Posts Tagged Oscar Pistorius

Over the Weekend: From Pistorius to Pantsil, Swans Claim Title & More


Following a crash course in Law coupled with a not so brief recap of the episodes of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing and other bits of ‘suspense’, the Magistrate eventually, ultimately, after all said, analysed and recapped… finally ruled in favour of the blade runner and granted him bail.

While the R1m (one million rand) he’ll post as bail; along with a number of conditions which include no alcohol, eats a bit into Pistorius’ R5m annual earning, it puts the blade runner ahead at half time of this murder case which has its trial now scheduled to commence in June.

Beyond all that the family of Reeva Steenkamp labelled as meaning ‘nothing’ the bouquet of flowers received from Pistorius’ family, while her bereaved father commented that if Pistorius was lying, he would have to live with his conscience but if indeed he mistook her for a burglar, he may one day come round to forgiving him.

Not all concerned were as diplomatic however, many observers across the continent believe the paralympian is a murderer while a father figure to Reeva flat out said Pistorius should go to hell.

It is easy to believe Pistorius is guilty when his wealth and ability in disability are pointed at as swinging justice’s bias towards him, but if any person(s) is/are to blame it would be the prosecution that seemingly didn’t consider every scenario possible from the incident along with flawed witness account and tainted image of the previous chief investigator.

By the end of the trial, unless the prosecution have new and concrete evidence to add spine to their case; such as her head being bashed in with a cricket bat, Pistorius can expect to get manslaughter as final judgement… and you just know that would outrightly piss many people off.

Once again, may Reeva Steenkamp rest in peace.

Not to be outdone per se, Ghanaian international John Pantsil reportedly stabbed his wife in the eye but thankfully, it wasn’t fatal but bizarrely… they are back together.

Apparently, it was all a misunderstanding and all grievances between both have been settled. Right! We’ll just ignore the need for anger management with the Pantsils and ‘respect their privacy’.

Speaking of respect, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini took a swipe at Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger after stating ahead of his side’s crucial league match against Chelsea that unlike the Frenchman at Arsenal, he wants to win (trophies).

A bit disrespectful from Mancini who was at the dusk of his active football days when Wenger was appointed manager at Arsenal. But do I blame him? No. It is Wenger that has put himself in a position to be ridiculed by younger managers.

Jose Mourinho has done so before and I expect Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas to give it a go ahead of this weekend’s north London derby; Arsenal’s ‘Race to Fourth’ title match.

That said, Mancini’s side ended up doing Wenger and Arsenal a favour by claiming a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday in a match Sergio Agüero should’ve done much better and more importantly, a match in which Joe Hart saved Frank Lampard’s first half penalty.

That win leaves fifth placed Arsenal, on 47 points, just two points behind third placed Chelsea. And with Tottenham that is nicely tucked between the Blues and Gunners on 48 points set for a little London affair at West Ham United tonight, one need not say what side will have the most supporters in tonight’s match.

For all of Mancini’s talk, all gooners nonetheless were behind City to do exactly what was done, to the slight disappointment of fans of the Red Devils who were behind Chelsea though will remain happy to hold a dozen point advantage over their City rivals in the title race anyway.

Manchester United had earlier opened a 15-point gap on Saturday with a 2-0 win at destined for relegation Queens Park Rangers, but a fall-out from that win brought concern to the league leaders… Robin van Persie went off injured.

In unlikely manner, the Dutchman’s effort to keep the ball in meant he fell onto a camera at the near post of QPR and though he got Julio Cesar to make a good save minutes later, he was taken off for Danny Welbeck five minutes to half time as it became obvious he couldn’t manage the injury.

This brought much delight to many gooners who understandably haven’t moved on from the deal with the devil at the start of the season and hoped it was an injury that would keep him out for long.

Indeed some went about it in lighthearted manner, having no real intentions of seeing him put out for long, there were some who actually meant it and that is concerning. In the end, the van Persie situation can be likened to that of Barcelona whose scarce defeats get celebrated, it’s the cross of consistent performers. Besides, he’s only suffered a sore hip.

Anyway, Van Persie’s effort was not in vain however, as Rafael struck a bullet past Julio Cesar to put United in front moments after. A goal which a teammate nominated for goal of the season.

While former teammate Dimitar Berbatov’s well taken volley for Fulham at home to Stoke City; the only goal of that match, falls a tad short of Rafael’s, I think I enjoyed a few other goals more including Arouna Kone’s second in Wigan Athletic’s 3-0 win at Reading, gently lifting the ball over the Reading keeper and into the net off a glorious cross-field pass.

Another goal worth mentioning for goal of the weekend is Yaya Toure’s opener for Man. City, a low curling effort wickedly from Petr Cech’s blindside. Cech’s stretch to try keeping Yaya’s effort out made the goal all the more special for me… why punish yourself by trying to prevent that?

But the goal I enjoyed most has to be Papiss Demba Cisse’s bolt from range to put Newcastle United 2-1 up against Southampton. Much unlike last season’s second against Chelsea, this was a far less speculative effort yet almost as graceful and delightful.

In the end, Newcastle United won that match 4-2 to continue its recent renaissance inspired by its Francophone fellas that now sees the Magpies six points off the relegation zone. In this form, with a place in the Europa League some 10 points off, Newcastle truly can aspire.

Swansea meanwhile can play as freely as they want for the rest of the season in the league, after cruising to a 5-0 demolition of Bradford City to claim the Capital One Cup and qualify for next season’s Europa League.

And that feeling of no pressure on the back of the highs from Cup success can propel Michael Laudrup’s men to play some of its best football in the remaining 11 league matches. And when the Swans at their best, their tiki-taka acutely frustrates any opposition to the point of defeat.

One can say the last bit is a Nou Camp trademark but Barcelona in its last two matches have struggled, more so with Lionel Messi’s human side coming to fore though he got a goal, his 38th league goal this season, in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday.

There will be no rest for the Ballon d’Or holder and the rest of the Barcelona team who face Real Madrid at home on Tuesday in the decisive second leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal clash before facing them again on Saturday in La Liga at the Bernabeu… cruelly followed by the return leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie with AC Milan days after.

Milan on its part played out a 1-1 draw in its Madonnina derby ‘away’ to Inter, a result that suited the latter more than the former but which suits fifth placed Lazio the most, with the Rome side set to rise to third place if it defeats Pescara tonight.

Juventus continued its charge towards defending its Scudetto with a 3-0 win over Siena, the highlight moment being Andrea Pirlo’s lobbed effort at goal… it was audacious and unfortunately, went wide.

And in France, Paris Saint Germain took a major step towards the Ligue Un title with a perhaps undeserved but more importantly crucial 2-0 win over archrivals Olympique Marseille in Le Clasique.

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was my man of the match, making a number of saves to keep l’OM at bay, but it was David Beckham that got most of the headlines as he made his PSG debut and somehow, some way, was involved in PSG’s second scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in stoppage time.

PSG’s win was the highlight of my football weekend which saw five of my six favourite European clubs play. Arsenal lifted the mood at the Emirates a bit with a nervous 2-1 win over Aston Villa. That was about it.

Deportivo La Coruña took the lead against Real Madrid but fell 2-1 at home, Hearts decided to lose 3-2 at home to Inverness after twice equalising while Werder Bremen was simply annihilated by Bayern Munich, going down to a 6-1 scoreline against a ‘second string’ Bayern side. Scary.

Lowest point of the weekend was the low profile the African Super Cup had, a match Champions League holders Al Ahly of Egypt won 2-1 against Confederations Cup holders AC Leopards of Republic of Congo.

A match to decide Africa’s representative at the Club World Championship later in the year should have had much more publicity than this one had, which was virtually non-existent.

On that note, it’s a wrap here. Napoli visit Udinese tonight in the Serie A, Lazio play Pescara tonight as well, just as Tottenham visit West Ham in the Premier League. That’s followed by an El Clasico in the Copa del Rey to make for a good start to the week for football.

Wishing you a great week ahead then.

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During the Week: Oscar Pistorius, Arsenal Precarious & More


A week after Valentine’s Day turned tragic for the blade runner, paralympian and indeed, olympian, Oscar Pistorius may well get himself a favourable verdict in his bail application over the killing of his girlfriend Reeva.

And if he is granted bail, it would largely be thanks to defense lawyer Barry Roux’s meticulous approach to the case along with the prosecution’s far less meticulous handling of it.

First, the prosecution’s case against Pistorius was looking great until they brought their witnesses in. 600 meters away? And then the witness became unsure of the distance to back up their claim of hearing screams from Reeva before she was shot dead.

For me, that was the turning point to swing the case right back in Pistorius’ favour. Coupled with Roux’s focus on Pistorius being the only (physical) witness at the crime scene and thus, focusing on (favourable) probablities based on that fact rather than conjuring allusions based on vague recounts of the incident by ‘witnesses from a distance’, Pistorius seems set to guarantee his innocence per se. He did shoot the damsel but (no) thanks to the prosecution, all he’ll have handed him is manslaughter.

Worse still for the prosecution was the revelation of the case’s chief investigator having history of being charged with seven attempted murders, along with the (distracting) history of cases where he investigated Pistorius, which would make it seem that Botha (the chief investigator) was on a personal vendetta against Pistorius. **was**, since on Thursday he was replaced as chief investigator of the case, another blow to the prosecution.

The bit when the prosecution pointed to a magazine publication in which Pistorius is said to own a house in Italy also weakened the prosecution’s case. Getting a statement from that magazine’s editors to back that claim would have been better.

After all said over what was, may have been and was not done, Pistorius’ application for bail looks to be coming to an end and if he does get the verdict in his favour, he pretty much will be a free, heartbroken and single man with a few lost sponsorship deals.

Pistorius heartbreak is heavy, Arsenal’s is serial, after being outdone by an efficient Bayern Munich side in a first leg round of 16 UEFA Champions League encounter played at the Emirates Stadium. At the end of the 3-1 drubbing though, it did seem Arsenal was the away team.

That defeat effectively ends Arsenal’s relevance in Europe unless the Gunners pull off an unlikely comeback in the return leg, like it nearly did (and really should have done) last season against AC Milan where the Gunners won 3-0 in the second leg after losing the first by a goal more.

This Bayern defeat however comes right after lackadaisically letting Blackburn Rovers through to the next round of the FA Cup, raising questions once again about Arsène Wenger’s capability as Arsenal manager.

The players, especially current captain Thomas Vermaelen and future captain Jack Wilshere believe it is the players and not the manager that is to blame for Arsenal’s current precarious state.

Then if the players are to blame, why not let go of most of them and bring in a set of players that can get the right things done at the club? Cue Theo Walcott in who reiterated the massive talent in the dressing room that only need to translate that onto the field during matches.

So, in summary, the manager hasn’t lost his marbles, the players, however very good they are, are letting this manager down big time but because these players are supposedly very good, there would be little or no need to have them replaced by new, marquee signings.

Arsenal is a peculiar club indeed and it is painful to see the club that tried to propagate the idea of a complete football club on and off the field being well beaten at it by clubs that, ironically, have perfected what Wenger keeps trying to achieve.

On one hand, Bayern Munich have reached the final of two of the last three Champions League finals and are on their way to winning the Bundesliga in record fashion, having complemented its team down the years (Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribèry and co.) with the addition of very good players (Dante, Manuel Neuer and Mario Mandzukic) along with the likes of Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller who came through the ranks.

All that comes complete with a solid financial model off the pitch that makes the Bavarians formidable both on the field as well as off it. Thus spending big when necessary, just to ensure the team is capable of playing great/efficient football at the very top level isn’t a problem for the Germans as exemplified down the years in the signings of Ribery then, Neuer much later and most recently, Mandzukic.

Then on the other hand is Barcelona that now plays the most attractive football conceivable; a title Arsenal solely held once, having complemented the core of its team (Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi) with additions down the years of Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (briefly), Jordi Alba, Alexis and Alex Song (through the transfer market) as well as Pedro, Cristian Tello and Thiago Alcantara (through the ranks, just like Messi and Fabregas initially).

Add that to the club going out of its way to allow a sponsor’s name on their jersey (now held lucratively for Barça by the Qatar Foundation), massive gate receipts and a public profile that staggers across the world, money isn’t the problem for the Catalans… at least they’ll scale the FFP hurdle set by UEFA.

At Arsenal however, the core of the team keeps changing no thanks to the exit down the years of Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Ashley Cole, Mathieu Flamini, Kyle Bartley, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Alex Song and most atrociously Robin van Persie among others.

Had at least four of the above been kept and got joined by Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott who have come through the ranks as well as any two of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal from the transfer market, Wenger would certainly not be so stressed at the moment.

The club’s heavy focus on the financials at the expense of the team itself has denied it being a combination of the current Bayern and Barça teams it had the immense potential to be. Now instead, Arsenal is simply a spoilt rich child accustomed to losing yet not too bothered to change that trend.

Barcelona meanwhile is that spoilt rich lad that has everything going for it most of the time. And the very sparse times something doesn’t go its way, well, the ‘haters’ come alive and basically amplify this lad’s low moment.

Indeed Massimo Allegri’s players gave him what he expected of them, to neutralise Barça’s inevitable possession prowess and possibly take the chance(s) that come their way. And among a few that propped, the Rossoneri buried two.

That defeat did show the Catalans’ reliance per se on Messi can also be made to be an albatross. Milan expertly marked Messi out as well as kept the other threats in the Barça team at bay so while the visitors had a chunk of possession – as usual – it came to nothing.

That fact was a source of overflowing glee to many who came up with ‘stats’ and analysis but as I stated at the start of a post exactly a month ago, “You know a team is very good when its lost matches make the headlines… ”

While Milan is in a much better position than the last time both teams met in the Champions League at last season’s quarterfinal stage, their two-goal lead this time is far from secure and the onslaught they will have to bear from this Barça side at the Nou Camp is better left imagined.

Last time out, Milan held Barça to a goalless draw at the San Siro before Messi scored two penalties and set up Iniesta to secure a 3-1 win in the return at the Nou Camp. Messi may have been caged on Wednesday, he may have a poor record in Italy but hardly at the Nou Camp. Milan will have to ‘play even better’ than on Wednesday to get a desired result.

Or maybe not, seeing as Liverpool and Atletico Madrid played well and got a good result but not the desired result while Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea were staring at elimination till stoppage time efforts from Belgians saved both London sides’ blushes and let them progress in the Europa League.

Atletico’s exit, shocking as it was, feels so much like a silver lining moment since now, the club can focus squarely on finishing at least above city rivals Real Madrid in La Liga just as winning the Copa Del Rey is also a possibility for Diego Simeone’s side.

Moussa Dembele and Eden Hazard’s late equalisers against Olympique Lyon and Sparta Prague respectively edged the Londoners through, much to the slight delight of fans of fellow Londoners Arsenal that lie fifth in the Premier League where the London trio chase the Champions League spots on the league table.

Other teams through in the Europa League include Lazio that beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate, Inter Milan with a 5-0 aggregate win after easing to a 3-0 win at CFR Cluj, Zenit after barely surviving a second leg barrage at Liverpool to eventually go through on away goals and Newcastle United that got its first ever win at Ukraine, a lone penalty goal from Shola Ameobi, to qualify by the same score at the expense of Metalist Kharkiv.

The biggest result of the night for me came in Napoli’s 2-0 loss at Viktoria Plzen, which completed a massive 5-0 aggregate win for the Czechs over the Italian side that previously was favourite to win the competition along with Atletico.

The Naples side have the whole weekend to drain the anguish of the Europa League exit out of their system ahead of their trip to Udinese on Monday night, a tricky trip that could further pile misery on them.

Biggest match in Italy this weekend however is the Milan derby on Sunday. AC go into that as favourites, with their domestic season on the right track having steadily caught up with the top and now occupy third spot. Inter however will go into this match in bipolar form, securing that win over Cluj in Europe either side of a hapless display in a 4-1 humbling at Fiorentina.

Another match to look forward to this weekend is at the Parc des Princes where Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint Germain host third placed Olympique Marseille on Sunday, with David Beckham reportedly to make his PSG debut in that match.

Super Sunday in Europe begins in England where second placed Manchester City host third placed Chelsea while on Saturday it’s first from top versus first from bottom when Manchester United visit Queens Park Rangers.

Weekend looks very exciting for neutrals, more so with Swansea City set to take on Bradford City in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday at Wembley. Massive day for both clubs and while it would be some story if the Bantams won, I’m all for a Swansea win, if for any reason better representation of England in the Europa League next season.

On a more personal note, I’d just be very content not to have a repeat of last weekend when all the clubs I support across Europe, somehow, lost their respective league matches… all six clubs; Arsenal, Lazio, PSG, Hearts, Werder Bremen and Deportivo La Coruña.

Latter two face Bayern Munich and Real Madrid respectively on Saturday so… I won’t even bother checking back on them till Monday morning.

Till then, have yourselves a glorious weekend!

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