Monday, November 30, 2009

Glo Premier League review

Kessben extended their lead at the top of the Ghana Premier League to four points after beating second-placed Berekum Arsenals 2-0 on Sunday.

Goals from Edmund Owusu Peprah and Bismark Idan to give the home side three vital points and the early ascendancy in the race for the 2009/10 championship title.

Despite the result, Arsenals stay in third, but AshantiGold moved up to third with a emphatic 3-0 win over Liberty Professionals thanks to goals from Eugene Owusu Prempeh, Aminu Mohammed and Theophilus Anobah.

The Derby between Asante Kotoko and King Faisal ended in a 1-1 draw as Daniel Addo gave the latter the lead, before Gideon Baah netted the equalier a minute from time. Faisal also had Mickey Ofosu sent-off.

Fourth-place Heart of Lions succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Great Olympics as Latif Mohammed netted in injury time, while defending champions Hearts of Oak lost 2-0 at Wa All Stars, despite the home side finishing the game with 10 men.

Frank Nortey Sowah and Ben Acheampong score for All Stars. John Antwi netted four goals as strugglers Eleven Wise beat Real Tamale United 4-2, with Sadat Karim netting a brace for United.

Chelsea beat Sekondi Hasaacas 2-1 and Aduana Stars were 1-0 winners against New Edubiase.

Cecafa Cup '09: Ethiopia to play first soccer game since Fifa ban

When Ethiopia take to the pitch today in their Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup opener, it would be far more than just a game for the players.

The Walyas, as the national team is known, have been banned by Fifa since June 2008 and today's match against Djibouti represents a lull in football starvation akin to what millions in back home in Ethiopia face.

I say 'lull' because Fifa had a meeting with the stakeholders of Ethiopian football last week but an impasse could not be reached so they remain banned. They can play in the Cecafa Cup because the tournament isn't a Fifa-organized one.

So, why are they banned? It's because the Ethiopian government sought to interfere with the Fifa-recognized Football Federation. This is in direct contravention of Article 14 paragraph 1 of the Fifa statutes.

A guy called Ahmed Yassin is the man the central government wanted in the hot seat while Fifa still recognises Dr. Ashebir Woldegiorgis (take your time in calling that one!) as the legit President of the EFA.

For the players who have suffered the lack of international football due to these political games, the Cecafa Cup represents an early Christmas. Indeed.

Ethiopian coach Abreham's side have been drawn in Group A with Zambia, Kenya and Djibouti. His players have been reported as saying that they dont mind what the final outcome would be: they just want to play football.

I cant help thinking that this is yet another sad story for Ethiopia who, in an ideal world, would be top of the African game. After all they were founding fathers of the Confederation of African football, having worked tirelessly to give the continent an identity through soccer - one it badly needed in the heated colonial climate of the 1950s and '60s.

This pillar of the continent's game has, unfortunately, been down the ladder for most of the past 50 years. The last time they were at a Nations Cup was back in 1982. And in relative terms, the Cecafa Cup has really been the only place the Walyas have shown any spark.

They've won the tournament 4 times and meeting Djibouti today may yet be a good thing - on paper. The men from Addis Ababa have hit ten goals past their smaller neighbours in their last two meetings and that trend may well continue.

Fifa ranks Ethiopia 131st in the world. If you think that's bad, Djibouti share the very last place in the Fifa rankings with the Pacific Islands of Cook Islands & Guam (where the hell is THAT?)

So for a romantic like myself, the resurgence of Ethiopia in African soccer would be a good rags-to-riches media story. That's why I'd be paying close tabs on today's game in Kenya.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arsenal-Chelsea: African player rankings

The much awaited Arsenal - Chelsea game is over. The Blues won by an emphatic 3-0 at the Emirates. Here's my rankings of the African boys:


We know he's sometimes employed as a holding player but he really must limit the amount of backpasses he gives. Controlled his part of the field appreciably, though but he still needs to improve.

Appears he was told to keep tabs on Arshavin and Eduardo. He did it well and kept the Gunners' attack on full time duty. Yet he was guilty of a few bad passes that nearly cost the Blues on occasion. Made some good runs into the reds half as well. Generally, a good game.

There were derisive shouts of 'cheat' where I watched the game, yet you cannot deny the class of the Ivorian. First goal was just clinical; the second was exquisitely taken. He gave the Gunners little to worry about but his effect in 90 minutes was marked. Would have given him a 10 but he really should cut down on the dives etc.


Only misplaced two passes in the whole first half. Apart from that he played the midfield role with class. Pity Wenger changed him because of circumstances.

What's your take?

Arsenal-Chelsea: African player rankings

The much awaited Arsenal - Chelsea game is over. The Blues won by an emphatic 3-0 at the Emirates. Here's my rankings of the African boys:


We know he's sometimes employed as a holding player but he really must limit the amount of backpasses he gives. Controlled his part of the field appreciably, though but he still needs to improve.

Appears he was told to keep tabs on Arshavin and Eduardo. He did it well and kept the Gunners' attack on full time duty. Yet he was guilty of a few bad passes that nearly cost the Blues on occasion. Made some good runs into the reds half as well. Generally, a good game.

There were desirive shouts of 'cheat' where I watched the game, yet you cannot deny the class of the Ivorian. First goal was just clinical; the second was exquisitely taken. He gave the Gunners little to worry about but his effect in 90 minutes was marked. Would have given him a 10 but he really should cut down on the dives etc.


Only misplaced two passes in the whole first half. Apart from that he played the midfield role with class. Pity Wenger changed him because of circumstances.

What's your take?

10 must-know facts about African Confederations' Cup finale

The buzz in African soccer circles is not only about the Spanish El Classico or Arsenal - Chelsea but also about the first leg of the Caf Confed Cup. It's Entente Setif vs Stade Malien. Here are 10 fast facts for you.


1. They have not won anything on the continent in 21 years - the last time was when they beat Nigeria's Iwuanyawu Nationale (now called Heartland) 4-1.

2. But they are on a great run after winning the Arab Champions League back-to-back in 2007 and last year.

3. This tournament's topscorer is in the team: Abdelmalek Ziaya with 13 goals. Even though he's averaged a goal per game in the tournament in the last 10 months, Ziaya was not used in the national team's world/African cup qualifiers.

4. Two members of the national team who've just qualified for the world cup are in the team, too: Khaled Lemmouchia - the guy who bled from the missile attacks in Egypt - and goalkeeping hero Faouzi Chaouchi, unfortunately not registered on time so he shant play in today's game.

5. Setif are the second Algerian side to play Malien in this competition after JSM Bejaia. They'll hope not to be the second to be beaten!


6. Based in Bamako, they have not been in a continental final in 44 years.

7. They have a great away record this year: a loss in seven games. Setif beware!

8. Proven penalty warriors this year after beating JSM Bejaia in 25 goal shootout and Egypt's ENPPI in the semi- final.

9. Lost the first African Champions' Cup to Cameroon's Oryx Douala in Accra.

10. Malien can join the elite list of teams to win the new Caf Confed Cup since it was renamed in '04. Others are: Hearts of Oak (Ghana), FAR Rabat (Morocco), Etoile Sahel and CS Sfaxien ([twice]; both Tunisia)

Final leg of this finale is on Thursday.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Punish Essien, Muntari and Gyan now.

If you were the head of Ghana's football association, what would you do about this scenario?

You are basking in the light of world cup (and Nations Cup) qualification when suddenly, a phone call from the airport inform's you that the flight for Angola is ready for takeoff...but Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan are nowhere to be found. Aside there guys, everyone is accounted for and all attempts to trace the three (possibly) most valuable assets to your team are gone poof.

You dont need this right now so you make a few calls and find out that the guys actually cajoled their passports from the team manager and they're headed for their clubs as you speak.

Would you give the three the stiffest sanctions, including possible bans, regardless of their status in the team? Or would you impose fines on them? Or both? Or would you let 'em explain and then let them off? Or...

Whatever. The point is, two weeks after the three guys bounced before the friendly in Angola as a test for the coming Nations Cup, nothing has been said.

Oh, did I neglect to say that the FA launched an inquiry into what happened and to solicit explanations from the guys? Yep, that was a week ago and in that time, Michael and Gyan have written letters of apology and have asked to be pardoned.

You may have noticed that Sulley's name didnt appear in the apologies list. Dont be suprised: true to form he has not breathed a word of explanation to anyone. And it's not his first time.

As it is, it's obvious the FA are stroking the arrogant Inter Milan man and waiting for his word but I say he should be taught a lesson.

In March this year, I arrived at the dressing room area of the Baba Yara stadium after Ghana had played a dismal world cup qualifier with Benin, hoping for a sound bite or two from the boys.

Security was damn tight so I was denied access. So much for sound bites. Can you believe my anger, then, when I later heard that this same Muntari had raised a tantrum because his girlfriend had been denied entry to the players' dressing room area?

Since when were WAGs allowed into dressing rooms? And guess what? After that incident, Muntari's mother was all over the radio declaring that 'there is no Black Stars without my son'.

The righteous anger that followed countrywide was beautiful to behold. But of course, being who he is it soon blew off, though not without a lot of conciliatory statements by those close to him.

In this instance, I would expect the FA to send a stinging signal to the three that they cannot hold the nation to ransom. For me, better a dignified Black Stars than a girlfriend-toting set of arrogant nouveau riches anyday.

The coach, Milovan Rajevac, is known as a no-bullshitter. He should prove it now, not later. In case he has not been told, Muntari left the team during Athens 2004 because of some disagreements he had with some people in the system. Michael is also slowly building a reputation of not being a committed to the national team than he is at Chelsea.

This piece is getting long but I'm sure you get my point.

We need action. Now.

Wenger sees Chelsea AFCON gain in lifted Kakuta ban

The Gunners boss is weaving threads of conspiracy that are sure to raise the heat ahead of today's Arsenal-Chelsea game. He says the African Nations Cup has everything to do with the temporary lifting of Chelsea's transfer ban.

In September, the Chelsea half of London was banned from signing players until January 2011 after Fifa found them guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens in 2007. Fifa has since cleared the Blues to add to their squad in January's transfer window, pending an appeal.

That move, according to Arsene Wenger was designed to allow his opposite number at Chelsea to sign more players and lessen the brunt of losing 4 key players to the Angola 2010 Nations Cup.

"It is no punishment," he is quoted by the Times as saying. "Until the appeal court comes forward, they [Chelsea] can buy. That suits them well."

"They used a loophole in the rules. You can't blame them for that. If it's legal, it's legal.

"I think they used the loophole because of the African Cup of Nations."

Chelsea are 8 points clear of Arsenal and if the Blues win, it would give further credence to the belief that Arsenal cannot survive the month of November, which has been their bogey month in recent years.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Arsenal-Chelsea: a Songful preview

Some say it would be a clash between brute strength and silky football when the London giants meet. In what should be one of the biggest matches in Europe this weekend, Arsenal would have to win to have any good chance at the title.

So far, Arsene Wenger has done an appreciable job of serving his exotic cuisine of attractive passing attacking football. Perhaps one player who has suprised many with the speed of his development is Alex Song Billong.

Many pro-Arsenal blogs like Arseblog, Arsenalist, Arsenalmania and Goonernet have, in recent weeks, portrayed the young Cameroonian as quite indispensable to any silverware ambitions the club may have this season. For me, that is not far-fetched at all.

I was standing behind the goalposts when Ghana lost to Cameroon in the semi of the Ghana 2008 Afcon. Alex Song was mammoth in that game as he'd been throughout the competition. Never mind his size as compared to Ghana's Junior Agogo, Michael Essien or even the bullish Sulley Muntari, the lad played like he had been doing that all his life.

Suprisingly, that Afcon was his first major international tournament. In the end he was so good he was named in the competition's Best XI.

Against Chelsea, I expect Arsene to play him especially after his Man of the Match performances against Sunderland and Standard Liege. The middle of the field was his, that much was clear. And maybe he can even get that rare goal - now that'd be special.

At 22 years and at this rate, the little man from Douala may yet be one of the best central/defensive midfielders in Europe in a season or two.

Ancelloti is likely to employ a rugged midfield - like he usually does - and apart from Song, I'm not seeing who the Arse would employ to match the strength of the blues. Gallas left the last game with eyes like a pufferfish and if he would play, Song may get some respite. Otherwise it's gonna be a tiring day for the man who was loaned to Arsenal on a £1 million from Bastia.

Personally, I'd like an Arsenal win and here's why: in an ideal world Wenger's vaunted scouting and youth development policy must be seen to be beating over Abramovich's ridiculous 'buy-and-win' way of ruling Chelsea since he arrived in 2002-3. Sadly, our planet is anything but ideal.

That said, I cant wait for the game, can you? Especially to see how Eboue fares, too.

Till later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why is Uefa imposing an U-21 age limit on Olympic football?

At a meeting in Nyon, Switzerland today, Uefa decided to oppose the long held tradition of fielding players under 23 years to the Men's Olympic football tournament.

The question for me is WHY?

Unfortunately, the official statement gave no reason:

"After a full discussion on the subject the PFSC unanimously agreed that the principle of participation at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament should be for under 21 players, and not for players up to the age of 23, and that there should be provision for any overage players."

Traditionally, men's football at the Olympics employs the criteria stated above (plus 3 players over 23 years for every team to enhance the talent in the teams and also to bring appeal to the competition.)

I am not clear as to why Uefa's executives want this to be done but I know they have been pushing the idea for a long time, notably after Beijing '08.

Here is a continent that does not even fully patronise the underaged football competitions - think under 17, under 20 - because they feel the dominant South American and African teams cheat by 'fielding men instead of boys' (Brazil, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria etc).

However this is not the case for the Olympic version, as the winners of this one are pretty evenly spread across the globe.

Whatever the case may be, the International Olympic Committee wants to keep the status quo and is at moment opposed to Uefa's advances. So what we're about to witness would be a battle of political manoeuvring.

But the reality is that Uefa may yet have the last laugh at the Fifa level as they hold 8 of the 24 ruling Executive Committee seats.

Fifa would discuss this issue at its next meeting in South Africa in a week's time, after which they must submit a report to the IOC - also to convene from Dec 9-11.

From an African perspective, let's not forget that the two Olympic medals the continent has won via Nigeria and Cameroon were boosted greatly by the presence of the experienced overaged players.

At the last Beijing olympics players like Osaze Odemwingie and Oluwafemi Ajilore (Nigeria) helped their efforts at reaching the finals. And then there was the presence of Salomon Kalou, Hervé Kambou and Sekou Cissé for the Ivory Coast.

My take? Uefa should take a piss and let things be. What do you think?

Angola 2010 campfires lit as Nigeria/Ghana choose spots

After the Draw was held last week and we've seen all the occupants of the 4 groups, Angola 2010 is now gathering momentum.

Nigeria have announced that they would NOT camp in the rainbow nation as earlier decided - they've opted for Namibia instead.

According the nation's football top dogs, Namibia has similar weather conditions to Angola and so it would be better suited to the Eagles acclimatization than South Africa.

However in a differing opinion, Ghana's Football Association announced last Monday that they would prefer Nelspruit (South Africa) for their preparations for both the Nations' Cup and the world cup.

The Super Eagles are scheduled to begin camping on 28 December and coach Shuaibu Amodu says he'll start inviting players into the team for Angola in due course.

The final 23 is widely expected to be announced by the 18th of December.

Ghana have penned 27 December as the start date for their camping.

Angola 2010: Group B - Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso.

Group C: Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, Benin.

South Africa 2010: more jobs to be lost?

With the first African world cup looming ever closer, the host nation is looking at righting all internal troubles before inviting the world for the games.

But things are not looking so good on the books of the working class. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) wants their governmment to fix the exchange rate to create more jobs.

If the world cup should be successful, the people must be content. But reports of thousands of people being thrown out of work is fostering feelings of malcontentment.

Officially, South Africa is out of recession and its mainly due to the ruling ANC's investment in roads, railways and stadia for the world cup.

And even as Cosatu predicts more than a million jobs will be lost by the end of next month, we are in for an interesting last couple of months before kickoff.

Already costs of some of the stadia have increased two-fold and many have complained about the price of tickets which they say is too expensive.

I think that's not an argument, but let's leave that for another day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Qaddafi: right man to heal Algeria - Egypt rifts?

Sometimes the power football wields is amazing. In history we have seen the potential of the beautiful game to make things smooth between warring factions, between conglomerates (think adidas-Puma) and even among nations.

But last week we saw Algeria and Egypt threaten to boil over their final world cup qualifier. The two nations, historically unfriendly to each other, met in Sudan for the last time to decide who goes to South Africa.

Before that game, temperatures had been increasing as Egypt claimed there had been anti-Egyptian rioting in Algeria where flags had - reportedly - been burned. All this led to a high police build up in Sudan where Algeria won 1-0.

But instead of the well taken Algerian goal to end the impasse, it fuelled the flames. 32 police and 21 Egyptian fans were said to have been injured in post-match violence.

The next day, Egyptian demonstrations outside the Algerian embassy in Cairo turned violent.

Several cross-allegations were traded by both nations' governments in the following days and now the Arab League has decided to do something about it.

In what the official Libyan news agency claims is due to 'the status the Leader enjoys with both sides', Muammar el-Qaddafi has been called to mediate the issue before something nasty happens. As head of the African Union, the Colonel pushed his long-held agenda to unite Africa and this bad piece of PR certainly would not help his cause.

El-Qaddafi himself is known as a dictator in his country and some have questioned the wisdom in putting him in charge of a sensitive issue like this. Would the people of Egypt and Algeria trust him, given that their own leaders have blown this issue into a nationalistic credo to take the minds of the people of the more pressing issues of economic hardships?

However, given the Colonel's geographical location, he may yet be the best person to do the job. Satirists have also been quick to point out that the Libyan leader speaks the 'undemocratic language of the presidents of Algeria and Egypt'.

Whatever the case may be, casual football observers would hope that the Algerian amassador is reinstated and Egypt doesnt carry out its threat to move out of international football in 2 years.

Can Niang and his African brothers fire L'OM past Milan?

AC Milan v Marseille preview

There is a strong African connection in the French team's lineup: Mamadou Niang, Diawara, Taiwo, Stephan Mbia.

With three former European winners - Milan, Marseille and Real chasing two places in the next round and separated by one point, things are looking tasty in Group C.

Marseille, with 6 points, are in a comical goalscoring position because their top goal-getter is Gabriel Heinze - with just 2 goals. That's not the man you usually expect in that position but this means they need to step up their game against Milan, who are level with Real on seven points.

The last time they met in September Pipo Inzaghi upset L'OM after his two goals left the French with a 2-1 loss. At the time Milan badly needed the win because their coach's job was under threat due to a poor run.

Now, though, Milan are in very good shape and have shown they can score when they need to. Last Sunday their 4-3 win over Cagliari might have given the message that they have a leaky defence. Yet for me this is the price Leonardo's new system has to pay at times.

With his 4-2-1-3, the Brazilian has sought to make his strikeforce more potent - Pato, Ronaldinho, Inzaghi - and in doing so, he's left some gaps in the middle.

That is where Marseille may look to exploit. Niang has not been scoring much but his Rooneyesque assists have proven very effective for his team. On a good day, other players like Brandao, Diawara and Mbia can all score, but let's not forget that this game would be at the San Siro and wont be easy.

People point to the fact that Milan have not been exactly unshakeable at home this term but Didier Deschamps is a smart guy and he would have noticed that since he last played Milan who months ago, the Rossoneri won against Roma, held Real Madrid at home and have dropped just two of fifteen available points in the Serie A. The only blip was the the failure to win when FC Zurich came around.

Marseille, who lie seventh in the Ligue 1, would also be wary because Marco Borriello has returned from long term injury with goals and Pato has 4 goals from his last 6 league games. Ronaldinho is still Ronaldinho and on a good day will render the opposition useless.

This preview may suggest that Milan have it covered but let's not forget that Marseille have shown that they too can score especially after that 5-5 thriller a fortnight ago against Lyon and the 6-1 demolition of Zurich before that. As for their position at home and whether it may affect the way they play tonight, coach DD knows he has to win this one.

"That (seventh) is not a position we should expect to be in," says Didier Deschamps and yet he knows the stakes involved. Milan and Real are yet to play the FC Zurich, the whipping boys in this group so the French will do themselves some good if they win this one.

Monday, November 02, 2009

And week 3 is over!

Kessben FC have moved to the summit of the league standings after beating Eleven Wise 2-1 at the Anane Boateng Park on Sunday.

The home side who are two points clear at the top scored twice from the spot kick both through Yufa Zugah with Zakari Abdulai getting the only goal for Wise.

Great Olympics produced a wonderful performance to lift themselves off the bottom of the table as they beat AshantiGold 2-1 at the Ohene Gyan Stadium to claim their first win of the season.

Skipper Bilal Mohamed put Olympics ahead after a 15 minutes but Aminu Mohammed drew the Miners level before Eric Adjei scored the winner for the premiership returnees.

Champions Hearts of Oak managed to salvage a point at the Sekondi Stadium where they drew 1-1 with Hasaacas.

The Phobians struck the equalizer in the 75th minute through Douglas Nkrumah to cancel out Joseph Ato Bissah’s opener for Hasaacas.

Hearts will go into next weekend’s round of games as the bottom placed team.

All Stars picked their first win in the league with a 1-0 victory over Liberty Professionals in Wa. Nathaniel Asamoah's scored the match winner for the Blues who are still caught up in the drop zone after four matches.

Asante Kotoko were left frustrated at the Baba Yara Stadium as they shared the spoils with Berekum Arsenals in their 2-2 drawn game.

The result was the third drawn game by Kotoko.

Chelsea and Real Tamale United drew goalless at the Sunyani Coronation Park.

Premiership debutants, Aduana Stars picked up their first win against Heart of Lions at the Agyeman Badu I Park in Dormaa. Richard Addae's 73rd minute strike earned the homeside victory over Lions.

King Faisal were beaten 0-1 by New Edubiase United at the Len Clay Stadium. Nuhu Fuseini scored the only goal of the match.

Info courtesy: ghanafa.