Sport: Weekly Round-up

Here’s a look at the week’s top stories from the week…

FOOTBALL

Spurs Kane’t believe it

It finally happened! Harry Kane, Spurs and England captain, top scorer and leader has told the board that he is ready to move on. The Englishman has spoken of a want to win more titles, and after seeing Spurs regress so soon after playing in a Champions League final could not have helped. Already, both Manchester clubs, and Chelsea have contacted Kane’s representatives in the hope of securing a player that will take them to the next level. Apparently there is also an unnamed club from abroad that is interested. If I had to guess, they are not from Europe.

Spurs will not want to sell to a rival, but Kane is likely to want to stay in England. Geographically, Chelsea would be a great choice, but an unlikely one. IF he stays in England, he will likely go to Man City. IF he goes abroad, a team like Bayern Munich would be the perfect fit for him, especially with Robert Lewandowski leaving.

Benzema late than never

After six long years, Karim Benzema has been called back up to join the French national team for the European Championships. His initial expulsion from the national set-up was fully justified. He was believed to be involved in a blackmailing plot against fellow international, Mathieu Valbuena, in 2015. The trial is finally set to go ahead in October, this year. This was the second major scandal involving the French striker, after he got into trouble for sex with a minor, in 2009.

Now back in the French squad, you’d expect him to add to both his 81 caps, and 27 goals. Domestically, he has been Real Madrid’s standout performer. However, it is yet to be seen whether or not his return to international football will be a help of hindrance.

France have been drawn in group F, alongside Hungary, Portugal and Germany. Somewhat of a “group of death” if you may…

Hey Timo, give them a yard!

Chelsea striker Timo Werner has said that this “has been the unluckiest season he has ever had” after another two goals were disallowed against Leicester – offside and handball. The big thing is that almost all of the disallowed goals were because of a very tight offside.

So, is it bad luck or a lack of understanding?

The key element is that Werner is a very fast player, and there aren’t many defenders who will have his acceleration, yet he decides to play on the edge. There comes a time when you just have to assume that he just isn’t smart enough to figure out that if he gives the defender a yard, he will be onside, and still get to the through-ball first.

Then again it isn’t all his fault. Timo Werner was never a number nine at RB Leipzig. His game was based on making the run past the striker from deep. That’s what he needs in order to be successful. Get him scoring, and Chelsea will challenge for the title next year.

We would all think about it…

A local Chinese businessman bought a Chinese second-division team and told the coach to play him in the game. He Shihua, 35, is the principal stakeholder of Zibo Cuju. In a game against Sichuan Jiuniu, he was brought on by the “manager” just before injury time. Wearing No.10, he came on and did not score the winning goal. His team did not win, and I am sure the player who was wearing No.10 previously was not happy to lose his shirt to a rich dude with no understanding of what it takes to be a footballer.

This is the second time such an incident has happened. In 2019, Xu Guangnan played for Jilin Baijia in the third-tier of the Chinese football ladder. He came on with 15 minutes to go in the game, and showed the correct qualities of a footballer by not working hard, never chasing back, not running much, blaming others for his awful passes and deciding he is the right person to take the free-kicks and corners. In fact, he is the perfect Sunday footballer.

It is such incidences that will continue to make Chinese football a running joke with fans both in China and abroad.

BOXING

“You’re a fraud”

Only a week ago, I told everyone to high-five and cheer at the confirmation of the fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. Within a week, it has been revealed that the contract between Fury and Wilder stated that if Fury was to win – which he did – then they needed to fight again, something that Fury and his camp would have known and ignored.

No surprise that Wilder has come out and said he will be happy to forget about the contract for a payment of $20m. Unlikely to happen. Joshua has come out and criticised Fury for being a fraud. Someone who got everyone excited about a fight, and signed for it knowing full-well that they couldn’t legally fight.

Fury has reacted by demanding a bare-knuckle fight for $20m. Not sure what the fixation on $20m is, but Anthony Joshua is well within his right to be angry. As a fan of Fury and Joshua, and a person looking forward to this fight, I feel let down.

I will stop being letdown for $20m, though.

BASKETBALL

NBA post-season is almost upon us

The NBA teams have completed their 72 games and the playoff places have been determined, almost. This season, a play-in tournament has been introduced, with teams finishing 7th and 8th play a one off game. Winner takes the 7th seed spot. Loser plays the winner of the game between the 9th and 10th placed finishers.

All that means that the top six finishers in the East and West get a week off while the likes of Lakers, Warriors, Celtics and Wizards have to play extra games despite finishing in what was previously seen as a playoff spot. Can’t help but think that NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, is regretting this decision. The idea seems like it was designed to give players like Steph Curry a shot at making the playoffs if they finished 9th or 10th because he is such a popular player, especially in Asia. Now, there’s a chance he and the Warriors could miss out altogether.

With all due respect to the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, they are not the teams I want to watch when the alternatives are LA Lakers and GS Warriors in the West and Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards in the East. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.

Play-in Results:

EAST:
Pacers bt Hornets 144-117
Celtics bt Wizards 118-100 (Celtics guaranteed 7th seed)

WEST:
Grizzlies bt Spurs 100-96
Lakers bt Warriors 103-100 (Lakers guaranteed 7th seed)

Fixtures: (Winners guaranteed 8th seed)

EAST:
Wizards – Pacers

WEST:
Warriors – Grizzlies

RUGBY

Come on you Lions

The 37-man British and Irish Lions squad has been picked, and the schedule set. In total, the squad will play nine matches – warm-up against Japan, then five matches against club sides, and three tests against the Springboks. This will be a huge test for The Lions who lost 2-1 in their last visit to South Africa. What makes this more tastier than usual is a bet made by a South African teammate of mine, while he was drunk, that he would run around the football pitch, naked, if the Lions won. If South Africa wins, I don’t have a punishment…

Let this be a good advert for why we shouldn’t drink.

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