domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Football in Paradise

By David Dhannoo

For those who are not familiar where Mauritius is, it is an island nation with an approximate population of 1,288,000 and is situated off the south east coast of the African Continent in the south west of the Indian Ocean.

Football on the island is very popular, the likes of the English Premier League dominate household viewings. The majority follow the top four English teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

The national team, often referred by it's nickname, Club M played it's first competitive international game against island neighbours Reunion in 1947, they won 2-1 on the day. For the next twenty years Mauritius played many games with their Island neighbours such as Reunion, Madagascar, and the Seychelles.

By 1967, Club M started playing against other nations, mainly countries from continental Africa.

Throughout their entire history, the islanders have only once qualified for the African Cup of Nations, which was in 1974 and hosted by Egypt.

Near the end of the 1990's Mauritian football showed its ugly side, with deadly riots caused by once named Scouts Club (known today as A.S. Port Louis 2000). Scouts Club were playing Fire Brigade Sports Club (known today as Pamplemousses SC) in a title decider, Fire Brigade were given a controversial penalty and won the game 1-0. Seven people died and rioting lasted for three days.

The ramifications lead to an eighteenth month ban on domestic football,with the national team remaining to play. It has been said that at this point both domestic and international football started to plummet on the island.

At present Club M are in their worst ever ranking, sitting in 189th place in the FIFA World Rankings. Their African Cup of Nations qualifiers have been a disaster, scoring only two goals and conceeding fifteen. Club M's heaviest defeat was back in October last year when they lost 7-0 to Senegal away in Dakar. In June they played the DR Congo at home and lost 2-1, they were therefore eliminated with two remaining games left.

At present Les Dodos are preparing for the Indian Ocean Island Games which is being hosted by the Seychelles. They have been training in South Africa for the past week playing friendlies with the Orlando Pirates, Black Aces Mpummalanga, Platinum Stars, and Pretoria University.The team fly back on Sunday and will continue preparations. It is believed they will play French Islanders Mayotte before arriving in the Seychelles for the eighth Indian Ocean Island Games. Mauritius will play the Maldives in their first match which will be played on the fourth of August in the Seychelles capital Victoria.

Follow David in Twitter: @Mauritiusfoot

viernes, 21 de enero de 2011

AFC Cup will be great test for Kezman

By Allan Ng
Hong Kong´s editor

Steven Lo said on his blog last night the signing of Mateja Kezman is related to years of hard work and how one thing leads to another. It was not easy to sign Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman because both of them were free agents and numerous clubs around the world made offers.

From winning the league in 2006, taking part in Barclays Asia Trophy in 2007, to hosting Juventus and Manchester City in Hong Kong in 2008, then hosting Tottenham Hotspur in 2009, forming a club partnership with Spurs in the same year, to signing Nicky Butt in 2010, etc etc. All these events were related and led to the signing of Kezman.

Steven Lo had said before that because foreign players are relatively expensive, therefore they will not be given much time to get acclimitised to the club and must perform from the word go. Nicky Butt has already played a game for South China in November and received rave reviews, but Mateja Kezman is still unproven. We know that when it comes to axeing unsuitable players, Steven Lo is no slouch. Leandro Carrijo, a fans' favourite and came to South China after protracted negotiations, has been loaned to TSW Pegasus after a poor spell.

South China's main aims in 2011 is to win the AFC Cup and defend their Hong Kong First Division League title. In the AFC Cup, both Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman will have to play in the sweltering heat and humidity of India, Indonesia and Thailand, which will be completely different from the cool and dry climate of Europe. They will need to be very fit and it will be a great test for them and Kezman in particular. He will need to score frequently if he wants to fulfill the length of his contract.