Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ayew Kidding Me?



THE 2016/2017 English Premier League ended last Sunday with Chelsea’s coronation as champions of England. It was a coronation because “The Blues” had mathematically won the title two weeks before and the final day 5-1 thrashing of bottom team Sunderland was simply a befitting celebration party at Stamford Bridge. I say a big congratulations to all Nigerian supporters of Chelsea and congratulations to the “Nigerian ambassador” at the club, Victor Moses.

At the beginning of the season, I predicted that this year’s title run would be a contest of the managers, and so it turned out. Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jose Mourinho (Manchester United), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) and Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) are all very accomplished managers with impressive records of achievement and their clubs had money to spend. Add to the list the rising Mauricho Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur) and it was clear from the start that some managerial egos would be boosted or bruised and some reputations would be enhanced, damaged or destroyed.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Wenger has emerged as the most brutalized. Although only Conte won the title, Pochettino, Guardiola and Klopp secured European Champions League places for next season while Mourinho could join them if United beat Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League final. That would leave Wenger in the cold and it’s no surprise that the vast majority of Arsenal fans are demanding for his departure.

I sympathize with Wenger but I couldn’t wish him luck in the race for the “Top Four” because that would have jeopardized my own Liverpool’s chances. Now, the best I can wish him and all Arsenal fans is victory in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday so that they don’t finish the season completely empty-handed. Concerning the Cup final, I say to Chelsea fans, be patient with your Arsenal neighbor and don’t be greedy. Remember, sharing is caring!


As for Liverpool, I am simply relieved that we finally secured fourth place, never mind that it’s only good enough for the qualifying stage of the Champions League. Our performances were so unpredictable that even after surprisingly beating West Ham 4-0 away in the penultimate week which consolidated our fourth place, I couldn’t celebrate anything until we were up 3-0 against Middleborough at Anfield last Sunday. Klopp must significantly reinforce his team, otherwise, Liverpool fans are in for more hypertensive days next season.
In the meantime, though, I will like to enjoy the moment by tracking back to that pivotal game against West Ham at the London Stadium where Arsenal were hoping Liverpool would slip up. 

At 0-0 and with the game still wide open, West Ham’s Andre Ayew hit the Liverpool post not once, but twice in succession within seconds from three yards out when it was apparently easier to score. That double miss has been penciled down as a strong candidate for Miss-of-the-Season in the EPL and it also provided the title for Soccertalk this week.

While soccer fans were commenting on Ayew’s outrageous miss on Twitter, someone who identified himself simply as @Sennesation also couldn’t hide his disbelief. It was he who asked incredulously: Ayew Kidding Me?” 

3SC, Ayew Kidding Me?

WHILE I was celebrating my favourite foreign club Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Middlesbrough as the EPL rounded off last Sunday, my favourite local club side, Shooting Stars dampened my spirits when they lost by the same 3-0 margin at home to FC IfeanyiUbah as the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumed for the second half of the season also last Sunday.

When I heard the shock result, I couldn’t help but ask my informer: “Are you kidding me?” As incredible as it sounded, it turned out the result was true.
How could it happen? When 3SC lost 2-1 to two late penalty kicks at IfeanyiUbah towards the end of the first stanza of the league, there were serious suspicions that they were robbed by the referee as at least one of the penalties was very, very questionable. But with last Sunday’s comprehensive defeat in Ibadan, 3SC must admit that the Onitsha boys are superior.

My friends in Ibadan couldn’t explain the scandalous defeat when I spoke to them. But word coming out unofficially from team camp is that the players are hungry and angry because they are owed a backlog of salaries and allowances.

My plea to the Oyo State government is to come to the club’s aid urgently and lift the players’ spirits. Last season, 3SC escaped relegation from the NPFL only by the skin of the teeth. They may not be second-time lucky this season as they’re already sitting again in the relegation zone.



NPFL Back On DSTV Soon

THE Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) resumed for the second half of the season last Sunday still without the matches being shown on television.

I don’t know how the League Management Company (LMC) and broadcast partners DSTV Super Sport have been able to achieve a near total blackout of news concerning the contentious broadcast rights for several weeks since coverage was suspended and rumour of their impending break-up emerged. But if that (news black-out) would eventually result in the parties reaching an amicable resolution for the resumption of coverage, it’s all well and good.


Indeed, I have been sniffing around since I first wrote about the subject three weeks ago and my findings suggest that a resolution is close. Very soon, the NPFL will be back on DSTV SuperSport… For the Good of the Game. More details later.

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