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Archive for February 2009

Wheel out for six

The Southern Star Observation Wheel which was opened in Melbourne in December will now be closed for at least six months according to this update on its website.

The troubled wheel which should have been opened at the end of November last year but after some initial problems it could only open a month later.

The latest problem has been blamed on the recent heat and to require at least half a year's repair sounds to me like the damage was quite extensive.

I haven't been able to go the wheel myself so far but when it comes back maybe it will be time to visit and enjoy whilst its running.

I think the wheel is a good alternative tourist attraction and I think it gives a bit of variety to both the local and international tourist.

But before that happens the wheel must become functional and reliable and I hope that will happen before the end of the year.

Victory to face Adelaide again

Melbourne Victory is going to face Adelaide United again in a grand final after Adelaide beat Queensland Roar in the Preliminary final.

Two years ago the two teams met at the Telstra Dome and the Victory overhauled Adelaide winning by six goals to nil.

This season the two teams have met five times and on every occasion Victory has won but to be fair four of those five matches were very tight.

In particular the match Melbourne won 3-2 at Hindmarsh was a tough encounter. Adelaide led at half-time but Melbourne managed to come back in the second half and win.

The other two matches in the league all finished 1-nil in favour of Melbourne.

I think it is in the finals series when Adelaide has been outclassed by Victory but Saturday's match will be a different and all that will count for nothing if Victory loses.

I will be at the match and I hope that it will be another win for Melbourne for Victory to be the first team to achieve the double twice.

But if Adelaide can defend well and sneak one goal and defend it then they can win the match and so I have to be a bit cautious because over the ninety minutes anything is possible.

Both Adelaide and Melbourne will represent Australia in next year's edition of the Asian Champions League and it should be good experience for both teams.

It will be Adelaide's third foray into the competition making them the most experienced A-League team in that competition.

I think the good thing is that two teams will qualify for the knockout phase and I think that will make the competition very interesting.

Back to the grand final, although I would like Victory to win, I am also hoping that it will not be a one-sided encounter and I hope the better team will win.

Mugabe turns 85

Zimbabwe's long time President Robert Mugabe turns 85 today.

Mugabe came into power in Zimbabwe in 1980 when he was 56 years old and has remained in power since.

Just last year he contested the presidential election when he was 84 and although he lost we all know what happened after that.

What I find very interesting is that even though Mugabe is now 85, his party Zanu PF doesn't even think of a successor to succeed him and lead them in the next elections be it in two years or five years.

As things stand at the moment it seems like he will be the candidate for the next election whenever it is held.

The current government of national unity would have been an opportune moment for Zanu PF to groom his successor but it seems not.

But I also think that many people wouldn't care so much what would happen to Zanu PF when Mugabe finally retires that is if he ever does. He may keep on going and going, who knows.

Summer ends on a high

The Australian cricket team's summer ended on a positive note after the one run win over New Zealand in the Twenty20 match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In fact the summer started quite well with a win over New Zealand in a two match Test series but South Africa came and spoiled all that by winning both the Test series and the one day series.

South Africa's rare double over Australia did not surprise me that much but I expected more of a fight from Australia.

Now Australia will tour South Africa starting from the end of this month and I will not be surprised if the hosts win all the matches.

Stuart Clark is not going and so once again Australia will be relying on a very inexperienced bowling line-up and bowling out the Proteas twice is going to be very difficult indeed.

In the batting department the problem has been that if captain Ricky Ponting fails nobody has been able to steer the team to safety and I am hoping that Michael Clarke will be able to step up to get some decent results.

On a positive note I hope the South African tour will prepare Australia for the Ashes.

Grand Final at the Dome

Melbourne Victory beat Adelaide 4-nil in the second leg of the Major Semi-final to make sure that this year's A-League grand final will be at the Telstra Dome.

This season has seen ups and downs and at one time I thought the Victory were going to fail even to reach the finals but good news is that the team had a good finish to the season and won the minor premiership.

I was very keen for Victory to get back into the Asian Champions League in 2009 and by getting the minor premiership the Asian Champions League is back at the Dome or at the new stadium.

Carlos Hernandez had a very good game on Saturday and its not surprising he was involved in all four goals and I hope he will play like that again in the Grand final to make sure that Victory will be the first team to get the double twice.

Adelaide will play Queensland Roar at Hindmarsh on Saturday and whoever wins that match will also play in Asia next year regardless of what happens in the final because Victory are already minor premiers.

I will not be surprised to see Adelaide win that match because they had the second best home record in the league this season behind the Victory.

On the other hand the Roar had the best away record and so it should be a very interesting match.

Whoever wins knows that it will be very difficult to beat the Victory at home and I am looking forward to an entertaining Grand final.

Hiddink takes over at the Bridge

Former Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink will take over the reigns at Chelsea following the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari early in the week.

After Chelsea's goalless draw against Hull City, the Stamford Bridge outfit slipped to fourth position on the league ladder and I think that caused the hierarchy at Chelsea to panic.

With the unconvincing displays from Chelsea especially at home I think there was a real fear that Chelsea could end up fighting for a Uefa Cup place instead of a Champions League place and Hiddink's job I think will be to make sure the team is in the Champions League next season.

Chelsea needs to find a way to score goals because sometimes they have had the upper hand but have failed to convert that into goals especially at home.

The team nearly lost to Stoke City at home and against Middlesborough it was so hard for the team to get the two goals they scored despite dominating the match.

I think Hiddink knows he has the players to turn things around but the matches are running out and I will be very surprised if he can chase for the title in the last rounds because I think at this point in time Manchester United are in the box seat and should be able to defend their title.

Another interesting thing is whether Aston Villa can maintain a top four place. Villa are playing very well at the moment and if they continue like that it could mean Arsenal missing out on a champions league place and that will be very interesting.

I think that Everton are also in a good position to get fifth place because at the moment they trail Arsenal by just four points.

I hope Hiddink's arrival at Chelsea will make the last rounds of the English Premiership very interesting

New frontier for Tsvangirai

MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in yesterday as the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in the new government of national unity that was negotiated last year.

For a long time Tsvangirai has been opposition leader but now he faces a new frontier as he will be working with his ministers in order to get things done and usher Zimbabwe into a new era.

I am sure he is aware of the many challenges that wait for him and that it will take a lot of time to solve them even just part of the problems.

I think it was good on the part of the MDC to take a gamble and join this new government and try and change things like the constitution to make the playing ground more even when elections are next round.

I don't like this idea of a unity government and I hope that the one in Zimbabwe is the last one. Ruling parties losing elections must leave office and not hang around hoping for a negotiated settlement which results in a government of national unity.

The fact that the unity government rewards the people who lost elections like Zanu PF is unfortunate but in the case of Zimbabwe its hard to see what else could have been done at this time apart from letting people suffer even more in the hope that Robert Mugabe would then give up.

I never thought such a path was good especially given that people have suffered enough and its time something positive starts to happen.

So it is Tsvangirai's turn to deliver what he can under the circumstances. I like the fact he list the three major issues as democratisation, humanitarian crisis and the economy.

I think restoring democracy to Zimbabwe would be a good thing because a lot of people have died needlessly for politics because the ruling party thought that nobody should dare oppose it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the challenges are great but its good to be doing something about those challenges. You cannot reverse nearly thirty years of misrule in six months but its good to give it a go and it will take time and I think time past this transitional authority.

Murali breaks one day record

Muttiah Muralitharan broke the record on the number of wickets taken in one day cricket when he overtook Wasim Akram record in the on-going series against India.

Murali passed Akram's 502 wickets record when he took the wicket of Gautam Gambhir in the fourth one day match in Colombo.

Now Murali holds both the Test and one day records. He has now taken 769 Test wickets.

Murali breaking the record could be the only highlight for Sri Lanka where they have already lost the series 4-0 and need to win the last match to avoid a whitewash.

Zero slashing season again

Early this week the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe(RBZ) slashed zeros again and this time slashing 12 Zeros to make 1 trillion dollars worth just 1 dollar.

The last time the zeros were slashed was at the the end of July last year when ten zeros and that was followed the introduction of coins.

This time people are also using foreign currency alongside the Zimbabwean dollar and therefore this may not be big news anymore but for those who earn their salaries in the local currency.

As noted before on this blog, its time the actual problems causing such high inflation are resolved and I hope the new unity government will get to work and at least try to stabilise the situation and get people to using the local currency again.

Related documents

January 09 Monetary policy statement

Nadal wins first Australian Open title

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the Australian Open final to win his first Australian Open title and his sixth grand slam title.

Nadal has now won four French Open titles and one Wimbledon title.

I was looking forward to the match last night after Nadal came through the longest match in Australian Open history when he beat Fernando Verdasco in five sets.

I thought that would give Federer a big edge because he had played on Thursday night in a straight sets win over Andy Roddick but Nadal was not be to pushed over.

I don't think Federer looked as confident as he had done in the semis and I think its because he knew that if he won he would equal Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slam titles.

Nadal won the first set and Federer came back straight away to win the second.

The third set had to be decided on a tie-break which enabled Nadal to take the lead again. I wonder what would have happened had Federer taken the lead. I think that would have given him more confidence and help reduce the errors that he had in the match. But that can only be speculation.

In the final set Nadal showed his class and he went on to win with a comfortable 6-2. That scoreline from the last set I think hides the fact that the match could easily have gone either way.

So now Nadal currently holds three titles - The French, Wimbledon and now the Australian with Federer hold the US.

I also think that Federer can equal Sampras' record and that could be at this year's Wimbledon or possibly at the US Open.

It would be good if he could then surpass that record at next year's Australian Open.

I think the final was befitting of the quality tennis that we got from Melbourne Park over the last fortnight despite the heat and I am now waiting to see what will happen at the French Open.

Prepay phone card ripoff

Once in a while I used the prepay phone cards to phone friends and relatives overseas and lately I have seen the prepay phone cards charge me without even making a connection.

About a fortnight ago I tried to phone a mobile phone number in Zimbabwe and on the first attempt I hang up because the phone just kept on ringing with nobody picking it up.

After a while I tried to phone that number again and I realised that I had been charged more than $4 for the previous unconnected call and so I went ahead and tried to phone again.

This phone rang again but with no response but when I tried to use the card for the third time all the $10 credit was used up.

It was then I decided to phone the customer number on the back of the card and all my money was refunded.

I was told that I should always check the balance on the card to see if my card has been erroneously charged after an unsuccessful call.

This means I have to make a total of three calls each time - the initial call, the next call to check how much credit still remains on the card and then the third call to phone customer services.

But last week I had a similar experience and this time with the Happy Calling phone card.

After making an unsuccessful call which was charged I phoned the customer care to query the $4 plus that had been charged on the card.

The guy I talked to said the money had been restored and I should check in ten minutes.

On checking there was nothing and after a day there was nothing and I just decided it was easier not to use that card again.

This is a total ripoff I think. I have talked to a few people and they just phone but don't complain and sometimes a whole $10 card is finished without making a single call.

Also why should customers be expected to call each time and why is that the message is not written on the card.

Because this is happening a lot the customer care numbers must also be free calls.

I wonder if other people have had a similar experience but for me its time to look for alternatives.