Tiger Woods Back On Track
WHILE SOME WILL ARGUE THAT TIGER WOOD‘S LONG AWAITED RETURN TO THE WINNER ‘S CIRCLE RECENTLY CAME IN AN UNOFFICIAL 18-MAN EVENT WITH THE ODDS STACKED IN HIS FAVOUR. THERE IS NO DOUBT THE FORMER NUMBER ONE IS BACK TO FORM.GRANTED, WOODS KNEW SHERWOOD COUNTRY CLUB BETTER THAN ANY ONE ELSE in the elite field and he had previously won the Chevron World challenge which he hosts four times.
Significantly though, he played well for four consecutive rounds. Something which had largely proved elusive for him the last two years, while he struggled for form and fitness and his one shot victory will have sounded an ominous warning to his peers of what they can expect of him in 2012.
The greatest player of his generation and arguably ever, a fully fit Wood can now practice fully for every event on his schedule something he has been unable to do in a long while. “ in fact “, the 14-time major champion told reporters after fending off fellow American Zach Johnson by a shot with a fizzling effort birdle-birdle finish.
“I had to get healthy to where I was strong and explosive again so I could practice. It basically starts with that. I was finally able to practice, then my practice sessions started building and building progressively “. “ I felt very good about my game. I got better each and every tournament. I feel pretty good going into next year”. Woods won the most recent of his 14 major titles at the 2008 US open and he has long targeted the record 18 claimed by compatriot Jack Nicklaus. While that goal still remains distant, Woods was delighted to be able to plan on a full 2012 campaign after missing two of the four majors last year while recovering from injuries to his left knee ligaments and Achilles tendon. “I don’t like missing major championships, I really don’t” the 35 year old American said “ I feel very excited about next year and really looking forward to it”. It’s to be fun to get out there and play a full schedule which hasn’t done for quite some time. I will get my number of events in, prepare and practice and play my normal place getting ready for the major championships.
I will be trying to peak four times a year which I haven’t had the opportunity to do the last couple years consistently. Much has changed in Woods’ life on and off the course since his marriage deteriorated at the end of 2009 amid lurid revelations of serial philandering. On August 23, 2010, he and his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren announced they had divorced and Woods has since successfully completed the fourth swing change of his career and he is now once again able to fix during tournament play. Earlier this year, he parted company with long time Caddie Steve Williams and recently he won his first tournament with the experienced Joe Lacava on his bag a pairing which already looks well grooved and relaxed.
My heart is already popping up like popcorn as the African cup of Nations draw closer. The 28th African Nations cup will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea . The competition will cut across January and February next year .This is the first time I will preview the Nations Cup without our dear Super Eagles. What a painstaking development that Nigeria the Mecca of African football will be missing in action during the championship. The Eagles had their chances and blew it massively. According to this wonderful saying, ‘When life throw you lemon, you make a lemonade out of it’. The Super Eagles were not able to make lemonade out of their golden lemon. The result is broken heart for all the soccer fans across the six geo-political regions of the country. Thank God I have shock absorber in the biological clock of my system and that is why I am able to look ahead positively.
This might just be the turning point to make first class amends, so that our football will rise to astronomical height. The 27th Orange African Cup of Nations was hosted by Angola  and it was a spectacular event. The state of the art stadium, wonderful cultural settings, spectacular goals and amazing skills were all the hallmark of Angola 2010 Nations cup. The Eagles won the bronze cup after beating Algeria national team by a solitary goal .The Pharaohs of Egypt won the competition by beating the Black Stars of Ghana. The Egyptian national made it a hat trick of success by winning the Cup consecutively [Egypt 2006, Ghana 2008 and Angola 2010].
Let me categorically highlight the groupings for next year’s Nations cup. The groupings are; GROUP A-Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Senegal, Zambia. GROUP B- Ivory Coast, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Angola. GROUP C-Niger, Morocco, Gabon, Tunisia. GROUP D-Ghana, Botswana, Mali, Guinea.
Group A is an interesting group and most of the teams have equal chance of qualifying to the quarter- finals. My take is that Senegal is the Super power in that group. The Lions of Senegal is blessed with array of stars plying their trade in Europe. Some of the star players are; Tony Mano Sylva (veteran goalkeeper), Habib Beye, Ibrahim Sonko, Souleymane Diawara, Abdoulaye Faye, Demba Ba and Moussa Sow (Newcastle United and Lille Football Club). Others are Diomansy Kamara, Mamadou Niang, Lamine Sakho etc. Demba Ba is the magic man of the team and he scored the solitary goal that nailed the coffin of Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. He has scored nine goals as at 3rd November 2011 in the Barclays English Premiership (EPL). Lions of Senegal have what it takes to upset the two main favourites that are Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire and Black Stars of Ghana. Equatorial Guinea is the host Country and they will be highly motivated to do well on home soil. They are dark horse in African football. The question is can they repeat the feat of the female National team that hosted and won the African Women Championships couple of years back? The Men competition is a different ball game. The Country will rely on Nsie, Daniel Ekedo, Ndong, Roman Carolina and Anderson to take them to the promised land.
Chipolopolo of Zambia is the Brazil of Africa with their enterprising and entertaining football. They have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the next round. They reached the quarter final of Angola 2010 Nations Cup and lost to Super Eagles of Nigeria in a pulsating penalty shootout. The key players are; Jacob Banda (season goalkeeper), Joseph Musonda, Isaac Chansa, Rainford Kalaba, Collins Mbesuma, Felix Sunzu and Christopher Katongo. Libya, Equatorial Guinea and Zambia will battle it out for the second spot in the group. I have a lot of respect for Libya National team because of their strong will and they also play with concrete determination. They passed the litmus test when they qualified for the Nations Cup amidst political crisis in the Country and Confederation of African Football (CAF) had to move their home matches to Mali. The anchor Men for the team are; Samir Abod, Ali Salama, Rabe Allafi, Younes Shiban and Mohammed Esnani.
My next destination is group B and it is an exciting group. Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire are far ahead of their rivals and they will take the pole position in the group. These Elephants are super loaded with avalanche of stars and qualifying from the group is not a big deal. They are the number one favourites for the trophy because of their individual stars. My submission on them is that this numerous stars are their greatest undoing. They don’t play as a team and there is always personality clash between the players. They were favourites on three occasions (Egypt 2006, Ghana 2008 and Angola 2010) and they ended up on the wrong side of history. I have not forgiven them till date, it is up to them to prove bookmakers right. The arrow head stars are; Didier Drogba, Solomon Kalou (Chelsea), Gervinho (Arsenal FC), Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Tiote (Newcastle United), Tiene (PSG FC) and Zakora (Sevilla FC). The list is endless. The Palancas Negras of Angola is a team that has been making steady progress and underrating them will be at your own peril. Most of their players are based in Portugal. Angola hope of qualifying from the group lies on the shoulders of Amado Flavio, Manucho. Ze Kalanga, Sebastiano Gilberto and Carlos Fernandez.
Sudan and Burkina Faso wears the garment of upset and they are ready to make history. The minors have made their statement in African football. Sudan will count on Bahana EL-Deen Mohammed, Balla Gaber, Hassan Kanongo, Nizar Hamid, Fadir Babor and Nasir EL-Deen JoJo. The star players for Burkina Faso are; Adama Sawa Dogo, Bakari Kone, Moussa Quattara, Mohammed Koffi, Habib Bamogo and Pattrick Zoundi.
Group C is an electrifying group and I am already feeling the momentous heat. It is dicey groups because the teams are evenly matched. I call it a 50-50 scenario and this group will go all the way to the final day. I am eager to watch the battle of North Africa between Atlas Lions of Morocco and the Magrebs of Tunisia. Which of the teams will be the last team standing? Time has the antidote to this puzzle. The two teams have not been making waves in African Football recently and this is the platform for them to prove their mettle. Some of the players Morocco will rely on for a qualification berth are, Ahmed Mohamadina, Adel Karouchi, Morouane Chamakh (Arsenal), Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers FC), Nabil EL Zhar and Youssouf Hadji.
Tunisia key stars are; Aymen Mathiothi, Karim Haggui, Radhouene Felhi, Sami Allagui, issum Jemah and Youssef Msaka. Gabon is the host team and they will count on home support to beat their rivals in this group. The Mathematical permutation is not in their favour and it is time for them to make an indelible imprint on the sand of history. The Gabonese warriors will be spear headed by Daniel Cousin. Arsene Copa, Boris Nguema, Cedric Moubamba and Roguy Meye. I have a strong conviction that the Menas of Niger Republic hold the aces here. The surprised the football world when they edged out defending champion Pharoahs of Egypt and Bafana Bafana of South Africa. They top their group and playing Tunisia and Morocco will be a familiar terrain. Some of the stars of this giant killers (Menas) are; Karim Oumarou, Malam Moussa, Pascal Anicet, Souleymane Sacko, Armado Melo and Moussa Maazon.
My personal viewpoint on group D is that, it is the group of death. Black Stars of Ghana, Eagles of Mali and Syli Stars of Guinea have the pedigree to beat each other. It is going to be a photo finish in this zone of death. Botswana is the rear team here and they have the record of being the first team to qualify for the Nations Cup. I have watched couple of their matches and the team has solid character and strong team spirit. They play like the Scandinavian teams that have good organization and complex set up. They could spring some surprises. I cannot stick out my neck for any team here. Ghana is the second favourite for the Cup and the star players are; Asamoah Gyan, Ayew Brothers (Olympique Marseille), Muntari (Inter Milan FC), Painstil, Prince Tagoe, Mensah etc. The Malian stars to watch out for are; Frederic Oumar Kanoute (Sevilla football club), Seydou Keita (Barcelona FC), Mohammed Lamine Sissoko (PSG FC),Mahamadou Diarra and Mamadou Bagayako. Syli Stars of Guinea, will be parading stars like; Dianbobo Balde, Mohammed Cisse, Ismahil Bangoura, Pascal Feindouno, Ibrahim Sori and Victor Correa.
- African Nations Cup will give Fernando Torres final chance to shine at Chelsea (thesun.co.uk)
- Tough draw for Ghana & Ivory Coast (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Toure ‘confused’ on going to Nations Cup (vanguardngr.com)
- Marseille seek Ayew cover (skysports.com)
- Man.City Delays Departure Yaya Toure to the African Nations Cup (rabpinfo.wordpress.com)