By Tony Ngare
A good number of Manchester United fans will regard the above title as a mere rhetoric; they will claim the title (no pun intended) is theirs to keep, leave alone to lose. To some extent, the Red Devils fans could be worth good value of their arrogance, this time round. But is it over yet?
Minding the gap is all that Manchester City now needs to do. The English champions suffered a blow to their hopes of retaining the Premier League title on Sunday when a 2-2 draw with Liverpool left Roberto Mancini’s men nine points behind leaders Manchester United.
City edged out their bitter rivals for the title last season after making up an eight-point gap over the season’s final month. More time and more matches remain this season, but even Mancini and his players accept the size of the task they face.
Like last season, goal differential could be key. But this time United hold the slight edge at plus-29 to City’s plus-26.
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One crucial difference in the table is the number of draws each team has earned. United have lost one more match than City, who have drawn six more matches (eight to United’s two). United — crucially — have won five more times than City, easily making up for the difference in draws.
Keeping that in mind, City knows that avoiding defeat in the run-in won’t be enough. To make up ground, City must also avoid more draws and hope United draw more often (last season, both clubs had identical 28-5-5 records, with City winning the title on goal differential.
“The title isn’t over, no. Absolutely no way,” Mancini said after the Liverpool match.
“But we probably need to win most, if not all, of the games,” he added.
Make my Friday
When the sporting history of Kenya is finally written, one of the highlights of it will perhaps be the great run of Kenya team in the Wellington IRB series.
The local lads produced a stupendous form to win virtually every match, prior to the final — and were short of winning the Wellington crown with seconds.
If ever there was victory in defeat it belonged to Kenya after they finally succumbed to England in extra-time of a gripping final at the Wellington Sevens.
The scoreboard read England 24, Kenya 19 after England’s Sam Edgerley ended a battle of wills to grab his country’s second New Zealand title.
England were worthy champions, but the hearts of the crowd will long belong to Kenya who had the 30,000 strong throng riding every pass, tackle and fumble of the final.
Even when twice reduced to six men due to yellow cards, the Kenyans managed somehow to will themselves to make tackles during regular time as they clung to a 19-12 lead.
Kenya may have lost the match but, the local boys clearly won the hearts of many fans.
So as the Kenyans prepare for the Las Vegas circuit this weekend, we can only hope that this time ‘what happens in Las Vegas stays with the Kenyans’.
It has to be another good Friday for Mike Friday’s boys!
Even before a ball had been kicked in the quarterfinal match pitting African giants Ivory Coast against Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations, it was generally accepted that the tie had a whiff of a final around it.
Final before final
Little wonder then that it was dubbed the ‘final before the final’.
Nigeria won the Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994 while Cote d’Ivoire lifted their only title after a marathon penalty shoot-out triumph over neighbours Ghana in Senegal in 1992.
A lot had been riding on this massive clash with high bets placed for either side. Even the superstars themselves got into the frenzy as former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou confirmed having lost one.
He paid former Chelsea teammate and Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel Sh430,000 ($5,000) after his side lost out to the Oga brothers in the ‘final before the final’. Kalou confirmed the bet with his former teammate as soon as his side had lost the game to the Nigerians.
While the former Chelsea men were exchanging dollars, Togo skipper Emmanuel Adebayor was exchanging harsh words with his coach. Adebayor, who has shown no signs of dropping his ‘diva tendencies’ claimed that Togo coach Didier Six was inexperienced. He claimed that though he is a super footballer, he is no superman so he could not do both his job and the coach’s.