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Archive for January 2010

CAF's decision on Togo harsh

I think the decision by the Confederation of African football(Caf) to ban Togo from the next two Africa Nations Cup editions after withdrawing from this year's tournament is too harsh.

I think the decision by Togo to withdraw after two members of their delegation were shot dead in Cabinda made sense given the circumstances.

Togo could have played but equally they could have chosen to leave which they did and I think it was a reasonable decision to make.

What is unreasonable and also insensitive is to ban the country from not one but two tournaments and then a add a fine on top of that.

No ban should be imposed on the team and in any case I was looking forward to them appearing in 2012 when the tournament is hosted jointly by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

How does Caf think the players feel after going through the shooting episode and then banning them from the next two editions.

I hope this decision will be reversed soon and what Caf should be doing instead is help the Togolese players and officials recover from what happened in Cabinda and making sure there is tight security at future tournaments.

Serena nets fifth Australian title

Serena Williams won her fifth Australian Open title after beating Justine Henin in three sets at Melbourne Park.

It was good to see a competitive women's final at Melbourne Park after having some uncompetitive finals in recent years.

I think Williams was just a bit better than Henin and that told in the third set where Henin lost 6-2.

The defending champion made sure she used her serve to great effect and the coming back Henin had no answer to that.

This was Williams 12th Grand Slam title and I can see her add some more given the way she played at Melbourne Park.

For the first time the women's final was an evening one which maybe is fair given that the men's one is a evening one too.

Playing both in the evening makes sense because the same reasons that brought the men's one to the evening also apply to the women's final.

Hewitt faces Federer test

I was looking forward to the match between Lleytton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis but the later's injury during the match meant it never becamse what I thought it was going to be.

But Hewitt's next encounter in the Australia Open is an appetising against the world number one Roger Federer.

I am not expecting Hewitt to beat Federer but I think this is going to be Federer's toughest test so far in the tournament. I am hoping also that Hewitt will be able to at least snatch a set from him.

In other quarter-final matches, world number two Rafael Nadal will meet Andy Murray and that could be yet another interesting one.

I think the men's defending champion hasn't reached the heights he reached last year yet and this will be a real test for him.

Murray is still to drop a set at Melbourne Park but he is playing against a player he has only beaten twice and lost on seven other occasions.

On the women's side the remaining Australian woman in the singles draw Samantha Stosur will face Serena Williams. I think this is going to be a tough match for Stosur with Williams in fine form at the moment.

Vics grab Big Bash

It was a sweet victory when Victoria beat South Australia in the Big Bash Twenty20 final by 48 runs at the Adelaide Oval.

The Bushrangers were missing five first choice players in Cameron White, Dwayne Bravo, Clint McKay, Peter Siddle and Ross Taylor and I thought that it was going to be another beating from the red hot Redbacks.

The Redbacks had earlier this month beaten the Bushrangers by 91 runs at the Adelaide Oval.

The Vics batted first and got a good total of 166 and it was good that when the Redbacks went in to bat they lost a wicket from the first ball.

I think the key for Victoria was Aiden Blizzard's unbeaten 42 from 19 balls because that got the total to figure that could be defended.

I think this year's Big Bash has been a huge success and I think its due to the reasonable pricing and the inclusion of imports in the teams.

Cricket Australia did well to come up with a price of $10 per person or $25 per family and I think because of that it was easy to make a decision to go and watch the Big Bash matches.

Also the inclusion of foreign stars was a big hit as that proved also another attraction.

Its good to see the Bushrangers winning the competition which means they are able to go the Cricket Champions League again and lets hope that this time they will emulate New South Wales and bring that trophy home.

Last match in Cabinda

The Africa Nations Cup quarter-final match between Ivory Coast and Algeria will be the last match to be played in the Cabinda province in this tournament.

Cabinda came into the limelight after the tragedy involving the Togolese bus in which three people died and others injured after a shooting.

In this match I am expecting the Ivory Coast to reach the semi-finals especially given the way they played against fancied Ghana.

I think the Elephants had a slow start to the tournament after the goalless draw against Burkina Faso but against the Black Stars they showed that they can defend well and also score goals.

Algeria were on the other hand stunned by Malawi in their first match but they later recovered their form against Mali before the infamous goalless draw against Angola which meant that them and the hosts stayed in the competition.

In other quarter-final matches, hosts Angola will play Ghana and I think this could be the last time we see the hosts in this competition.

Although Ghana are without star midfielder Michael Essien, they should be too strong for the Angolans who blew a 4-nil lead against Mali in ten minutes.

Champions Egypt will face Cameroon whilst surprise group leaders Zambia will face Nigeria.

I expect the Pharaohs to beat the Indomitable Lions and I think Nigeria will be too strong for Zambia.

In the 2008 Africa Nations Cup no match was decided on penalties and lets hope it will be the same this year.

Petrova sends Clijsters packing

Nadia Petrova defeated US Open champions Kim Clijsters in straight sets in less than an hour.

I had expected Clijsters to at least reach the second week but against Petrova she didn't go anywhere near the form that won her the US Open.

She only managed to win just one game but I am sure she will come back from this.

This was probably the biggest upset for week one following another loss for former finalist Maria Sharapova who was knocked out in the first round.

Sharapova lost to Maria Kirilenko in three sets but unlike Clijsters loss that was a hard fought loss because the match went for more than three hours.

Toro Rosso stick with Alguersuari

Formula 1 team Torro Rosso will have the same set of drivers as they finished with last season after confirming that Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Alguersuari would be their drivers.

I thought that they were going to change Alguersuari and look for a more experienced driver but it seems they think he has the potential and will gain the experience with the team.

In other driver movements, Pedro de la Rosa will drive for Sauber this season. He was previously with McLaren as a test driver.

His team-mate at Sauber will be Kamui Kobayashi. Kobayashi drove two races for Toyota last season replacing Timo Glock.

There are still four more places for drivers at the moment. Renault and Campos Meta 1 each have one driver at the moment whilst US F1 still haven't announced its driver lineup.