Simba back in continental assignment
By Julius Kibwana
SIMBA return to continental club competitions this weekend when they take on ES Setif of Algeria in the first leg match of their second round Confederation Cup.
The country’s representative will be hosting the first leg which will be played at an expected packed National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Simba are the lone Mainland representative in continental club competitions after elimination of Yanga in the African Champions League. The other two representatives from Zanzibar namely Mafunzo and Jamhuri also kissed goodbye the continental club competition at the preliminary stage.
It has not been an easy ride for Simba under the tutelage Serbian Milovan Circkovic as the Msimbazi lads had to toil to edge out Kiyovu of Rwanda to set up a juicy encounter against the Algerian side.
Simba did brilliant to force a one-all draw in the first leg played away in Kigali, Rwanda but having scored two goals in the return leg match played at the National Stadium, Simba relaxed allowing Kiyovu to snatch a goal.
The Rwandese outfit then piled pressure needing a second goal to force the match to a 2-2 draw hence cruising to the next stage but could not find a way pass Simba goalkeeper and team captain Juma Kaseja.
This weekend focus shifts on the game against the more experienced side ES Setif who were given a bye in the first round.
Simba will be facing the Algerian side buoyed with recent good results in the domestic league as well as opening the gap on top of the 14-team league standings with three points.
Last weekend, Simba faced a difficult game against former Mainland champions Mtibwa Sugar which was part of the training session ahead of the match against ES Setif. The game played on a difficult Jamhuri Stadium pitch witnessed Simba thump Mtibwa Sugar 2-1.
However, this weekend’s opponents are not in the calibre of Mtibwa Sugar and this means Simba has to work extra hard and score more goals to have a walk in the park when they travel to Algiers for the return leg mach.
Cirkovic will be counting on the twin striking partnership of Uganda international Emmanuel Okwi and Zambian import Felix Sunzu for goals supported by playmaker Haruna Moshi ‘Boban’.
Mwinyi Kazimoto who came off the bench in the league game against Mtibwa Sugar is expected to start against ES Setif in the midfield position assisted by Shomari Kapombe.
The defence is one key area Simba has to focus because needless goals conceded could have a negative impact in the team’s quest to progress to the next stage. Uganda defender Derrick Walulya has fully recovered from his injury and will be in contention for the place at back four that also includes Kelvin Yondan, Juma Nyosso, Nassor Said ‘Cholo’, Amir Maftah and Juma Jabu.
With a section of the fans lacking patriotism, Simba should expect a hostile reception from long time rivals Yanga. It is no secret that Yanga fans are plotting to turning up in large numbers to support visitors ES Setif.
However, this should not distract Simba as their sole purpose is to beat the Algerian side on home soil to make it easier during the return leg match.
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AT focused on election not preparing team
By Julius Kibwana
IT is a pity that with time running out before the Olympic Games are held in London, England, Athletics Tanzania (AT) is more focused on the eagerly awaited polls rather than preparing the team.
Last week, AT announced postponing its poll until further notice raising many question to candidates who had picked forms to compete in various posts as well as athletics and sports stakeholders.
AT polls had been planned for March 17 this year in Songea, Ruvuma region but with less than a week to go, AT Secretary General Suleiman Nyambui announced the elections to have been called. This meant that AT could also not hold its annual general assembly.
There is something sinister with the postponement of the AT polls bearing in mind that most of the incumbent leaders had picked nomination forms seeking re-elections.
Perhaps calling off the AT election has to do with the speech delivered by the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi who was the chief guest during the 10th anniversary of the Kilimanjaro Marathon held last month in Moshi, Kilimanjaro region.
Dr Nchimbi was disappointed with the athletics performance in a race dominated by Kenyans and hit hard on AT officials saying they do not deserve to hold office.
It was a strong message from the minister bearing in mind that AT polls was just a couple of weeks from taking place in Songea.
So this could be the reason for incumbent AT leaders to postpone the election so that they can buy time to woo members who will take part in the voting exercise.
Other rumours indicate that AT officials want to have the polls after the London Games arguing on the grounds that there are a lot of benefits from AT officials who travel for these kind of competitions.
What is more important now is for AT to think about preparing a team for the London Games rather than selfish interest.
Selection of the athletics team has been in shambles. There are no national trials where AT can have an opportunity to select the best athletes basing on the IAAF standard records.
AT still sticks with its tradition of picking the country’s representatives for prestigious competitions basing on their ‘big names’. Time and again, the very same athletes are preferred to the upcoming generation but fail to make the nation proud.
If AT does not think about preparing a strong athletics team for the London Games, it is better the nation does not send a team as it will be a wasteful of the tax payers money.
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With no peaks left to conquer, is it time for Sachin to quit?
Sachin Tendulkar's seemingly unending wait for the climb atop what has been described as the Mount Everest of cricket is finally over.
The 38 year old's feat of scoring 100 international cricket centuries last Friday has been compared with Roger Bannister reaching the one-mile mark in under four minutes in 1954 and Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay becoming the first men to reach Mount Everest.
But in the case of Bannister and Hillary, people have gone on to achieve the same feats, though history will always tell us they did it first.
That doesn't seem likely to happen to Sachin's feat, since the list of centurions in international cricket after Sachin's 100 reads as follows: Ricky Ponting is at an aggregate of 71 hundreds, followed by Jacques Kallis (59) and Mahela Jayawardene (45).
Having performed in international cricket for 23 years and seen the highs and lows, what Sachin has achieved each day is a feat in itself.
A Test aggregate of 15,470 runs, 18,374 ODI runs and a total of 33,844 international runs (including 10 in his lone T20 International) is no laughing matter. Even if he had not got to the 100-century mark, he would have still been special for providing cricket fans with sheer joy.
In an Indian nation where anyone who watches cricket considers himself an expert, all kinds of reasons were given when Sachin went without a century for over a year.
The way the word 'pressure' was being used for Sachin's failures when he failed to score a hundred for over a year, it seemed as if people were talking about a bad kid who flunks exams despite the best coaching and attempting several test papers.
This is sport, where success and failure go together. Yes, there was pressure on Sachin, but he has finally proved to everyone that only he could best deal with what it takes to get to this figure.
Had it not been for Sachin coming so close to this magic and seemingly impossible figure, people would probably have never talked about it. As one expert said: 'I am convinced to speak of a Test hundred and then an ODI hundred but then using an aggregate figure of 100 to justify greatness is absurd.'
'This is a sheer mathematical aggregate as scoring a hundred in an ODI and scoring a hundred in a Test is as different as chalk and cheese.'
Sachin himself will perhaps one day deconstruct this 'Mount Everest' myth as before this, no one talked of an aggregate of hundreds scored in different formats of the game. If at all hundred aggregates were mentioned, it was in various forms of first-class cricket.
With Ponting now forced out of one-day cricket, the Tasmanian is happy to be a part of the team for the Test series against West Indies. Yet, to think he will get as far as Sachin's aggregate of 100 is impossible as Ponting doesn't have age on his side, nor will Cricket Australia allow him to play for records.
To be sure, Sachin needs to thank the Board of Control for Cricket in India that he has been allowed to pick and choose ODI series as most people thought after India won the ICC World Cup that his ultimate dream had been realised.
Then again, no country other than India will allow a cricketer to pick and choose his series. The Asia Cup is a low-profile event and should have been used by Messrs K. Srikkanth and company to blood youngsters. Why that did not happen was because Indian cricket needed to improve its image after the battering in England and Australia.
Then again, Sachin has been lucky to be on board in this series as Virender Sehwag ruled himself out and wanted to recover before the Indian Premier League.
Looking at the macro picture, India needs to plan for the next ICC World Cup in 2015. In the four-year cycle, one year has already lapsed and Sachin needs to introspect as to what can be his contribution to Indian cricket in the shorter format of the game.
It is widely felt that the Indian cricket board lacks planning and does things in a haphazard manner. Perhaps, it is Sachin himself who has to decide how soon he can vacate his slot so that the next batsman can be groomed for the 2015 World Cup.
Yes, there is room for Sachin to play Test cricket as India still does not have a batsman who can replace Rahul Dravid. It is in this format Sachin lends value to Team India, with a lot of cricket to be played at home in 2012.
Just as in tennis we will not have another Pete Sampras or Roger Federer, in motorsport there cannot be another Michael Schumacher. In an Olympic swimming pool, just as there will never be another Michael Phelps, there can never be another Sachin Tendulkar.
As one who defines greatness, Sachin needs to exit when he is at the top. If not, tongues will again wag just the way they did when he was stuck on 99 hundreds.
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CHANETA strengthens national
squad for upcoming big tournament
By Kasian Gasper
The Tanzania Netball Association (CHANETA), which is hosting this year’s African netball competition scheduled for May this year, has added seven more players to the national team squad preparing for the tourney.
CHANETA general secretary Rose Mkisi said the players have been added after impressing in in the national netball league which climaxed last week, the aim being to strengthen the national team even further.
She named the added players as Floa Paskali, Mpara Iddi, Adela Christopha, Penina Mayunga, Nyirab Maxmilian, Nivaeli Kessy and Matalena Mhagama.
“We have been given this opportunity to host the tournament this year, and we are intending to ensure a good performance by our own national team as expected by Tanzanians as a whole,” explained Mkisi.
She noted that although the national netball team has lately been performing well in various international competitions, limited budgets to prepare the team remains a major drawback.
Mkisi urged the government and other interested parties to thus see the importance of supporting them so that they can start their training camps earlier for better results in international competitions.
“For too long we have seen various sponsors concentrate their efforts on football only…there is still no real initiative to similarly support other sports like netball,” she lamented.
“We have seen other countries develop good programs in various sports apart from football, and we in netball have already proved our potential in continental tournaments,” she added.
Tanzania is currently placed 30th internationally and fourth in Africa in the world netball country rankings.
At last year’s All-Africa Games in Mozambique, the national netball team (Taifa Queens) won the silver medal in Tanzania’s best performance at the games.
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Taifa Stars once again
let down coach Poulsen
By Julius Kibwana
The national soccer team (Taifa Stars) head coach Jan Poulsen has come under heavy criticism following the recent 1-1 draw with visiting Mozambique’s Mamba at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, in the first leg of the 2013 pre-African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The result put Taifa Stars in a precarious position of reaching the next stage of the qualifiers ahead of the return leg match mid-this year, possibly on the artificial turf of the Machava Stadium in Maputo.
To say that Taifa Stars were outplayed is an understatement as the home team conceded a cheap goal and toiled to get the equalizer. Despite the eventual draw, Taifa Stars will nonetheless rue their many missed chances with the main culprit being Azam FC towering striker John Bocco. He had about four clear scoring chances but failed to convert any.
Lack of concentration in the final third and failure to capitalize on the scoring chances created means that Taifa Stars’ latest journey to make their maiden appearance in the Cup of Nations finals since 1980, has began on a wrong foot.
Taifa Stars failure to beat Mozambique is a continuation of the Mambas’ superiority in matches between the two sides. In five meetings, Taifa Stars have lost three times and managed two draws, winning none.
This latest draw against Mambas came less than a week after Taifa Stars were forced to a goalless draw against Democratic Republic of Congo in an international friendly also played at the National Stadium.
Denmark-born coach Poulsen may have put much trust in some of the country’s most promising upcoming youngsters for a more youthful squad than in the past, and may have even been quite pleased with the numerous goal scoring opportunities created.
But he will certainly not be happy with the reasons why his boys did not win the match against the Mozambicans especially.
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When Prince Harry outsprinted Usain Bolt…
"What was that!?" sprint king Usain Bolt queried, turning his head, puzzled, as the audience burst into laughter.
Dressed in Jamaican gear, Britain’s Prince Harry was already crossing the finish line on the University of the West Indies track in Kingston, Jamaica.
During his four-day visit on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry had stated that one of his dreams was to race, and hopefully beat, Bolt.
So on Tuesday evening this week while the two were on the track getting ready to do a 20-metre dash, Bolt was explaining something to the prince and looked away for a moment.
Harry seized the opportunity and took off down the track. Bolt heard the laughter from the crowd and turned to see Harry heading as fast as he could to the finish line.
Face red with laughter at the thought of having just 'beaten' Bolt, Harry returned to the blocks for the 'real race'. At the word go, the prince bolted off once again, but Bolt barely jogged out of the blocks, allowing Harry to 'beat' him for the second time.
It was pure laughter all around, according to reports. Later, Harry boasted that he had beaten the fastest man in the world.
Before the match-up, the two sat together with world champion Yohan Blake, coach Glen Mills, and various government officials for some light conversation.
Bolt said he was finally glad to meet the young prince “that everyone has been talking about, every day and all night...some people actually skipped work to come see you".
"Who is the biggest threat from England's point of view?" Harry asked.
Bolt looked around, wondering who could that be.
"I want to know who in the British team can beat this man here," the prince asked again.
With no answer coming, the prince confidently declared, pushing out his chest: "It's 'cause I'm already here ... I'm in my prime at 25." And then came the race…
The prince visited hospitals and service organizations during his stay, and also met Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Before leaving, Prince Harry was presented with several souvenirs, amongst them a T-shirt with the words emblazoned on the front: ‘Harry can Bolt!’.
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McIlroy holds off Tiger Woods to become world no. 1 in golf
Britain's Rory McIlroy held off a spectacular final round charge from Tiger Woods to win the Honda Classic last Sunday and take over as golf's new world number one.
The 22-year old McIlroy, winner of last year's US Open, replaced Luke Donald at the top of the world rankings after a thrilling victory at the PGA National course.
Only Woods, who finished tied for second with Tom Gillis, reached number one at an earlier age.
McIlroy started the last day with a two-shot lead and finished up winning by the same margin after shooting a final round of one-under-par 69 for a total of 12-under.
The Northern Irishman looked to be cruising to victory until Woods charged up the leaderboard with a 62, his lowest final round score of his career, making an eagle at the last hole to briefly cut the margin to one stroke.
But McIlroy, who had bogeyed the 12th, birdied the 13th to restore his two-shot advantage then kept his composure through the tricky 'Bear Trap' trio of holes to win his third PGA title.
It was the perfect test of McIlroy's credentials, playing three of the toughest holes on the tour, designed by the watching Jack Nicklaus, with Woods waiting for him to slip-up.
"It was tough today, especially seeing Tiger make a charge, seeing him post 10 under," said McIlroy.
"To shoot one under in these conditions when you go in with the lead....I was just able to get the job done."
Woods, despite just missing out on his first win on the PGA Tour since the BMW Championship in September 2009, was nonetheless delighted with a performance which suggested he can recapture the form which took him to 14 major wins.
"I really didn't miss many shots today. It was a good day and I hit a lot of good putts that went in and some that just skirted the edge," he said.
"It could have really been something special today if a few putts would have gone in.
"It feels good because I felt like I've been close to shooting this score or scores like this. It was just a matter of time before things all fell into place," he said.
Gillis, playing in the final group with McIlroy, birdied the final hole for a 69 and a tie for second place at 10-under.
Britain's Lee Westwood, who held the number one ranking for 22 weeks in 2010 and 2011, finished outright fourth, two shots back at eight-under, after closing with a 63.
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, last year's Masters champion, tied with Britain's Justin Rose at seven-under.
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SA to host India in cricket this month
South Africa will play India in a Twenty20 international at the end of this month after establishing the match as a permanent fixture on the calendar, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has announced.
The Proteas will host the one-off contest at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on March 30, just three days after completing an away test series against New Zealand.
"This match is a follow-up to last year's successful one at Moses Mabhida Stadium (in Durban) and after discussions with the Indian board, we have agreed to make this an annual fixture," CSA chief executive Gerald Majola said in a statement.
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