Archive for April, 2009

Sheep & Wolves


Episode One:
It had been quite an unusual day for Anthony Igwegbe as the Banker in his late 20s thought back on the day in the backseat of a Lagos taxi stuck in the rush hour traffic of workers leaving their workplaces on the Island for the Mainland and on.

First, he’d had to push his car a good way through the 3rd Mainland after it broke down for reason’s best known to the Hyundai Elantra. Midway through the push; which was last resort after 30 futile minutes from the mechanic Tony had laboured to find for about 40 minutes.

It was nearing 8 o’clock in the morning and Tony Toni Tonee as he was fondly called by his pals or T-‘gwe by his co-workers cursed the predicament he found himself, “bastard worked all through last weekend; Galleria, Palms, Abeokuta wedding…” but his short-monologue was interrupted.

Mechanic: Oga, u sef no dey try o

Tony: ‘scuse me?

Mechanic: U wan tell me say u carry dis mottoh go all d Abeokuta dem?

Tony: err, what’s your point exactly?

Mechanic: u see say u be mumu. I no know wetin dey always do una bankah bankah sef, just to buy mottoh by force, una no go…

Tony: eiz young man, wetin wan cos all dat one now ehn!

The two had released their hands from the car being pushed and were now facing each other about to add some drama to the already building traffic of the 3rd and the apprentice who was steering the car, was now out just about to enjoy watching what he swore would be the pummelling of a Banker but HBO went on break for the day for the apprentice when someone called out, “Tony Toni Tonee!”

Tony: Ah, what now?

A car had pulled over just in front and Tony’s classmate from Secondary School was walking up to him,

Tony: Lancelot Akpabio

Lance: Tony Toni Tonee!

Tony: Okpara Lancelot Ogenetegha Akpabio

Lance: hahahahaha, you still remember all that Tony Toni Tonee!

Tony: How can I forget, Lancelot, how far now…longest time

Lance: Yea, longest time. Actually, I just moved in recently from PH.

Tony: For real? Militants were bothering you or what…

Mechanic: errm, Uncle Tony Toni Tonee, me I get customers for shop o if you no get for ya bank.

Tony: Ah, imagine what my car’s done to me on a Monday

Lance: Yea saw you guys pushing and I thought I should pull over and do the work for you guys.

Tony: You came to push with us…?

Lance: As in I’ll tow your car to a good place

Mechanic: Thank you jare, bettah persin

Tony: what da…yea thanks a lot man…who would imagine we’d meet this way after all these years?

Lance: Don’t let the mech get to ya bro, let’s just get going. 

The two walked to Lance’s car; an Audi A6 and there was a small rope which they somehow got tied up to the Elantra.

When they were done,

Lance: Ok bros, make you go siddon for my guy ride, we go dey una front

Mechanic: I here u ma guy, (then facing Tony) God save ya yansh this morning

Tony was about to return the remark but Lance patted him and both made there way into the Audi while the Mechanic and his apprentice are in the Elantra. Soon enough, music comes from the Elantra to further pile the frustration on Tony who’d had quite the morning starter when his fiancée dropped the bombshell, she was pregnant…but not for him!

 

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My Most Memorable Soccer Goals


I got thinking recently about the goals that make top of the pops these days and I feel it’s been long people actually saw sublime goals being scored by players of equal quality, which is why I need your opinion on the following goals I’ll describe…

In no particular order, there are quite a number of goals here and a few more that should be added but there’s only a lot my memory can muster up for the time being. By the way, conspicously missing is Lionel Messi (so that I won’t be crucified at the end of this so here goes)

Goal 1: Mario Stanic vs. ??? (Premier League)

Can’t remember who Chelsea was playing against but it was at Stamford Bridge and Stanic was midway through the opponent’s half. This Croatian juggled the ball three times before unleashing a very cool shot to score the only goal of that match (if memory serves me right. I remember the goal very well though!)
 

Goal 2: Dennis Bergkamp vs Argentina (France ’98)

Bergkamp’s my favourite footballer of the ’90s and Arsenal player of all time and his goal against the Argentines in the quarterfinal of the ’98 World Cup also ranks as one of the greatest. A long ball from well inside the Dutch half by Marc Overmars (that shortie) was immaculately controlled by bergkamp, his second touch beat an onrushing defender before; from a tight angle, beat the goalkeeper with his third touch of the ball.
 

Bergkamp scores against Argentina in France '98

Bergkamp scores against Argentina in France '98

Bergkamp would go on to score an identical goal against Leicester City for Arsenal about a season later; but I’m not sure the long pass in came from Overmars that time lol.

Goal 3: Dennis Bergkamp vs. Newcastle United (Premier League)

He’s the only player that appears twice on this list. In this match, it’s the usual pass into the opponents area by Arsenal but when Bergkamp gets the ball in the “D”, a deft touch takes the ball past the defender’s right side while he goes on the poor guy’s left side, leaving that defender totally lost, before getting the ball past Shay Given, pure genius!

Goal 4: Diego Maradona vs. England (Mexico ’86)

I actually think Diego’s a better player than Pele (but Pele get’s the morality nod and ultimately the main prize because of…of all things…drug use!). Anyway, I’m not talking about the (in)famous Hand of God, it’s the other one, you know, the one Diego dribbles some five-six Three Lions players, does a one-two with God knows who and rounds the goalkeeper to score from a tight angle.

At this point, you’ll have an idea of where I’m going. These days, best goals are the ones that are shot at 100 miles an hour (Taiye Taiwo, Andriy Arshavin, Paul Scholes) but me thinks the art in scoring those goals should be appreciated and not the adrenaline that flows from the speed or whatever it is guys enjoy from “artificial” goals today. So…

Goal 5: Zinedine Zidane vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Champions League ’02)

Zidane's volley vs Bayer Leverkusen

Zidane's volley vs Bayer Leverkusen

 

Wow, I really can’t remember a goal so fitting to win a major title as this one was, is and will always be. What makes it even more special, Roberto Carlos’ cross in from the left wing took quite a deflection on its way to Zidane and here’s the thing, body language of Zizou altered a bit but it made the difference…because he struck that volley with the left foot so nicely. No wonder that has been Real Madrid’s last triumph in Europe!

Goal 6: Henrik Larsson vs. Bulgaria (Euro ’04 group stage)

Speaking of body language, there are a few strikers who know their body oh so well that when a cross comes in from the left wing, the ball is a bit ahead of the Swedish legend so Larsson makes a full body dive and puts both arms on his sides to propel him further in his flight…the header had only one destination afterwards. Larsson’s one of my top 10 all time best footballers, a list that sees Filippo Inzaghi come in at 10; for obvious reasons!

Henrik Larsson heads in against Bulgaria in Euor '04

Henrik Larsson heads in against Bulgaria in Euor '04

 

Goal 7: Steve Mcmanaman vs. Valencia (Champions League ’00)

I really felt sorry for los Che that night so I didn’t include Raul’s goal in that match but Mcmanaman’s goal; a scissor kick past Santiago Canizares, just couldn’t be overlooked. The technique of the goal was the first I saw of its kind, Gustavo Poyet would later score a similar goal but from closer to goal and with the ball coming in a more comfortable position for the Chilean. Mcmanaman’s goal came from a low cross and he was outside the box, Poyet was inside in his own case.

Goal 8: Thierry Henry vs. Manchester United (Premier League)

All I remember is the ball coming to Igwe, he lifts the ball to go to his left and then unleashes a right foot volley past his marker (Jaap Stam I believe in his black United shirt) and Fabian Barthez in the United goal.

Goal 9: Ryan Giggs vs. Arsenal (FA Cup ’99) 

Martin Keown must always have change of moods when the goal crosses his mind and rightly so. This match had it all, red card, disallowed (but legitimate) goal, saved penalty (Schiemichael did one on Bergkamp) and finally that goal, from midfield, Giggs dribbles four Arsenal players (Keown’s left worse off) before smashing past David Seaman.

Ryan Giggs' goal leaves Tony Adams sprawling

Ryan Giggs' goal leaves Tony Adams sprawling

 

Goal 10: Francesco Totti vs. Holland (Euro 2000 semi-final penalties)

Holland should have won this match, two penalties lost during the match and extra time as well as hitting the post twice, yet the Azurris had a game plan to soak up the pressure from the Dutch who had thrashed Serbia 6-1 in the previous match. So in penalties, Holland were so fagged out but the Italians were just putting them in and just to mock the Oranje nation, Totti ran up against Edwin van Der Sar and simply chipped down the middle…the look on van Der Sar’s face, you’d pity Holland that night.

And there have been way more goals scored in exquisite fashion such as Austin Okocha’s farce against the Bayern Munich defence in his days at Eintracht Frankfurt, Nwankwo Kanu’s third against Chelsea for Arsenal, Robin van Persie’s “kung-fu” kick goal against Charlton Athletic, Fernando Torres’ strike very recently against Blackburn Rovers, even “Kiko” Macheda’s first goal for Manchester United against Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, for those who read my Defining Moment note, please take a look at the Premier League table after the games of Tuesday (Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal) and Wednesday (Manchester United 1-0 Portsmouth, Chelsea 0-0 Everton)!

Finally, click the link below to enjoy Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s insane goal for AFC Ajax back in the days, pure classic…http://www.funnyhub.com/videos/img/dribbles-and-scores.jpg

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Drogba Knocks Arsenal from FA Cup


Chelsea this evening got the better of London rivals Arsenal in the first semi-final of the English FA Cup after the Blues came from behind to defeat the Gunners 2-1 at the new Wembley Stadium.

Arsenal it was that started the game on the attack and it was little surprise when Theo Walcott put the north Londoners ahead after 18 minutes off Kieran Gibbs’ cross in.

Chelsea got themselves into the game afterwards and after coming inches close to equalising, Florent Malouda got the goal to bring the match level on 33 minutes off a great long ball from Frank Lampard.

Click (or copy and paste) the following link http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/3037/187/ for more of this story.

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Decision Time for Premier League Big Four


 

 

Emmanuel Adebayor scores against Villarreeal in the UEFA Champions League 1st leg at El-Madrigal

Emmanuel Adebayor scores against Villarreeal in the UEFA Champions League 1st leg at El-Madrigal

It would be foolhardy for any football loving person to say (at this moment in time and in the seasons to come) that the English Premier League is not the strongest in the world and the reason is not far fetched…Queensland is guaranteed at least one club in the UEFA Champions League final for a fifth consecutive season.

 

This run began in 2005 when Liverpool performed a most remarkable comeback to defeat AC Milan on penalties, then Arsenal had to contend with watching Barcelona drool on the trophy in 2006; and later sell their Igwe to the club at a fee that still baffles me…

2007 was AC Milan’s time to gain revenge on Liverpool with a well earned 2-1 win; Liverpool was outplayed in that match, while in 2008 we were dished an all English final between Manchester United and Chelsea whose fans made SO mush noise on the fateful day you’d think PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii had become prophets of football!

Also in three of the last four seasons, the Big Four of English football have all made it to the quarterfinal stage of the competition and I dare say all would’ve made it to the semi-finals as well had it not being that UEFA separated teams from same country until the semi-final stage. But still, three clubs for a third season running…that’s nuts!

I’ll be looking forward to this season’s semi-final pairings; they are classic encounters with Chelsea and Barcelona meeting for the first time since two key factors left; Ronaldinho and Jose Mourinho, to be replaced by the Trinity (Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry) and a Dutch wanderer (Guus Hiddink) along with the mafia at the Bridge (think Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack and maybe Cech).

That match promises to be the goals as Barcelona (or more specifically the Trinity) just can’t but score while Chelsea have grown a “if you score three, well we’ll get four of ours” attitude lately.

Against Barcelona though, it would be in Chelsea’s interest to drop that mentality or some damage will be done to their mentality simply because Barcelona not only scores goals aplenty (and sometimes way too easily), they barely concede much these days. No wonder Messi was bold enough to say Barcelona at this point can achieve absolutely anything ala la Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League; perhaps the English league if they were drafted to play in it too!

In my personal opinion, I’d rather not have an all-English final this season. That means I’d rather not have Chelsea play in the final…not out of hate but simply to spare my ears of the episode that played themselves on the untarred roads of Las Gidi…as in, someone should teach these folks some decency!

If the Blues make it through though; which I along with more than half of the football world very much doubt for obvious reasons, all well and good too for the status of the English Premier League in Europe.

But really, the semi-final to watch is Arsenal against Manchester United because not only are these two arch-rivals (good old days of Roy Keane and pat Vieira nose to nose) but this would be the first time ever they’ll play each other in Europe and as derby rights go, both sides would love to have the first scalp on the other for that sake and a place in the “Roma Finale”.

This brings me to a fact everybody seem to be overlooking and sincerely I don’t know why. Arsenal, more than any, hold the key to the destiny of their ambitions to end a trophy drought as well as the other three’s trophy ambitions.

Arsenal still play Liverpool (away), Chelsea (home) and Man U (away) in the league and I’m not going to write out the scenarios that could play out should Arsenal win all three of those (very possible) or lose all three (very possible too) or lose two and win one and so on and so…

Then there’s this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley and as expected, my Blues’ frenemies have been telling me how Arsenal will fall bad and hard and yada yada yada…I’ve reserved my comments since the day we beat Hull City…I’m still not going to say jack to those noisemakers except one thing…Shut up!

And finally, there’s the semi-final against United. On paper, this match is vey balanced unlike the other semi-final, so the thing is if Arsenal win, United will squarely focus on the Premier League while Arsenal could play its cards at winning the Champions League and gaining an automatic spot in next season’s group stage notwithstanding their league position at the end.

Should United win, the Red Devils will have to divide attention on the UCL and EPL (not forgetting FA Cup), therefore giving Liverpool (and Chelsea) a chance at the league and Chelsea a go at Europe. Arsenal meanwhile would then focus on finishing 3rd in the league (very very possible should it win those three league fixtures) which in case you didn’t know would earn an automatic spot at next season’s Champions League group stage…

With all said, it’s my opinion that Chelsea could end up the biggest losers of the four having more to lose than they realise; Chelsea could actuallly win a treble! Liverpool would’ve been the biggest losers but they won’t be losing a Champions League semis or final nor are they in the FA Cup…it’s just the league for them. Man U is in the same shoes with Chelsea while Arsenal have the FA Cup and Champions League to really worry about.

 

My prediction:

Premier League title: Manchester United
FA Cup: Would actually lose for Everton to win it
Champions League: Anyone but Barcelona (this one’s my guts talking)

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