Why Bafana are in with a real chance

first_img12 May 2010What do Bafana stars Aaron Mokoena and Mathew Booth and President Jacob Zuma have in common? They believe South Africa could reach the 2010 World Cup final.And South African Football Association President Kirsten Nematandani says the national side cannot be underestimated. “This event is big for the African continent. We’re the hosts, so we have to do well. Doing well means making sure that the Cup stays in South Africa.” They may be the only ones holding out hope for a team that is languishing in 90th place in the world rankings, but there are no sports as fickle as football, and some extraordinary upsets have happened on the greatest stage of all.Take 1990, for example, when unfancied Cameroon defeated world champions Argentina in the opening fixture of Italia 1990. And Senegal handed out similar treatment to cup holders France in South Korea in 2002.When Bafana Bafana take the field against mighty Mexico at Soccer City on 11 June, the odds will be heavily stacked against them. Let’s not forget, though, that South Africa held their own against some of the giants of international football – including Spain, the world’s top ranked side at the time – in the Confederations Cup a year ago.With the 90 000 vuvuleza-blowing supporters inside the new cathedral of South African football, South Africa could set the stage for a famous upset.There are other factors favouring Bafana – and the other African contenders. No European country has won a World Cup outside of Europe. The 1978 champions Argentina struggled to qualify for the tournament, and coach Diego Maradona, the legend who lost his way, is widely regarded as their greatest obstacle.Five-time champions Brazil can never be written off, but it remains to be seen whether they can show their famous dance moves on the pitch. They failed to get out of the starting blocks at the 2006 World Cup, and they are missing some of the giants of the game, including Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Romario. Kaka, their best player, is coming out of an off-form season at club-level. Brazil’s hopes are resting on the aging Fabiano or and Robinho.With two minutes remaining in the semi-final of last year’s Confederations Cup, it took a wicked deflection from a Daniel Alves free kick to separate South Africa and Brazil.Yes, anything could happen in the opening fixture of the 2010 World Cup.Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010last_img read more

West Bengal Assembly bypolls: Over 75% polling recorded

first_imgMore than 75% of the 7 lakh electorate on Monday cast votes in the bypolls to the three Assembly seats in West Bengal, amid allegations that Trinamool Congress activists orchestrated an attack on the BJP candidate from Karimpur segment, Joy Prakash Majumdar.The turnout was 77.17% in Kaliaganj, 67.62% in Kharagpur Sadar and 81.23% in Karimpur. Video footage aired by local television channels showed that a group of people surrounded Mr. Majumdar, staged a demonstration, and then started slapping and punching him before pushing him into the nearby bushes.  The BJP candidate blamed the Trinamool for the attack and alleged that West Bengal’s ruling party was trying to “murder democracy”. ‘Attempt to murder’West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh called it an “attempt to murder” the party candidate and said the Trinamool was looking at an imminent defeat.The Trinamool leadership said the BJP leader was trying to garner sympathy. “This was a planned act to garner sympathy from the people,” Trinamool Congress secretary general and State Minister Partha Chatterjee said.In another incident at Kaliaganj, BJP candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar was seen helping his wife cast her vote. The presiding officer of the polling booth was removed after the incident. In Kharagpur Sadar’s booth number 140, the BJP agent complained that the Electronic Voting Machine was strategically placed beside a mirror wall.Over 7.34 lakh voters were eligible to vote in 801 polling stations. Voters had to choose their representatives from among 18 candidates, including three women.Vacant seatsThe polls at Kharagpur Sadar and Karimganj were necessitated after the MLAs from the respective seats contested and won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Dilip Ghosh, BJP MLA from Kharagpur Sadar, was elected from the Medinipur Lok Sabha seat and Mahua Moitra, MLA from Karimpur, won the Krishnanagar seat in Nadia district. The seat in Uttar Dinajpur district in Kaliaganj had been vacant after the death of Congress MLA Pramath Nath Roy in May 2019.last_img read more

Decision on IPL Kochi franchisee likely to be taken today

first_imgSuspense over the fate of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisee, Kochi, will finally end as the Governing Council meets on Sunday to take a decision on the issue amidst legal hurdles being faced by the BCCI.”A final decision on the Kochi franchisee will be taken on Sunday,” a senior Governing Council member told PTI.The Governing Council had last week deferred its decision on the franchisee for the third time last week in Nagpur, after the investors reached a last-minute shareholding agreement.Barely seven months after becoming the second most costliest team in the IPL, Kochi was on the verge of being thrown out of the event due to the shareholding dispute between the consortium’s investors.The investors — Anchor Earth, Parinee Developers, Rosy Blue and Film Wave — hold 74 per cent of the equity.The remaining 26 per cent lies with the Gaikwad family –Shailendra, his brother Ravi and their parents all part of Rendezvous Sports World — as free equity for services rendered while bidding.It is this 26 per cent, which became a bone of contention among the stakeholders, as the investors were in no mood to give free equity to the Gaikwad family.The Gaikwads, on their part, initially refused to part with the equity but have now agreed to forego at least 15 per cent of it after the investors-group threatened to withdraw from the IPL, threatening the very existence of the franchisee, which was bought for a staggering sum of Rs 1533.33 crore, a franchisee source said.advertisement- With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

Knicks Losing Streak Reaches 14

first_imgNEW YORK — Just to the left of their bench was a row of fans wearing paper bags over their heads. On the court in front of them, a New York Knicks team filled with unrecognizable faces.Only thing that mattered to the Houston Rockets is how they looked.James Harden had 25 points and nine assists in just three quarters and the Rockets beat New York 120-96 on Jan. 8 to extend the Knicks’ longest single-season losing streak to 14 games.The Rockets beat New York for the 11th straight time, though everyone is beating the Knicks these days. New York has lost 24 of its last 25 games to fall to an NBA-worst 5-34.“We’re kind of looking at the bigger picture. Bigger picture is us playing at a high level, all on the same page. No matter what team we’re playing against, we’ve got to play great,” Harden said. “So tonight was a challenge for us. The Knicks aren’t doing so well but our mindset was to come in here and play Rockets basketball.”Trevor Ariza added 18 points for the Rockets, who improved to just 4-4 in their last eight. Harden didn’t reach his NBA-leading average of 26.8 points only because he was limited to 31 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter with Houston already leading by 24.Rookie Travis Wear scored a season-high 21 points and Langston Galloway had 19 for the Knicks in his second game since being called up from the NBA Development League. Rookie Cleanthony Early added a season-best 16.The Knicks’ overmatched lineup managed some neat fast breaks and dunks, entertaining a sold-out crowd that featured five fans wearing paper bags sitting right behind one of the baselines, easily noticeable during the nationally televised broadcast.Dwight Howard said he saw the fans, figuring they were just embarrassed about the game.“It’s an unfortunate situation, but only thing you can do is remember we’re all blessed to be able to play this sport, blessed to be alive and go from there,” Howard said.The Knicks couldn’t sustain their brief runs. Without the injured Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani, they sometimes had lineups on the floor more suited to summer league than the NBA.“It’s tough mentally, but we’ve got to be professional and just keep playing and working hard,” veteran Jose Calderon said after a scoreless performance he called one of his worst games in the NBA.They were close early in the second quarter before Harden scored or assisted on all five of Houston’s baskets during a 13-2 run that pushed it to 43-30. He finished the half with a 3-pointer that made it 56-42.Howard opened the third quarter with consecutive three-point plays to push the lead to 20, and coach Derek Fisher soon turned to his youth.“Those guys that started the half gave up 12 points in three minutes. So they didn’t deserve to be still in the game and we went to the younger guys,” Fisher said.Donatas Motiejunas finished with 17 points and Howard had 13 points and 10 rebounds.(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer) TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more