From restoring the balance in world cricket rankings to rugby relations between the fiercest rivals in the country, everything gets cut down to size in Onside/Offside. By ANT SIMS.
The balance in the world of cricket rankings
England came dangerously close to becoming the number one ranked cricket team in all formats. All they needed to do was beat Australia in an ODI on Wednesday. Fortunately, the cricket gods have a sense of humour, or perhaps just some sense, and the match was rained out, ensuring the English egos are kept in check just a little while longer.
Getting a job as a soccer coach
Gordon Igesund was named Bafana Bafana coach on the weekend, becoming the 17th coach of the national team. The fans are behind him and the South African Football Association are behind him, but they have set out heavy demands for the man, who seems to be up the creek without a paddle. SAFA, of course, have not indicated how they expect Ingesund to turn a group of ungovernable drama queens into a bunch of adequate footballers, but at least they have appointed a coach. With Ingesund gone at Moroka Swallows, the vacant post has been snapped up by Zeca Marques. Meanwhile, in North London, Andres Villas-Boas has been given another chance – this time with Tottenham. Despite being fired from Chelsea just a few months ago, eight months into his contract, Villas-Boas now has a second chance at glory. Jobs all round if you’re in the soccer coaching business.
A South African athlete making history
Oscar Pistorius was named in South Africa’s final Olympic team on Wednesday, meaning he will make history in many ways later in the year. He’ll run in both the 400m and the 4 x 400m relay, despite missing the final qualification time for the 400m. He is talented and it’s a charming story, but one would hope his inclusion in the team is for the right reasons, and not because SASCOC felt sentimental about it.
A certain North London soccer club
Ah, big star soccer players. Always ready to surprise you when you least expect it. On Wednesday, Robin van Persie announced that he would not be extending his contract with the club. He still has 12 months left, and the club reckons that he’ll see out his contract, but they’ve indulged in such rhetoric before. Just a day later, one of the club’s shareholders, Alisher Usmanov, released a scathing public letter telling everybody just how disappointed he was with the way the club handled transfers over the last few months. Boardroom trouble and administrative issues are all starting to bubble to the surface, and Arsenal fans should brace themselves for the very public fist fight that is likely to follow.
Province and Bulls rugby relations
It’s one of the biggest rivalries in the country, and it’s one the Bulls have dominated for quite some time now, on the field anyway. The two sides of the rugby fence love to exchange hostilities at every opportunity they get, but the people from up north have just been handed a fist full of new ammunition labelled Handré Pollard. The hot property flyhalf had a stellar campaign with the Baby Boks in the recent Junior World Cup, and while WP have always been known for holding on to talent, nurturing them and then selling them off, the Bulls swooped in and stole Pollard from right under their noses. WP insists they did everything they could to try and secure their services, but, much like a certain North London club, they probably did everything except offer him the right sum of money.
Allegedly doping cyclists
More bad news for Lance Armstrong in the case which never seems to end. Former teammates have allegedly given evidence against him. Cadel Evans, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Levi Leipheimer have all apparently testified against Armstrong, according to a front-page report in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. DM
Main photo (onside): Oscar Pistorius of South Africa competes in the men’s 400 metres semi-final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)
Second photo (offside): Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie (C) celebrates after scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers with team mates during their English Premier League soccer match at Molyneux in Wolverhampton in central England April 11, 2012. (REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth)
The 2016 Rio Olympic medals are already showing defects including rusting and chipping.