Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Best of 2006 (by John)

Hi There Everyone,

Let me introduce myself, I’m John from Malaysia and I'm a huge Argentina supporter. My support and love for Argentina goes all the way back to 1986 (I was only 6 years old then) when the World Cup was held in Mexico. It was then when my uncle told me to sit down and watch this amazing player that he wanted to introduce to me. That player was non-other than Diego MARADONA and the rest as you can see is all history.

Ever since those early days I always had this feeling being attached to Argentina, not just in terms of football but also the people and their culture as well, though throughout my whole life I grew up in Malaysia.

This year, it is exactly 20 years since I fell in love with them (also the last time we lifted the Cup Of Life) and between these years we had some good times and some bad times as well. We did win Copa America’s and gold in the Olympics, and of course how can we forget our nightmare in 2002. Despite of all this, there is no way that I’m going to turn my back on my beloved Albicelestes and never will.

Like some of you out there I too had some personal ups and downs but when it comes to watching Argentina play, I sometimes tend forget everything that goes around me because at that moment there is nothing more beautiful then that. In fact the disappointment 2002 made my feelings grew even stronger than ever and it was then that I started to follow Argentines in other sports.

I will never forget those great moments such as Gaston GAUDIO lifting the Roland Garros trophy, Martin GRAMATICA winning the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bays Buccaneers and of course our Tall Guys triumph in Athens 2004. In fact I did skip a couple days of work (I hope my boss is not reading this …hahaha) back in 2003, just to see Manu GINOBILI in action for San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals against New Jersey Nets.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to reveal to all of you on the best of Argentina for 2006. As you all know this year has been a real sporting extravaganza starting with the Winter Olympics in Turin right up to Asian Games in Doha and between of course is the biggest of them all, the World Cup in Germany. So I figured, why don't we take look on how Argentina fared in these various events and come up with a Top 10, to see who is the best. The following list is my personal choice from 10 to 1 on the best of Argentina in 2006.

10. Volleyball (Men)

There was a close battle between these guys and our men’s hockey team. But in the end I guess the fact that our volley boys, led by Marcos MILINKOVIC who managed to progress further despite suffering defeats in opening two games does mean something. Like our men’s hockey team, it is unlikely that we’ll be world beaters in this game but hey isn’t that what people use to say about our basketball team 10 years ago?

9. Beach Soccer Team

Once again, here we have a team that no one had any expectation on them but they managed to defy all the odds. Like their futsal counterparts it is great to know the improvement that our beach boys have made. After topping our group sensationally, it is unfortunate that we had to meet our bogey team Uruguay once again. If not, who knows how far we would’ve gone? The only thing I wished this time that we could have a better finish. I’m not talking about the result here. What I meant instead was those incidents after the game.

8. Basketball (Women)

Vamos the Tall Ladies!!! They surprised everyone in their Preliminary round matches after pushing Brazil to the limit, upsetting Spain and defeating South Korea and went on to finish 9th overall standings. There seems to be a sign of great things to come for them. What I’m looking forward right now is to see the likes of Natalia Romina RIOS and Gisela Veronica VEGA making a move to the WNBA. Perhaps after that, their fortune might change just like the men’s team.

7. Golf

For once it was not the Tiger but an Angel that got my attention to this sports. Angel CABRERA together with Andres ROMERO were leading by 3 strokes going into the 2nd day of the recent World Cup of Golf in Barbados. At one point I was thinking this could be the moment. Nope. Going into the 3rd and 4th day, probably due to some bad luck, we ended up in fifth. Better luck next time.

6. Hockey (Women)

The most successful women’s team in Argentina and so guys, please take a back seat. Despite failing to defend the title that we won 4 years ago, Los Leonas manage to finish third behind a much better Netherlands and Australia. However we did not left empty handed as Carla REBECCHI won the Young Player of the Tournament Award. And in Luciana “La Maga” AYMAR, we have probably the best women to be compared to someone by the name of Diego MARADONA.

5. Football (Men)

Surprise? Shocked? Well not me but I’m prepared to accept any criticism from you guys for doing this to our beloved Albicelestes and place them in this ranking's 5th place. Yes I do agree with some of you that we were the best team in the quarterfinals and we did not deserve to go out early. Yes I do agree that we were good enough to win the World Cup. Yes I do agree that our recent bad results were just friendly internationals. But as of 2006, the football players will just have to settle at number five.

4. Basketball (Men)

No doubt we came close to beat Spain in the semis and if we did, I’m sure the Tall Guys were good enough to go all the way. But I must admit we lost to a better team. However our performance throughout tournament has ensured that we are a top basketball team in the world and our achievement for the past 4 years speaks for itself. Can’t wait for Beijing 2008 but in the meantime good luck to Manu, Chapu, Fabricio, Delfino and Walter. Give us another NBA Championship ring.

3. Tennis

I knew from the beginning itself that we had a mountain to climb against Russia. Playing on their own turf was bad enough but worst was these guys had to play against them on hard court. What surprises me was the way they played despite of all the other factors. They fought hard and were like warriors who battled until the very end and for this how can I be disappointed with our Racket Kings. NALBANDIAN & Co. we are proud of you.

2. Rugby

Once again I had tough time deciding between these guys and our tennis team. However I felt in the end, that Los Pumas had much more edge from what they’ve achieve this year. Well let see, we beat Northern Hemisphere Six Nation teams such as Wales (twice if I’m not mistaken), Italy and of course our historic win over England at Twickenham. Furthermore we lost to the All Blacks and France by minimal margin. And with results like this, Captain PICHOT and his team will go into next years Rugby World Cup full of confidence. But for now, bring on the Six Nation and let Argentina play there!!!!

1. Blind Futsal Team

Who would have thought of this? It was the same time when I receive the news that we lost the Davis Cup final, I was just asking myself when are we going to be World Champions? When is the day that we would have the opportunity to jump with joy and celebrate?

Suddenly on CNN news that came out stated that Argentina have just won the IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) Futsal World Championship. After all the disappointment that we went through, it was The Bats, as they are known, that brought us the joy that we were looking for. It was a fierce contested final in which we beat non other than Brazil by 1-0 (no doubt we won but in the name of sportsmanship there are no losers in this final). The final, which was played in the CENARD center in front of a 2,500 spectators which also includes household names from Argentina sporting and political personalities, not to mention an impressive number of reporters from the national and international media. Silvio VELO who wears the No.5 jersey, widely regarded as the best player in the world game, scored the winning goal. He eluded two defenders before chipping over the onrushing FABIO in the Brazilian goal to spark wild celebrations among the home crowd.

"I couldn't ask for any more," said a jubilant VELO afterwards. "We were playing in front of our own fans, we won and I got the winning goal. But as I always say, what matters most is that Argentina won. It was also important for us to retain our title and not disappoint the supporters and attending media who came to watch us."

Gonzalo VILARINO, the team’s coach said “What we've all experienced throughout this tournament, and especially on the final day, is totally unprecedented. Never before has a tournament for the blind been played out in such a spectacular setting. Why, even the stadium felt small! These lads deserved to win like this, and I think that they've carved out a niche for themselves in society. There's no doubt that they'll get greater and greater recognition for their efforts."

Yes its true, these guys deserves the recognition. However, it is very unfortunate that they will never get the chance to see how the likes of DIEGO, KUN or MESSI dazzling on the pitch. But that is the beauty because as these guys stand right on top of the world of their own, it is us and the rest that I’ve mentioned from No.10 – 2 will have to take a back seat, LOOK and BOW down to them. I personally hope that their triumph will serve as a great example for the rest.

So to Silvio VELO & Co, you guys are my best team of 2006. On behalf of all the Albicelestes supporters worldwide, WE SALUTE YOU!!! VAMOS MURCIELAGOS!!!

So there you have it, my personal choice on the Best of Argentina for 2006. I’m not sure whether the rest of you are going to agree with me on this, but I would really love to hear your comments.

Frankly speaking, this blog is definitely the best discovery for me in 2006 as finally me and my buddies here in Malaysia, feel that we are not alone. Through this blog we have been able to discuss on various types of issues. No doubt that at times we had our differences but in the end we were all passionate about the same thing.

For this Seba, special thanks goes to you for kick-starting this blog. Thanks again for the opportunity to write this article as well. It is truly majestic in your own words that we are “ONE TEAM, MANY NATION”. And most important of all through this blog, I had the honour of meeting new friends such as Subh, Ingi, Linda, Argentinafan, Johnny, Joey (where are you?), Andaman and everyone else (Sorry in case I forgot anyone, there were too many names to remember). And last but not least…



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Estudiantes CAMPEON!

I hate this! I hate when I write a full report and then this Blogger thing just erase everything I had written and I can never get it back! Just when I was hitting CTRL+C to copy all the text just in case I lose it!


There is no way I'll get it back and no way I can write it again being 2:10 AM here in Doha.

I'm trying to keep the calm and don't write bad words but I really need to!!!!!!!!

Anyway...I will just say now that Estudiantes won 2-1 after trailing from the 3rd minute and they deserve to be champions.


I'm sorry...too late now.

Anybody saw the game?

Boca Juniors v Estudiantes: La Gran Final

Great expectation for the match between Boca Juniors and Estudiantes de La Plata.

The underdogs (Estudiantes) now look pretty much the favourites considering their outstanding form and will to win things and Boca's terrible form in the last couple of matches.

But Boca is full of players with a lot of experience playing big finals and they will look for them to lead them to victory and get the third straight league title.

Diego SIMEONE is just starting his managerial career and he had a rough start while he was at Racing Club. I think it was more due to the bad conditions in which he had to work at Racing rather than his ability. Plus...Estudiantes have a far better squad than Racing and the addition of Juan Sebastian VERON gave them the extra quality they needed.

After losing in the last Copa Libertadores on penalties against Sao Paulo in Brazil, EL CHOLO have built a team with a strong personality that resembles him.

When the two teams met in the 5th week of the season, Boca defeated Estudiantes with goals from the usual suspects: Martin PALERMO and Rodrigo PALACIO.

Estudiantes were going through a rough run in the league and didn't record a win in four games. But from week 8 on, they won the amazing 10 straight matches (including a big 7-0 thrashing of local rivals Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata).

That run was stopped in the week before the last and have not been for that last-minute strike by Argentinos Juniors' Choy GONZALEZ, they would have been champions last week when they defeated Arsenal de Sarandi while Boca were losing their second straight game (at home against Lanus. )

Estudiantes will be missing striker Jose Luis CALDERON (suspended) and the match will kick-off at 17:20 Buenos Aires (20:20 London) at Velez Sarsfield's Jose Amalfitani Stadium.

Hopefully I'll get some coverage on Dubai Sports at 23:20 Doha time! I will be watching!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Por Dios PARDEW is gone!

I can't help but to feel a little sad about it because I think he is a good man and a hard-working professional. But I think Alan PARDEW being sacked by West Ham United is great news for Carlos TEVEZ and Javier MASCHERANO.

Even though I still don't know who is going to replace PARDEW, I believe that CARLITOS and MASCHE would have never shone playing for him and his system.

It is ridiculous to use TEVEZ the way he is being used, without giving him the freedom he needs to terrorise defenders.

As for Javier, how can he be the midfield boss for Argentina (playing against world-class opponents) and not even making it to the bench at West Ham?

It is obviously due to bad management and I hope that with this change at the helm, that is coming to an end.

Favourites to replace PARDEW are Alan CURBISHLEY (great experience in the Premier League but I'm not sure about his relationship with foreign players) or Sven Goran ERIKSSON (a man who knows about managing Argentine players as the backbone of his Lazio side that won the Serie A in 1999-2000 was formed by Nestor SENSINI, Diego SIMEONE, Matias ALMEYDA and Juan Sebastian VERON).

We will see what happens but it is very clear to me that things can't go worse (I hope I'm not wrong here!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fantastic performance by "DAVIS" NALBANDIAN

I was lucky enough to have Dubai Sports in my hotel room so I was able to watch the action live from Moscow.

When I started watching, Juan Ignacio CHELA was already trailing by 2 sets and I thought he could have pulled an amazing comeback but DAVYDENKO was solid today. Even though the sensational Argentina supporters made him struggle at some stages as MARADONA and company really got to his nerves!

Then David "DAVIS" NALBANDIAN simply destroyed Marat SAFIN. He looked in control since the very beginning when he broke SAFIN's serve in the opening game.

Tomorrow the doubles will be something special. It has the makings of a classic and could prove decisive for this Davis Cup final.

On Sunday, NALBANDIAN will play the first point against DAVYDENKO and we'll all be hoping a win can give us the elusive trophy we want to win so hard.