Survey results – Who’s supporting who at the World Cup!

So a week ago, I asked my Facebook friends which team they would be supporting during the 2014 World Cup. From past experiences, many people come out of hibernation at the end of a tournament claiming they have always supported the winning team. Because most of my friends are either Zimbabwean (country of birth) or South African (country of residence) – both not present at the tournament – the choices of support usually (not always) serve also as a prediction. I received a fair number of comments too. Admittedly it’s been a while since I wrote a blog. And there could be no better time to revive a neglected passion than the opening day of the World Cup. The World Cup is probably the biggest sporting event in the world, which can mean two things: there are so many subjects to write about but on the other hand, there are so many people out there writing something. This means, a piece must be unique (well every piece must be) to attract any sort of attention. One can write about anything from ‘The Return of football to its home’ to the protests surrounding the event, from my failed/futile attempts to go to Brazil to the incredible commercials surrounding the event. We could give facts & figures, but that will be for another day. So I thought I would write a simple blog showing those random responses.

This is a summary of the 24 responses given: (number of votes – country)

9 – Germany

5 – Brazil

4 – England, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria

3- Spain, Cameroon

2 – France, Holland, Portugal

1 – Argentina

That’s 24 responses and the percentages are as follows:

37.5 % – Germany

21% – Brazil

16% – England, CIV, Ghana, Nigeria

12.5% – Spain, Cameroon

8% – France, Holland, Portugal

4% – Argentina

That means a whopping 37% of my (responsive) friends will be backing Germany to take this, while 21% think Brazil will do it on their home turf. There are many African loyalists (16% who back Ivory Coast, Ghana & Nigeria to succeed (whatever that success may mean. Surprisingly, only 8% are backing France, Holland & Ronaldo’s Portugal and just 4% with Messi’s Albicelestes (sky blue and whites). Enjoy the games guys..

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The State of football in Zimbabwe (article found on www.zifa.org.zw in 2013)

ZIMBABWE FOOTBALL  ASSOCIATION

 STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF FOOTBALL  IN ZIMBABWE AS AT 3RD JULY 2013

 The game of football is the nation’s number one (1) sport w hose mass appeal over the years has not been matched by the resources supporting football. Our game’s potential f or grow th has been hamstrung by LACK OF RESOURCES and it takes the entire family of football’s efforts to afford the game of football the opportunity to realise its full potential. The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to bare it all in terms of w here our football is and the way forward.

 Blame games have characterised the present discourse among members of the family of football. There have been deafening sounds coming from all corners of our social strata calling f or the present football leadership to make way f or new crew . The calls f or the resignation or dismissal of the current football leadership have their ow n misgivings given the f act that the calls are coming from public that assumes that all is w ell in terms of funding of football. Hiring and firing personnel without addressing the fundamental problems hounding football, will be a wild goose chase. Asking the present ZIFA leadership to step down is not the solution. Issues around football’s growth need be addressed holistically.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association turned fifty (50) years in May 2013 and a glance at the past brings to f ore the games chequered history. Zimbabwean Football has up to 2000 been replete with mixed fortunes in terms of performance deliverables. The Football landscape in Zimbabwe has prior to and soon after independence, seen Government, local authorities, individuals and corporate bodies funding clubs, leagues, tournaments and national Teams. The funding model then obtaining allow ed the game to have success stories which w ill forever be part of the football folklore, clubs, representative teams and National Teams, distinguished themselves in their various assignments, locally, regionally, continentally and out of Africa.

 

Triumphs by our Teams w ere made possible through the material, financial and human resources invested in football by football’s partners. Partners tripped after each other in a scramble f or strategic positioning within football. It w as not only funding that made football succeed. Football w as in the hands of astute, dedicated, visionary, honest and patriotic men and w omen. Support from the corporate section is only possible through transparency, accountability and dedication of the football leadership. Corporate support is earned through hard work and honesty.

 

The CECAFA, COSAFA titles, appearance at the African Cup of Nations, to mention but a few w ill always remind Zimbabweans of the potential this nation has in terms of excellence.

 

Sponsors and Central Government the world over fund football and naturally they demand accountability and results. Football Associations from Africa, w ho have accounted and show n results f or the support they got from Government and the Corporate world comprise the likes of Cameroon, Zambia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, to mention but a few . Former football lightweights have done w ell, thanks to support from Government and the corporate world.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association in 2004 got a special fund from Government to service debts which had accrued since 2000. The special fund w as administered by Government to service the debts which had been hanging around football’s neck like an albatross. Government went on to fund the Senior National Team’s 2004 and 2006 African Cup of Nations Campaigns leading to the Senior National Team’s qualification f or the finals for two (2) Continental Championships. The 2006 plebiscite ushered a new era, which saw funding dissipating. The ZIFA Board which took over in March 2006, assumed  the reins against the background of a sound financial background, having inherited close to US $ 500 000.00. The 2006 era then ushered in a new dispensation

which saw Government and Corporate partners withdrawing their support owing to varied reasons.

 

 

The past 2006 era saw the Association sinking to scary depths owing to a number of f actors. The economic meltdown constricted the Association’s revenue streams. No sooner had the economic meltdown had its toll on Zimbabwe’s entire strata, than the game began to be susceptible to corruption and general bad governance.

 

The National Teams w ere turned into dirty money-making units as the Teams w ere made to play to lose matches f or money coming from match fixing and illegal betting syndicates. National pride and patriotism became a scarce commodity as corrupt and self -servicing officials of the Association took the National Teams to various destinations which hosted “fixed” matches. The Senior National Teams’ CAF and FIFA rankings plummeted to record low levels and strangely enough there w as def eating silence from the family of football. Match fixing became fashionable as football officials and some members of the media connived in sending the National Team to money games in Asia and some parts of Africa. The local match-fixers went on to conscript local clubs into match fixing scandals by encouraging the clubs to earn money by throwing matches.

 

One club which had in its midst  a ZIFA Board member and a member of the media w ho w as also doubling as an executive committee member, w as sent to Asia masquerading as the Senior

National Men’s Team. No one raised alarm, save for a few media houses.

 

The effects of the Asiagate Scandal w ere evident as show n by the National Teams performances. Players w ere making outrageous demands ahead of matches and consequently the National Team brand w as torn into shreds.

 

Corruption w as entrenched into local football as evidenced by the misappropriation of funds for development and theft of football equipment and general extortion. Equipment meant f or grassroots development w as stolen by a ZIFA employee and no one at ZIFA could stop the corruption since “it w as corrupt not to be corrupt at ZIFA”. Seed equipment from the Reserve Bank w as converted to personal use by some of ZIFA officials, one of which is still holding on to some the assets. Development programs w ere choked by the plundering of resources. Area zones and districts w ere neglected to a point w here no one w anted to mention such structures. Resources meant f or the FIFA Goal Projects w ere misused by corrupt officials with nothing to show f or FIFA’s investment in Zimbabwean football. The ZIFA Village remained a forlorn and dilapidated structure despite the millions that FIFA had allocated Zimbabwe under the Goal Project. “Lootocracy” descended on the local game as looters helped themselves to the Association resources with reckless abandon.

 

Factionalism w as allow ed to rear its ugly head by self -servicing and corrupt football officials. Factionalism saw the family of football divided into warring parties which worked round the clock to disfigure football. The f actions wrestled f or control of Zimbabwean football for personal gains. Some self styled supporters w ere also recruited to drive the f actions’ turf war campaigns in return f or money.

 

Media patronage saw some sections of the media recruited into the anti-corruption busting campaign in return f or dirty money. One media house’s sports editor w as turned into the spin doctor f or the corrupt football officials. Some media houses saw No evil, spoke No evil and heard No evil as they lined their pockets with lucre.

 

Enter the current ZIFA Board  – The Football landscape w as on f ire in 2010 and the current Board had to contend with a host of challenges some of which still haunt ZIFA to date. There w as no hand-over-take over between the outgoing and incoming Board. In the absence of the handover takeover, the current Board had to grope in darkness f or solutions to problems hounding football.

 

ZIFA had a debt of Two Million United States Dollars (US $ 2 000 000.00) which only came to the surf ace later on in 2010. Some of the debts had been inflated by the service providers working in cahoots with some ZIFA employees. Ghost service providers w ere also included on the list of service providers ow ed by ZIFA. A former National Coach joined the bandwagon of inflated

bills after having been promised to share the difference with a ZIFA employee w ho has since been dismissed.

 

 

The Zimbabw e-Brazil match left ZIFA with a One (1) Million United States dollar debt to Kentaro, the match agent for Brazil. Proceeds from the high profile match w ere pocketed by a ZIFA Official and some out of ZIFA officials.

 

ZIFA’s image w as at its worst as the Association w as perceived as an institution which had no respect f or good corporate governance. The Association had come to symbolise corruption. The Asiagate Scandal had eaten into the marrow of the Association over a period of f our (4) years. The Scandal impacted negatively on any attempt to have a strong National Teams portfolio. Development structures w ere nonexistent as no efforts w ere made to create a development pathway f or local football as the Association had been engrossed in money games in Asia.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets allocated to Zimbabwe w ere surreptitiously disposed of f without ZIFA’s know ledge. Once the tickets w ere sold out the former ZIFA CEO bought tickets worthy US $ 24 000.00 f or non football officials and ZIFA is yet to get dividends from the sale of the tickets.

 

The secretariat w as packed with staff that had their loyalties with certain football and non football officials. The secretariat w as operating as a quasi-the ZIFA Board to an extent that the former Board w as literally reporting to the secretariat instead of the other way round.

 

General corporate governance structures had been collapsed by individuals and our Board had to embark on a cleanup and restructuring campaign to bring back order.

 

 

The National Teams w ere a bunch of mercenaries and the Board only realised that there w as no National Team to talk about as a result of the Asiagate Scandal midstream through the 2012

African Cup of Nations campaign. Government and Corporate partners withdrew their support f or National Teams once the Asiagate Scandal investigations got underway. The Board had to go back to the drawing back championing the rebuilding crusade f or National Teams. The impact of the Asiagate Scandal shall no doubt be felt over the next three (3) to five (5) years and the Association should prepare to walk the rough rehabilitation route.

 

All things good and bad, having been said, there is need f or a way forward. The Association is desirous to see the Asiagate Scandal brought to finality. ZIFA shall take no prisoners w hen it comes to match fixing and illegal betting. Cleaning up of football shall continue until the game of football has no specks.

 

Restructuring of the Association shall be an ongoing engagement as the Association is repositioning itself . The ZIFA Constitution shall be observed to the letter if ZIFA is to come out of the woods.

Media and Football have to reengage each other since both organisations have a lot to gain by working together than fighting each other. Standing Committees have to be reconstructed and be manned by competent men and w omen.

National Teams have to be resourced by Government and sponsors. Football Associations the world over have their National Teams fully funded by Government and the corporate sector. A

glance at our 2014 FIFA World Cup Campaign reveals that Egypt, Guinea and Mozambique Football Association receive direct sponsorship and funding from Treasury and blue chip companies

who have a every right at the end of the day to demand f or results. The Zimbabwe Football Association w as the only one w hose National Teams are funded by individuals and a few corporate bodies.  Had it not been f or ZIFA President Dr Cuthbert E Dube’s benevolence, ZIFA would be history. ZIFA needs a long lasting solution to the financial woes around the servicing of football’s portfolios. ZIFA appreciates Government’s constraints to do with resources but w ill continue urging Government to create an enabling environment f or sponsorship and funding of football through incentives f or corporate bodies.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association is committed to seeing f football reach greater heights and hence our establishment of the Football’s Trust w hose eminent members shall work round the clock in unlocking value for football. We urge all Zimbabweans to support “Dollar f or Football Project” which shall be administered through Football Trust. We shall not abdicate from our responsibility of growing football.

ROAD TO THE FINAL – the story of Westville Baptist’s journey to the 2013 Church League final

If one has aspirations towards a football writing career, what better way to start than to write a story close to home – a story about a team that you are a part of. The following is a tale about our church soccer team, who joined a regional league this year and went on, not only to finish 3rd in the regular season, but also to make the final after winning their playoff semi. 

In a year without a major tournament (World Cup, Euros etc), the month of July is often a very long month for the average football fan. Most major leagues across the world are on their off-season breaks and most football followers suffer from what is called ‘Football Withdrawal Syndrome’. So when news filtered in that our church, Westville Baptist Church (WBC), could be joining a Sunday League involving church youth groups in the Durban area, this news was received with much excitement. This version of a social Sunday soccer league involves 12 churches (previously had 8) around Durban – teams featuring mainly youth (Under 21) and some young adults (21 – 35). Thanks to the generosity of Gelofte Primary School in Pinetown, who allowed us to use their 2 football grounds, most matches (95 % of them) were played at the school ground. With 12 pm and 2 pm kickoffs, the league was designed not to clash with Sunday services, but also to allow friends and parents an afternoon of fun and fellowship in the Durban sun. Teams were limited to play 7 games max, one of the reasons being to avoid clashing with exams in November.

THE EARLY DAYS

For WBC, the journey began against Glenridge on the 28th of July. In a tightly contested game, Glenridge took the lead in the first half but Bryce equalized in the second. However, a late long range shot from Glenridge bounced awkwardly in front of our goalie and won them the match.

We responded well to that setback & comfortably won the next game against Highway Church (Fusion) 4-1, with most goals coming in the second half – Warren and Bryce among the scorers. We were showing early signs of improvement, but a 3 week break from the league- where we had no scheduled fixtures and somehow led us to lose momentum. The third game of the season was always going to be a tough test, as we faced His Church – a team that had a 100 percent record in the league, having won their first two games. Later in the season, His Church would go on to finish 2nd in the regular season – losing out on top spot by goal difference. But we fared well here – again a shot from range early in the first half (with a suspected deflection) caught our goalie (Anthony) off guard and that proved to be the difference, His Church winning 1-0.

At this stage, with 3 points from a possible 9, WBC were languishing in 8th place on the log, just 3 points above bottom placed Fusion. The next game would be crucial. Against Sarepta, it was a game of two halves. Sarepta came out of the blocks at full speed, racing to a 2 goal lead inside the first half hour and we were left staring at a 3rd defeat in 4 games. But we picked ourselves up as we fought back from a poor start to level matters. Ambu pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time and then we scored another goal midway through the second half. Though we couldn’t get the 3rd goal to win the match, our confidence was restored and this showed in the remainder of the season, as we went on a magical run of unbeaten games and clean sheets.

THE UNBEATEN RUN – Invincibles!

We thumped Hillcrest Methodist 6-0 on the 22nd of September, with a couple of guys getting on the score sheet, including Josh, Byron and Marc. The following week, we won 8 – 0 (another clean sheet for the likes of Craig, Vuyile, Tyron & Jarrod) with a hat-trick from Shawn and also goals from Jimmy, Byron & Tom. At this stage, we were on 10 points, fourth in the league and with (what had earlier seemed like) an unlikely shout for a play-off spot (top 4 teams). The final league game against Olive Tree was like a final before the final for us, as only a win would be enough to take us through to the top 4. This was the best performance by the team. Yet another tight game, as the first half ended goalless, though we had created many opportunities. We did not give up and late in the game, Shawn scored a great team goal that took 3 moves from the back. Centre back Lee found Josh on the edge of the box with a precise long range pass. Josh turned and slid in a Ozil-type through pass to Shawn who had made a great run behind their defence, and in turn he made no mistake, beating the keeper from close range. Olive Tree tried to fight back, but a combination of good saves, rugged defending and fortune kept them at bay as WBC won the game 1-0. Other results meant WBC finished 3rd on the final league table, booking a place in the semis against His Church (who we had lost to earlier in the season).

THE PLAYOFFS – Close but no cigar!

The playoff semis were played on the 20th of October. While Kloof Harvest cruised to victory in their match, WBC and His Church were engaged in another tense game. The final score of 0-0 led to a penalty shootout – Rob was the hero with 2 penalty saves. From one win in 4 games in the first half of the season, we had gone on a great run of 4 undefeated games, 4 clean sheets and a 15-0 aggregate score to make it to the final in our 1st season in the league. However, the fairy-tale came to an end as the boys seemed to run out of steam. Kloof Harvest, defending champions who had also topped the league in the regular season, beat us 1-0 in the final in a rainy, muddy final on 27 October. The match was marred by a broken leg suffered by one of our strikers, Jimmy, following an unfortunate incident when going for the ball.

In the end, 2nd place out of 12 in our first season tells its own story – we lost in the final, but came out with our heads held high. We also got a chance to be involved with other churches (some churches I never even knew existed) and hopefully, that will be the start of more fellowship among churches in the future. But for us at Westville Baptist, the challenge next season is simple – to go a step further, and win the tournament.

Lindelwe Moyo – http://www.theyplaywefollow.wordpress.com

Results

REGULAR SEASON

28 July                  vs  Glenridge                       LOST                  1 – 2

7 August              vs  Highway (Fusion)        WON                  4 – 1

1 September       vs His Church                     LOST                   0 – 1

8 September       vs Sarepta                            DREW                  2 – 2

22 September      vs Hillcrest Methodist     WON                   6 -0

29 September      vs St Agnes                          WON                  8 – 0

6 October              vs Olive Tree                        WON                  1 – 0

PLAYOFFS

20 October    semi final  vs  His Church   DREW             0 – 0 (won 3-1 on pens)

27 October     Final           vs  Kloof Harvest  LOST          0 – 1

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Die Mannschaft – The WBC squad before the final.

The Case for Tahiti.

Why football’s underdogs deserve a place at the top table and how (in football’s happy marriage) development and entertainment should never be divorced.

Few things get to my nerves, but listening to Supersport analyst Doctor Khumalo label Tahiti’s performance against Nigeria (they lost 6-1) as ‘mickey-mouse football’ certainly is one of them. Tahiti went on to lose 10-0 to Spain & 8-0 to Uruguay and like the Doc, some football fans may (rightly) feel shortchanged in terms of entertainment by Tahiti’s performances. But I believe we are just being shortsighted.

The Confederations Cup is a tournament that pitches continent against continent. As much as it is used by the host nation as a test run to hosting a World Cup, the tournament is also used to compare and contrast the differences in continental playing styles. And as Africa takes on Europe & Asia challenges America, FIFA can get a suitable measure of how far they have come in terms of globalizing the world’s greatest sport. It’s an ambitious, yet unique measuring yardstick – few other sports have continental competitions (only golf’s Ryder Cup comes to mind & even then, it is only America vs Europe).

Tahiti arrived at the 2013 Confederations Cup as rank outsiders having won their continental trophy by defeating New Caledonia 1-0 in the final. New Caledonia isn’t mighty either & if they had been at the Confederations Cup instead, the score lines would have been pretty similar. So the problem isn’t Tahiti, is it? Upon arrival, their coach said their primary aim in this competition was to score a goal. Not an overly ambitious goal, but a goal nonetheless. And that is to be expected from a squad of semi-professionals made up of factory workers, truck drivers, an auditor, four members of the same family and 11 unemployed folk. Only one player, striker Marama Vahirua, who spent last season with Panathinaikos in Greece, is a professional. In summary, it is a team made up of ordinary people, not superstars. And that is what football’s greater picture is about – it’s not just about Neymar & Iniesta entertaining us with mind boggling skills it is also about the ordinary man.

The protests outside Confed Cup stadiums have threatened to steal the highlights from the tournaments itself. When I asked Supersport presenter (via twitter), Carol Tshabalala what the protests were about, she replied “Too much money being spent on the competition & not enough in health services”. The ordinary people feel as though their basic needs are being sacrificed at the expense of luxurious events like the World Cup. They feel as though entertainment is being championed at the expense of development and basic service delivery. But, that is a story for another day.

Throughout the club season, we have been entertained by the Bayerns, Dortmunds & Kaizer Chiefs of this world. But at some point, entertainment must stop and development of football , even if briefly, must be prioritized if the beautiful game is to grow. The U-21 European championships just ended and now the U-20 World Cup taking place in Turkey – both of these singing their own tune about the importance of football development.

I understand when fans throw banter at Tahiti and make jokes about the 10-0 margins, but for a professional analyst to laugh at the champions of a particular confederation, sends the wrong message to many addresses. First & foremost, it sends the wrong message to Tahiti – that they are not a part of the world stage and never will be. Secondly, it sends a wrong message to teams in Tahiti’s confederation, Oceania – that Tahiti is a hopeless football nation and any team that could not beat them is even worse. Finally, it sends the wrong message to young people – who are inspired by the fact that a team of ordinary footballers (and ordinary people) can earn the right to battle it out with the world’s best. Laughing at Tahiti is tantamount to laughing at ourselves, and FIFA’s efforts at globalizing the game.

Tahiti’s fairytale may not be held in the same breath as, say, Ghana in 2010, but it’s a fairytale nonetheless. For a nation whose population of 180000 could fit into the (olden day) Maracana stadium, the fact that David even stood up to face Goliath is a story in itself. It may be fine margins, but I’m willing to bet that there are more people are inspired by (and relate to) Tahiti’s arrival on the world stage than there would be inspired by a 3-2 extra time victory by Spain over Germany. Sometimes the development value in football is more important than the entertainment value and that is what makes the beautiful game a beautiful union. The true balance is a happy marriage of entertainment & development, and in a world of equal rights, development must never feel sidelined.Image

THE CASE FOR TAHITI

marriage rings

Few things get to my nerves, but listening to Supersport analyst Doctor Khumalo label Tahiti’s performance against Nigeria (they lost 6-1) as ‘mickey-mouse football’ certainly is one of them. Tahiti went on to lose 10-0 to Spain & 8-0 to Uruguay and like the Doc, some football fans may (rightly) feel shortchanged in terms of entertainment by Tahiti’s performances. But I believe we are just being shortsighted.

The Confederations Cup is a tournament that pitches continent against continent. As much as it is used by the host nation as a test run to hosting a World Cup, the tournament is also used to compare and contrast the differences in continental playing styles. And as Africa takes on Europe & Asia challenges America, FIFA can get a suitable measure of how far they have come in terms of globalizing the world’s greatest sport. It’s an ambitious, yet unique measuring yardstick – few other sports have continental competitions (only golf’s Ryder Cup comes to mind & even then, it is only America vs Europe).

Tahiti arrived at the 2013 Confederations Cup as rank outsiders having won their continental trophy by defeating New Caledonia 1-0 in the final. New Caledonia isn’t mighty either & if they had been at the Confederations Cup instead, the score lines would have been pretty similar. So the problem isn’t Tahiti, is it? Upon arrival, their coach said their primary aim in this competition was to score a goal. Not an overly ambitious goal, but a goal nonetheless. And that is to be expected from a squad of semi-professionals made up of factory workers, truck drivers, an auditor, four members of the same family and 11 unemployed folk. Only one player, striker Marama Vahirua, who spent last season with Panathinaikos in Greece, is a professional. In summary, it is a team made up of ordinary people, not superstars. And that is what football’s greater picture is about – it’s not just about Neymar & Iniesta entertaining us with mind boggling skills it is also about the ordinary man.

The protests outside Confed Cup stadiums have threatened to steal the highlights from the tournaments itself. When I asked Supersport presenter (via twitter), Carol Tshabalala what the protests were about, she replied “Too much money being spent on the competition & not enough in health services”. The ordinary people feel as though their basic needs are being sacrificed at the expense of luxurious events like the World Cup. They feel as though entertainment is being championed at the expense of development and basic service delivery. But, that is a story for another day.

Throughout the club season, we have been entertained by the Bayerns, Dortmunds & Kaizer Chiefs of this world. But at some point, entertainment must stop and development of football , even if briefly, must be prioritized if the beautiful game is to grow. The U-21 European championships just ended and now the U-20 World Cup taking place in Turkey – both of these singing their own tune about the importance of football development.

I understand when fans throw banter at Tahiti and make jokes about the 10-0 margins, but for a professional analyst to laugh at the champions of a particular confederation, sends the wrong message to many addresses. First & foremost, it sends the wrong message to Tahiti – that they are not a part of the world stage and never will be. Secondly, it sends a wrong message to teams in Tahiti’s confederation, Oceania – that Tahiti is a hopeless football nation and any team that could not beat them is even worse. Finally, it sends the wrong message to young people – who are inspired by the fact that a team of ordinary footballers (and ordinary people) can earn the right to battle it out with the world’s best. Laughing at Tahiti is tantamount to laughing at ourselves, and FIFA’s efforts at globalizing the game.

Tahiti’s fairytale may not be held in the same breath as, say, Ghana in 2010, but it’s a fairytale nonetheless. For a nation whose population of 180000 could fit into the (olden day) Maracana stadium, the fact that David even stood up to face Goliath is a story in itself. It may be fine margins, but I’m willing to bet that there are more people are inspired by (and relate to) Tahiti’s arrival on the world stage than there would be inspired by a 3-2 extra time victory by Spain over Germany. Sometimes the development value in football is more important than the entertainment value and that is what makes the beautiful game a beautiful union. The true balance is a happy marriage of entertainment & development, and in a world of equal rights, development must never feel sidelined.

Arsenal Season Review 2012/2013 season..

So another season comes to an end. My friends (I honestly don’t know why I have so many Manyoo supporting friends) are always quick to remind me that it’s another trophy less year. Gone are the days when I was agitated by such comments – I have learned to appreciate what we have. Like I said before, the investment into the new stadium has made us less competitive in the transfer market (a market heavily influenced by the bottomless oil wealth of the Arabians & Russians) is one step back and two steps forward, or in our case ten years back then maybe a hundred years forward.

This is just a review of the season gone by – not an explanation of our current transition. The season started off with the sale of our captain Robin van Persie to our long standing rivals Man United. Wow that hurt – well at first it hurt. We kind of expected him to leave but not to Manyoo. Again, the consensus in the football circles is that Wenger was unwise in selling his best asset to Manyoo but as always, time and subsequent events suggest that he was not senseless at all. Again, that’s a story for another day (or blog).

LEAGUE – The season started with all this hovering above the Gunners but that did not prevent us having a solid start – a solid defense that conceded only 2 goals in the first five games. A mini slump followed as we lost 3 times in 5 games to Chelsea, Norwich & Manyoo. Another lean set of results followed (12 points in 10 games) as we struggled to get over the sale of our top player and as the new signings brought in to replace him were still finding their feet. This form was too ordinary for what the manager had earlier predicted was a ‘title winning’ side. Four successive wins steadied the ship but once again this was interrupted by our 3rd slump in form of one win in 5 games at the turn of the year. At this point, in fact after the 2nd slump, we were already written off the reckoning for the league. Now, to win the league – a team can only afford one slump in form. Two slumps will get you Champions League qualification; while 3 slumps is the minimum requirement for fourth place. At this point, many wrote us off for fourth (even I had my doubts, though I never stopped believing) Arsenal could not afford another slip up and had to respond with title-winning form just to make 4th spot – another slump & we would have been looking at Europa League. But the boys responded well after all these setbacks, losing one game out of 16 until the end of the season (the Spurs loss as WHL). This incredible run included 10 games unbeaten at the end (with 5 clean sheets in those 10 games) and we made that coveted 4th spot. In the end 73 points was 3 more than last season, but 4th was a place lower.

CUPS – we had a solid start in the group stage with six points from 2 games against Montpellier (A) & Olympiakos (H). But like our league form, what looked good was suddenly disturbed by a home loss (2-0 with 2 late goals) to a good Shalke side, which went on to finish top of the group B. An away draw to Schalke meant we had surrendered finishing top to them, but still had qualification in our hands, which we sealed with a 2-0 home win. The last loss (though we had qualified second) meant that we would be paired with a group winner from another group. That turned out to be many people’s favorites for the competition – Bayern Munich. But you have to beat the best to be the best, and although we managed to beat the Bavarians, once again a good second leg (2-0) was overshadowed by a poor first leg (1-3), and we went out on away goals. The Carling Cup and FA Cup defeats to Bradford (on penalties) , after scoring 13 goals in the first two rounds & Blackburn (5th round) proved to be the lowest points of our season – well aware that we were out of the league race by December, the cups represented our only hope of silverware.

Player of the Season: Santi Cazorla – great signing from Malaga who hit the ground running. His creativity was key to our big margin wins, though he seemed to be crowded out in the big games. He also contributed with 12 goals & 13 assists.

Most Improved Player: Aaron Ramsey. He’s been vilified in the past for poor performances, and even started this season badly. But his improvement in the 2nd half of the season coincided with our improvement.

Signing of the Season – Santi Cazorla (reasons above)

Match of the season – Arsenal 7 Reading 5. Just an incredible game – we were trailing 4-0 at half time. 4-1 after 63 minutes, 4-2 after 88 minutes but managed to get 4-4 and win 7-5 in extra time. The Bayern victory was important, but not as exciting.

Disappointment of the Season – Gervinho: expected him to have a better 2nd season that the 1st, but this did not turn to be the case. If anything, he went a little backward.

Goal of the Season – no outright winner here but Podolski vs Montpellier was a nice combination by two of our new signings. Cazorla v West Ham (A) also worthy of mention

Decision of the Season:  Arsene Wenger decision to bench Sczez & Vermaelen from the Bayern game onwards. Team never looked back from there

Summary

The season can be summed up by watching most of our league games – we were poor in the first half and brilliant in the second. We had many high scoring games, but we need to improve in our big games. Ultimately, we needed brilliant form just to sneak into fourth and although I celebrated the achievement, it’s not good enough. The next season (Wenger’s last on his contract, the legend that is Alex Ferguson retired, confusion at City & Chelsea and no transfer saga) presents our best opportunity to return to the top table. But that possibility can only become a probability if we show our intention by investing wisely in the summer.

We love you Arsenal, we do!!!

Zadok the Priest – How text on King Solomon’s anointing (1Kings1:38-40) inspired what we know as the Champions League anthem.

So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok the priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save King Solomon. And all the people came up after him, and the people played on flutes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth shook with the sound of them. (1 Kings 1: 38-40)

 

It is football at its best. Known to excite the hearts of footballers and fans alike, the UEFA Champions League anthem is played at the start of all games in the competition, and is also in all Champions League broadcasts.

Indeed, we all love Champions League football – it’s a league of extraordinary gentlemen,extraordinary games, extraordinary comebacks and it seems extraordinary music. It is football at its best. Memories of Man Utd in 1999, Zidane in 2001, Liverpool in 2005, and even last night’s demolition of Barca by Bayern flood back, sending a pre-match rush down the spine whenever and wherever the anthem is played.

But have you ever wondered what on earth that anthem means? Or where it comes from?

I always believed it was a classical piece of Italian music, sung by The 3 tenors and was guilty of just humming along without any understanding. Yet, I was wrong.

The Champions League anthem is actually an adaptation of Zadok the Priest (written by George Friedrich Handel in the 18th century) one of four coronation anthems – music designed to accompany the crowning of a monarch. Zadok the Priest is the most famous of the four, written for the crowning of King George II & Queen Caroline in 1727. Other Handel coronation anthems are Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice, and My Heart Is Inditing and have been performed at every British coronation since that occasion.

The text for all for anthems is found from the King James Bible.

The text for the original Zadok the Priest in particular, can be found in the biblical account of the anointing of King Solomon by Zadok the priest & Nathan the prophet. Music at its best. (1 Kings 15:38-40) especially the words And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save King Solomon…”

The King Shall Rejoice uses a text from Psalm 21 and Handel sets each of the four sentences and the final Hallelujah as separate musical sections. My Heart is Inditing is an adapted and abridged text using verses from Psalms 45 and Isaiah 49. Psalm 89:13 is used for Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened.

Zadok the Priest was recast into the UEFA anthem in 1992 (when the old European cup was re branded into the current Champions League) by British composer Tony Britten. It is purely an adaptation of the original version and was written by Mr Britten in the three official UEFA languages (English, French & German) and in summary simply says “These are the champions, the masters and this is the main event”

One of the most famous performances was by the blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli, the world’s most talented classical musician in the 2009 Champions League final between ManU & Barca. Bocelli is blind &ironically, his blindness was caused by a football accident (he was hit in the head and suffered a brain hemorrhage) aged 12. Football at its worst.

But from crowning King Solomon BC to crowning kings in post medieval era of enlightenment (18th century) to crowning modern day kings of football, Zadok the priest’s mark has indelibly been passed down.

TheSon-of-Moyo.

References

 

1. http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/music/

2. http://www.choirs.org.uk/prognotes/Handel%20Coronation%20Anthems.htm

3. http://www.classicfm.com/composers/handel/music/george-frideric-handel-zadok-priest/

4. http://www.allmusic.com/album/handel-coronation-anthems-mw0001414315

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCHUCMiJ_Ew

6. http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/famous-blind.shtml#ixzz2ROXZnJ9F