Friday, 8 November 2013

NIGERIA BOYS U17 WORLD CHAMPIONS 2013

Its been a while, but I felt compelled to write about this Nigeria U17 Boys team.

Frankly speaking they are phenomenal.....period!!!

They embody what many senior national teams should and strive to become, and mi nah tek back da talk deh. These young players are in supreme shape, and run well off the ball. They think.........it is wonderful to see them thinking on the field, and then capitalize on that thought process. They look at ease with the ball and their plans are quite clear. Also their technical ability is tremendous and for that age they are quite patient.

My only hope is that they are able to transition well beyond these years into the senior squad, and not fall victim like the other great African Youth teams that dominate and can't replicate in the senior tournaments.



This team is the Real Deal like Holyfield.

And special mention to their coach Manu Garba.



I look forward to the future of this team and hope that nothing denies it. I want to thank them for a wonderful tournament, it was really a pleasure watching this team play.

ROAD TO THE U17 TROPHY
Nigeria 6 Mexico 1
Nigeria 3 Sweden 3
Nigeria 5 Irag 0
Nigeria 4 Iran 1
Nigeria 2 Uruguay 0
Nigeria 3 Sweden 0
Nigeria 3 Mexico 0

Tha side ya big!!!!

© 2013 Antonio Bell. All Rights Reserved.
Twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer

All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Friday, 6 September 2013

PLAYING PANAMA IN PANAMA SEP 6, 2013

The Reggae Boyz go up against Panama in a must win situation playing away from home. Needless to say based on Jamaica’s precipitous position in the tables, this task is akin to scaling Mount Everest.

As I said in a previous blog, temper our expectations of the Reggae Boyz http://antoniobell.blogspot.com/2013/07/temper-your-expectations-of-reggae-boyz.html While I admire the exploits of Senor Schaffer, I ultimately believe he came here to get The Reggae Boyz to the next World Cup and not this one.

The squad has the core players from the previous coaching staff selections, but I still don’t see Lovell Palmer; why?…I don’t know. The inclusion of new English based players is a ‘good look’ and only tactics, shrewdness and a little luck can get us to pass this Panama test.

Panama will try to pick us a part from the get go and will try to maintain possession for the entire match. We really have nothing to lose, however, if we maintain a high press approach to this Panamanian team, we may get embarrassed. Panama’s slick passing and movement off the ball is pretty hard to counter, however, other teams in the group have been able to diffuse them……..we haven’t. It is very important when the Reggae Boyz have possession of the ball it ends with a shot to goal (on target). We can’t exchange possession with this team and hope to be successful, not gonna happen.

I will write again, we need to use the height of Beckford to our advantage. Also, the brain of Marlon King, and hopefully (since he is now included) the brut force of Tuffy to get by this test. We will not exploit Panama with our passing, their team is too compact for that and we have not been able to string multiple passes together anyway. We need to attack down the flanks if we are to be successful and the midfield will be pivotal if we are to be victorious. It would be wise to foul as we lose possession so as to not allow Panama to develop any form of rhythm (just like basketball).

The coach has to find a way to impose Alvas Powell on the game; this boy is a dominant force on the field a we must find a way to use him properly. He however needs to be a bit more technically proficient if he is to play in the middle of the field, which is where I think he is best suited. When I see him play it takes me back to the days of Boban of Croatia, Rikjaard from Holland, and Redondo of Argentina, same build, and rugged play, however, all these players can use the ball properly and pass very well. If we can fix that little issue the Reggae Boyz would have fixed the midfield problem we have had for some time now.

To beat Panama I don’t think we can outplay them we have to outthink them. Well Senor Schaffer, I will not expect much today, but I would love a pleasant surprise.

© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer
All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

INCREDIBLE RUNNING AND COURAGE

Beres Hammond wrote about ‘what one dance can do’ but for this purpose, I would write ‘what one 4x400 metre anchor leg can do for a country’s psyche’.

Jevon ‘Donkeyman’ Francis (second right)-if not anything else-proved to me what sheer determination, will power, and critical thinking can achieve. Here is a high school athlete who ignored the obvious (him running against some of the best athletes in the world) and moved the country from 5th place to a silver medal on the final leg of the 4x400 relay at a World Championship.

I believe in empirical evidence and I reviewed the personal best times (PB’s) of all the athletes on the final leg of the race and they were:

Leshawn Merritt 43.74 (USA)
Jevon Francis      45.24 (JAMAICA)
V Krasnov          45.12 (RUSSIA)
N Levine            45.11 (BRITAIN)
W Oyowe           45.88 (BELGIUM)
J Solomon           45.19 (TRINIDAD)
H De Sousa        45.31 (BRAZIL)
Tristan Thomas   45.86 (AUSTRALIA)

Do you see what I see?

At the final changeover, the positions were USA, RUSSIA, BELGIUM, BRITAIN, and then JAMAICA. All the runners with the exception of Oyowe of Belgium have PB’s that are better than that of Jevon Francis; and he got the baton a clear 2-3 metres behind these runners; this is clearly reminiscent of the great DAVIAN CLARKE.

Based on the results, the first three places seemed hungrier for medals than everyone else. USA did a World Leading time, JAMAICA did a Season’s Best, and RUSSIA also did a Season’s Best. Australia also did a Season’s Best, however, they placed 8th.

The only word I can use to describe what Jevon did was INCREDIBLE. He was able to overhaul athletes with better PB’s than he, and convincingly as well. I love empirical evidence, but there are times when BELIEF weighs more than anything else. Many variables were at play for Jevon, and he was able to make them all work in his favour and for the country.

What I take this to mean for JAMAICA is that no matter the deficit, no matter the obstacle, no matter the history, no matter what others may think……if we truly believe we can move this country forward, it can be done.

Thanks Rusheen McDonald, Edino Steele, Omar Johnson and Jevon Francis for allowing me to continue believing; and strengthening my resolve.

© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer
All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Friday, 26 July 2013

TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF THE REGGAE BOYZ

In comes new coach Winfried Schaefer. 
If we go back to one of my previous blogs http://antoniobell.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-reggae-boyz-are-up-against.html, and as much as it hurt me to write that, things have actually gone in that direction. In local parlance, ‘it gots to take a miracle’ for Jamaica to reach Rio 2014; make no joke about that.

We now heap the hopes of a nation on Schaefer and knowing our mentality as an unforgiving football nation, if we don’t reach the World Cup next year I can hear the following questions blaring out from all angles,

  • Maxwell, Pryce or Duckie could not have done any worse why couldn’t one of them get the job?
  • All that and wi still nuh reach?
  • JFF don’t know what them doing, why don’t they get rid of Burrell?
  • Why them never mek Tappa finish the job then?
 On the flip side and we do reach the World Cup next year the statements would go like this,

  • Maxwell, Pryce or Duckie can’t manage this ya now
  • Is a good thing Schafer come
  • Burrell is a genius
  • Long time dem fi get rid of Tappa
Well I am going out on a limb here and say Schaefer is here for the 2018 World Cup and not to actually get us to this one. Schaefer has a penchant for nurturing young talent and Alvas Powell will benefit greatly from his being here. We may see a totally different team come September 2013 against Panama who knows.

For one thing is certain, coaches don’t take jobs like these or in situations like these without certain conditions; exit Montesso and Gama already. That was a no-brainer because normally the coaches have their team that they already work with anyways. We wait to see what Burrell sweetened the deal with for Schaefer to get him here.

What is confusing is that Tappa has not formally resigned or am I mistaken?
 
© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer

All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Friday, 19 July 2013

BECOMING CLEARER – Why the media behaves the way they do

My last blog mentioned Nesta Carter as testing positive, let me retract that forthwith and apologise profusely to this athlete for such a blunder on my part.


Sensationalism is key when reporting anything, and if we understand that, then we understand why the media sees it as necessary to throw Tyson Gay, Asafa, Sherone, Smikle and others under the bus.

I berated Asafa for years because he did not run through the tape and finish strongly in his races. As I said in my previous blog, all the athletes take something, whether it is banned or not is a different matter. I honestly think the only thing Asafa has ever been guilty of is not finishing his races strongly…….full stop. I don’t see him as someone who would indulge in doping; none of our athletes for that matter (yes, call me na├»ve if so be the case).

A positive test for a banned substance creates such a long shadow it is almost impossible to redeem yourself. Ohurugu and Justin Gatlin have somehow found a way to remove that shadow. These athletes have come back from bans and woven themselves back into the athletics fabric, so there is still a way possible to seek redemption from a positive test and even a ban. Steve Mullings, sorry things never worked out how they should have, big up what you did for Jamaica same way.

I read where Asafa’s new trainer says they are looking for a scapegoat and threw him (the trainer) under the bus. Now the only new addition to the equation is this...............for want of a better word, person, although I could find other words that start with p that would be apt. I am giving Asafa the benefit of the doubt on this one. I understand Franno’s stance, however, distancing himself from the issue so quickly is quite distasteful, due to his longstanding relationship with Asafa, but hey, Franno will always be Franno.

This new episode just highlights our lack of support for each other and speaks volumes of us as a nation in my view. I hear David Rudder’s song ‘Rally roun’ the West Indies’ and it so galvanises things even when West Indies cricketers are doing ‘not so good’. Who will be rallying around Asafa? Sherone? Smikle? I think that should be us.

The line from the movie Training Day ‘it is not what you know, it is what you can prove’ has Asafa and the others in a vice grip. What was proven is that a banned substance was found in their system, and I believe they did not willingly consume the components to provide a positive drug test. But the facts are the facts right now.

I think my co-workers now understand why I berate anyone that does not give their all when performing for Jamaica. The entire country has plunged into depression with the positive tests by our athletes.

When athletes perform their best and lose the country still celebrates, when they don’t give their all and lose, the country is upset. The athletes are like our children, friends, spouse, brother, sister, all rolled into one, which is why I really don’t understand how we can turn our backs on them so quickly.

In a utopian reality I would just wake up tomorrow from a dream and none of this ever happened.
  
© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer

All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

GIVE MY ATHLETES A BREAK

This particular blog is not to condone anything based on the adverse analytical findings of Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, Nestar Carter, or any of the athletes testing positive recently. However, to highlight my confusion of how the various Governing Bodies select what is to be on the banned list or what is to be taken off.

So, I may be taking something that is working for me this year and I have a stellar season, come next year, it may be on the banned list; my career tanks. With Tyson, Asafa and the gang testing positive this leaves me now even more confused than the VCB incident. I don’t purport to be the authority on doping, or what is to be on a banned list, however, I have some questions that my readers may be able to have me answer for myself, if not I make take some of these questions to WADA.

1. If I am using a supplement, cream, or anything that can possibly release something into my bloodstream and the ‘banned component’ is not listed on the packaging, am I to call up the manufacturer to find out if there is something banned in the product before I use it?

2. Am I to just list all I consume and email it on a daily basis to the Governing Bodies just in case? Even a breadfruit from Portland?

3. How are the substances selected to be on the banned list?

4. Why are substances taken off once put on the list?


I don’t know what was found in the athletes’ bodies, but I can understand their devastation. Tyson seems to even know exactly what happened and who caused it. Asafa has suffered a lot of humiliation despite his achievements, and this is the worst of them all, simply because of how it is perceived when you test positive for a banned substance.

Frankly I feel no different today from how I felt about my athletes yesterday; they have provided a lot of proud moments for my country and as I said about VCB that can’t be erased overnight. Even if their B sample comes back positive my question will be ‘so what?’ The athletes MUST take something to energize and sustain them due to the type of training they undergo, and have to try and recover from injury quickly….MUST; this is their livelihood and the thing that provides many of the earning opportunities for them. You may be taking a substance that is working for you and the banned substance is just not listed on the label.

Same knife stick sheep stick goat. My opinion is in direct relation to how Ben Johnson was vilified as against Carl Lewis……I am sure everyone can read between the lines there. Also, Justin Gatlin has come back from a ban and is now like a poster boy………people please, GIVE MY ATHLETES A BREAK. Most of the drugs really help you recover from injury quickly and allow you to train for longer hours; in essence you still have to put in work.

The only point I am really trying to make here is to ensure the substances are understandable by the average man/athlete. I failed every chemistry exam I took at KC (no disrespect teachers) my head was just tough. Some athletes never even took chemistry, so make it more understandable for everyone.

I may have a race to run tomorrow, my head starts hurting and I need to rest, it’s 10pm and my race is 7am the next day and I need relief. I need a pain killer. I scoured all pain killers beforehand just in case this scenario occurs. There is a banned substance in the pill that is not on the label. I can see the headlines if I test positive.

GIVE MY ATHLETES A BREAK, it can be something way beyond their control, I just hate the impression of them doing systematic doping. If needs be give them lie detector tests or something of that nature. That way we can be a little clearer on things.

© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

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Disclaimer
All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Monday, 8 July 2013

CONFED CUP CHAMPIONS BRAZIL

Confed Cup champions Brazil have come of age before I thought they would. Not because they beat Spain-because they could have lost and still come of age-but how they represented themselves and the discipline they showed. Make no mistake Spain is still my team and I still think they will win the World Cup next year.

However, teams have found out the Achilles heel of Spain; that diagonal pass behind the centre halves. Passing through Spain is basically impossible based on the system they play, and Brazil did well to stretch them out using the width of the pitch. Spain somehow has chosen to not pay attention to that diagonal pass, because Holland came close to beating them in the last World Cup with that very pass, but did not capitalize on it; Arjen Robben got away twice.

Brazil showed character, poise and obviously stuck to their game plan; use the width of the pitch and foul early when they lose the ball. Before now, Brazil looked suspect in defence, but they stepped up big time and man-handled Spain for almost the entire game. One interesting statistic though was that Brazil had 8 shots on target, believe it or not Spain had 7 (the penalty not have counted in that); however, Brazil managed to convert 3 of them. And the statistics we have now gotten accustomed to, Spain had the greater percentage of possession. Upon looking at the statistics you actually realize that the match could have gone either way despite Brazil’s 3 nil win. Why I mentioned that statistics is for the simple fact that Barcelona played a match and had over 9 or 10 shots on target and the opposing team had 2; the team beat Barcelona 2-1.

Spain did not play as bad as I hear most fans say it, Brazil played very well and deserve to be Confed Champions. What I was surprised at was the amount of wayward passes by Spain; which may have been due to Brazil’s tenacity. Hindsight they say is better than 20-20 vision but I would not have started Matta for Spain, he and Torres did not click all match; and I would not have put them (Matta and Torres) out for the second half; the team is much too deep for that. What can never be taken away from Brazil now is the fact that they beat the #1 rank team in the World at its peak. I told an ardent Brazil fan that his team was ranked 22nd coming into the Confed Cup and he almost fainted; he thought they were in the top 5. Needless to say they will make a big jump up the rankings.

Brazil has a well balanced team and Big Phil has done wonders with this young team who are the future of Brazil football. However, heavy is the head that wears the crown, they must win a World Cup to be validated as a great Brazilian team; nothing else will suffice (that’s the harsh reality). The 1982 Brazil team is always referred to as one of the greatest team never to have won the World Cup; and we all remember the players on that team. Brazil won the World Cup in 1994 and their fans are still not satisfied in how they won (they beat Italy on penalties).

Spain has been validated already; they have the best team for over 6-8 years now and the silverware to prove it. To get to the next level this Brazil team must win a World title. I won’t count the Confed Cup, this basically belongs to Brazil. Nonetheless, this is a good Brazil team, balanced, effective, purposeful, strategic and most importantly, scoring a lot of goals. Let’s see how things play out until 2014.

© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer

All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

CONFEDERATIONS CUP 2013

This is a dress rehearsal for the Samba Boys at home for World Cup 2014. I guess most of the Brazil fans expect a victory at home, however, I don't think it will be that easy. There is a reason Brazil is now ranked 22 in the world with even Mexico being rated 17 above them (FIFA Rankings).

Things have gone according to plan for the brand names countries i.e. Brazil, Italy, Spain, no surprises here. The teams have brought out the heavy artillery for this tournament, however, the Samba Boys will have to prevent teams getting on top of their 18 yard box so easily if they are to stand a chance in this tournament and have any chance at a World Cup victory next year. You could see a 22nd rated team playing a 32nd rated team in Brazil against Japan; although Japan looked technically proficient. Brazil's 3 nil victory was indeed expected yet impressive.

Spain did their usual stifling possession display against Uruguay winning 2 goals to 1, although Luis 'Biter Man' Suarez peach of a free kick had Casillas looking like a schoolboy goalkeeper; totally beaten. Spain as usual played open and free flowing and did their defensive work by keeping possession of the ball; 71% possession to be exact.

Italy did what was needed for their victory with the maestro Pirlo showing his class taking a beautiful free kick of his own; goalkeeper had no chance. Chicharito converted a penalty for Mexico with a 1-1 half time scoreline. The Insane One Balotelli brushed aside his marker to slot home for Italy's 2-1 victory over Mexico.

Nine goals from 3 matches and nine different scorers, this is the football I love to watch. And the goals are coming from players at various positions. What I love most of all is that players are kicking from distance and scoring, which is something I always advocate, as the goalkeeper is closer to his line and has more area to cover; he doesn't have much chance to cut angles.

I am impressed so far with what I have seen, and can't wait to see what Tahiti and Nigeria have to say for themselves.

PIRLO                                          NEYMAR


INIESTA



© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

Follow on twitter: @antoniobellmc

Disclaimer
All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.