A fantastic result for the Gunners, who can believe it? 2 nil to the Arsenal over Bayern Munich! A surprising result as Munchen have beaten everyone so far for the season and have done so with aplomb. The result has breathed much life back into Arsenal’s European prospects after the horrendous losses to Zagreb and Olympiakos.

I sat at home before the game with some hope. After all, the Gunners have been purring lately with big wins over rival Manchester United and Premier League newcomers Watford. In addition to this the Gunners beat Bayern twice in the last few years, albeit in Munich. But would the right tactics be employed today? It certainly turned out to be so as manager Arsene Wenger set up his side to concede possession,sit deep and attempt to counter, especially using the pace of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez. Two banks of four faced the Bayern attack with the ‘passmaster’ Xabi Alonso and the busy Thiago Alcantara attempting to pick the lock with some lovely passes in the pockets of space between the centrebacks and fullbacks. Douglas Costa teased the Arsenal fullbacks,especially Hector Bellerin who he left for dead on a couple occasions. Bayern bossed possession and had numerous chances to break the deadlock but were thwarted by superb goalkeeping from Petr Cech and some gritty defending.

Bayern’s aggressive high pressure forced mistakes but on the other hand Arsenal threatened on the break and had some chances of their own with one header by Walcott producing a magnificent save from Manuel Neuer. Bayern probed away while Arsenal patiently dug in, a fascinating battle with class players all over the pitch. Finally though the deadlock was broken from a set piece when Santi Cazorla’s free kick was ‘faced in’ by Olivier Giroud. Koscielny rose to head while Neuer came off his line and missed the ball. Giroud crouched just beyond and his ‘facer’ did the trick. One nil to the Arsenal!.. Hail George Graham! Wenger had decided before this to replace Walcott with Giroud to give the option of a long ball to evade the pressure in the Arsenal half.

The final blow was delivered in stoppage time when some Arsenal pressure enabled the ball to be won high up the pitch and Bellerin squared for Ozil to fire home. Two nil, game set and match. ‘UnArsenalike’ tactics? Maybe not…Arsenal have won this way on occasions in the past few years, most notably last year against Manchester City. Tactics more flexible,check!…wins against top level opponents check!… Consistency? elusive for so long clearly the verdict is still out on this.

To conclude:

Giroud’s goal today proved he was about team and not himself.. He did not save face!

The cannon boomed twice today in the Emirates..and it wasn’t Nick….



Well it’s been quite a while since I have posted. This was for a good reason though as my daughter was born in October of last year. It has been an overwhelming, joyful experience and a life changer. As time has gone along ( she is eight and a half months old now), I have likened my experience to the sporting arena. Sporting organizations,clubs and teams have at some point unearthed ‘a baby’, a youth who has brought something extra, vibrant and meaningful to the plate. In some cases they have produced these young gems at will through well structured development programs and academies while in other cases talented ‘babies’ have been discovered but forced to thrive in challenging environments. Allow me to draw reference to ‘babies’ in different arenas of sport.


Hector Bellerin is an Arsenal youth who seized his chance this past season after an injury to starting right fullback Matt Debuchy. Carefully nurtured through the club’s academy system, he was promoted to the first team in 2014/15. The twenty year old started shakily with some positional issues but as time went along achieved a good balance between getting forward and defending. His improvement was so marked that he kept Debuchy from getting back into the starting lineup on his return from injury in April. Bellerin has been rewarded with a new long term contract and at the age of 20 the sky is the limit. It would be remiss of me not to mention another ‘baby’ like Kurt Zouma who stepped in admirably when starting Chelsea stopper, Gary Cahill was going through a bad spell. Zouma also played some effective roles in defensive midfield on occasion adding a freshness to the Chelsea juggernaut as they sauntered to the 2014/15 Premier League title. What has impressed me is his pace over short distances and as a result his ability to make quick recoveries. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has already gushed about him in the media with a name like Marcel Desailly being mentioned in the same breath.


On December 20th, 2014 the West Indies Cricket Board announced that Barbadian bowling all-rounder Jason Holder would be assuming the role of captain of the West Indies 50 over side. He was the youngest player given such an honor at 23 years of age. A poisoned chalice maybe? The selectors indicated that the move was made with an eye on the future, but the decision makers in West Indies cricket have for a long time let down the region with regards to administration of the wonderful game. A lack of continuity with player development programmes as well as poor planning and constant bickering with the players’ union WIPA has led West Indies cricket into chaos and mediocrity. The Windies team has plummeted in the world rankings and the poor attitude of players and lack of commitment to fitness have been shown up by better prepared opponents. Can Holder succeed in this situation? It seems impossible to see West Indies cricket returning to the glory days of the 80’s but maybe Jason Holder can help his team remain competitive in the future. Despite the poor showing in the recent World Cup, Holder demonstrated his fight and talent with two well constructed knocks against India and South Africa in losing efforts. He also played a defiant, match saving 103 in the recently drawn Test series against England where the Windies surprised many with some gutsy displays. Holder does have to work more on his bowling as it is felt that at a height of 6 feet 7 inches he should be generating more pace out of his frame and become more penetrative in the Test arena. Hopefully the West Indies coach, Phil Simmons has recognized this and will work on it.

When I compare Holder with another cricket ‘baby’ of the past thrust into leadership at a young age there is a clear difference in environment and circumstances. Opening batsman Graeme Smith was appointed as South Africa cricket captain in 2003 similarly as Holder with little experience at that level. The difference is that South African cricket was on the way up and the administration and players were clearly more structured and professional in their approach. Smith turned out to be a great captain for South Africa and in 2005 his captaincy credentials were recognized when he was appointed captain of the ICC World XI against Australia. Smith, in addition to being a great batsman, was allowed to flourish in a more stable environment, something that Holder would surely benefit from at this time. We as West Indians can only hope and pray for this!


In the 2012 Olympic Games in London 19 year old Trinbagonian javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott shocked the world by claiming the gold medal amongst a strong field. Keshorn became the youngest athlete to win javelin gold at an Olympic Games. He also became the first athlete in any event to win Olympic and World Junior gold in the same year. Keshorn came back home to Trinidad and Tobago to receive national awards, land, a house and other rewards. Since then there have been reports that he has become distracted by the ‘bright lights’ and his career dipped a bit instead of maintaining an upward curve. Keshorn himself has admitted that his Cuban born coach Ismael Lopez Astrapa likes to take him away from distractions to help him focus on training and remaining healthy. Hope still abounds as he recently broke the national record in the Diamond league meeting in Birmingham with a throw of 86.43 metres to get a bronze medal.On July 9th Keshorn again broke the national record with a throw of 90.16 metres to win gold at the Diamond league meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

While Trinbagonians are hoping for Keshorn to medal again in Rio 2016 we may have another ‘javelin baby’ in that field in a year’s time. That gentleman’s name is Tyriq Horsford who won the javelin gold medal at the recent CARIFTA games in April. Tyriq stunned regional media by breaking the existing CARIFTA record of 67.67m and setting a new 70.43m standard. What is even more amazing is that Tyriq is only 15 and his potential for much more is amazing. His coach Wade Franklyn alluded to the fact that Tyriq has willingly increased his training days from two days to four days a week. He also indicated that he has not yet subjected Tyriq to weight training due to his age and has used other forms of strength training alongside a lot of core and technique work.

‘Sporting younglings’ in differing situations have been described above but the common thread is that they bring so much hope and excitement to their fans and in the cases where they participate in team sports, to their clubs as well. The satisfaction a coach gets from the fact that he nurtured a young talent to achieve potential must bring an awesome feeling of accomplishment. Similarly, parents have this responsibility of taking special care of their children and raising them to become a credit to their family and society. Being a new father myself I have many hopes and dreams for my daughter and I hope and pray to do justice in that role. “The genesis of something magnificent and beautiful!” is what a parent thinks of his or her child and similarly for a coach given the chance to mould a young talent for the first time.

Here’s to the babies, Cheers to the babies!

This post was inspired by the Father above, my amazing wife Neome and my wonderful daughter Anaïs.


From time to time football teams spring up that give true meaning to the term, ‘the beautiful game’. The Denmark side of the mid 80s to early 90s was one such outfit. Flowing football with so much fluidity between defensive and attacking players that captain and libero Morten Olsen often popped up in the attacking third of the pitch to great effect. The predatory and prolific striker Preben Elkjaer was ably supported up front by the skilful Michael Laudrup.They were ably backed by an outstanding midfield consisting of the very talented Soren Lerby and Frank Arnesen. They became known as ‘The Danish Dynamite’ and will live on in my memory as one of the most exciting football sides I have ever laid eyes on.

Do enjoy these moments from the Danish dynamite.


Before the World Cup started I feared the Germans. As a diehard Brazilian fan since 1982 ( first World cup I was aware of) I felt the Germans would be the greatest threat to the Selecao’s sixth World cup title. Losing 7-1 to the Germans in Belo Horizonte certainly wasn’t in the script but this World Cup has been hard to predict and no established ‘big side’ has stood out over another. We have seen good performances from all the top nations intermingled with some stuttering.

In 1982 I fell in love with Brazil and the ‘champagne football’ on display.  Socrates,Zico, Eder, Falcao and Junior were majestic and flicks,feints, dummies were like second nature and so natural to these maestros. The most beautiful side in the world was brought down to earth by a more defensively sound and canny Italy in the decisive second round group stage game where Paolo Rossi scored a wonderful hattrick. Since then then the Brazilians have meshed their natural flair and skill with the European organisation and structure, paying extra attention to protecting their goal. The Brazilian production line of talented attacking players like Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka have meshed nicely with world class defenders and defensive midfielders like Julio Cesar, Mauro Silva, Dunga,Gilberto Silva,Aldair,Lucio and Thiago Silva bringing World cup titles in 1994 and 2002 along with a final appearance in 1998. In 2014 I dislike what Brazil has become under Scolari, an attritional style which is hard on the eye but alas my support for the Selecao remains.

The Germany or indeed West Germany of old were always organised,efficient, workmanlike, not attractive to watch but successful all the same.However things changed after two quarter final placings in WC 94 and 98 and failure in Euro 2000 to come out of their group. A proud football nation humbled themselves and the German football authorities (DFB) traveled the globe searching for best practice and did case studies of successful nations so that they could learn and apply accordingly to their own country. The DFB and the Bundesliga decided that an overhaul of the youth structure was required and priority was placed on developing technically proficient homegrown players. Academies were created by all clubs in the top two divisions. Well, the fruits are clear to see. Many of the German stars now like Reus, Ozil and Mueller have been produced out of that revamp. Germany has made it the semis in 2006,2010 and now the final in 2014.  Technique has now been married to the old German traits of organisation and efficiency and the players produced now are a testimony to this.



Brazil never showed up and despite the absence of injured superstar Neymar and the defensive lynchpin Thiago Silva a lot more organisation and fight would have been expected. Scolari did not seem to respect the strengths of the Germans in midfield and instead of going 4-3-3 with three defensive minded players in the midfield like Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo and Ramires/Paulinho he merely replaced Neymar with Bernard and stationed Oscar back into the centre in the No.10 role behind the woeful striker Fred. The Germans exploited the space behind Marcelo repeatedly as the leftback is fond of getting forward and the covering runs of Hulk and the two defensive pivots were non-existent while Muller stationed himself high up on the right. The Germans stifled the Brazilians high up the pitch not allowing them to come out of the back and Fernandinho and Gustavo were unable to collect the ball off the back four. Marcelo’s awful positioning along with lazy performances from Luiz and Fernandinho contributed largely to the humiliating scoreline.

The Germans executed and Toni Kroos was magnificent in midfield dictating the tempo, spraying accurate passes to his front three and scoring a couple goals himself  Lahm assisted Muller with overloading the right where the Germans had a field day and despite Scolari’s attempts at halftime to tighten up the midfield and add some energy to the effort it was ultimately futile.


What a catastrophe for Brazil! As renowned South American football guru TimVickery said, Brazilian football has been resting on its laurels for  too long and its development programmes need  a serious revamp. The Germans are back in full force and good luck to their opponents in the final.

Let us let this sink in though. Germany’s best player at the moment, Marco Reus did not set foot on the field for the World Cup due to injury before the tournament.  My goodness!


















On this World Cup eve many will not sleep tonight as the anxiously awaited fiesta of football starts in Brazil. One of the favourites to win this competition is Argentina. In the recent past they have had squads with abundant attacking riches but aligned to this was a lack of defensive resolve and organization. They famously flopped in 2010 in Cape Town against the rampant Germans who exposed their lack of cohesion in defence. In this last instance a lot of the blame was shouldered by the tactical ineptitude of one of the greatest players ever, Diego Armando Maradona. Clearly Maradona was in a role he was not cut out for. Some of the same concerns still remain but coach Sabella is on a mission to banish those bad memories and take the Cup back home across the border. Argentina have had the problem in the past decade or so of how to cram the plethora of great attackers on the pitch at the same time. This attitude has sometimes meant a Maxi Rodriguez start over Juan Veron for example. Sabella has seemingly addressed this balance but one of the gems of ‘Los Albicelestes’ has been left out of the provisional and final squads for World Cup 2014. Renowned BBC South American football guru, Tim Vickery provides an interesting insight into why Tevez has been omitted here:






I have been an Arsenal fan for six years and have had flirtations with supporting other clubs from youth. Let us just say that as you progress along the journey of life your outlook and philosophy are shaped. That general philosophy in my case has somewhat aligned with my sporting philosophy. Six years ago I found home! ARSENAL!! This is definitely not an easy team to support, full of potential but never seeming to have the legs to get over the finish line. In the six years I have been a fan the squad has contained quality players but lacked balance and proven quality in certain areas. When the fault was once the defense, years later it becomes the attack and so on. Frustratingly Arsenal has always been three or four players short of a title winning team.The winning mentality at the club has also been absent for quite a while.

Although no club is perfect, the dynamics at boardroom level in Arsenal has played a significant part in the recent lack of success on the pitch. Arsenal fans have made excuses for years when engaging in discussions with rival fans. ‘We are beset with injuries’ or ‘we don’t have the cash that the billionaire owner clubs have to sign the best players’ have been two common arguments. Well, I agree with some of these arguments to a point, but the club has also made some missteps while navigating through the Emirates stadium repayment years.  Why has the team at any point in time had six or more players out through injury and this is happening year after year? No inquiry into or change in training methods? Why has Wenger’s tactics against top sides been found wanting in crucial games? Has the club transfer policy always brought in players that have improved the club? These are questions that must be asked, but slowly, the signs have shown up in the past year that things are changing for the better at Arsenal FC both on and off the pitch. The club’s economic model for too long was reliant on property development and selling top players to achieve profits. Well, guess what? A new team with its own identity has been shaped in the past few years and that team stood up today and broke the nine year trophy drought with a 3-2 extra time victory over Hull City in the 2014 FA cup final.


What a poor start for the Gunners! Down two nil after nine minutes the boys in red and white pulled one back through a brilliant free kick from the skilful Cazorla. Was there complacency on Arsenal’s part? It is well known that Hull are great at set pieces and they play with overlapping fullbacks or wingbacks depending on the system employed by manager Steve Bruce. Elmohamady and Rosenior bombed up and down the flanks while Arsenal was denied space in central areas and in between the lines. Giroud cut a lonely figure up front in the first half and was often too far from the supporting midfielders to be effective. Podolski as the only natural wide man in the attack was disappointing and in the second half Wenger replaced him with young forward Yaya Sanogo. This made an immediate difference as the Hull  defence had an extra man to deal with and what an energetic shift Sanogo put in. Koscielny equalised in the 72nd minute and Aaron Ramsey sealed the match in extra time in the 109th minute.

Hull essentially played a 5-4-1 and frustrated Arsenal especially in the first half. To Arsenal’s credit they remained patient and moved the ball around a little quicker in the second half beating the high Hull traps and getting more of a foothold in midfield. Ramsey’s influence grew despite him being a bit off with his touches and generally Arsenal’s attacking midfielders were able to affect proceedings higher up the pitch. Wenger freshened up his midfield further by introducing Wilshere and Rosicky for Cazorla and Ozil in second half extra time. As Hull tired Arsenal pounced and a clever back heel from Giroud was stabbed home by who else, ‘Rambo’ Ramsey. A player that despite missing three months of the season through injury has been the team’s outstanding player. Ramsey has proven to be a typical Wenger product, nurtured and cajoled into being a wonderful young player. Who says the FA cup is losing its lustre? We were treated to a gripping final including a terrific fight from the underdog and a dogged comeback from the favourite. It wasn’t all pretty but certainly full of drama.

Arsenal has won it’s 11th FA cup and Wenger can finally answer back his critics. Arsenal and Wenger have battled the ‘short termism’ of the ‘cash cow’ clubs by running the club according to certain principles. Will this be effective in the near future? What is interesting to note is that most of the starting 11 today have joined the club within the past three years. Can this title now be a springboard for the team to push on, challenge and win more consistently? Clearly the Board has to back Wenger in the transfer market and supplement the side he has crafted with proven quality in key areas. A forward or two, a defensive midfielder and a centreback certainly are required. The drought is over Gooner fans!

A happy ending for Arsenal…AT LAST!!


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English Premier League – Early impressions of a ‘minnow’

It always seems easy for fans, pundits and bookmakers to forecast the three promoted teams of the English Premier League as relegation candidates. These clubs come into the highest tier of English football and face considerable odds in ‘staying up’ and forging their own brand and identity. The EPL is definitely the toughest league in the world but as we have seen so far in the first seven games, a ‘minnow’ can mix it up with the established clubs in the division. While it is early days with only seven games played, one of these ‘minnows’ has already left an impression and sounded a warning to the other clubs in the division that they should not be underestimated.


I have been very impressed with manager Steve Bruce and the Hull City side which is in eighth place in the table on 11 points. Although they had a slow start where they struggled to put away scoring chances, they have settled into a very competitive outfit. Hull has lost to Chelsea and Manchester City and drawn with Cardiff City and Aston Villa. They have beaten Newcastle, West Ham and Norwich on their way to their top half of the table position.


Steve Bruce was very successful in last years Championship division using a 3-5-2 formation which utilized the creative talents of midfielder Robert Koren. This season he has generally used a 4-3-3 sometimes shifting to a 4-4-1-1. Bruce impressed in the one nil win over Norwich when Sagbo was sent off, setting up his team behind the ball in a compact manner which gave Norwich very few goal scoring opportunities and saw out a one nil away victory. Bruce has a bit of a reputation of making his sides tough to beat. I suspect this will be a trait of Hull City this season as well.


Whilst watching their first game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge I noticed that they were being overrun in midfield and were not using the ball very well. They could have been four down at the interval but played a decent second half where the introduction of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore settled them down. Hull City had better ball possession in the second period and Chelsea retreated somewhat into their defensive block knowing they did not need to chase the game. Huddlestone’s calm silky passing style from deep changed the game by restoring parity to the midfield battle and it was clear that he would be an important player for Hull this season. His ability to spray the ball around and get the attacks in gear have impressed and he certainly will benefit from playing with a side that is built around him rather than at Tottenham Hotspurs where this was not the case. Huddlestone’s club manager Steve Bruce has already tipped him for an England national team recall. He may not be the quickest player around but surrounding him with terrier like ‘shuttlers ‘ makes for a balanced brew in midfield.


Huddlestones’s presence and passing ability combined with the industry of Livermore and the commanding displays of club skipper and defender Curtis Davies have made Hull a tough side to oppose. Left footed midfielder Robbie Brady has also impressed with three goals thus far and his directness, pace and excellent set piece ability will be invaluable to Hull this season. A recent hernia problem and resulting operation have threatened to slow him down but the club is hopeful that he recovers during the current international break.

While it is early days yet in the EPL, Hull City has done well at this point  to compete with established sides in the division.  Just to put it into another perspective, some of the so called smaller sides in the league like Southampton and Norwich are investing in 15 million pounds signings so the work is cut out for Hull City to achieve this season. Hull may lack a top class striker but I suppose there is always the January transfer window to address this need. They did try to sign striker Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion at the end of the transfer window to address the deficiency up front but were rejected in the last hours. Nevertheless, the early signs look good despite the injury setbacks suffered by defender James Chester and midfielders Robert Koren and Robbie Brady.

Not bad so far for a ‘minnow’!

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After starting the inaugural Caribbean Premier League with three losses, the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel franchise rebounded with back to back victories at the Queen’s Park Oval.  They won over the Guyana Amazon Warriors by three runs and the Antigua Hawksbills by one run respectively. This has brought the Red Steel back into the fray for semi final qualification.

It has been an adjustment for Trinidadian fans in supporting the local franchise as some of the best local cricketers like Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons and Denesh Ramdin are spread amongst the other franchises. While there has been some skepticism about the CPL, the crowds across the Caribbean have come out in their numbers to support the League. The Trinidadian fans have also begun to embrace the foreign players in the Red Steel team.

Red Steel captaincy

Dwayne Bravo has not impressed as a captain. His captaincy credentials are questionable as he has not performed at this level to any great degree despite holding the West Indies vice captaincy once. He was recently appointed captain of the West Indies 50 over side and has also flattered to deceive. He has never been groomed to lead in his career and it shows with his strange rotation of bowlers and field placings. He  was also in poor form for the first three games of the CPL following from his meager returns in the recent two series for the West Indies. His insistence to bowl in the death has also backfired as seen in his 26 run over against the Amazon Warriors. In the last couple matches he has regained some form and who knows, his captaincy skills may develop in time.

Foreign players step up

It has been pleasing to see Ross Taylor, Kevin O’Brien and lately Sulieman Benn step up to the plate and deliver strong performances. The form of the first two mentioned players has stabilized the top order of the batting which crumbled in the first few games. This has allowed a comfortable launching pad for the other batsmen to build upon. Benn has also been stingy and accurate with his left armers which has minimized the scoring rate of the opposing teams.

Future bright?

It has been refreshing to see the brave performances of young wicketkeeper/batsman Nicholas Pooran. The 17 year old played an audacious knock of 54 in the first match against the Amazon Warriors where he showed composure and power. His ability to improvise to get boundaries has been impressive and surely Denesh Ramdin must be looking over his shoulder with regards to his place as T&T’s number one keeper/batsman.

Advice from the great Murali

The great Muttiah Muralitharan, one of the world’s best spinners who retired from international cricket after the 2011 World Cup, had some advice for CPL organisers. He indicated that the organisers should aim for an international cricket window so that more talented players over the world could be attracted to play in the CPL.  The tournament has mainly attracted foreign players from New Zealand and Pakistan with a sprinkling of cricketers from other nations. While he praised the promise of the league, he also advised organizers to seek funding and assistance for better pitches.

Clearly the CPL organisers have some work to do to raise the standard and profile of the league but it has been a relative success thus far in its first year of existence.

Let’s go Windies! Let’s go Warriors!…sigh…

My intention for a while has been to express thoughts on our beloved and frustrating West Indies cricket team, but the CONCACAF Gold Cup is on now and supporting the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors football team is akin to similar fan frustration in ‘another universe’. Supporting these two teams over the years has been a chore for myself and many avid fans alike. Even the brilliance of our local sporting icons, Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Brian Lara could not lift these sporting teams to ‘the promised land’. Qualification for the 2006 football World Cup was an exception, but the decline has since been very rapid. At the end of this post, I will take a different angle at explaining one of the possible reasons for the poor performances of our local footballers and regional cricketers, but let’s first take a look at the recent performances of the West Indies.


The Windies crashed out of the Champions trophy in England via the Duckworth Lewis formula which was applied because of a rain stoppage against South Africa. During the Tri Nation series in the Caribbean against Sri Lanka and India, the Windies failed to reach the final after winning the first two games. I might add that before these two tournaments it was decided by the West Indies Cricket Board that Dwayne Bravo should replace Darren Sammy as captain in the 50 over format due to poor results in this form of the game.

Collectively the West Indies showed no inclination to bat sensibly with a measured approach, especially when confronted with pitches that offered movement to the bowlers. The ‘slam bam, thank you Ma’am’ method which can be applied in the T20 version of cricket seems to suit the West Indians as this form of the game is shorter and requires less patience and diligence. Indeed many of our current team members are stars of the top T20 leagues around the world. No batsman in the top order seems to be able to consistently attempt to bat through the innings.

The experienced Chris Gayle should know that trying to bludgeon every ball out of the ground is not the wisest approach and better shot selection will get him bigger scores. Gayle has often been getting good starts and then giving his wicket away with loose shots when his aim should be to bat through and allow the other batsmen to bat around him. His scores recently have read 22,39,21,36,109,11,10 and 14. He is the senior batsman in the side and when one compares his performance to the senior batsmen of other countries such as Sangakkara for Sri Lanka and Clarke for Australia it is like chalk and cheese. Young batsmen Johnson Charles and Darren Bravo have flickered in between but it has not been often enough to help the team amass impressive totals. Pollard and Samuels have hardly scored a run and have been getting out via the rising delivery pitched outside off stump. Could there still be room for the ‘Tiger’ Chanderpaul? The Windies should be milking him till he retires as his experience and temperament can offer much to the team. In my opinion he is the perfect man to bat through the innings while the stroke players bat around him.

The bowling has been good in spells but tends to fall off either in the middle or end phases of the innings in different games. Tino Best’s brainless method of running up and pounding the ball in short at pace is a joke and should be rewarded with an immediate dropping by the selectors. Injuries have affected the consistency of Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine.  Have our players lost the ability to concentrate and have their techniques also suffered due to the amount of T20 cricket they play? This may be a reason but I will give another reason later.


The Trinidad and Tobago football team has been on a downward spiral since the historic qualification for the 2006 World Cup in  Germany. Poor administration and a dogfight between the players and the former TTFF-Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (now TTFA) are the main causes. The new administration has aimed to wipe the slate clean with an approach of running  the game in a more structured and professional manner. Trinidad born Stephen Hart was hired as head coach and former coach Leo Beenhakker was appointed as technical director. The coaching staff had three weeks with the team preparing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Warriors have drawn 2 all with El Salvador and lost to Haiti 2 nil.

 Brief Observations:

1. What is Densill Theobald doing in this team as a player? Just to make it worse he was appointed as captain in a team that   contains seasoned veterans, Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones. Theobald has offered nothing defensively or offensively in both games and this has hampered the team’s performance badly. He does not look fit and his passing has been woeful. This man is the ‘engine of our team’!!!??? Please Coach Hart, put us fans out of our misery and replace him for the final group game against Honduras. Perhaps Chris Birchall or Andre Boucaud can be inserted into the lineup giving the midfield more bite.

2.  Our centre is a bit soft and there seems to be a lack of communication between Hyland and Theobald in the center of the midfield and Power and Mitchell in the center of the defence.

3. While the Warriors showed some improvement in the game against El Salvador, especially with regard to possessing the ball, there was regression in this aspect against Haiti. The team had no answer for Haiti’s pressing and defensive organisation. At no time did T&T get behind Haiti’s defence and cut balls back into danger areas.

4. Kenwyne Jones has been huge for the Warriors in both games but his impact in the second game against Haiti was negated by the fact that his midfielders played too far from him and the link up play necessary was non-existent. Our #10 Daniel who played behind KJ did not get into the game and was not able to bounce passes between himself and Jones to get other attackers into play. Long balls hit to Jones had no effect most of the time as there was no midfielder to latch on to his knockdowns.

I will conclude by pointing out that what you put into your body as an athlete you will get out. There is no hiding from it and a poor diet results in poor performances. In March of this year the psychologist with the West Indies cricket team, in his letter of resignation, noted that he had been unable to make the West Indian cricketers change their diet. Mr Hoad was quoted as saying that the players “eat too much fried foods and as everyone knows, fried food is not good for you, it makes you weak”-Trinidad Guardian, April 2, 2013. This says a lot and explains why our cricketers cannot concentrate and perform over longer periods but excel at T20 cricket where a game is over in 4 hours or less. It also explains why our cricketers succumb so frequently to injury. Bear in mind Mr Hoad’s statement when you agonize and invest so much of your emotion into the West Indies cricket team.  If we as fans care sufficiently enough we will insist on better from our cricketers and those that run the game in the region. Do they care? Should we care if they don’t? Similarly the penchant for fast food or ‘junk food’ in our country is hurting our local sportsmen’s performances including the footballers. The Soca Warriors’ stock has dipped so low from the heights of 2006 and it will take a herculean effort from the TTFA, the footballers and the new technical staff. Hopefully Mr Hart and Mr Beenhakker will recognize that the simple things like getting our boys to eat properly can make a difference.

Let’s go Windies! Let’s go Warriors!…sigh…


As an eight year old in 1982 I sat and watched Belgium upset Argentina in the opening game of the World Cup in Spain by one goal to nil. The goal was scored by Erwin Vandenbergh and that Argentine side contained the best player in the world at the time, Diego Maradona. I was so disappointed as my childhood football hero was Maradona.  Belgium was able to get past the first round but succumbed in the second round. Therefore, my first impression of Belgian football was that of a talented side but not yet the finished article.  Four years later, they achieved their best ever run finishing fourth and defeating some very good sides along the way including Russia who had world class players such as goalkeeper Dasaev, striker Belanov and midfielder Sergei Aleinikov.  I enjoyed the performances of the gangling captain Ceulemans, acrobatic goalkeeper Pfaff and the young attacking midfielder Enzo Scifo, especially against a talented Spanish side where Belgium won on penalties. The Belgian national team qualified for World Cups from 1982 to 2002 and after a lull in 2006 and 2010,  they have a supremely talented bunch of players to help them return to the  World Cup stage  in Brazil in 2014. The sides mentioned previously contained players that could be considered pioneers of Belgian football and it would be remiss of me not to mention Philippe Albert who was the first Belgian player to play in the English Premier league. Albert played for Newcastle United and the defender became a cult hero on Tyneside.


Let us fast forward to 2013 and football today is littered with Belgian talent with the main league beneficiary being the English Premier League. Vincent Kompany has been the biggest Belgian influence in the EPL thus far. During his four years in England, he has helped Manchester City lift the FA cup and Premier League title. The uncompromising defender is one of the world’s best in his position and his leadership qualities are also evident as both club and country have granted him captaincy. The recent Belgian invasion into the Premier League started with midfielder Marouane Fellaini in 2008 and he  impressed  initially as a rugged defensive midfielder, but has recently been used higher up the pitch behind a central striker with the departure of Aussie Tim Cahill from Everton’s ranks. Fellaini is now a much sought after player by Europe’s top clubs and is a player you just cannot miss with that outstanding Afro hairstyle.

Young talent coming through

Many of Belgium’s top stars and promising youngsters play in the English Premier League and they include Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspurs), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Romelu Lukaku(Chelsea) and Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspurs).  My focus is on the endless young talent coming through and Eden Hazard is the finest talent I have ever seen from Belgium. The twenty two year old made his debut for the national side at 17 years of age and joined Chelsea in 2012 at a Belgian record transfer of 32 million pounds. He has had an up and down first season in England but his skill, speed, vision and supreme technical ability sets him apart from many other players. Hazard was the most sought after player in Europe before Chelsea snapped him up and I see him becoming a great player for club and country. Christian Benteke is also twenty two years old and has scored 18 goals thus far in his debut season for Aston Villa. His physical presence, impressive hold up play and finishing ability have been outstanding and he seems perfectly suited for the demands of the EPL. Surely bigger clubs will come calling and Villa will do well to keep him after the 2012/13 season ends in May. Mention must also be made of those Belgians shining outside of the EPL such as Axel Witsel and Nicolas Lombaerts of Zenit St.Petersburg , Steven De Four of Porto and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who is a Chelsea loanee to Atletico Madrid.

Reason for this upsurge in top Belgian talent?

We cannot claim that the glut of football riches possessed by Belgium at this time is due to careful planning from the Belgian football federation as most young Belgians leave in their early teens to ply their trade in Holland or France. Some teams in Belgium have however increased their commitment to youth development. Standard Liege and Racing Genk have invested millions of dollars in their academies thereby producing some gems. However, the existence of this fine array of Belgian players nowadays can be largely attributed to a generational coincidence. This sometimes happens in football and Belgium national coach Marc Wilmots will do well to take advantage of this abundance of talent.

Belgium is poised for great things and many believe that not only will they qualify for the World Cup in 2014, but they will also excel in Brazil and progress deep into the tournament. Should they get there they would definitely be one of my ‘dark horses’ for the title.


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