India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar expects India’s tour of Australia next month to be a challenging one even in the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith.Smith and Warner are currently serving one-year bans following their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March this year.The 28-year-old also believes that no overseas tour is easy.”It [the Australian tour] will be challenging, no tour is easy. But Australia will be challenging because when you play outside your home [country] you need to adapt to certain conditions. It won’t be easy for bowlers as there is hardly any movement these days,” Bhuvneshwar told reporters on Monday.Asked how the absence of Smith and Warner will affect Australia, Bhuvneshwar said: “I cannot say that we will overcome them. They don’t have the two batsmen [Smith and Warner], who have done well over the years. [But] there are other batsmen in their place and it is not that they aren’t good.””It’s their home conditions. For us, if the two [Smith and Warner] were there, it is a challenge, now they are not there, it will still be a challenge,” the Uttar Pradesh fast bowler said.”If it would have been easy, we would have always won the series [in the past]. It won’t be easy. Our preparation in the warm-up matches there will matter,” he said.Read – WAGs: The great debate in Indian cricketBhuvneshwar is now associated with ASICS and was in the city for its promotion.advertisementBhuvneshwar has been rested for the first two ODIs against the West Indies.The right-arm fast bowler, who has played 92 ODIs and 21 Tests, lauded the rotation policy of the team management.”The way fast bowlers are managed, the rotation policy is in a way good, as we get a break and others get a chance and the body remains fresh,” he said.He also stressed on the need to have breaks.”Breaks are needed after you play a long tour. You are mentally tired, like Jasprit [Bumrah] said when you return you are fresh and are rearing to go. Hence breaks are needed, as your body gets tired,” he said.India’s tour of Australia starts with a three-match Twenty20 International series from November 21. The two cricketing giants will then play four Tests before a three-match one day international series in January 2019.(With inputs from PTI)
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. We already looked at how a few of the proposed new rule changes for college football and recruiting either help or hurt Oklahoma State, but it’s worth revisiting today because the NCAA set in stone an early signing period for college football. It goes into effect later this year (as do the other changes).Monday, the Collegiate Commissioners Association officially approved a three-day signing period for high school seniors. The 72-hour window will begin Dec. 20 and end Dec. 22. Seniors who are settled on their college choice can sign a National Letter of Intent in that timeframe. Any player who doesn’t sign in the early-signing period will have to wait until National Signing Day on Feb. 7, 2018 to sign with a school. [Yahoo]This may or may not be significant to Oklahoma State, but I think it probably helps them as a program. On a case-by-case basis, nobody knows whether a recruit will want to lock down a commitment early or wait until the end, but generally Oklahoma State seems to be good at evaluating talent up front.What this means is that you might be able to get a player or two to sign early that would have flipped in January before the traditional February signing day to Texas or OU. You won’t get this every year, to be sure. Some players won’t sign in December and will still flip in January. Many players who will sign in December wouldn’t have flipped anyway.But this drops a feather on the OSU end of the scale if the other side is the Ohio States and Texas A&Ms — recruiting behemoths who often swipe stars at the end of the road. One other thing we haven’t discussed is that a December signing period doesn’t allow for the Bamas and Clemsons to win their titles and make a victory lap on the recruiting trail. That’s a good thing for smaller schools like Oklahoma State. Plus a lot of players are just ready for the recruiting hoopla to be over at that point.It will be impossible to determine the true effect on OSU, but I think over the course of, say, five years, you’re going to see a really good player or two sign in December and be thankful you didn’t have to insulate them all the way until February.
Is this the year? The season OSU finally gets over the hump?Is this the year they dethrone Oregon for the best uniforms in college football?! With the upgraded jerseys & plethora of helmets OSU is truly close to calling itself the best dressed in the nation. With that, let’s look back at 2016.5. Central Michigan: Black/Black/Gray[USATSI]If the helmet had the brand (chrome!) or the badge, it would be top two. I’ve wanted to see Black-Gray-Black since 2011, and this is a glimpse of its prowess. Black and gray is an awesome look and the orange numbers are a nice compliment.AdChoices广告4. Southeastern Louisiana: White (Brand)/Orange/White[USATSI]Full disclosure: I’m not a White-Orange-White connoisseur. I guess I like the non-traditional looks more because I’ve seen WOW a majority of my life. This is strictly because of the brand – Only worn once the entire season! Is the brand a thing of the past? Is the badge the official logo now? I like the badge and will address it later but I’m worried about the brand, guys. By the way, what if I told you in the mid-2000s about a helmet with a black face mask, black stripe & metallic brand? Would you need CPR? I would. Keep in mind OSU was wearing these monstrosities back then.3. West Virginia (HC): Black (Retro Brand)/Orange/White[USATSI]“BY GAWD!!! THAT’S JIMMY JOHNSON’S MUSIC!!!” The throwback helmet was done so well I think my Dad thought he was watching ESPN Classic. I just wish they could go full-throwback with the jersey & pants, as well. Anyway, the homecoming helmet has become an annual thrill to see what the equipment staff comes up with and this was their best one yet.2. TCU: White (Badge)/White/Black[USATSI]This is a perfect road uniform. There is really no way to understate how crucial the switch to black numbers is. The numeral pops on its own but paired with the black pants is perfection. I was leery at first but it’s really grown on me: I’m all-in on the aforementioned badge. If they aren’t going to wear the brand…Badge > Pete.1. Texas: Black (Badge)/Black/Black[USATSI]All-black is foolproof. When you are one of the few schools with black as an official school color (looking at you, TCU & Baylor. High school move.) you must take advantage. There’s not a more intimidating look than all-black, everything. Throw-in the badge & chrome face mask and this combo is among the best in the nation. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Real Madrid Kroos and Modric in Real Madrid squad for PSG trip Joe Wright 17:44 5/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Real Madrid UEFA Champions League PSG v Real Madrid PSG Zinedine Zidane had previously said that he would not take undue risks over injured players, but both doubtful stars will travel to France Real Madrid have included Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in their 24-man squad for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.The midfielders have been battling to be fit for the last-16 second leg in the French capital and both missed Saturday’s 3-1 LaLiga win over Getafe.Kroos, who particularly impressed in Madrid’s 3-1 first-leg win, has been struggling due to a knee ligament sprain, while Modric has a hamstring problem. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp However, both returned to training on Sunday and will travel to France for the showdown with Unai Emery’s men.Speaking on Saturday, Zidane said he was unsure if they would be fully fit but was not worried about the prospect of their absence.”I will never regret injuries,” he said. “If they can’t be with us, other players will play. The only thing we have is to look at Tuesday and see who we are going to go with.”We have two days to see how Luka and Toni are. I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do and what we have planned.”What I want is for all of us to travel. I hope everyone trains on Monday, but I don’t know.”
Oklahoma State picked up a huge win on the football field Saturday night, then a big win on the recruiting trail less than 24 hours later. Class of 2022 offensive line prospect Kelvin Banks Jr. committed to the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, pledging his allegiance to the Pokes over offers from Texas, Arizona State, Florida State and Houston.Banks is a 6-foot-4, 285-pound recruit from Humble, Texas and Summer Creek High School — a mammoth prospect for just a sophomore. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. COMMITTED ‼️ pic.twitter.com/0da5FsEDL0— Kelvin (@Kelvinbanksjr12) September 29, 2019Banks is huge for OSU as it lays the foundation for the future of the program. The Cowboys don’t even have a commitment in the 2021 class yet, but already have Banks to build on for 2022. Getting him to commit early could certainly help in OSU’s early pursuit of skill talent in the class with five-star running back Raleek Brown and other blue-chippers at quarterback likely to emerge in the near future.
Oklahoma State righted the ship on Saturday downing No. 24 Kansas State 26-13, though it took longer than expected thanks to an hour-plus weather delay.The Twittersphere was buzzing all night and there was plenty of timeline gold that kept me entertained throughout. Here are some of my favorites.Spencer is not afraid of a little contact, but I am (slide, my dude!).#BodybyGlass pic.twitter.com/0gCAHk3z1Y— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 29, 2019AdChoices广告 Even ESPN+ struggles when #okstate gets in the red zone. pic.twitter.com/z2dp0l9Idn— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 29, 2019 To a Cowboy Back!! pic.twitter.com/vOm7hIbIBz— Matt Amilian (@mattamilian) September 28, 2019But then it was more of the same late as OSU kicked field goals on four of its five score-zone drives.How’s that for creativity? 3rd and goal at the 4 and hand it off to… Tylan Wallace. It didn’t work and OSU settles for another FG. Pokes lead 13-0.— Michael Doutey (@mike_doutey) September 29, 2019 Kansas State should do us all a favor and just forfeit— Kyle Boone (@PFBoone) September 29, 2019 Replay delays > weather delays— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) September 29, 2019😶🧐”I hope nothing happened during the storm delay that requires a confession.” #okstate— Hunziker Bot (@HunzikerSays) September 29, 2019 ESPN+ going with the old GIA camera angle out of the lightning delay. pic.twitter.com/dsN62lWLka— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 29, 2019The Cowboys came out with the win, somewhat handily, but their red zone issues are anything but figured out.Things looked good early.When they finally let you throw in the red zone. pic.twitter.com/BVHiPI5Oep— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 28, 2019 Spencer Sanders moving up the depth chart at LB— Matt Amilian (@mattamilian) September 29, 2019Chuba had a career game with enough significant numbers and records to make your head spin. This was one of the more mind-blowing..@CowboyFB’s Chuba Hubbard finished Saturday with 296 rushing yards. He eclipsed both Barry Sanders (222) and Thurman Thomas’ (237) school record for most yards against a ranked opponent. pic.twitter.com/ZP50Fqui0v— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 29, 2019https://twitter.com/Hubbard_RMN/status/1178169947878559744?s=20The flagpole in the east end zone is big enough for a Canadian flag too. Just saying.— Southwell (@JustinSouthwell) September 29, 2019 Weather delays are always weird and, at least somewhat, interesting affairs.Like a fax machine on national signing day. Their time to shine.— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) September 29, 2019 Let’s examine #okstate’s red zone offense … pic.twitter.com/LGQRm5GmHU— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 29, 2019 Conspiracy theory: Some SEC team has a really good kickerThe world cannot see Ammendola’s Lou Groza performance with these technical difficulties— Matt Amilian (@mattamilian) September 29, 2019 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
To wrap up the week, I offer some last words from Luntz. Here are his 10 commandments of messaging. Bottom line: be able to explain what you do in one visual, compelling, intriguing sentence or phrase.1. Simplicity is key. What one word or phrase captures your work?2. Brevity: Keep it short, always.3. Credibility matters more than ever.4. Consistency is vital – stick to your message, and make your message sticky.5. Novelty: be fresh and use fresh language and stories.6. Sound and texture matter.7. Speak aspirationally.8. Be visual. Have one great picture that tells your story.9. Ask a question. Start conversations, not monologues.10. Provide context. Explain why your mission matters to your audience.
World Cup Switzerland give Neymar the rough treatment to frustrate Brazil Stefan Coerts Rostov on Don Last updated 1 year ago 03:55 6/18/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(19) Getty World Cup Brazil Neymar Philippe Coutinho Brazil v Switzerland Switzerland The PSG attacker was unable to make much of an impact as he got little space to create something at the Rostov Arena The name on everybody’s lips heading into Brazil’s World Cup opener against Switzerland on Sunday was an unsurprising one: Neymar.The Paris Saint-Germain star was a doubt for the tournament in Russia not too long ago after fracturing his metatarsal in the Ligue 1 encounter with Marseille back in February and only recently returned to full training.Neymar’s injury problems did not stop him from scoring both in his return to action against Croatia as well as against Austria, but Brazil boss Tite admitted during his pre-match news conference that the 26-year-old was not in peak condition yet. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar “Neymar is not 100 per cent,” he stated at the Rostov Arena. “But he is very privileged physically, his sprinting capacity and his speed is really impressive, he hasn’t lost that. He’s not 100 per cent yet, but he’s good enough to play very well.”Both parts of Tite’s message had clearly registered with the Swiss as they did everything within their power to keep the PSG man quiet.Valon Behrami needed a mere four minutes for his first foul on Neymar, only to repeat the trick 10 minutes later, much to the annoyance of the Brazil No.10.Referee Cesar Ramos took action at the half-hour mark when Stephan Lichtsteiner brought down Neymar on the edge of the box, but Switzerland continued to bully the former Barcelona man at every opportunity, with Fabian Schar and Behrami both going into the match official’s book too.Vladimir Petkovic’s men’s focus on Neymar – who was fouled 10 times across 96 minutes – allowed his team-mates a bit of extra space and Philippe Coutinho took the opportunity to show what he is capable of in what was his World Cup debut.The ex-Liverpool man was involved in Brazil’s first moment of danger when he set up Neymar down the left, with Paulinho eventually scuffing a shot wide from a close range.Coutinho then decided to take matters into his own hand midway through the first half. The 26-year-old picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and beat goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a stunning curler into the top corner.10 – The last player to be fouled more in a #WorldCup game than Neymar v Switzerland (10) was Alan Shearer in 1998 (11 v Tunesia). Down. pic.twitter.com/5uE51q1Irx— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 17, 2018His attacking influence was not Coutinho’s only contribution on the evening, however, as he happily tracked back when needed, often finding himself in a deeper position than Barcelona team-mate Paulinho. But the 26-year-old’s strike eventually was not enough as some unconvincing defending from Miranda allowed Steven Zuber to level the scoring early in the second half after a Ricardo Rodriguez corner.Coutinho came close to restoring Brazil’s lead when he chested down a long ball from the left before blasting a volley toward the far post, but he was unfortunate to see his attempt sail wide.Brazil thus had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opening game, with Sommer pulling off a superb save late on to save Switzerland, as they got their campaign off to an underwhelming start, much like fellow favourites Spain, Argentina and Germany.Costa Rica now await on matchday two, before they lock horns with Serbia in their final game of the group stages on June 27 as they continue the chase for their sixth-ever world title.
World Cup Germany back in the right mood after Mexico upset, insists Hummels Sacha Pisani 23:21 6/21/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty World Cup Germany Germany v Sweden Sweden The reigning champions need to bounce back from their opening defeat to Mexico, and the defender says they are more than ready to get back on track Germany defender Mats Hummels has insisted the atmosphere within the team is back on track after the critical fallout from their shock loss to Mexico at the World Cup.Hummels was one of the players most vocal following Germany’s 1-0 defeat to Mexico in Group F last week – the Bayern Munich defender criticising the tactics used.There were also claims of squad disharmony as the world champions were left reeling and facing a must-win match against Sweden on Saturday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar However, Hummels insists everything is fine after discussions within Joachim Low’s side.”The atmosphere is much better, we are getting back on track,” Hummels told reporters on Thursday. “Everybody wants to get back in form and on the pitch. We had some days now where we were down a bit but now we know everything is still possible when we reach our potential then we can play a good tournament.”The talks we had were very good, we spoke about our weaknesses and these are hopefully behind us now. Of course we are still looking on what we have to do against Sweden but the Mexico game is now behind us.”We know that now the only thing that is important is what we do on the pitch. All stuff around us is also important but on the pitch is the most important thing for us.”Hummels added: “I wasn’t the only one – I think Jerome [Boateng] also was critical after the match. Internally even more players spoke up, which I think was great. From that we are now fishing out the best input.”Sweden – who edged South Korea 1-0 – and Mexico won their opening games, leaving Germany facing the prospect of a premature exit in Russia.”The team has to be hot, because this is already a knockout game for us now,” Germany striker Mario Gomez said. “So we feel like having two knockout games more, instead of those group stage matches. I think we have been good in those type of matches in the past years.”We always knew what matters. Of course the first match was a brutally negative experience for us, we didn’t expect that. Our weaknesses were revealed, but we worked on that and we go on doing so before the game [against Sweden], so I’m positive that we will show another performance.”
World Cup Messi magic brings up World Cup century as Argentina star breaks goal drought Chris Burton Last updated 1 year ago 02:41 6/27/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Getty World Cup Lionel Messi Nigeria v Argentina Nigeria Argentina The Barcelona superstar helped the Albiceleste to get off to the perfect start in a meeting with Nigeria, recording the 100th effort of Russia 2018 Lionel Messi ended his World Cup goal drought in style for Argentina, with the mercurial Barcelona forward recording the 100th effort of Russia 2018.Having cut a frustrated figure for the Albiceleste in their opening two Group D fixtures, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner rediscovered his spark in a meeting with Nigeria.Jorge Sampaoli’s side needed inspiration from somewhere, having gone into the game with just one point to their name, and saw their talismanic No. 10 duly deliver. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar There were just 14 minutes on the clock when Messi collected a floated pass over the top of the Nigerian defence from Ever Banega.A perfectly-timed run was followed by two deft touches which worked the ball onto his less favoured right foot.With a clear sight of the target there was only likely to be one outcome, and Messi crashed home the opening goal of a must-win contest for Argentina.In doing so, the 31-year-old took the total number of goals at the finals to 100.He also got himself off the mark at an event which has seen eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo already notch four times for Portugal.100 – Lionel Messi has scored the 100th goal at the 2018 World Cup. Permanent.#NGAARG #ARG #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/TjaQJSWkmO— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 26, 2018Messi needed a goal as much for his own confidence as he did for Argentina’s.He has not always had the rub of the green when representing his country, with international heartache having been all too frequent.The Golden Ball was secured at the 2014 World Cup, but final heartbreak was suffered and Messi failed to find the target in any of his outings at the knockout stage.Ironically, his last goal of that competition came against Nigeria in the final round of group stage fixtures.662 – Lionel Messi has scored his first World Cup goal in 662 minutes of football, his last previous World Cup goal came against Nigeria as well, in 2014. Relief. pic.twitter.com/471WFjg3Uo— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 26, 2018In addition, Messi’s goal also ensured he became the first player to score in a World Cup finals as a teenager, in his 20s and 30s.With a goal-laden World Cup having produced plenty of excitement so far, there is the promise of plenty more to come as attention starts to shift towards the last 16 and the pursuit of the ultimate crown.
Opinion Why did Africa’s five fail at 2018 World Cup? Solace Chukwu Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 02:25 6/30/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(8) Getty Opinion World Cup African All Stars Not since 1982 has there been a World Cup knockout stage without an African side, but where did it all go wrong for the continent’s quintet? In one of the most superb opening lines in all of literature, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy remarks, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”He may well have been remarking upon Africa’s showing at the World Cup almost 150 years later: Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal all have cause for regret after their tragic group stage exits, but while the misery is the same, the particulars are not.For Egypt, drawn in the weakest group and alongside the weakest seed, and making a first World Cup appearance in 28 years, this tournament represented a great opportunity to make a proper splash. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar For so long Africa’s dominant side, there has lingered about the Pharaohs the sense of a big fish in a (figuratively) small pond. It is a notion that a sorry campaign has done plenty to dispel: Egypt was one of only two teams to finish the Group Stage without registering a single point.The injury to Mohamed Salah was no doubt the headline, but the utter incompetence of the rest of the side in his absence – and subsequent half-presence – poses even more damming questions about the management of the team, as well as Egypt’s football development in general.While the now-departed Hector Cuper’s side embraced ignominy, there was rather more to be proud of, even in elimination, for the rest of the contingent.Senegal and Nigeria went into their final group matches with qualification firmly within their grasps, both requiring draws to progress.Neither managed it, however; their game management, both in failing to score while on top and in seeing out a match from a position of advantage, failing at the most crucial moments.However, both could rightly rue their sloppiness in previous encounters—Nigeria seemed unaware that the World Cup had actually kicked off in their opening loss to Croatia, while Senegal should not have twice blown a lead against Japan.Morocco and Tunisia lost twice on the bounce, but salvaged some pride on the final day.For the Atlas Lions, it was a first World Cup appearance in 20 years, and to their credit they were never outplayed in Russia.Instead, it was a lack of clinical edge upfront that did Herve Renard’s men in: Khalid Boutaib scored against Spain on the final day, but was criminally isolated against Portugal, left alone to battle Pepe and Jose Fonte for Nordin Amrabat’s deliveries.Tunisia were somewhat unfortunate with the order of the fixtures. Had they played Panama first, they perhaps might have gone forward with greater confidence. Instead, they seemed in a strait betwixt two early on, and got punished particularly ruthlessly by Belgium and England.In amidst their individual agonies, there are however some common threads that tie up this casserole of disappointment quite neatly.On the surface, Africa’s five representatives are drawn from its top seven sides, and so constitute the strongest possible contingent. However, a deeper look reveals an unusual statistic: only Nigeria, of the five, have featured in the last two World Cup tournaments.For Egypt, it was their first since 1990. For Morocco, first since 1998. Tunisia, 2006. Senegal, 2002. It made for novelty, and some great stories, but ultimately Africa rocked up at the global fiesta riddled with inexperience and ignorance of football at the highest level.It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the constantly evolving nature of football demands constant involvement and participation. With nothing to occupy them besides African football, in the form of qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations, it is no surprise that they displayed such startling naivety at times.This manifested in a number of ways: a peculiar vulnerability to set-plays (even Senegal, one of the biggest sides at the tournament, were undone by a corner kick); a total lack of nous and composure in seeing out games – Aziz Bouhaddouz vs. Iran, Nigeria dropping as deep as its own six-yard line against Argentina, Tunisia vs. England; as well as temperament – see Senegal getting knocked out on Fair Play points; one could go on and on.This lack of experience also robbed Africa of the chance to build progressively.Aside from lucking onto a Golden Generation, the way to excel at World Cups is to make gains incrementally. Germany went from two straight semi-finals to winning it all in 2014 by mining the lessons gleaned from failure. Ghana swept to the last eight in 2010 by learning from the pain of 2006. It’s a process, as they say.The abrupt shake-up in the African football hierarchy is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, as some of the old guard (Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast) had fallen into a rut precipitated by complacency and awful administration. That said, when viewed in the isolation of this particular cycle, it cost the continent something.What is particularly disappointing is that, while one could argue that experience was lacking, there was not exactly a sense of abandon about the five. Experience, valuable as it is, can often lend itself to caginess. In its absence, there was not even a sense of adventure to compensate.Had there been a team that truly captured the imagination by playing the expressive, almost joyously puerile football with which the continent is so often stereotyped, there might have been some consolation.Instead, the stodgy, unimaginative fare served up by, in particular, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria, made for some rather dull fare with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.Morocco were perhaps the exception, playing an almost Spanish passing game, in keeping with their geographical proximity to the Iberian Peninsula. Senegal were unabashedly themselves, rigidly organized and breaking at pace through their wingers, but crucially lacked a real flourish at the end of their plays, such as their 2002 vintage possessed.That there seemed such a stylistic mismatch between some of the teams and their managers is odd: Egypt, whose last appearance on the world stage – the 2009 Confederations Cup – saw them record a 4-3 loss to Brazil, such is their attacking bent – were coached by the dour Cuper; Nigeria’s expressive, slightly chaotic brand was helmed with Teutonic pragmatism by Gernot Rohr.It felt, at times, almost un-African to be so risk averse, and perhaps the great message of this World Cup to Africa is to embrace and espouse its own style more readily, and play to its own strengths.
Transfers Ronaldo at Juventus would be just great – Matuidi Peter Hanson Last updated 1 year ago 21:41 7/4/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Transfers Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Juventus Serie A Primera División The Real Madrid superstar has been heavily linked with a potential move to the Italian giants and the midfielder wants to see it happen Blaise Matuidi would relish the chance to work with “one of the best players in the world” if Cristiano Ronaldo were to join Juventus, but is focusing on France’s World Cup bid.Ronaldo’s future at Real Madrid has been shrouded in doubt ever since Los Blancos defeated Liverpool 3-1 to win a third straight Champions League in May.The Portugal superstar spoke about the club in the past tense after that game when he said: “We will talk in the future. It’s been really beautiful to play for Real Madrid. I’ll give a response in the coming days.” Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Speculation has mounted this week that Serie A champions Juve are preparing a lucrative €120 million bid (£105m/$139m) for Ronaldo, with a salary package of €30m a year.Matuidi, who was on media duties in Russia on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s quarter-final tie with Uruguay, was quizzed on the possibility of playing with the 33-year-old at the Allianz Stadium next season.”I’m not going to lie it would be just great,” he said. “It would be great to have one of the best players in the world with Juventus in the same club that I am. “It would be great for the club and for the Juventus players. “However, today I’m a player of the French national team and we have bigger fish to fry, no?”Ronaldo enjoyed a successful personal World Cup, scoring four goals as Portugal advanced from the group stages, facing Uruguay in the last 16. He was shackled, however, and failed to score as Uruguay won 2-1.Matuidi, of course, is still competing in the tournament, and will take on Ronaldo’s conquerors after Les Bleus beat Argentina in the last 16.A win over Uruguay would book France a semi-final clash with either Brazil or Belgium, and were they to be successful, they would face one of England, Sweden, Croatia or Russia in the final.
Man Utd players question coach Kieran McKenna’s methodsby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United coach Kieran McKenna’s methods are being questioned, it is being claimed.McKenna joined the senior staff last year under former manager Jose Mourinho.The Daily Mail says some players harbour reservations over McKenna having such a key role in first-team training little more than a year after being promoted from the Under 18s. His sessions are thought by some to be more suited to the academy. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say