal and the resurgent Liverpool at the Emirates stadium in London with Liverpool aiming to break an 11-year winless duck against the Gunners. The same city was hosting the 2010 London Marathon where Kenyans were expected to dominate. The F1 season was in Shanghai, China where Sebastian Vettel was aiming to win his third race of the Formula 1 season.

David Ferrer was the latest man who was being charged with the almost impossible task of screeching to a halt Rafael Nadal’s impressive record at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

Back home (in Kenya), the ‘Milk Derby’ was taking place. Not that two camels or donkeys were involved in a milk-spitting competition. No. It was the mighty Gor Mahia football club, sponsored by Tuzo – a dairy milk brand, squaring it off with Thika United, sponsored by parent dairy company, Brookside, in the Kenya Premier League.

How they all went.

Real’s El Clasico losing streak ends
Over the next two weeks, Real Madrid and Barcelona will face off four times with the Champions League, the Copa Del Rey and the La Liga titles up for grabs for either of the teams. Their first meeting however involved a league match at the Santiago Bernabeu where Barcelona, who you can say have won the La Liga title bar an enormous miracle, were aiming to extend their five consecutive winning streak against the El Merengues. It was a quality and dare-I-say equally contested match. At the end of the 90minutes, the teams were happy with a 1-1 draw with goals coming courtesy of a Lionel Messi penalty for Pep Guardiola’s men in the 52nd minute and a Christiano Ronaldo equalizer in the 82nd minute for Mourinho’s men. The stalemate ended Guardiola’s 100% and Barca’s five straight winning streak in the derby. Lionel Messi also broke the duck of not having scored against a Jose Mourinho-led side, while Ronaldo also broke his jinx of not having scored against Barca as player.

The teams next meet in Valencia for the Copa Del Rey final on Wednesday April 20. Although the venue for this match can be considered neutral, expect the game to be played out with the same gusto as it happens when either of the teams are in their own or the enemy’s territory.

Can a 10-man Barca Beat Real?
Well this is the question that the “Special One” Jose Mourinho threw to journalists during his post El Clasico derby press conference. Mourinho had just seen his 10-man team earn a deserved point against the Blaugrana, in spite of Real’s Raul Albiol being sent off after wrestling David Villa down to earn Barca their penalty and Messi his 30th league goal of the season. In their 5-0 humiliation at Camp Nou back in November, Mourinho’s worst defeat as a manager, Real’s Sergio Ramos was red-carded. This weekend, Raul Albiol was sent off and the former Porto, Chelsea and Inter manager felt hard done when Dani Alves stayed on the pitch after dragging fellow Brazilian, Marcelo down. With Cristiano converting the penalty, Real held on to share the spoils with their bitter rivals. But can a 10-man Barca beat 11-man Real Madrid?

Lewis Hamilton wins Chinese Grand Prix, makes history
British driver, Lewis Hamilton did not only win the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit this weekend but became the first driver in Formula 1 history to win the title twice. The s6-year-old MacLaren driver, who first won the circuit in 2008, charged ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who was looking for his third pole finish of the season, with four laps to go, thanks to his 3 pit-stop strategy that ensured he had fresh tires going into the last laps of the 56-lap race. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was even more impressive gliding his tyres from 18th position to finish third, while Hamilton’s teammate and last year’s winner Jenson Button finished fourth.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, thus became the first man to win the Shanghai Grand Prix twice and stopped Vettel from following up his pole position finishes from Melbourne and Malaysia. German, Nico Rosberg took the fifth position for Mercedes while Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso. Seven time F1 champion Michael Schumacher finished eighth. 
The win gave Hamilton his 15th career win and propelled him to second position with 47 points, 21 below Vettel who has 68 points. Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button has 38, one above Mark Webber. Alonso has 26 points.

In the constructors’ championship standings, Red Bull leads with 105 points, twenty ahead of second placed McLaren-Mercedes. Ferrari sits third with 50 points, Renault fourth with 32 points and Mercedes closes the top five list with 16 points. Turkey’s Istanbul Park is the next venue for the F1 season which will take place in May 8th. Hamilton won the Turkish leg last year and was followed by Jenson Button.

Murray and Ferrer Fall to Monte-Carlo master Rafael Nadal
World No. 1 tennis player, Rafael Nadal once again proved that he is the master in the clay court after a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved 6-4, 7-5 win over countrymate David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo masters final in France. The world number one thus won the Monte Carlo masters title for an unprecedented seventh time and remains unbeaten on clay since 2009. The Manacor-born 24-year-old reached the final after dismissing British top seed Andy Murray 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to book a final clash with Ferrer who beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2. Nadal extended his winning run in the tournament to 37 matches and aloso win over the world number 6 Ferrer has an 8-1.

Nadal now has his eyes and serving prowess focused on defending his French Open title in May.

Kenyans Tear the Field in London Marathon
Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai led his compatriots Martin Lel and Partick Makau to a 1,2,3 podium finish for Kenyans in the 42km London marathon, further cementing Kenya’s dominance in long distance running. Mutai stopped the clock in a course record 2 hours 4 minutes and 40 seconds to win the race. Three-time champion Martin Lel and silver medalist at the world championships in 2009 Patrick Makau treated the London spectators to a fine sprint finish but both were given a time of 2:05.45 for second and third place respectively. Mutai’s time in the 31st edition of the London Marathon is the fourth fastest of all time. 
In the women’s race, Mary Keitany clocked 2:19:19, the second fastest time in the London Marathon women discipline, to win the women’s race. The 29-year-old world half marathon record holder beat Russia’s defending champion Liliya Shobukhova to second place, while another Kenyan Edna Kiplagat finished third.

Surely the organizers of the Dutch Utrecht Marathon must have watched this race closely.

Toure Makes the Difference in City versus United FA Cup Clash
Yaya Toure scored his 8th goal of the season for Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal against bitter neighbours  Manchester United and extinguished the hopes of the premier league leaders winning a treble this season. Toure pounced on a misguided pass from Michael Carrick and weaved past United’s defenders before slotting the ball past Van Der Sar. United tried to bounce back and even hit the post but City held on to reach the final and give themselves the chance of winning a trophy for the first time since 1976. City will meet Stoke who hit five goals past a hapless Bolton in the final at London's Wembley Stadium on May 14.

Gor win first leg of the ‘Milk Derby’
Fresh from a Ksh. 38m boost from Tuzo, the Mighty Gor Mahia football club, K’ogallo, drowned their Brookside sponsored Thika United in the first leg of the ‘Milk Derby’ at the Thika Municipal Stadium. Midfielder Kevin Omondi came off the bench to score a brace in the 67th and 83rd minute after teenage striker Edwin Lavatsa had opened the scores in the 25th minute for coach Zico’s men. Moses Arita scored Thika’s only goal just 7 minutes after the break but no one was ever going to deny Gor their first win donning their Tuzo-branded shirt.

There were also wins for Gor’s perennial rival AFC Leopards who dismissed Gor’s conquers last weekend Nairobi City Stars 2-1, while Tusker maintained their lead at the top with a 1-0 win over Bandari. Bottom-placed Congo United suffered a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of KCB while defending champions Ulinzi piped Sofapaka to a 2-1 win on Saturday. The impressive Rangers gave Sony Sugar a 3-0 drubbing, Western Stima won by a solitary goal over Mathare while Sher Karuturi was sent into the bottom four by Chemelil who beat them one nil.

The matches continue this weekend.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

103 Minutes that Showed Arsenal that Liverpool Never Gives Up

They say you get what you give in this world. Liverpool’s 4-4 draw with Arsenal in the 2008/09 season was not only emphatic, high scoring and one of the most entertaining matches you’ll ever get to see, but it blew Liverpool’s chances of winning their first Premier League title in 20 years then. The draw, as sweet as it was, contributed to Liverpool letting Manchester United win their 20th Premier league title.

Cue in two seasons thereafter, the two were at it again, only that it’s Arsenal, and not Liverpool this time round who were the title contenders. Could another pulsating 4-4 draw be in store for us? LFC- Arsenal game has provided more hat-tricks than any other game in the premier league history.

In a repeat of the Spanish El Clasico derby which was played a day before, two penalties in the dying minutes of a 103minute game settled a high quality but poor game between Premier League hopefuls Arsenal and Champions league also-rans Liverpool at the Emirates stadium. The match wasn’t as highly entertaining as the 4-4 draw the two teams played out some time back in 2009 but it was worth watching. Arsenal dominated their opponents in the first half in which Liverpool’s injury problems came to haunt them again when Fabio Aurelio was forced out of the game and replaced by 17-year-old Jack Robinson at left back.

The first half ended in a stalemate. Liverpool started the second half better but injury problems soon compounded them when Andy Caroll looked to have twitched his knee bringing the match to a halt for some time. However he was able to shake off the setback. Soon it was to be Jamie Carragher who clashed heads with rookie John Flanagan and dropped down unconscious bringing an end to his contribution in the game. Greek centerback  Sotirios Kyrgiakos came in to replace the captain whose armband was then handed to Pepe Reina.

After Carragher was stretchered off the field to a standing ovation from the fans, the game got back underway after a protracted pause. Arsenal continued to push for the opening goal but the visitors defence were just good enough. Suarez and Caroll tried linking up to give the visitors the lead but Arsenal also held off the challenge.

This was never going to be a high scoring match as the 90 minutes ended without any team finding the back of the net. However, the 8 minutes added time changed everything. Not entirely the eight, but actually the last two minutes. After some neat passing from the Gunners, Cesc Fabregas looked to have been tripped by Jay Spearing and the referee pointed straight to the penalty area. Robin van Persie stepped up and sent Reina the wrong to send the largest crowd at the Emirate stadium into jubilation.

Gamer over right? Wrong. Never count out Liverpool. The Kopites had a torrid beginning to the season but people seem to have forgotten that one King Kenny is not at the helm. After fouling Lucas just outside the penalty area, Emmanuel Eboue, who I have to say had been impressive, appeared to push Lucas, again, but this time round in the penalty area and the referee gave it. Mr. Reliable, Dirk Kuyt, stepped up to dispatch a goal that might have put the last nail in Arsenal’s coffin and dented their hopes of catching up with league leaders Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

Liverpool were happy with the point but their voodoo against the Gunners continues. Titi Camara’s strikesecured a 1-0 success for Dalglish's men February 2000 when Arsenal were still playing at the Highbury stadium.

Any Liverpool fan would rather see Arsenal win the title than Man United. But none of them would want to see their team being beaten for that course. With six games remaining including a duel against Manchester at the Emirates, Wenger’s men still have a fighting chance.

Arsenal’s remaining fixtures   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011                                                        
Tottenham v Arsenal

Sunday, 24 April 2011
Bolton v Arsenal

Sunday, 1 May 2011
Arsenal v Man Utd

Sunday, 8 May 2011
Stoke v Arsenal, 14:05

Sunday, 15 May 2011
Arsenal v Aston Villa

Sunday, 22 May 2011
Fulham v Arsenal

United's remaining Fixtures

Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Barclays Premier League
Newcastle v Man Utd

Saturday, 23 April 2011
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v Everton

Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Uefa Champions League
Schalke 04 v Man Utd

Sunday, 1 May 2011
Barclays Premier League
Arsenal v Man Utd

Wednesday, 4 May 2011
Uefa Champions League
Man Utd v Schalke 04

Sunday, 8 May 2011
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v Chelsea

Saturday, 14 May 2011
Barclays Premier League
Blackburn v Man Utd

Sunday, 22 May 2011
Barclays Premier League
Man Utd v Blackpool

And That's thesteifmasterteake!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dominate in Cricket, You are Rewarded, Dominate in Athletics, Get 100 Times Less Pay

There seems to be a ploy within the world of sports aimed at locking out certain teams, nations or individuals from participating in some games in spite of such people or nations being members of such sports bodies.

During the recently concluded International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup, a certain debate was hot on the press besides the thrilling games. Cricket players, pundits, organizers and indeed the fans were involved in a hot discussion on whether the so-called ‘smaller nations’ should be excluded from the showpiece event.

Hit small nations out of cricket!!
These nations which are considered as top associate members of the ICC include Kenya, Canada, Holland and Ireland (who participated in the competition), as well as Scotland and Afghanistan who didn’t qualify.

As expected, there was never really going to be a consensus on this even as Indian-born South African Haroon Lorgat, Chief Executive of the ICC, categorically stated that 10 teams instead of 14 will compete in the 2015 event to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. While Australian skipper Ricky Pointing backed the move, England’s Andrew Strauss urged caution.  Ireland captain William Porterfield was more dissenting terming such a move as “an absolute disgrace”. Imran Khan Niazi, former Pakistani cricket team instead challenged the ICC to help the minnows establish proper domestic networks.

According to Wikipedia, the decision to exclude the associates was probably inspired by the commercial disaster during the 2007 Cricket World Cup, when India and Pakistan (two of the nations with the maximum television audience) failed to qualify for the second round after losing to Bangladesh and Ireland respectively.

Pointing however pointed out the no-show performance that the associate members bring to the event. “I am not sure as to how much the teams actually learn when they get hammered in these contests.”

Maybe he has a point considering that the only upset was when Ireland pulled a stunning comeback to beat England by 3 wickets, the only win by an associate member over a test playing nation in this year’s tournament. Canada was the only other team to win beating Kenya by 5 wickets. All the other teams lost their matches with Kenya, the surprise 2003 semifinalists, getting a 10 wicket whitewash from New Zealand.

It is also important to note that since ICC World Cup, the premier international championship of men's One Day International (ODI) cricket started in 1975, only five teams have won the tournament with Australia (4), India and West Indies (2) and Sri Lanka and Pakistan winning once. It’s also these teams, plus England in 1979, 87 and 92 that have contested for the finals.

Perhaps it’s this unprecedented dominance by a few teams that pushed Lorgat and the people he sits with around the ICC decision-making table to consider dropping the other nations. Never mind that other sports like football, basketball and even Olympic games have had the same nations collecting trophies and medals a year after another.

Many, especially the aggrieved, will, rightfully, complain that this is an unfair move for competitive sports.

Dominant Kenyans
But how about this: organizers of the Utrecht Marathon in the Netherlands (an ICC associate member remember?) seem to have resolved to indirectly ban Kenyans from the marathon because they are always winning!! Indirectly because if a Kenyan participates in the 42 km race, already nicknamed the Dutch Battle, on April 25 and wins it as expected, he/she will pocket 100 Euros ($144.67, Sh 12,181.59, £88.526). This will be 100 times lesser than the €10,000 ($14,467, Sh 1,218,159, £8,852.6) that a Dutch athlete who wins the race will pocket.

The Netherlands has five marathon events. The problem is, almost all the marathon and half marathon events staged in Holland over the past five years have been won by Kenyans, or an Ethiopian getting in once in a while.

Just last week, on April 10, Kenya’s Wilson Chebet won the Rotterdam Marathon, Netherlands largest marathon event, and became the 13th Kenyan in a row to win it, while another Kenyan Philes Ongori won the womens’ event.  Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe holds the women’s’ Rotterdam course record at 2:20:47, while Duncan Kibet holds the men’s at 2:04:27.

Last year, Ethiopia’s Getu Feleke won the Amsterdam Marathon to break a four-year dominance of the event by Kenyans. However, Alice Timbilili won the women’s race to compensate for the loss. It might also be important to note that the fastest Dutch woman in Amsterdam marathon is actually Kenyan-born Hilda Kibet.

Kenyan men have also won the last 6 editions of the Enschede Marathon (also called Twente Marathon) with Jacob Yator, last year’s winner,also holding the course record at 2:09:02. The Enschede marathon is the only Dutch race that has not been won by a Kenyan woman since women started participating in 1981.

Then there’s the Eindhoven Marathon. Needless to say, Kenyans have been sharing the Eindhoven title among them for the last 12 consecutive years. Charles Kamathi won last year’s title after Geoffrey Mutai had won it twice in 2009 and 2008. Willy Cheruiyot holds the record for the most number of wins with 4 wins between 2000 and 2004. Ethiopia’s Atsede Habtamu won the women’s event.

And finally, there’s the Leiden Marathon. Kenya’s Dominique Kemboi won last year’s edition, clocking a time of 2:15:08, the second fastest time since the marathon debuted in 1991. No Kenyan woman has won the race.

From the above statistics, (and the table on the left), it is almost possible for one to feel that the organizers of the Utrecht Marathon are justified in their act of excluding Kenyans from the competition. But why have they included the event in the international calendar if it’s a national marathon?

I don’t know what you make of this move which has irked many Kenyans and Africans as a whole. The dominance of especially Kenya and Ethiopia in the middle and long distance running seem to be increasingly rubbing most organizers the wrong way. Unfortunately, it’s here to stay.

The world Cross Country Championship is now held every 2 years. Reason?  To give other nations enough time to prepare athletes good enough to beat the always-winning Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes. This is the same with the world half marathon which has been dominated by Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The International Athletics Federation (IAAF) has not commented on this unsporty behaviour from the Utrecht marathon organizers and it begs the question: should one be punished for being dominant?

Athletics Kenya has asked its athletes to withdraw from the event which of course might not be such a brilliant move because the organizers might decide to shun Kenyans altogether in future events.

But while dominance seems to be a reason to make a competition elite for the dominant like in cricket, in some sports, it’s a reason to bar the elite from competing. I think that’s what they call ‘double standards’ in English. There seems to be a well-written script going around the sports boardrooms that aims to establish a G8 kind of nations. What can the nations which don’t have the wherewithal do?

If they are dominated, they are kicked out of the competition because they are passive. If they dominate, they are again kicked out – or given change money as the Dutch have decided – because they are dominant. Circus.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!