Lame excuses from the Green Camp
“If we want to be fair to football, this is not the type of weather that a team from West Africa should be made to play in if only we all want to learn the game.
“If one wants to take advantage of this weather, I don’t think it helps the game.
“If they also feel that this is the strategy they will employ to win matches then they will be in trouble one day if they are paired against a team that plays in extremely hot conditions.
“They are not a bad team, but CAF have to look at some of these things,” he whined after their embarrassing 4 – 0 thrashing.
Like a man whose ears had been burnt, I unplugged my earphones with such alarm after listening to the first few minutes of Aduana Stars head coach Yusif Aboubakar’s post-game comments.
Not only was I embarrassed for man, but I was equally disappointed by his lack of grace in defeat.
Even in the absence of an active league and quality preparatory matches I had firmly placed the underdog tag around the necks of the Dormaa based side.
The abysmal record of Ghanaian clubs in continental competitions against North African sides is well documented and only character and tactical astuteness like we have never seen Aduana produce was going to see them through.
However, after succumbing to such a humbling defeat in a game where poor officiating was not a factor, I expected the gaffer to pick up lessons worth sharing with his players.
It is essential that the team sits to dissect the honest reasons for their poor showing to aid them successfully sail through the playoff round of the Caf Confederations Cup in which they will now engage.
First among their shortcomings has been their inability to score more than one goal in many an encounter, be it local or continental.
One can attempt to understand their pain, due to the massive investment that has been made in the short spell in anticipation of bigger things.
Elimination in the second preliminary round represents an improvement on their first round exit in 2010 but of course is little consolation.
ES Setif were overwhelming favourtites going into the second preliminary match against the Ghanaian champions and at home rightly exerted that dominance.
The game is about learning from shortcomings and making the right adjustments and I do honestly hope that when they look at that 4-1 aggregate scoreline against ES Setif in the near future they will be provoked to plug their leaks instead of blaming the elements. I wish them well in the Caf Confederation Cup Playoff draw which comes off on March 21.
Red Legion of Four
Off the pitch he has the temperament of a new born baby, but that all makes way to a business like attitude which is not only relentless in nature but also cold when Mohammed Salah steps unto the pitch.
When he defied the odds to grab his hat-trick, my brain shut down to the possibility that the man would actually go ahead to seek a fourth, but that is exactly what he did.
I am convinced that with more time on the clock he would have scored a fifth and a sixth if the opportunity presented itself.
That beginner’s hunger is absolutely priceless for a player who has already been crowned Africa’s best player.
He now also joins Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Luis Suarez as the only Liverpool players in history to net four in a single game.
Didier Drogba’s 29 goal record for an African player in the Premier League is also set to fall with Salah now on 28 goals with 7 matches left to play.
I will waste little time boring you with what the man is capable of doing, but with all the talk over the years on how unforgiving the Premier League is to undersized players the man is presently in hallowed territory.
He remains my prime candidate to win the Premier League player of the year.
Salah’s spotlight will only grow brighter and wider with the World Cup fast approaching.
Placed in the right situation I have no doubts that the Egyptian maestro will have the rest of the world under his spell.
From the moment the team was assembled I have read one gloomy write up after the other on the OKC Thunder.
The biggest fear of many remained if Russell Westbrook would finally be able to express his game fully while allowing other stars to thrive around him.
With the Thunder entering their toughest stretch for the season and indeed the toughest stretch for any team in the association, the group have rallied around each other and look every bit the genuine threat I perceived from the start.
That stretch that heavily features teams over the .500 win percentage mark will perhaps be the biggest test Westbrook and his army have faced.
So competitive is the Western Conference that the 3rd seed and 8th seed are only separated by four games.
Missing the Playoffs is a nightmare reality that faces this group, and if all the rumors that have swirled around him all season are true, Paul George will likely be packing his bags.
Occupying the 4th seed slot, OKC can however confidently say that they are playing better as a team.
Westbrook has managed to rope in his teammates while recording triple double number 101 for his career.
His poise for running the right plays down the stretch in big games towards the end of the season bodes well as witnessed in the performance that snapped the 13 game winning streak of the Raptors.
He finally looks like a man who is at the point of putting all his qualities together for a worthy operation.
The slow starts in games remain a problem and the loss of Andre Robertson might give them some unanticipated headaches.
The relationship that exists between coach Billy Donovan and Corey Brewer from their days with the Florida Gators looks like one that will have a huge impact for the Thunder.
Brewer’s defensive versatility and 3 point shooting will be much appreciated.
With 3 All Stars in their fold and a playoff starved Carmelo Anthony in their midst, the rest of the association should take notice that the Thunder are as legit a title contender as your favourite team.