Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Ballon d'Or for 2011 goes to...

By Bereng Molapo
Ladybrand, South Africa
Xavi maybe?
This year Lionel Messi, Xavi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been nominated for the prestigious award.
For Cristiano it’s about matching up to Messi, for Xavi it’s about joining the lists of greats while for Messi it’s about making and equaling history.
Messi is on the verge of becoming the first man to win the Ballon d’Or three years in a row and in the process, go into a club of the elite with three titles. Only Zinedine Zidane and of course the legendary Ronaldo have achieved this feat.
For Xavi he just wants the title, having been in this business for more than a decade, it would nice for him to win it... but it doesn’t always work that way, the likes of Ryan Giggs, Stoichkov, Hagi and David Beckham have never won this title and they are some of the best of all time.
Perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo?
Cristiano, who won the title in 2008, wants to checkmate the “Mess Machine” in their battle that has raged on for three years. However, most pundits say that Cristiano cannot match Messi’s big match temperament, especially when it comes to the Grand Clasico, so the most expensive player might have to wait another year.
Each player has a legitimate reason to be nominated for this award; most pundits say that Messi is nothing without Xavi who provides him with the goods – week in, week out. Xavi is a master tactician on the field, he is a leader, a visionary and his honesty deserves recognition. And if Xavi was to retire now, Messi would no longer be the MessMachine – the great player that Messi is, Xavi is the cog.
Messi did win Barcelona the Champions League, scoring that wonderful goal against Manchester United. Messi himself scored an unbelievable 53 goals – including equaling the great Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 13 goals in the Champions League – but he underperformed at the Copa America on home soil, which once again raised the Xavi saga.
Cristiano won Real Madrid the Copa Del Rey and also scored 53, that included 40 in the league, but he underperforms when it comes to facing Barca so Messi always has an edge.
In the end I believe that Messi should win it for 2011, but in 2012 if Messi wins it I’ll stop watching football.
Past Winners
1991: Lothar Matthaus
1992: Marco Van Basten
1993: Roberto Baggio
1994: Romario
1995: George Weah
1996: Ronaldo
1997: Ronaldo
1998: Zinedine Zidane
1999: Rivaldo
2000: Zinedine Zidane
2001: Luis Figo
Or the "Mess Machine"
2002: Ronaldo
2003: Zinedine Zidane
2004: Ronaldinho
2005: Ronaldinho
2006: Fabio Cannavaro
2007: Kaka
2008: Cristiano Ronaldo
2009: Lionel Messi
2010: Lionel Messi

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lesotho moves up Fifa ranking


Likuena on the hunt...
Lehlohonolo Seema (right) and Malefetsane Pheko
Lesotho has moved up one spot to 147th place in Fifa’s latest world rankings. The latest figures were released by today and mean Likuena will end the year in the world’s top 150.

Likuena have enjoyed a positive run in recent months which included beating Burundi 3-2 on aggregate in a preliminary World Cup qualifier in November. As a result Lesotho will now go into Group D of Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying alongside Ghana, Zambia and Sudan.

The ranking of 147th is Likuena’s highest position since August 2007 when Lesotho was rated 143rd in the world.

At the top end of the table, World and European champions Spain remain unchallenged and end the year as the top ranked side for the fourth consecutive year. Spain are followed by the Netherlands, Germany and Uruguay who are all competing in an exciting head-to-head battle for second place.

By virtue of ending the year as the top-ranked team, Spain are crowned the Fifa Team of the Year for the fourth year in a row.

The title of Best Mover of the Year meanwhile was claimed by Wales who, with 330 points, won the most points in 2011. Wales are now ranked 48th in the world.

The top-ranked teams in each of the six Fifa confederations are Spain (1st), Uruguay (4th), Ivory Coast (16th), Japan (19th), Mexico (21st) and New Zealand (119th).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Botswana hit by injury worries

Botswana have been hit by scares to two key players, captain Mompati Thuma and winger Sekhana Koko, as they prepare for their Africa Cup of Nations debut.

Botswana face Lesotho tomorrow afternoon in a friendliy international in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Thuma, of Botswana Defence Force XI, is said to have aggravated a hamstring injury that sidelined him from club action last month. Koko also suffered a severe ankle injury during Sunday’s training and has since stopped training with the rest of the team.
The duo look set to miss Wednesday's friendly against Lesotho.
The Zebras
The Zebras are currently based at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus in Rustenburg, South Africa, on a 10-day camp that ends on Friday.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) vice president, Dintle Mphele said everything was going well in the camp with the only challenge being the captain’s injury. “The only problem we have is that Mompathi Thuma has got a knock which they are trying to work on,” Mphele told BBC Sport. “If you’ve been following him, he hasn't been playing regularly at club level because of that same injury.”
Botswana national team coach Stanley Tshosane said he was confident his most trusted defender, Thuma, would also recover in time for the Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The Zebras kick off their campaign with a clash against Ghana in Group D of the Cup of Nations in Franceville on 24 January.
“(Thuma) has been doing special training, but we are seeing signs of steady progress,” Tshosane said.
But Thuma’s club coach, Louis Setshwane reckons the player may have to be rested.
“It’s quite a serious injury,” Setshwane told BBC Sport. “I noticed when we played our last league game (on 12 December) he really struggled. He needs to rest and fully recover because if he is rushed, he may end up struggling to play at the Nations Cup.”
Koko, who plays for Botswana's defending league champions Township Rollers, looks set to miss the rest of the training camp as he is struggling with an ankle injury.   “Koko also picked up an ankle injury on Sunday at training. Together with Thuma, they are doing special training,” Tshosane said.
Tshosane said will gauge his charges against Lesotho. “We will only play one friendly against Lesotho here in Rustenburg because we have been doing physical training,” Tshosane said.
The national coach said he was enthused by what he has seen at the Rustenburg camp. He praised the Botswana FA for organising the camp, adding that his players were responding well to training.
Meanwhile, the BFA turned down Zambia’s request for a friendly, as it would have been on the same day that the Zebras are scheduled to play Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. The Zebras play Zimbabwe’s Warriors at Barbourfields Stadium early next month when they return from a 10-day camp in Doha, Qatar. The match has been pencilled in for 7 January.
The last time Likuena and Botswana faced off, on August 30, Lesotho ran out 2-1 winners.
Source: Mtokozisi Dube, BBC Sport

Monday, December 19, 2011

PSG focused on Beckham, not Tevez

Paris Saint-German will not interfere with AC Milan’s plans to Manchester City rebel Carlos Tevez when the transfer window reopens next month.

Carlos Tevez... Goodbye Manchester
Reports in Italy had claimed PSG were prepared to compete with Milan for Tevez’s signature. However, PSG's director of football Leonardo – a former player and coach of Milan – told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that PSG would not sabotage his old club’s serious pursuit of the Argentine striker.

“I will not steal Tevez from Milan,” Leonardo said. “I have not contacted the player and I will not get in between the Rossoneri's affairs. Even though I didn’t share the views of (Milan owner Silvio) Berlusconi, which meant it was impossible for me to stay at Milan, the relations with the club are good.”

However, Leonardo added that if Milan were to drop their interest in Tevez, PSG would be ready to sign the for Manchester City captain.

“We are looking (at Tevez) without disturbing anyone. But if my mentor (Milan vice-president Adriano) Galliani changes plans, then we are interested,” Leonardo said.

The Italian champions are looking to reinforce their strikeforce with Italy international Antonio Cassano out for an undetermined time after undergoing a heart procedure last month. Milan made an offer to sign Tevez on loan in January but City are only interested in a permanent deal. The conclusion of a transfer soon therefore appears highly likely. Galliani said Tevez is only interested in joining Milan but the San Siro club would not change their offer.

“We don’t feel like signing Tevez on a permanent basis. Our offer is for the player to come on a free (six-month) loan deal with an option to acquire his rights in June. The player wants to join us and not PSG. We hope that City accepts our offer,” Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Maxi Lopez is the alternative. We have spoken to Catania. We will see what happens from here until 31 January.” Galliani added.

David Beckham... in navy blue
PSG’s main target is Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham. According to France Football, Beckham is reported to be involved in talks to discuss a move to PSG after flying into the French capital on Saturday evening.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star has been linked with a transfer to the ambitious French club for several months. Beckham’s contract with Major League Soccer outfit the LA Galaxy is due to expire on New Year’s Eve.

Beckham has also attracted the interested of several Premier League clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers. But it appears PSG are winning the race for the one-time England captain’s signature. Beckham has also repeatedly said he doesn’t see himself playing any team in England other than Manchester United.

Reports in France say Beckham arrived in Paris on Saturday for a trip that has been scheduled for several days. If Beckham comes to an agreement with PSG, it is expected he will sign an 18-month contract as he looks to put himself in the frame for the Team Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Europa League Draw

Europa League Draw

Last 32

Porto v Manchester City
Ajax v Manchester United
Lokomotiv Moscow v Athletic Bilbao
Salzburg v Metallist Kharkiv
Stoke v Valencia
Rubin Kazan v Olympiakos
AZ Alkmaar v Anderlecht
Lazio v Atletico Madrid
Steaua Bucharest v Twente
Viktoria Plzen v Schalke
Wisla Krakow v Standard Liege
Braga v Besiktas
Udinese v PAOK Salonika
Trabzonspor v PSV Eindhoven
Hannover v Brugge
Legia Warsaw v Sporting Lisbon


Last 16
Salzburg or Metallist Kharkiv v Rubin Kazan or Olympiakos

Legia Warsaw or Sporting Lisbon v Porto or Manchester City


Steaua Bucharest or Twente v Viktoria Plzen or Schalke

Wisla Krakow or Standard Liege v Hannover or Brugge

Stoke or Valencia v Trabzonspor or PSV Eindhoven

AZ Alkmaar or Anderlecht v Udinese or PAOK Salonika

Lazio or Atletico Madrid v Braga or Besiktas

Ajax or Manchester United v Lokomotiv Moscow or Athletic Bilbao

Uefa Champions League: Last 16 draw

Champions League last 16 draw

Lyon (France) vs. APOEL (Cyprus)
Napoli (Italy) vs. Chelsea (England)
AC Milan (Italy) vs. Arsenal (England)
Basel (Switzerland) vs. Bayern Munich (Germany)
Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) vs. Barcelona (Spain)
CSKA Moscow (Russia) vs. Real Madrid (Spain)
Zenit St Petersburg (Russia) vs. Benfica (Porto)
Marseille (France) vs. Inter Milan (Italy)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Samuel Eto'o banned for seven matches

Samuel Eto'o
Cameroon and Anzhi Makhachkala superstar Samuel Eto’o has been given a seven-match ban from the national team by the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot).

The ban was announced today by Fecafoot after its disciplinary committee handed its verdict on a hearing that was held on Monday in Yaoundé. Indomitable Lions captain Eto’o personally attended the disciplinary hearing but was still hit with a seven-match ban while his vice-captain Enoh Eyong of Ajax Amsterdam was given a four-game suspension.

Both players were summoned for disciplinary action after the team boycotted a scheduled international friendly against Algeria on November 15. The players were protesting against the non-payment of bonuses due to them after their LG Cup win earlier in Morocco.

However, speaking after the hearing, Eto’o told reporters the reasons for the strike action were deeper and broader than the match bonus affair, adding Cameroonians would soon hear “the whole truth” of the matter.

Tottenham left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto was also summoned by Fecafoot for repeatedly spurning call-ups to camp and was slapped with a three-match suspension. Newly appointed Cameroon coach Denis Lavagne and his assistant Martin Ndtoungou Mpile as well as Fecafoot vice-president Francis Mveng also testified in front of the disciplinary committee.

The Algeria Football Federation meanwhile is demanding €770 000 from Fecafoot in damages incurred from the scrapped meeting between Algeria and Cameroon.

Maduma

Maduma First XI
1. Kamohelo Qhobela
4. Remaketse Fish Qhobela (captain)
2. Lehlohonolo Molapo
3. Tsoeunyane Khau
8. Manamela Qhobela
11. Moeetsi Mofokeng
13. Sidwell Mothea
12. Koena Molise
6. Khathatso Sekonyela
9. Mohlomi Matsoso
10. Tšeliso Chenene

Substitutes: Thapelo Thupane, Temba Nzamane, Mohotle Khabele, Kefuoe Mabaleha, Lefa Manki, Ramatsko Ramatsku, Setofo Mahlomola

Coach
Pitso Mphunyane

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2013 Africa Cup of Nations: Likuena to face off against Sao Tome


Likuena winger Katleho Moleko (right)
in action against Namibia

Likuena will begin their road to the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) next month. Lesotho will face Sao Tome in the second week of January in a preliminary first round qualifier.

The first leg will be played in Sao Tome on January 8 with the return leg at the Setsoto Stadium on January 15.

The preliminary phase of the qualifiers includes the countries who failed to qualify for the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January 2012. Lesotho, Sao Tome, Seychelles and Swaziland are the only four sides that will play in the preliminary first round.

Should Lesotho progress Likuena will face Sierra Leone in the second preliminary round, one of 14 head-to-head ties to determine who goes forward to the final round where the 16 teams who made it to the 2012 Afcon event will join the race.

South Africa have qualified automatically as hosts, after taking over from Libya, who will now organise the 2017 competition.

The opening rounds of the campaign will take place in early 2012 and the final round of qualifying will happen in September and October next year.

2013 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers
Preliminary round one
Sao Tomé vs. Lesotho (January 8)
Lesotho vs. Sao Tomé (January 15)

Seychelles vs. Swaziland

Preliminary round two
Ethiopia v Benin
Rwanda v Nigeria
Congo Brazzaville v Uganda
Burundi v Zimbabwe
Algeria v The Gambia
Kenya v Togo
Sao Tome/Lesotho v Sierra Leone
Guinea Bissau v Cameroon
Chad v Malawi
Seychelles/Swaziland v DR Congo
Tanzania v Mozambique
Central African Republic v Egypt
Madagascar v Cape Verde
Liberia v Namibia

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lesotho Premier League: LCS go top

Defending champions LCS were the big winners from this weekend’s Vodacom Premier League action. Masheshena claimed an impressive 1-0 win over title rivals Bantu on Sunday to take advantage of Joy’s inactivity and jump to the top of the league.

The win was LCS’s fourth in a row in the league. Masheshena also continued their impressive home form. They have now won their three home games this season by a combined score of 6-0 and are unbeaten at their fortress since a 1-0 loss to LDF way back in December of last year.

LCS were able to reach the summit of the table, for the first time this season, because Joy’s match against Linare, in Hlotse on Saturday, was postponed because of rain. Third-placed LDF also had their tie with bottom side Likhopo called off.

Matlama will also be content with their weekend’s work after they beat Majantja 1-0 thanks to a goal from the in-form Dlomo Monapathi. The win catapulted Tse Putsoa into fifth place in the league five points behind LCS while Majantja remained second from bottom.

Mpharane Celtics also recorded an impressive and much needed-win when they defeated LMPS 2-1 at the PTC Grounds on Sunday to move to sixth. In Khukhune, Maduma and Lioli played to an exciting 2-2 draw, a result which means Maduma and Tse Nala stay fourth and seventh respectively.

Weekend Results
Saturday, 10 December
Matlama 1-0 Majantja, LDF vs. Likhopo, Linare vs. Joy (postponed due to rain)

Sunday, 11 December
Maduma 2-2 Lioli, LCS 1-0 Bantu, LMPS 1-2 Mpharane Celtics

Vodacom Premier League table
P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
1
LCS
7
5
1
1
14
4
10
16
2
Joy
7
4
2
1
8
3
5
14
3
LDF
6
3
3
0
10
4
6
12
4
Maduma
7
3
2
2
10
8
2
11
5
Matlama
7
3
1
3
9
10
-1
10
6
Mpharane Celtics
8
3
1
4
11
17
-6
10
7
Lioli
7
2
3
2
8
7
1
9
8
LMPS
8
2
3
3
8
10
-2
9
9
Bantu
6
2
2
2
7
6
1
8
10
Linare
7
2
2
3
4
9
-5
8
11
Majantja
8
1
3
4
5
9
-4
6
12
Likhopo
6
0
1
5
0
7
-7
1