World Cup 2010 – New Horizons For African Football

Early reports show that even at this early stage, South Africans are more than eager to formally welcome and host the FIFA World Cup 2010. After losing the 2006 bid to Germany, the date of May 15, 2004 marked history when it was announced that it is time for South Africa to be the first ever African country to hold the much revered World Cup series and to be the 16th country to do such.

There will be two main stadiums in Johannesburg to be used for the event. Built in 1987, Soccer City is the venue for the first game. The stadium has a capacity of 94,700 people and is large and majestic enough to act as the springboard for the exciting tournament. Currently, renovations are under way to make sure the stadium is at the best it can be by 2010. Being constructed is an encircling roof while being developed are new changing room facilities and floodlights. The upper tier will also be extended around the stadium.

Another main stadium to be used for the 2010 World Cup is Ellis Park, just a few minutes away from Johannesburg City Center. Built in 1982, Ellis Park is a world class, integrated stadium that offers only state of the art features, facilities and security. The stadium is also being improved to be ready by 2010. Among the current developments under way is the construction of new upper tiers to increase the capacity of 10,149 seats to 60,000.

It must be said that the entrustment of the FIFA World Cup 2010 to South Africa couldn’t have had a more perfect timing, happening in a period where African football is steadily rising in both quantity and quality, especially considering its difficult beginnings. In the early days, football in South Africa has been affected by a harsh system of racial segregation. South Africa’s constitution prohibited racially mixed teams to compete in global tournaments and could only send either all-black or all-white teams.

Meanwhile, the history of football in Africa as a whole has been a deep story that doesn’t involve games alone but a lot of magic, racism, money, and complexity. Football games were not just mere games but also reflected such uneven poverty in Africa through money in the form of income to players. Everything was highly monetized and the system was frowned at by European countries. Nevertheless, the complex system of African football continued to push on and the overall style was often characterized by a showy, individualistic kind of game instead of a team effort.

The recent years showed much evolution in African football, along with the rise and global recognition of African football players like Steven Pienaar and Aaron Mokoena. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pienaar is a South African midfielder of the Bafana Bafana (South African Soccer Team) who moved to Germany and the Borussia Dortmund team in 2006. Meanwhile, Mokoena is the captain of Bafana Bafana and was the youngest player ever to play for the team.

One thing’s for sure: regardless of the outcome, the FIFA World Cup 2010 would truly mark another history for the long evolution of football in Africa.

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Living in The Gambia

SUMMARY
I enjoy traveling around West Africa, especially around culturally rich regions blending nature with modern infrastructural developments. Both my air and road travels around this ECOWAS subregion in the last 15 years has been both instructive and enriching for me. I have been culturally immersed with diversity in languages, religion, culture, food, architecture, climate, economic life, flora and fauna.

The knowledge acquired, cannot be quantified in monetary terms, and i will recommend this educational tours to our youths to enable them appreciate and tolerate other cultures, thus reducing conflicts and disputes among countries. Somewhere else, i have written and held several seminars on working and living in Ghana about 11 years ago.

Today, the success story of Ghana is evident to all and this country Ghana, has emerged as one of the best economies in the subregion. Again, i am introducing another emerging great economy to you, The Gambia.

Before the whole world flood here, and you'll be left out, why not take my advise seriously and invest, work, live or holiday in this beautiful country to experience what I'm talking about? I love this peaceful country blessed with hospitable people. Gambians welcome you with natural inspiring smiles. The Gambia is bounded round by an historical river, rich in natural resources of sea foods, animals and healing powers. Welcome to The Gambia, the smiling coast of West Africa.

From the natural beauty of Makasutu Village, historical sites of Kunta Kinteh village, James Island, Kachikally Crocodile pool, Kanilai Farm, and so many other sites to the beaches and people, you will hardly want to leave. Little wonder, there are so many repeat tourists coming to The Gambia for the past 10-15 years that I've met. They come from all over Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa. At the beach, the beauty of the Sea, the sand and sun will remind you of Mother Africa.

How about the investment climate, very favorable and investor friendly.With a stable economy with a single digit inflation rate and currency exchange of US $ 1.0 = GMD26 (As at 9th April, 2010). The Gambia is a multicultural country with a lot of immigrants from West Africa, Europe, America, Middle East and Asia permanently living as investors, working with several NGOs, some retired investors while many others are engaged in importation businesses and owned several shopping malls. The Gambia is home to investors, volunteers, professionals pursuing their career, and holiday makers who have made this peaceful country their destination. Welcome to The Gambia, where there is no discrimination based on religion, creed, color, race, gender, social status, disability and with zero tolerance to corruption. Read on! Alsamadeh!

MARKET
The major markets are in Banjul, Serrekunda and Brikama. Here, you can shop for staple foods like fish, meat, vegetables, clothings, jeweleries and fashion accessories. The locals welcome people with natural smiles after exchanging the religious greetings: "Asalamalekun", meaning, peace be unto you. Traditionally, Gambian women go to market daily to buy what to cook.They can be seen with the plastic baskets with holders thronging to the busy markets to shop for fresh fish, meat, vegetables and take time to greet each other asking after each others' families, relations and get updated about current social events and other women gossips. Some of the elites, however, prefer to shop in shopping malls around Kairaba Avenue, and buy foods in large quantities to store at home.

Mini-markets, or what some call supermarkets are all over the Greater Banjul area competing with the traditional markets. There are also the neighborhood shops, called "Fulah Shops", owned mostly by Mauritanian citizens and in some cases by Guineans. This is the place to get the locally made bread called, "Tapalapa". This is usually a long banana shaped clay oven baked bread that is usually transported on bicycles by the suppliers early in the morning, mid-day and sunset time. I prefer buying this, when fresh, it's soft and more appealing than the stale hardened and uninviting ones. A full one goes for D5 and the half is D2.50. The bread is usually sold with a nice spread of butter, mayonnaises, egg, potato and spiced with jumbo or maggi sauce depending on the buyer's preferences.

There is also "Senfu", which has a crumb nature and much cheaper, being sold for D3 for a full roll. However, i noticed the "Senfu" is not as filling as the "Tapalapa" that can keep me going for the whole day, like a bowl of "Fufu", which is the energiser for most Nigerians, Ghanaians and Sierra-Leoneans in The Gambia. The local "Fufu" unlike the ones found in Ghana and Nigeria are made from "Saddam Rice", as it is called locally, by milling it into powder and cooked into a solid paste in a pot. The most popular lunch meal, among Gambians, is the jollof rice, locally referred to as "Benechin". Different types of stew are prepared to eat the rice meal like "Plasas", "Super ganja", "Damoda", etc. I enjoy the Gambia breakfast meal of "Thura Girthe", which is very rich in protein. This is a mixture of well pounded rice cooked with milled groundnut and eaten with a spread of yogurt "Sour Milk".

Gambians eat together. Small groups of between 5-8 people are usually seen eating from the same bowl, and yet, when a visitor appears, he or she is beakoned to still join them and share out of it. This is the true love, i'm yet to see anywhere. If you think there is no free meal anywhere, you're wrong; come to The Gambia! This explain the reason for very low or non-existent crime rate. At least, a lunch meal is guaranteed for anyone living in The Gambia. Food is shared, no one goes home hungry. The women also waste a lot of food by always preparing a lot expecting visitors to join them when serving their meals. They package the rice meals in large wide bowls with a cover and wrap it in a traditional manner with cloth, that will secure the food from spilling and carry to their husbands at their respective working places for them to eat with colleagues. Sometimes, they go travel long distances, to deliver the foods, like a family living in Lamin and the husband working in Serrekunda.

WORK HOURS

The official working hours is 8 am- 4pm from Monday to Thursday. Friday is half day. Most of Gambians are Muslims, and they go for the Friday Special prayers in the afternoon. Although, the "African time" concept is still prevalent among the people, this is common with the government workers, the private sector is better. Most serious business appointments start from 9am, even though, they are scheduled for 8am.

The major reason sometimes for arriving at late work, can be as a result of unavailability of commercial vehicles to transport workers to their respective places of work. Even, at places of work, Gambians do not forget to take their Chinese herbal tea called "Atire".

GAME OF FOOTBALL

A first time visitor, to the Gambia will think the game of football has it's origin from here, because of the love and passion attached to this game. There are quite a number of playgrounds that are never kept idle because of the teeming youths that religiously train and play daily matches, especially in the evenings after work or school. Similarly, on weekends, first thing in the morning, you will notice everyone exercising or playing the game they love most; football.

The discussions of most of these youths that constitutes half of the country's population is centered on the European matches. Teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, AC Milan and other big teams have passionate fans in The Gambia.

There are many Football Viewing centers that are making a fortune showing the live matches to most Gambian. Although, some of these youths might not know the capital of Nigeria, they often tell me it's Lagos, but they certainly know all the European Club Managers, first line ups and transfers of these key players, not to talk about the latest scores in the premiership or championship.

The Gambia's national team, called the "Scorpion" is adored and you dare not say anything bad against this team in order not to incur the wrath of my football lovers. A loss in game when "Scorpions" play, will turn the entire country into a grave yard, "a mourning period". But with a win; the Brazilian samba dancers will envy the dance steps of both the young boys and girls singing: "ho, ho ho ho, ha, ha, ha, ha..haleyomii". Therefore, to make friends with Gambians is so easy, just pick up a football topic!

BEACHES

The climatic conditions of The Gambia is slightly different from other ECOWAS countries. There is only one cycle of rainfall which starts around June and ends around October. It is usually hot during the raining periods, unlike other countries that experience cold periods.

The Hamattan period starts from November to February. However, the weather experiences erratic changes sometimes. The beaches are clean and provide succor to visiting tourists that want to experience the beauty of the sun, the sea and the sand of the gambia.

There are several beaches to visit. From Banjul beach to Palma Rima, Senegambia and up to Sanyang. There are so many private beaches along this line. Most white tourists called "Toubabs" are usually welcome at these beaches that have attractive traditional bars with natural juice, canned drinks, barbecue and special packages for visitors.

The menace of "bumsters" have been curtailed and there are tourist police patrolling most of the busy beaches to deter the "unsolicited friends." The beaches are besieged by almost all Gambians during festive periods or during major musical concerts or shows.

FESTIVE PERIODS

A visitor arriving The Gambia around Easter or Christmas will think all Gambians are Christians, with the celebration and partying. Similarly, around the Muslim festivals of "Koriteh or Tobaski" will give one the impression that there is no single Christian in town.

This is the beauty and diversity of the Gambian hospitality and tolerance of other religions in The Gambia. The people enjoy good music. The local artists are adored, some of whom are Jalibah Kuyateh, Titi Kololi, Freakie Joe, Asan Njie, Olugander and Sambou to mention a few.

The women, both young and old, enjoy dancing. The very physical dances of jumping and kicking the air is common and i often wonder where the women get the extra energy and strength from. Some young men that are not used to these dances, dare not challenge these women in a dancing competition, if they do not want to be hospitalized.

The entertainment industry is therefore very vibrant. Most people relax by watching Nigerian, Senegalese and Ghanaian home videos. There are several video rental shops to pick the latest Nigerian films from. Most of the banks and hotels show foreign channels like DSTV, CNN, AlJAZEERA, EUROSPORT etc.

PAID WORK IN THE GAMBIA

Except for ECOWAS nationals, that are allowed to work freely in some key government sectors like Education and Judiciary, other nationals are only allowed to work as expatriate and have to go through a scrutiny and get approval from the immigration department, before they can be permitted to work with the government.

However, investors are allowed to bring in their work force, provided they abide by the immigration laws of obtaining a work / residential permit. Openings exist all year round for qualified teachers in Senior secondary schools all over the country.

Most of the vacancies are usually filled by Nigerians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, Sierra-Leoneans, Liberians and a handful of other ECOWAS nationals. Openings also exist for lecturers in University of The Gambia, several professional training institutes and other tertiary institutes like Management Development Institute (MDI), Gambia College and Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).

Although, the private institutes remuneration is higher than the government pay scale. Most of the secondary schools in the provinces are in need of teachers, most teachers rather prefer to transfer to the urban cities leaving the rural villages without qualified teaching force.

Government subsidized schools remuneration package for non-Gambian teachers are between D3,500-D4,000 per shift (Morning or afternoon) depending on the entry level experience and qualification. The private schools pay between D4,500-D10,000, depending on the school and experience of the teacher.

Most schools prefer teachers that have gathered "Gambian experience", meaning, they must have taught in The Gambia for some years to understand the system. Combining both shifts means more income. Most government schools prefer to pay full salary for the morning shift and half salary for the afternoon shift. There are other several opportunities of income earning, by organizing study classes for the students after close of school by some teachers. Most teachers often change school to those paying more, and every term witnesses a mass drift of teachers around.

The coveted schools are: Marina International, SBEC, Zenith, SOS, Scanaid and West African International. Linguistics and sciences are the preferred subjects often in high demand. English language, English Literature, Mathematics, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Agric Science, Applied Electricity etc, are "hot cake" subjects for most schools.
ECOWAS qualified teachers (M.Sc, B.Sc & HND holders in the subjects listed above) are usually being employed in secondary schools in The Gambia.

Other professionals needed to work in the private sectors are:

1. Lawyers with LL.b degree that have successfully completed Law school and called to Bar to work as
Magistrates / Judges with the Ministry of Justice.
2. Professional Graphic & Website Designers.
3. Professional Advertisers.
4. Desktop & Laptop Repair Technicians.
5. Automobile Technicians.
6. Theater Arts & Dramatic artists.
7. Film Directors & Producers.
8. Professional Actors & Actresses.
9. Radio & TV Program Presenters.
10. Fish Breeding & Farming
11. Aquarium Making & Gold Fish Rearing.
12. Leadership Development Trainers.
13. Trainers in unique skills & vocations.
14. Cottage Industry set-up trainers (Body creams, soaps, cartons, shoe polish etc.)

The financial industry has witnessed a phenomenal growth with addition of more banks joining the league recently, bringing the total number of banks to fourteen in the Gambia. Most of these Nigerian banks are opening up branches and will need more staff.

Although, it is far cheaper to hire the locals than expatriate by the banks, because of the special tax paid for not hiring Gambians. The same rule applies to the hotel and tourism industry. The Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs are allowed to bring in their personnel.

Volunteers are also welcome in The Gambia. Volunteers can have a cultural immersion and gain international experience in this peaceful country. For holiday makers, i will recommend visiting this small but unique country for those in search of a Peaceful, Affordable and Memorable African Retreat (PAMAR!)

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

1. ECOWAS CITIZENS

The government welcome investment in all sectors, special attention is, however, given to Agriculture because of the importance of food security to any nation. Other sectors like Real Estate & Properties, Mining Industry, Hotel & Tourism, Health, Education, Manufacturing and Agro-allied Sectors are key areas to go into and get government incentive, in tax relief and total support.

ECOWAS citizens enjoy free movement of persons and goods within the 16 countries block, the required capital needed to re-locate to the Gambia to work, live, invest or holiday is far less than what is required to settle down in other ECOWAS countries. With the electricity tariffs coming down (thanks to the government initiative), NAWEC, the electricity company is doing her best to guarantee stable supply of electricity and many businesses solely rely on this stable electricity supply.

Incidences of armed robbery attack are very rare. I have not noticed or witness or hear about armed robbery attacks in the last six years. I only read in one of the newspapers, one or two times, about such attacks in the provinces some few years ago. People move about without fear of molestation or attack. Petty mobile phone theft are usually common.

The residential houses are affordable, and rents of one to three months advance payments, are demanded. The people are warm and hospitable. For as little as D500 per month, a room can be rented around the busy areas like Brikama, Latrikunda, Lamin, Tabokoto, Wellingara and Coastal road areas.

The 2-bed room apartments with all the conveniences goes for between D1,500-D2,500 per month in these areas depending on the finished taste and proximity to the busy highways. ECOWAS citizens can enter and settle in the country with opportunities to start small businesses.

For these wise residents in the country, there are several businesses to choose from and do effortlessly in this investment friendly country. Anyone coming to the Gambia for the first time, must first of all plan and prepare, knowing what to do and where to stay and having adequate information about the culture and business climate.

2. WORLDWIDE INVESTORS (MEDIUM / LARGE SCALE BUSINESSES)

The specific areas, wise investors, can rush into to invest presently, from our detailed research findings are:
A) Setting up a private university with residential campus to attract all ECOWAS citizens.
B) Eateries like MacDonald's, Chicken George, Mr. Briggs, Sweet Sensation, Tantalizers, TFC, etc
C) Botanical Garden / Love Garden around the Tourist areas.
D) Building low cost homes to be sold or rented out to people.
E) Ground nut processing factory.
F) Feed Mill for Poultry, Rabbitry and Turkey Production.
G) Cashew Processing Factory (CNS Oil, brake oil, glue, rubber, electrical wires etc).
H) Natural Juice canning factory (Fruits like mangoes, orange, lime etc abound).
I) Fresh Flower production and export.
J) Fish Canning / Food packaging for export.

There are other 90 businesses we have surveyed to be potential instant money earners for wise investors to take on. Kindly request for a detailed project profile on this. The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency, (GIPFZA) welcome investors with unique offers of tax relief, government support and non-bureaucratic processing of necessary documents to allow for quick set-up and investment in the Gambia.

To have a fair idea of ​​the business climate, i recommend that all potential investors read the latest business directory (The Gambia Business Directory).

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT & BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

The Gambia, though small, but has a robust economy with fourteen commercial banks, four GSM companies, a good number of airlines plying the subregion and the outside world. There are more than five daily newspapers, around eight radio stations and many hotels of international standards including the 5-star Sheraton Hotel.

The major roads from the airport to most busy commercial centers like Kairaba, Brufut, West Field, Senegambia, Brikama, Latrikunda and Banjul are all tarred with well lighted street lights. Clean, fresh and treated pipe borne water is available to most homes 24hrs uninterrupted.

Communication and internet services are quite cheaper than most other countries. The cost of starting a business in The Gambia is far cheaper both in the short term and long term. The real estate business is enjoying a great boom with 30% return yearly on investments, and the Meltdown phenomenon is not easily noticeable in The Gambia.

The Gambia is a tourist destination and repeated visitors are common in this wonderful and peace loving smiling coast of The Gambia. Although, The Gambia is a tax based economy, the government makes substantial earnings from Tourism and exportation of agricultural commodities like Groundnut, Fishes, Cotton and solid minerals.

It is mandatory for every resident to have a TIN number (Tax Identification Number) before a bank account can be opened. New buildings are coming up daily and it is common sight, to see most of the property owners advertising their phone contacts for those interested in renting or leasing these properties from high rise buildings in Senegambia axis, Kairaba, Fajara, West Field, Tallinding, Tabokoto , Abuko, Lamin, Yundum etc.

Gambians in diaspora are rushing home to invest in this high yielding property sector. A visitor that last visited the country a year ago, will notice a remarkable difference in this infrastructural developments. The Gambia is a clean country, especially with the introduction of the monthly cleaning exercises, called "SETSETAL", which is a special cleaning day for everybody on the last Saturday of the month between the hours of 8-1pm and thereafter there is free movement .

Municipal officials go around to ensure the wastes are properly disposed and ensure compliance to the law, that all shops and businesses most be closed and no movement of commercial vehicles, until the end of the cleaning exercise.

Health wise, it is safe to live in The Gambia, because the health delivery system is very efficient and well equipped with the best medical personnel in the world. There are various health centers, well spread around the country with ambulances standing by to quickly evacuate emergencies to Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, RVTH, Banjul where complicated cases are usually taken.

Visitors coming for the first time, therefore, are advised to take the appropriate vaccinations recommended. ECOWAS citizens must take vaccinations against yellow fever, meningitis, Polio etc and ensure these are stamped on their Yellow Card, this is even taken more seriously, when traveling by road through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal to The Gambia . Not having a valid Yellow Card could cost you a fortune in fines you'll be asked to Pay!

Medical services is free to Gambians, except the registration card which is D5 only. ECOWAS citizens are, however, required to pay for cost of treatment and hospitalization, depending on the treatment. Tourist visiting The Gambia are advised to have a Travel Insurance when visiting

Transportation within the country is affordable. Moving from one location to another is quite easy. There are three categories of commercial road transportation. One, is the commercial Bus, that only allow maximum of three passengers on a row which is convenient, unlike four on a row in several other countries. This type of buses go around the major destinations like Banjul to Serrekunda (D6), Banjul to Tabokoto (D10), Banjul to Brikama (D15), Serrekunda to Senegambia (D5) etc.

The second category is the yellow and green painted taxis that take people for D5 a drop or chartered services for most tourists and locals, called "Town Trip". The last category, are the green painted and branded "Tourist Taxis" for tourists from and to the airport, hotel areas, most beaches and historical sites for new visitors. They are more expensive than the yellow painted ones.

Except when it is very important, first time visitors are, however, encouraged to avoid going out around the rush hours, like 7-8am and 4-6pm, especially when commuters are going to or returning from work. From Tabokoto, Lamin, West field, Serrekunda and Brikama in the morning to Banjul and returning back home in the evening is always very hectic and expensive to take a taxi. The bus-stops are usually congested and the traffic chaotic around these periods.

There are many well organized tour operators with luxurious air conditioned buses to pick from and to the airport all visitors and tourist that arrange their visits through them. They also partner with most hotels on tours to historical sites and around the cities.

There area ferry services available to transport people across the River Gambia. From Barra to Banjul is D25 only. Visitors can come in to the country either by land through the Gambian border with Senegal at Hamdallah, or from Guinea and Cassamace, Senegal through Basse. By air is through the only airport at Yundum. The Banjul International Airport, one of the best in the subregion with the longest run-way and modern radial facilities installed.

The airport is not always busy and travelers should always inform someone to pick them at the airport, especially during the weekends when commercial activities are low. However, tourist taxis are available at any time for between D500-D800 depending on the distance, usually between 15-30km from the airport.

There is a Bureau de Change at the airport to change money from other currencies like Euro, dollars, pounds and CFA to Dalaisi. For Visa Card carriers, there is ECO Bank ATM at the airport. Bank PHB and Trust bank also have their ATMs at the airport.

On arrival in the country, when you hear "Nagadef?", Meaning how are you, just answer "Jamarek", meaning i'm fine. After a hand shake, say "Jerejef", meaning thank you.
Jerejef, Jarama, Baraka (meaning thank you in 3 different local languages).

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FC Barcelona Successful Season Review 2010-2011

FC Barcelona started their 2010-11 season with the threat of the special one, Jose Mourinho as he eliminated Barcelona last year from Champions League Semi Final by his unprecedented tactics. But Barca have proved their superlative class once again by winning the Double–La Liga Crown–three times in a row with two games to spare and the big Champions League Crown–twice in three years by teaching their opponent a real good football lesson. Moreover, Barca made a spectacular record of 28 matches unbeaten and 16 consecutive league wins in 2010-2011 La Liga season. Barca is now all about»Dream Team.»

La Liga

Barca was dramatically beaten 2-0 at the Camp Nou in their second match against new comer Hercules CF! It was a shock not a fact Barca proved it in their following games. They managed to win the 3rd straight La Liga Crown with two games to spare.

Series of «El Clasicos»

Five «El Clasico» in a season and four of them took place in April-May only in time range of 18 days. In recent history only in 2001-02 both Giants met four times in a season and before that when they clashed more or as equal as this season I really don’t remember.

The 1st«El Clasico» of the season took place on 29th of November. New coach of Madrid, their outstanding performance in the league before this match, tiredness of Spanish players after the world cup etc was major issues before the game. But as soon as the referee whistled to start the battle it was again the beauty of football drawn by none other than Barca players. Barca gave their fans an unforgettable, Five Star performance a 5-0 win against their eternal rival at the Camp Nou on the 111th birthday of the best club in the world. Barca tops the table, 8 points ahead of Madrid with this win and the leading position was as stable as the Everest till the end of the season.

The 2nd«El Clasico» was a 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu while both Messi for the first time scored against Mourinho so did Ronaldo against Barcelona after his arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu. After the match Barca was also eight points ahead of Madrid.

The 3rd«El Clasico» was in «Copa Del Ray Final» so it was a big match for both of them. Mourinho stuck to his super defensive strategy and finally he got a win and a trophy while Ronaldo scored in 102th minutes at Mestalla. Barca possessed 70% of the first half but no real effort before the goal post took place. Barca improved second half, they created chances but all went in vein and it was 0-0 after the 90 minutes. Then Ronaldo scored in 102th minute and this was the decider as Barca failed to score but they kept pushing.

The 4th «El Clasico» was in the much awaited Champions League Semi Final. First leg one was at Santiago Bernabeu. Mourinho criticized Pep Guardiola harshly when Guardiola commented on disqualifying a goal during the Copa Del Rey Final. Right after Mourinho left the press conference Guardiola replied it fast and furiously like never before as he used the «F word.» This incident added an extra spice before the battle. At the battle field we saw the reflection of Guardiola’s anger while Barca players were rushing all together towards the referee as soon as any foul committed by any Madrid player. Barcelona were playing their natural attacking game and Madrid were stuck to their defensive plan. It was 0-0 after the half time. When two teams headed to the dressing room Pinto extra goal keeper of Barca got a red card and there was a clash between the some players of both team. On the hour mark Pepe committed a foul against Dani Alves and the referee booked him a straight red card–Barca’s plan did work. But from the replay we could easily saw that it was master piece acting from Dani Alves. Mourinho also got a red card when he gave an illegal gesture to the referee. Then Barca took the advantage of 10 men and Messi scored 76th minute and he doubled it by a pure magic in 87th minute and the later was undoubtedly one of the best goals of Champions League history. After full time it was a huge advantage of 2-0 and Barca was almost through to the final.

The 5th «El Clasico» was a cruel formality as it was like more than impossible to keep Barca away from Wembley when they had 2-0 away goal advantage. It was 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. Barca scored first and Madrid equalized. Mourinho was not even in the gallery during the match. Barca was off to Wembly.

Champions League

It would be an injustice to Barca if I don’t mention the game against Arsenal. Cesc Fabregas once again played for the losing side. Arsenal had 2-1 home advantage but they failed to utilize it at the Camp Nou where they were humiliated last year by 4-1and all goals scored by the little Argentine wizard Messi. This year Messi once again made the difference, his first goal showed the world that his skill is limitless. Arsenal made an incredible record breaking the record of more than one thousand matches in the Champions League. In this match they were unable to take a single shot in the target! The score line was 3-1 and the sole goal was an own goal scored by Sergio Busquets.

Champions League Final–Obviously it is considered to be the biggest match of a season. Barca players labeled the match as their last Champions League Final of their life as Guardiola did so back in 1992 at Wembley where Barca had won their first ever Champions League Final Trophy. Sir Alex Ferguson labeled it as the «Final of the Decade.» Some said it would be «Dj vu» of 2008-09 season others said ManU got better. When the match begun first ten minutes ManU gave Barca a real good challenge but then it was again the beauty of Football at his supreme level, Manu became the bus stander once again. The game ended 3-1 and it could have been worse a lot. The game is now considered the best ever Champions League Final in terms of the class of Football by any team.

Finally, It was another successful mission of FC Barcelona. They got the Double and created few team and individual records in this season. They are now the very close to the «Dream Team» while some people have already expressed that they are the»Dream Team» or better than that! But one thing is for sure that Lionel Messi is getting closer and closer to stop repeating the question «Who is the best player of all time Pele or Maradona?»

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C Ronaldo – Pros and Cons

Though C.Ronaldo MAY look unbeatable right now but there is or may be even are, downsides with his style of play. So cutting all the crap in trying to compare him to L.Messi lets have a look shall we at C.Ronaldo. Basically Ronaldo has (or can have):PRO

PROS

  • Tremendous pace. Some people call C.Ronaldo a «speed demon» and I am one of those people.
  • Can craft things out of nothing against teams that don’t come with a specific plan on how to tackle him, which is usually the case in EPL.
  • Is very very fit, which means he can run all day long. This quality in particular comes in handy when his side receives a red card or something. He can take that extra load on himself.
  • Can Shoot with both feet, though his left foot strike is nothing more than a swinger. Doesn’t really try to control the ball, just whacks it towards the goal.
  • Can take ridiculous free kicks. Which curve, bend, accelerate at the same time and change directions multiple times.
  • Has got individual skill which enables him to go past defenders at ease by two methods. Either he dribbles past them with skill or he just goes for route one and runs them out of competition.
  • Can head the ball really well for someone who has so much skill in his boots.
  • Has got every trick in the book and some more that aren’t in the book.
  • Entertaining to the fans, most people pay just to watch him train very unlike players like Gattuso or Giggs for that matter.
  • Has a good footballing brain, though not the best. Sometimes makes awful decisions.
  • Nippy feet enable him to maneuver the ball in very tight spaces.
  • His name is Ronaldo. When a defender reads that name on the back of C.Ronaldo’s shirt, he usually starts trembling and that is the reason most defenders perform poorly against C.Ronaldo because of the sheer presence of his name not even himself which is a huge plus.
  • For the past 3 seasons, he has been in astonishing scoring form. The numbers are astounding 23 in 53 games in 2006-2007 and 42 in 49 games in 2007-2008. These numbers are scary even for a striker and C.Ronaldo is just a winger. Though, he is not a pure winger, he is more of a winger striker.

CONS

  • Take speed out of his game and you have a garbage bag that is C.Ronaldo.
  • He has a huge attitude.
  • Show boats alot.
  • Over does his dribbles.
  • Doesn’t like to pass, he does pass it now that he knows Ferguson would not tolerate otherwise.
  • His crosses aren’t the best in the world.
  • Not really traditional winger.
  • Is, by no means, a big match player.
  • Doesn’t handle pressure very well.
  • Can’t live up with tight marking.
  • Plays for Fame and Glory rather than for passion and for country (Or club).
  • Loyalty is something Ronaldo hasn’t come across in his life YET, or at least it looks so. As he just wanted to jump out of Manchester United when Real Madrid came searching for him with their millions.

Don’t get me wrong but this is my CANDID opinion about him. But now, he has been in awesome scoring form. I mean, come on, 40 goals a season. I don’t care how much a player sucks. If that player can score 40 goals, in any league, let alone EPL, that is enough for him to be playing at Real Madrid.

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Instant reactions after Liverpool's win v. Everton | Premier League | NBC Sports



Hear from Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino as well as Marco Silva and Mason Holgate after Liverpool’s dominant 5-2 victory over Everton. #NBCSports #PremierLeague #Liverpool
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The Premier League across NBC Sports Group launched in 2013 with their biggest and broadest programming commitment to-date in the United States. With live multi-platform coverage of all 380 games, analysis from best-in-class talent and extensive surrounding coverage all week long, NBC Sports Group has become the ultimate destination for new and existing Premier League fans.

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Instant reactions after Liverpool’s win v. Everton | Premier League | NBC Sports

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Crystal Palace v. Liverpool | PREMIER LEAGUE HIGHLIGHTS | 11/23/19 | NBC Sports



Liverpool left it late again but earned a win at Selhurst Park behind goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to retain their sizable lead atop the Premier League table. #NBCSports #PremierLeague #Liverpool #CrystalPalace #SadioMane #RobertoFirmino
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The Premier League across NBC Sports Group launched in 2013 with their biggest and broadest programming commitment to-date in the United States. With live multi-platform coverage of all 380 games, analysis from best-in-class talent and extensive surrounding coverage all week long, NBC Sports Group has become the ultimate destination for new and existing Premier League fans.

The Premier League maintains strong and consistent reach across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and NBC Sports Group’s live streaming products, led by the biggest stars and most prestigious teams in the world.

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Crystal Palace v. Liverpool | PREMIER LEAGUE HIGHLIGHTS | 11/23/19 | NBC Sports

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Liverpool v. Manchester City | PREMIER LEAGUE CLASSIC MATCH | 03/01/2015 | NBC Sports



Take a look back at Manchester City’s visit to Anfield in 2015, when Philippe Coutinho’s stunner earned Liverpool a late victory. #NBCSports #PremierLeague #Liverpool #ManCity #PhilippeCoutinho
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The Premier League across NBC Sports Group launched in 2013 with their biggest and broadest programming commitment to-date in the United States. With live multi-platform coverage of all 380 games, analysis from best-in-class talent and extensive surrounding coverage all week long, NBC Sports Group has become the ultimate destination for new and existing Premier League fans.

The Premier League maintains strong and consistent reach across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and NBC Sports Group’s live streaming products, led by the biggest stars and most prestigious teams in the world.

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Liverpool v. Manchester City | PREMIER LEAGUE CLASSIC MATCH | 03/01/2015 | NBC Sports

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Two First Communion Party Games for Kids

The First Communion is a special time when your child really begins to take part in the responsibilities and rules of your religion and some First Communion party games will lighten the tension. You may even want to mark the occasion by throwing a small party, so why not include a couple of fun First Communion party games?

Kids’ Crab Football:

This fun activity makes a great choice for the First Communion Party Games because it will help to burn off pent up energy from the more solemn events you had scheduled earlier. It also lets everyone get out of their special occasion clothes and relax a bit. For this First Communion party game you’ll need a large beach ball and lots of space for the kids to move around in. Crab Football is just like regular soccer except the ball is larger and the players have to walk like crabs. You know how, right? Just bend over like you are going to do a back flip and scuttle around on your hands and feet.

Animal Scavenger Hunt:

For this indoor or outdoor appropriate First Communion party game have the party divide into groups of three or four. Have each group choose an animal they want to pretend to be and make the adult in the group the Shepard. At the start of the game you will give the kids in each of the groups a list of hidden items you placed around the party area. The Shepards will all stay in the First Communion party games area while the ‘animals’ all go out searching for missing items. When a player finds an item they must call to the Shepard by making animal calls. The Shepard will recognize their players because the calls will be similar to the sounds made by their chosen animal. The Shepard will follow the sounds to their teammate and will get the missing item from the player and return to the First Communion party games area, while the ‘animal’ continues on the hunt to find more scavenger items. Those at the end of the hunt with the most items are the winners.

You’ll find that the kids and the adults at your First Communion party games have plenty of good old fun. Just take a little time out for the fun to start and you’ll have more than you can handle.

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Freestyle Soccer – Confused on Where to Start?

First of all, let's start with a simple question, what is freestyle soccer? Freestyle soccer is simply the style and ability to combine various soccer tricks in juggling and ground moves. It's a new trend in soccer along with other types like five a side futsal and beach soccer. In a soccer context, freestyle is perceived as less significance to the modern game. However, freestyle soccer does improve a footballer's ability to control the ball.

The ball control is what I perceived as the most important element in soccer before other attributes like fitness and tactics. There's a saying that if you can control the ball you can control the game. In fact, I stumbled one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's, an Inter Milan player, quotes saying that as long as you have the ball, you'll have the advantage. Yet majority of footballers still ignore the importance of freestyle soccer. There are reasons behind it and one of them is that the soccer tricks are difficult to execute and only brings less to the modern game. True enough, but let's not forget the concept of ball control. Learning freestyle allows a player to enhance his touches especially the first touch. A great first touch buys you thousands of mili seconds to give you an edge over the opposition.

Those seconds could change the game in an instant especially in the modern game where it demands fast and furious soccer. As a result of those reasons, they don't even bother in the first place. On the other side, the ones who love freestyle soccer perceived it as something that they can express their creativity and improve on ball control and touches to a greater heights. But I'm more concern to those who are ignorant and may not have the slightest interest on freestyle soccer. The problem is, they may not know where to begin especially after watching a series of freestyle videos on streaming sites like YouTube. I'm assuming that they only watched the difficult tricks and instead forget the basics of freestyle soccer. I believe that freestyle soccer should begin with the basics like juggling and planting before moving on to the more advanced soccer tricks like the around the world, crossover, flip flap and others. It's important since juggling is the principle of all types of ball control along with dribbling. In this case, I shall focus on juggling since it's related to freestyle soccer.

Juggling the ball

Simply done by doing kick ups without letting the ball fall on to the ground and expanded to different parts of the body from foot, thigh, shoulder and head. The aim is to be able to link your juggling skills from one part to the other. For example, transfer your juggling from foot to your thigh. You can start with a simple transfer and improve to more advanced transfers like juggling from foot to thigh and then head. Once you've mastered juggling, you can start planting or stalling a soccer ball.

Planting the ball

The ability to balance the ball on a specific part of your body like balancing the ball on your foot. You can start by placing the ball on your foot and once you've mastered, you can plant the ball during your juggling. For example, juggle with your foot which is then transferred to your thigh and then balance it with your foot ie foot plant. Focus on these two abilities will help build confidence for you to start on learning some of the basic freestyle soccer tricks. Improving your juggling and planting skills increases your coordination abilities especially when you practice your transferring or linking skills. For this one, I'd recommend the around the world trick because it's the principle of all soccer tricks. Once you've mastered this trick, you have a great chance of doing other tough soccer tricks like the MATW, TATW, crossover etc. The trick is simply to rotate your foot around the ball after either juggling or footplant and kick it as you finish the rotation to complete the process.

These are a couple of basics that you'd need to constantly bear in mind. Similar to soccer, the techniques are very important and I highly encourage you to practice these tricks with a lot of dedication and once mastered, you'll begin to appreciate the beauty of freestyle soccer.

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Best Soccer Shoes – How to Pick the Right Pair For Your Game

The FIFA world cup is a global carnival. At intervals of four years this massive sporting event takes place and creates a great interest in the game. Football, or soccer as its known in the US, has for a long time been the most watched and played sport on the planet; every country will have their own international team. If you or your kid has an interest in playing for a local team then you will need to get your hands on the right kit. The most essential purchase would be to choose the best soccer shoes; these will help to improve performance considerably.

We should realize that there are many different types of soccer shoes now available. This gives us plenty of opportunity to find a pair that is perfect for the type of soccer we are going to play.

By searching online you will quickly come across a number of different retailers that stock the latest sporting equipment and kit. Whatever your age you can find a pair of soccer shoes online which are stylish and practical.

The actual playing surface will be the main factor in determining which actual pair of soccer shoes to buy. In Europe the games are still mostly held outside. If you are also going to play on a natural grassy surface then you should choose those trainers which feature a dozen or so studs on the base. This will help to give you essential grip; soccer is a fast game, if you were not to have studs on your shoes then you will end up sliding all over the place and may even damage your body.

If you are going to play soccer indoors then the shoe should have been designed specifically with this in mind. Studs will not be necessary as artificial surfaces will not be wet or so slippery.

All the major manufacturers of sporting shoes all produce models specifically for soccer. We can see that the top players wear designs from certain well known companies.

Nike and Adidas are still the most common sight on the feet of players from the world’s top teams. A good choice could be the Adidas Predator; this is a slightly heavy option that is great for players who need to strike the ball hard. For a lighter quicker option then go for one of the latest Nike designs.

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