Tag Archive: Didier Drogba


The footballing exploitation of Africa

Long-shots Burkina Faso have made it to the African Cup of Nations Final - how many of them are destined for the major European leagues? (Image | Fifa.com)

Long-shots Burkina Faso have made it to the African Cup of Nations Final – how many of them are destined for the major European leagues? (Image | Fifa.com)

In the opening monologue of the movie, Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise elucidates about the bristling excitement that comes with unearthing new sporting talent. Think of the anticipation that was palpable with the arrivals of Rory McIlroy, Andrew Luck or Lewis Hamilton onto the sporting scene. But the monologue comes with a warning, “There’s genius everywhere, but until they turn pro, it’s like popcorn in a pan. Some pop. Some don’t.”

As we reach the closing stages of the 2013 African Cup of Nations, this paradigm is particularly pertinent.

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Dangerman | Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Chelsea against Newcastle United last weekend. (Image | The Telegraph)

Kevin McCarra‘s frank assessment of the peaks and troughs of the gambler’s “last throw”, otherwise known as transfer deadline day, was an excellent read on The Guardian earlier today. Seizing upon the arrival of Eden Hazard at Chelsea for £32m earlier this summer, McCarra pointed out that sometimes the inflated and frenetic nature of 31 August – in particular – leads clubs to take on players at tremendous cost with almost an “assurance” that they will turn out to fulfil, not only their inflated price tags, but the immense weight of expectation that putting pen to paper on a deal with a Premier League outfit carries with it.

The Blues have hardly been backwards in coming forwards since picking up their maiden Champions League trophy last season, but the 21-year-old Belgian is the club’s poster boy, its marquee signing among a parade of fledgling European superstars. With three Premier League games having been played thus far, Hazard hasn’t even appeared to be slightly daunted by the amount of faith placed in him by manager Roberto Di Matteo and Russian benefactor Roman Abramovich, both in a footballing and monetary sense.

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Roberto Di Matteo and Didier Drogba have proven their value to Chelsea Football Club in helping the team to the Champions’ League title (Image | Reuters)

It takes more than physical skill to be a winner at the highest level of professional sport. It needs grit, determination, focus and confidence. Chelsea have shown that in spades in their last three Champions’ League games. In both legs against Barcelona in the semi finals, the Blues were pinned to the proverbial wall from start to finish; tonight, in the main, was more of the same.

Home-town favourites Bayern Munich had more of the ball, four times as many opportunities on goal, and a plethora of chances to kill the 2012 Champions’ League Final both in regular time and extra time. Arjen Robben’s missed penalty, chances squandered by Mario Gomes and Thomas Muller, the botched pass from Ivica Olic which rolled past Daniel van Buyten before an open goal …

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Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager Sunday after a 1-0 away loss to West Brom

Well, the inevitable happened again. Chelsea fired a manager. Big deal.

Andre Villas-Boas has looked ready for the chop since Christmas. The youngest manager in the Premier League, in his third season as a manager, sitting in the hottest seat in world football? Working for the most trigger-happy owner in top-class sport with a record of three wins in 12 games? Fighting a losing battle in seemingly trying coerce a group of veteran superstars into his new-age training and tactical methods? It could never last.

And yet, after casting aside numerous more successful managers without a second blink, that trigger-happy owner didn’t want to fire this one.

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End of the line for Equatorial Guinea

Fousseny Kamissoko, here shadowing Gervinho,
has enhanced his reputation with strong performances
at the Africa Cup of Nations. (AP)

Last night’s second Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final in Malabo was arguably the most heavily unbalanced match the tournament is likely to witness. Playing for the right to join surprise package Zambia in the final four following their 3-0 dispatch of Sudan earlier in the day, co-hosts Equatorial Guinea eventually went down by the same scoreline to tournament favourites Ivory Coast – but the score failed to tell the full story of the game.

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