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Thursday, October 25, 2012

2013 Africa Cup of Nations Draw: Title Holders Zambia to Meet Nigeria as Cote d’Ivoire Land in a Tricky Group D

The draw for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations was made Wednesday night at the Durban International Convention Centre in South Africa putting forward some tricky group matches.

Defending champions Chipolopolo of Zambia landed in Group C which will also have the Super Eagles of Nigeria who missed last edition’s spectacle. The other two teams in the group are Burkina Faso and Ethiopia who will be making their return to AFCON after a 30-year absence.

Hosts South Africa have been drawn against Angola, Morocco and debutants Cape Verde in Group A. The first match of the tournament will see the Bafana Bafana tackle the tiny Islanders at the Moses Mabhida in Durban.

Ghana versus Mali is always a mouthwatering clash and the two teams will renew their old rivalry in Group B which also has Niger and DR Congo.

Cote d’Ivoire were the beaten finalists in the last edition and have been drawn in arguably the toughest group. The Elephants will lock horns against Togo and North African pair Algeria and Tunisia in Group D.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The tournament kicks off on January 19th with the finals slated for February 13th 2013. The matches will be played in the five 2010 World Cup stadiums – Soccer City in Johannesburg, Moses Mabhida in Durban, Mbombela in Nelspruit, Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth and Royal Bafokeng in Rustenburg.

And That's thesteifmastertake!! 

Night of Shocks for Madrid, Arsenal, City and Milan

Klass-Act: Huntelaar slots home as Arsenal players watch

Wednesday night Champions League matches provided shocking results for big guns as Real Madrid, AC Milan and Premier League duo Arsenal and Manchester City all suffered losses against their less fancied opponents.

Real Madrid went down 2-1 away to Borussia Dortmund with Robert Lewandowski putting the Bundesliga champions ahead only for Cristiano Ronaldo to level within two minutes. Marcel Schmeizer’s 64th minute 20-yard volley secured the points for Jurgen Klopp’s side who moved to the summit of Group D with 7 points, one above the La Liga champions who they face in the return leg at the Bernabeu in a fortnight. Madrid’s statistics in German soil makes for a sorry reading as they have played 24 official matches in Germany and won only once.

The three points sees Jurgen Klopp's men take charge of Group D as they move one point above the Spanish side and into pole position ahead of the return fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu in a fortnight.

The other Group D game saw Ajax crush Premier League side Manchester City 3-1 at the Amsterdam Arena. French midfielder Samir Nasri put the visitors ahead midway into the first half but Siem de Jong riffled in the equalizer just before the interval. A goal each from Niklas Moisander and the impressive Christian Eriksen claimed the win for the Dutch side and reignited their hopes of qualifying from the Group of death but put City on the brink of elimination.

Mancini’s side are yet to win a match in the group and will need nothing less than three points against Ajax in the return leg if they are to rekindle their dimming hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages.

The other big gun to fall on the night was Arsenal who lost a group match at the Emirates for the first time in six years. The Gunners were convincingly beaten 2-0 by German side Schalke 04. Both goals came in the last quarter of the second half with Klaas Jan Huntelaar opening the scoring in the 76th minute and Ibrahim Afellay killing it off in the 86th minute in a tepid performance by Wenger’s men who made only one shot on target the whole night.

Schalke takes control of the Group on 7 points with Arsenal sitting second with 6 and Olympiakos Piraeus, who beat Montpellier 2-1, third with three points.

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri’s future with the club was put into more scrutiny as they went down 1-0 to Malaga at Estadio La Rosaleda. Jaoquin scored the decisive goal in the 64th minute to move the Spanish side to within a win of qualifying to the knockout stages. Zenit Saint Petersburg beat Anderlecht with the same scoreline with Aleksandr Kerzhakov slotting in a 72nd minute penalty.

Porto made it a perfect 3 wins out of three with their 3-2 home win over Dynamo Kiev. Silvestre Varela opened the scoring for Porto at the quarter-hour mark only for Oleh Husyev to restore parity six minutes later. However, a brace from Colombian star Jackson Martinez sandwiched between Aide Brown’s goal for Dynamo gave the Portuguese outfit their third win on the trot as they look very likely to proceed from the group.

Ligue 1 table toppers Paris Saint Germain bounced back from their loss to Porto a fortnight ago with a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb. Swedish hotshot Zlatan Ibrahimovic slot home in the 32nd minute and Jeremy Menez killed the game before half time as the big-spending side took a giant step towards qualifying to from the Group A.

The return legs of the Group stages will start in two weeks time.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UEFA Champioins Leageu : Manchester United Survive Braga Scare as Chelsea Fall to Shakhtar

Celtic's Kenyan international Victor Wanyama Mugubi in action against Barca
Javier Chicharito Hernandez scored a brace either side of Jonny Evans’ 62nd minute goal to help Manchester United rally from two goals down and eventually see off Sporting Braga 3-2 in a UEFA Champions League Group H encounter at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Fergusson’s men were trailing 2-0 with only 20 minutes into play after Braga forward Alan had given the visitors a dream start. But Chicharito inspired United to yet another comeback when he nodded home his and United’s first in the 25th minute before nicking in the winner in the 75th minute after Jonny Evans had drawn the Red devils even. The win stretched the Old Trafford outfit’s lead in Group H to five points after CFR Cluj and Galatasaray could only muster a 1-1 draw with Burak Yilmaz cancelling out

Chelsea, the other English side playing on the night away to Shakhtar Donetsk however could not replicate United’s fight back. The defending champions fell behind to an Alex Teixeira 3rd minute goal and Fernandinho added the second in the 52nd minute to put the home team in control. Oscar pulled one back for the visitors with two minutes to the final whistle but it was a case of too little too late for Di Matteo’s men. The win took the Ukrainian champions to the summit of Group E, 3 points above Chelsea in second place.

Juventus spanned a chance to leapfrog Chelsea into second spot when they could only manage a 1-1 draw away to FC Nordsjaelland. Mikkel Beckmann put the Danes ahead in the 50th minute but Mirko Vucinic’s 81st minute strike for the Bianconeri ensured the spoils were shared in Kobenhavn.

Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona maintained their 100% win record with a labored 2-1 win over Celtic at Camp Nou. The home team fell behind to a Javier Mascherano own goal in the 18th minute but Andres Iniesta drew level  at the stroke of half-time.

Barca tormented the Hoops’ defence in the second half but were kept at bay by custodian Fraser Forster. But their resistance was finally broken in the last minute of added time with Jordi Alba connecting to Adriano’s cross to give the Catalans a 2-1 win. Spartak beat Benfica 2-1 to register their first points in the competition and move third.

Bundesliga table-toppers Bayern Munich rebounded from their shock loss to BATE Borisov a fortnight ago with a 1-0 win over Lille. Thomas Muller’s 20th minute penalty was enough for the Bavarians to nick the win. Valencia stormed to the top of the group with a comfortable 3-0 demolition of BATE with Roberto Soldado hitting a hat-trick. The Spanish side, Bayern and BATE are all locked up top on 6 points each while Lille are yet to register a point. 

Wednesday Fixtures

Zenit v Anderlecht
Dinamo Zagreb v Paris St. Germain
Porto v Dynamo Kiev
Arsenal v Schalke
Montpellier v Olympiakos
Malaga v AC Milan
Ajax v Manchester City
Dortmund v Real Madrid       

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

2013 AFCON: Nigeria Make Return as Cameroon Miss Out Again

The 15 countries that will join hosts South Africa in the 2013 Africa Nations Cup have been decided with traditional giants Nigeria making a return after missing out on the previous edition.

There will be no Cameroon however at the showpiece after the four-time champions were bundled out by lowly Cape Verde who will be making their debut at the tournament.

The Indomitable Lions needed to reverse a 2-0 loss in the first leg against Cape Verde but they could only muster a 2-1 win in spite of welcoming back Samuel Eto’o who failed to get on the score sheet.

The tiny Islanders took a 12th-minute lead through Antonio Pereira but Achille Emana drew level for the hosts who now needed to score four goals. It wasn’t to be though for Jean-Paul Akono’s side who could only score one more goal in the 4th minute of added time courtesy of Malaga’s 16-year-old debutant Fabrice Olinga, a product of the Samuel Eto'o Foundation. Eto’o set up the goal for the youngster to give a fairytale ending to the Lion’s 3-2 aggregate loss to the minnows.

Ethiopia will make their return to AFCON after a 30-year absence after they beat Sudan 2-0 in Addis Ababa. The two teams shared an 8-goal thriller in the first leg with Sudan winning 5-3 but The Walya Antelopes were the better side in Addis Ababa Stadium as two goals in three second half minutes from Girma and Said saw them advance in away goals.

Defending champions Zambia survived a scare against Uganda but eventually ran out 9-8 winners on penalties. Zambia won the first leg 1-0 and Uganda were also winning 1-0 meaning the match had to be decided on penalties which the Chipolopolo won.

Nigeria secured their ticket to South Africa next January after walloping Liberia 6-1 at the Esuene Stadium in Calabar. Chelsea’s Victor Moses scored a brace and his club-mate Obi Mikel was also on the score sheet as the Super Eagles ensured their qualification with a 8-3 aggregate win. Nigeria failed to qualify for last year’s edition.

Other teams to secure their tickets to Africa’s premier football competition include Ghana (3-0 over Malawi), Mali (7-1 over Botswana), Morocco (4-2 over Mozambique), Tunisia (2-2 away goals win over Sierra Leone), Togo (3-2 over Gabon), Congo DR (5-2 over Equatorial Guinea), Burkina Faso (3-2 over Central African Republic), Algeria (3-0 over Libya), and Niger who registered a 2-1 aggregate win over Guinea.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants will most likely join the football masterpiece but will have to wait for a decision from Confederation of African Football (CAF) after their match with Senegal was abandoned due to crowd trouble. The Ivorians were leading 2-0 and 6-2 on aggregate before the officials stopped the match with 15 minutes to go.

The African Cup of Nations is being held back-to-back this year and in 2013 to move it to odd years and avoid it clashing with the World Cup and European Championship. Next year’s edition will run from the kick off on Jan. 19 in Johannesburg to the finals at FNB Stadium on Feb. 10.


Algeria: Angola :Burkina Faso: Cape Verde Islands: Democratic Republic of Congo : Ethiopia: Ghana: Ivory Coast: Mali: Morocco: Niger: Nigeria: South Africa: Togo: Tunisia and Zambia

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

El-Clasico Tide Turning Madrid Side

Barcelona and Real Madrid traded blows in the latest El-Clasico encounter but neither the Catalans nor their bitter rivals from the capital landed the knock-out punch as the teams shared a 2-2 draw in a pulsating encounter at the Camp Nou.

In arguably the world’s biggest football (plus political) rivalry, the two teams covered every inch at Camp Nou in a bid to nick the all vital win that means a lot more than bragging rights for either sides. But at the end of 90minutes, neither Cristiano Ronaldo’s nor Lionel Messi’s brace could separate the two teams.

Barcelona fell behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal midway into the first half but Lionel Messi, the only player alive who comes closest to being compared to the Portuguese whiz (and vice versa) leveled 8 minutes later. Two of the world’s best players then traded blows again in the second half with Messi scoring first for the Catalans in the 61st minute before Ronaldo ensured the spoils were evenly shared with his 66th minute equalizer.

It ended 2-2.

It goes without saying, however, that it’s Jose Mourinho’s men, and not Tito Vilanova’s who left Nou Camp the happier side when the final whistle was blown to end the 6th El-Clasico encounter this year.

Real Madrid may be 8 points behind the Blaugrana alright but the draw did the former more damage than it did to the latter. First, Barca were having the advantage of playing in their own turf and in front of the home crowd. Second, Tito’s side have had the better start to the season, winning all their matches in La Liga while Madrid have only started picking form right now in a season that has seen them lose two matches in 7 matches.

Although it could be argued that Barca were lacking in defence with Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Eric Abidal and Dani Alves all absent (the latter being substituted after picking up an injury), statistics show that the Barcelona are losing their dominance over their archrivals.

The draw means that Real Madrid have now lost only once in the last five meetings against the Catalans. But even that loss, (a 3-2 win for Barca in the Supercopa in August) wasn’t impactful since Madrid won the title having beaten Barca 2-1 in the first leg.

One player who has stepped up for Jose Mourinho’s side in those fixtures is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese captain’s brace on Sunday night means that he has become the first player to score in six successive Clasico matches. He has also scored in his last five appearances at Camp Nou, plastering a ‘shut up’ tape across the mouth of those who branded him a big-game flop during his early career days with Madrid.

The record also shows that Barcelona are losing, or rather, have lost, their dominance over Madrid which was at it pinnacle during the reign of Pep Guardiola. Gone are the days of 5-0 drubbings that Madrid was handed on November 29 2010, or even the three straight loses that Barca recorded over the Mourinho’s men between August 17 last year and January 18th this year.

The tide seems to be turning to Madrid’s side, and against Barcelona. Quite unfortunate that we will have to hold our breath till the weekend of 2nd and 3rd March 2013 when the two teams clash at Estadio Santiago BernabĂ©u for yet another El Clasico. Cometh that day, we will be able to see how true or false this statement is.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!