Month: January 2013

The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: The Finale To Groups C & D

Group C Group C ended up as Group A’s inverted evil twin – intermittently good at first, collectively allergic to goal attempts at the end. Having praised Eurosport for negotiating Group A’s minefield of ever-changing team positions, I felt somewhat let down by the mess into which they mired themselves as Zambia and Nigeria threatened to copy each other into oblivion. Two nil-nils, an increasingly likely outcome of their games with Burkina Faso and Ethiopia respectively, would have left the Chipolopolo and Super Eagles level on points, head-to-head, goal difference and goals scored…and leave them separated on what ITV’s Sam Matterface called “fair playgrounds.” Of course, second place wasn’t about to be decided by the quality of kids’ recreational facilities. However, the fair-play grounds which were to decide it seemed scarcely less random when it emerged that Efie Ambrose’s dismissal against Ethiopia could eliminate Nigeria. This took time to emerge on Eurosport, however, as they boldly declared at half-time that third-placed Zambia “have it all to do.” ITV, meanwhile, had Zambia second, Matterface having already noted that the bookings count was 8-6 to Nigeria and would see them through. ITV began badly, though, Matterface declaring it “winner takes it all in Rustenberg.” This wasn’t necessarily true of Ethiopia who, if Zambia also won, would have still been third behind the Burkinabes. But two victories needed two goals. So Matterface’s...

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Deadline Day Panic: Is QPR’s Spending An Accident Waiting To Happen?

During the days, which now seem like a lifetime ago but which in reality were quite recently, of free and easy credit and hire purchase, the phrase ‘buy now, pay later’ became something of a mantra on the high street. Retailers wanted consumers to interpret this phrase in a very specific manner, appealing as it did to the strongest instincts of the human desire for instant gratification, but as time progressed consumers came to realise that by stressing the phrase differently it could come to mean something quite, quite different. Failure to repay on time could lead to court action and even the conversion of innocent looking loans into debts secured against their property, and the spiraling out of control of people’s personal financial positions became a familiar sight, with personal insolvency levels shooting through the roof. This phrase sprang to mind this morning as Queens Park Rangers assaulted the last day of the transfer window with all the subtlety that we might have expected from a club with a little cash to spend, a pressingly desperate need to stay in the Premier League and Harry Redknapp as its manager. The flurry activity was such that we could even be persuaded that the club was acting in such a manner in order to render any attempts at parody futile. By the middle of the morning, Christopher Samba had arrived...

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Money’s Too Tight To Mention For Hucknall Town

The FA Trophy run of the 2004/05 season must seem likely an awfully long time ago now for the supporters of Evo-Stik League Division One South side Hucknall Town at the moment. That year’s Trophy final might not have felt quite as glamorous as it might have done in previous years on account of being played at Villa Park because of the rebuilding of Wembley stadium, but Hucknall were there playing against Canvey Island, a match which they only lost by six goals to five on a penalty shoot-out after a one-all draw. The club’s run to the final had started in the First Round of the competition, in front of 273 people for a comfortable home win against Bracknell Town. Six matches later, having beaten Radcliffe Borough, Southport, Northwich Victoria, Cambridge City and, over two legs, Bishops Stortford, the team, which was then playing in the Blue Square North, took the pitch at Villa Park in front of a crowd of over 8,000 people and they almost walked away with the trophy. The club’s descent has been gradual. Relegation to the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League came in 2009 and a further drop came two years later. That it was in financial difficulty had been reasonably common knowledge for some time, but the last twelve months or so have become a period during which those difficulties have...

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The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: Groups A & B Come To A Climax

Group A The one advantage of Group A’s first round being a goalless bore was that no-one could ensure qualification until the final round; though after that first round, some might have settled for no-one ensuring qualification at all. But tournaments “need” the hosts to reach the knock-out stages otherwise they become unwatched, unwatchable bores – apparently. So Group A’s denouement gave us all we could wish for; drama, wonky commentary box mathematics and the hosts going through. Oh… and the quality of the football, even if most of it was played in Durban by Morocco against a South African side which quickly reverted to the nervous shambles of its opening match. The real possibility of qualification had also dawned on Cape Verde, which gave them enough jitters to make even this insipid Angola team look competent in Port Elizabeth. This collective nervousness nearly proved fatal. South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune loused up almost everything in the opening stages. And after a couple of scary kick-outs and one good save, Khune let Issam El Adoua head home a corner from feet rather than yards – the keeper’s punch closer to braining the scorer than clearing the ball. There was a comic element to Angola’s opening goal, too, the heavily-bandaged full-back Amaro’s cross turned into the net by Cape Verdean centre-back Neves’s arse…Angola on the scoresheet at last and an...

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The Football Governance Follow–Up: “Football Is [Still] The Worst Governed Sport In This Country”

The tone of it all is everything. You don’t have to read particularly closely between the lines of the independent committee for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s follow up report into football governance to be able to hear the clear exasperation with governing bodies that have chosen to do nothing about the recommendations of their findings from last year. Tucked within the 143 pages of the report is a very clear warning for the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League: the decision not to act upon their findings might have been taken, but this apparent ignoring of it all doesn’t mean that the matter has merely gone away. All concerned now have twelve months to get their houses in order or face the possibility of legislation which will force them to do so. What has, perhaps, been more instructive than anything else in terms of framing the findings of the committee has been that their viewpoint is a truly independent one, unhindered by vested interest through seeking governance that would benefit one over another. If nothing else was to come from this entire process, then we could at least console ourselves with the knowledge that we now have something approaching a definitive guide to what we should feel entitled to expect in terms of governance. No, the report makes clear, football clubs are not...

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