Recent Comments

Hugo on Eurosport beams Nations Cup matches: Really hoping Nigeria do well in this tournament b ...
Delivery Hero on England, France paired in Euro 2012: Can't wait for Euro 2012! ...
Wes on 2011/12 English Premiership Preview: Thanks Sybil, I think Man City cannot easily be di ...
Wes on 2011/12 English Premiership Preview: Thanks Bambo for the comment. I think its going to ...
Phil on 2011/12 English Premiership Preview: Good post, this looks like a very unpredictable se ...

Archive for November 2008

Victory take disciplined approach

Discipline seems to have been restored now at Melbourne Victory because the team has not been issued with a card for the last three matches.

The last card issued to a Victory player was the yellow card issued to captain Kevin Muscat in the loss to Sydney FC at the Telstra Dome and from then on the team has gone for more than 340 minutes without getting any card.

This is a welcome development for Victory especially after the discipline problems that started from round 3 when Ney Fabiano was given his marching orders against Adelaide for spitting.

From then on goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos got send off in the match against the Central Coast Mariners and then midfielder Carlos Hernandez was then send off in the next match against the Queensland Roar.

Against Perth Glory at home in round 7 no player was send off and no card was issued to a Victory player in the match and Victory won but in the game after that against Newcastle Jets Archie Thompson got send off and that was the last sending off.

Discipline is part of football and its good to see the Victory now finishing matches with eleven players on the pitch and its no surprise now that they have managed to win their last three matches and now sit comfortably on top of the ladder.

Losing key players to injury is understandable but having four key players suspended does not help any team and I am happy to see that coach Ernie Merrick seems to have resolved that problem and there has been a marked improvement as well.

I hope that the Victory winning run will continue at Westpac Stadium on Friday when they take on Wellington Phoenix.

The match kicks off at 5,30 pm Melbourne time and so I am bound to miss the start of the match but I hope to see a 'good' scoreline when I reach home.

Homeless World Cup at the Square

Melbourne is set to host the Homeless World Cup at the Federation Square and Birrarung Marr where 56 teams are set to participate.

On the TV front SBS is going to broadcast the men's final live on the 7th of December and plus highlights from the women's final.

Its good to see the Federation Square being used for such a function because its so accessible but I am wondering how they will configure the Fed Square to cater for this World Cup.

The Fed Square is becoming a place where all kind of things happen these days and its easy to go there over the weekend and see something happen that you didn't even expect.

I will see if I will be able to go and watch these free matches which last just fifteen minutes and I hope it will be a week of top street football.

Djokovic finishes in style

Novak Djokovic finished 2008 the way he started it with a win when he won the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Djokovic beat Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to finish the year in style after he started the year by winning the Australian Open in January.

I thought Davydenko gave some resistance in the second set but in the first set he was brushed aside and he managed to win just one game.

Davydenko had played very well when he beat favourite Andy Murray in the semis but the final proved a bridge too far for him.

Now Djokovic will have to defend his Australian Open title in January and I think he may find it hard especially now with Murray also in the mix but the Australian Open can produce surprises from time to time.

Meanwhile in the doubles final Bob and Mike Bryan lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in straight sets.

Adelaide fall short against Gamba Osaka

Adelaide United were no match to Gamba Osaka as they lost 2 nil at home and 5 nil on aggregate in the AFC Champions League final.

There is no doubt it was a big achievement for Adelaide to reach the final in the first place but in the final itself they were totally outclassed by a Gamba Osaka outfit who could easily have had the score line in double digits had they wanted.

The second leg was always going to be difficult for Adelaide after losing the first leg 3 nil even though it was at home but Gamba had a good plan to come and score quickly and settle their nerves.

That they did after Lucas' two early goals and then from there went on to dominate the match especially in the first half.

I thought Adelaide came a better team in the second half and maybe that was their best half out of the four in the two legged final but they did not take their chances when they got them.

I thought Gamba were having problems dealing Adelaide's corners but still Adelaide failed to take advantage of that.

It would have been good for Adelaide to have scored a consolation goal for their supporters but they failed to do that but they now have some good experience and something to build upon for the future.

I think this one sided final showed that there is no need for a two legged final. I think its better to have a one off match. Maybe its not ideal for Asian football considering how big Asian is but they could choose the final venue depending on who reached the final. Thats for the AFC to think about.

Its good that Gamba did not score more than three goals in the first leg otherwise it would have made the second leg academic and less appealing and yet the trophy is presented in the second leg.

Adelaide reaching the final has been good for the A-League and its now up to the other teams in the A-League to emulate what Adelaide has done with limited resources.

Next season Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners will be participating in the AFC Champions League and I hope that they will give a good showing.

Deserved win for India

India won the Test series against Australia after winning the fourth and last Test in Nagpur by 172 runs.

Going into the final day I thought Australia had a good chance of at least securing a draw but Australia were all out for 355.

Matthew Hayden was the only player to shine in Australia's second innings with his 77 with no other batsmen managing to go past 30 runs. Harbhajan Singh was once again Australia's tormentor taking four wickets.

I think in terms of the whole series India did well when it mattered most and had the better all round team.

I still think that Australia should have won the drawn first Test because I think thats where they played their best cricket and from there I think it just went downhill.

For me the highlights for the fourth Test was Jason Krejza's eight wickets in the first innnings and also Sachin Thendulkar's century which was his 40th.

The next Test series for Australia will now be against New Zealand and I think its a good Test for Australia to redeem themselves before facing South Africa in the main series of the summer.

Venus finishes year on a high

Venus Williams finished the year on a high after winning the WTA Tour Championships in Doha.

This was the first first win for Venus in this season ending championship and it followed the Wimbledon she won earlier in the year.

I think Vera Zvonareva did very well to reach the final but against Venus it was always going to be a difficult match for her.

I had expected Jelena Jankovic, the world number one to reach the final but she lost to Venus in the semis. She had also lost to Zvonareva in the group phase but still managed to the semis.

Like I said before it looks like we are going to have an interesting Australian Open next year and it will be a big test for Jankovic and I will interested to see how far in the year she will go as number one.

Meanwhile in the doubles Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke in straight sets to win the doubles title.

Zimbabwe SADC Summit flops

The Sadc summit called to resolve the cabinet impasse has flopped after the summit recommended that Zanu PF and MDC share the Home Affairs ministry and MDC rejected that suggestion.

I am quite surprised that Sadc would come to such a bizarre suggestion and it seems it wanted to please Robert Mugabe.

If Sadc suggested that the Home Affairs be shared then should have gone ahead and suggested that Defence also be co-shared but then again where will be the sharing end.

It was an easy decision I think for the MDC to reject such a call but sadly it means we are nowhere nearer solving the crisis that affects so many millions of Zimbabweans.

Sadc helped create this situation by endorsing violent elections way back in 2002 and if they had acted then they wouldn't be all these problems I think.

Now they want to protect their mate by coming with a decision that favours Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe.

The question is where to now? I am also wondering whether this problem will ever be solved by talks and I am beginning to think its time that the people who matter make the decision.

The people who matter in this whole thing are Zimbabweans and I think its time to start organising fresh elections and let the people choose their own leader.

The Sadc agreement is too fragile to be the way forward for Zimbabwe and if there were elections supervised by the international community the people of Zimbabwe can freely choose their new leader who will cater for them and their needs.

Sadc is not interested and that explains why they were only five heads of state at the summit.

Summit must resolve stalemate

The Sadc summit trying to resolve the Zimbabwe cabinet impasse will be held tomorrow and I think that this summit must resolve this situation which has been made unnecessarily complex.

Zanu PF and the MDC signed the deal on sharing power on the 15th of September and were expected to decide on cabinet posts a few days after that but nearly two months later nothing has happened.

Now this full Sadc summit to be hosted by South Africa must solve this problem once and for all. I think that after this summit the proposed power sharing government can go ahead or that will be the end of it and another solution must be found which I think should be fresh elections.

I think the easiest way to resolve this impasse is to say that all ministries are up for grabs and the parties can in turn choose ministry after ministry until all the 31 ministries are decided. The Mutambara faction can choose its ministries at three points along the process.I think a toss of coin could be used to decide who picks the first ministry otherwise there could an argument about that as well.

The idea that one party comes to the table with ten or so ministries in the bag does not work especially if they are going to be equal partners in this power sharing government.

I think if the two parties fail to agree at this summit there is no need to call for another meeting on the same issue because it will be wasting people's time and I think the next solution would be to organise fresh elections to be held within the next three months or so.

I think this whole fiasco has made the situation on the ground worse and it has also shown that even when these two parties agree on the formulation of the cabinet its hard to imagine how they will work together to get the country going again.

This is the reason why I have said before that this arrangement must not be allowed to last a long time and all it has to do is facilitate a new constitution followed by elections and all this in less than two years.

New Connex timetable kicks in

The new Connex timetable will start on Monday the 9th of November and I am looking forward to the extra trains that have been added to my Epping line in the morning.

For me the biggest change will be the fact that the train will go straight to Flinders Station instead of going through the loop first and therefore this time I will have to leave the train at Flinders.

It will result in a fair amount of walking compared to my usual Flagstaff station. But I am hoping that it will mean that I get to work earlier using the same train because of avoiding the loop.

Connex has added two new trains between 7:30 am and 8:30 am and this will mean roughly a train every ten minutes and if they don't get cancelled it could be very good.

I am especially happy that the twenty minute gap between the Regent 8:04 and 8:24 trains has been halved and now missing the 8:04 train will not be a disaster as it has been in the past.

However, I am still suspicious that the change will end up with even more cancellations but for now let me hope for the best.

Nadal misses Shanghai

Rafael Nadal will not play in the Master Cup in Shanghai after pulling out because of fatigue.

In an earlier post I had said that I looked forward to seeing Nadal and Roger Federer playing in Shanghai but now the world number one will no longer be there.

Nadal and Federer both retired hurt at the Paris Masters which was won by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

This will give a chance to the other players especially Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray who will now be the top three players at the tournament.

The good news for Nadal is that not participating in Shanghai will not affect him finishing the year as number one.

Gilles Simon will replace Nadal.

Hamilton secures title in dramatic race

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won this year's F1 drivers championship after coming fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

With Massa winning the race and Hamilton needing to finish fifth or better to win his maiden title, he only managed to get fifth place on the final corner as he overtook Tim Glock.

So Hamilton won the title by just one point and it shows how tight the championship has been this year.

In a way maybe its fair that Hamilton won this year after failing to win last year when he looked the more likely winner for most of the season.

But hats off to Massa too for he managed to upstage champion Kimi Raikkonen in his own Ferrari stable and he could have won had it not been for some mistakes that cost him some vital points in the season.

But when it comes to the final race everything counts and Hamilton delivered when it mattered most even though I think it was nerve wrecking for those in his corner and the McLaren fans.

So Massa won the race and with him on the podium were Renault's Fernando Alonso and Raikkonen.

I think Alonso has had such a strong finish and I am wondering whether he will continue in that kind of form next year because if he does he will surely be a title contender.

In fourth was Torro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel who I also think has had a very good season finish and he now joins Red Bull next season.

Then in fifth was new champion Hamilton followed by Toyota's Glock.

The last two points places of the year where taken by Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli secured the last point.

Mark Webber finished just outside the points in ninth and I don't know how many times this year he has finished in that same position. His team-mate David Coulthard didn't even complete a lap in his last F1 race.

I am already looking forward to next year's championship as Hamilton defends his title. As Raikkonen found out I think it will very hard to defend it but one can only make a fair assessment when the season proper starts.

But for now congratulations to Hamilton for winning the title and being the youngest driver to do so.

Tsonga gets maiden Masters Title

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his maiden Masters title when he won the Paris Masters beating David Nalbandian in three sets.

Tsonga who won his maiden title less than two months ago when he won the Thailand Open took three sets to beat the more experienced Nalbandian in three sets.

I think he played his service game very well and when Nalbandian took the second set I thought that he was going on to take the third set as well.

But Tsonga came back in the final set and clinched his first Masters title. I think he deserved it after overcoming the likes of Andy Roddick and James Blake enroute to the final.

Nalbandian was the defending champion having won the title last year when he beat Rafael Nadal in the final.

With the win Tsonga will now play in the season ending Masters tournament in Shanghai which starts on the 9th of November.

I think Tsonga started the year well and finished it well. He reached the Australian Open final and then lost to Novak Djokovic and its interesting to see that he beat Djokovic in his two titles so far.

I hope both Nadal and Roger Federer will be fit enough to compete in Shanghai because that will make the tournament very competitive.

Dehli Test ends in a draw

The third Test between India and Australia ended in a predictable draw after some high scoring from both sides and and its now down to the final Nagpur Test to determine the winner of the series.

To win the series India will need to either win or draw but for Australia to square the series they will need to win the last Test.

I think India had a very good first innings and I thought they were on a winning trail when they declared on the second day but Australia also showed how good they are with the bat scoring 577 runs in return to India's 613.

From there I could see that the match was headed for a draw unless something dramatic happened.

I think the highlight from this Test was to see two Indian players score double centuries in the same innings. VVS Laxman scored 200 and opener Gautam Gambhir scored 206.

For Australia I think Michael Clarke's century was crucial especially when chasing such a high total. I always thought that the key for Australia was to avoid a follow on.

Possibly the biggest news of the series so far came when Indian bowler and captain Anil Kumble announced that he was retiring from Test cricket.

He retires having a total of 619 wickets putting him in third position overall behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne in terms of Test wickets taken.

I am looking forward to the fourth and final Test and I hope it will be more entertaining.