Who’s your money on?
It’s football awards time again, and it looks likely that Messi will rule them all once more
While the debate rages about whether Luis Suárez should have made the short list, the more interesting question is: can Neymar break Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the Fifa Ballon d’Or award?
Messi and Ronaldo have won it for the past seven years between them, with the Argentinian maestro taking it four consecutive times from 2009-2012 and the Portuguese superstar reclaiming it over the past two years.
Although the young Brazilian has been a revelation this year after helping Barcelona clinch the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble, Neymar’s team-mate Messi remains the favourite to lift the award for a fifth time.
While many would have loved to see Barcelona making it a one-two-three finish with the inclusion of Suárez, the short list once more shows La Liga’s dominance in world football.
On the African front, a similar question is being asked about Dortmund’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Black Stars’ André Ayew of Swansea, who are up against four-time winner Yaya Touré of Cote d’Ivoire.
Despite helping the Elephants win the Africa Cup of Nations early this year, Touré’s form for City has fluctuated.
By contrast, the Borussia Dortmund man’s rise has been irrepressible. Aubameyang is Touré’s greatest rival for the award, having racked up a stunning Who is your Fifa and CAF player of the year? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword
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Sadio Mané (Southampton, Senegal)
Serge Aurier (Paris Saint-Germain, Côte d’Ivoire)
Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, Algeria)
Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Algeria)
Yaya Touré (Manchester City, Ivory Coast) 2011: Messi 2010: Messi 2009: Messi 2008: Ronaldo 20 goals and five assists for BVB this season. He is enjoying the best period of his career and has been linked with a move from Germany. He is rumoured to be on the radars of Manchester United and Barcelona.
Ghana’s Ayew has emerged as one of the most exciting players in the English Premier League following his summer move to Swansea City after eight years with French side Olympique de Marseille.
He scored on debut against Chelsea and has recorded six strikes in 14 league games. He was voted Swansea’s best player for August and October. At the international level, he was in good form despite Ghana losing on penalties to Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea. He finished as the top scorer of the tournament.
The ceremony to reveal the African footballer of the year will take place on January 7 in Nigeria, while the Fifa Ballon d’Or will be announced four days later in Zurich.
Aubameyang, Ayew, Touré, Algeria’s Yacine Brahimi and Senegal’s Sadio Mané are in the running for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award, which will be announced on Friday.
Heyneke Meyer’s inevitable resignation means the SA Rugby Union (Saru) is searching for its 13th Springbok coach since readmission in 1992.
The job has rightly been described as a poisoned chalice and Meyer was the latest to succumb to the bitter mixture of high expectation and intense public scrutiny.
Meyer made a number of errors. He was married to outdated methods, his gambles on injured or ageing players did not pay off and he did not understand the imperatives of transformation. He came in for harsh criticism from former Boks and rugby fans alike.
More importantly, he lost the confidence of the young black constituency Saru has to woo if our rugby is to remain competitive.
In the end, Meyer read the writing on the wall. He was no longer wanted and, with the added consideration of the unforgivable abuse being hurled at his schoolgoing children, he decided to take the honourable route.
Saru has announced that the search for a successor has begun. CEO Jurie Roux will consult with the union’s high-performance committee to draw up the requirements of the job and lay these before the executive council and the general council on Friday for approval.
Saru president Oregan Hoskins briefly fronted up to the media on Friday, intimating that the decision might be postponed. He placed the emphasis on transformation.
Delaying the decision is no bad thing, because the Boks will not be in action again until June next year. But you have to question whether the blazers of Saru are going about this in the right way.
Instead of rushing to appoint a new man willing to sip from the poisoned chalice, they should perhaps ask themselves whether the high turnover of coaches indicates that there is something wrong with the system.
Is there any coach in the world who could be successful and impart a playing style to the Springboks, given the minimal time he gets with the national team?
After the World Cup, it is common cause that the Springboks’ brand of play is out of date and predictable; change is needed, but how to achieve this?
Next year, the new Super Rugby competition featuring 18 teams will start in February and continue unabated until May 28 for the June international window in which the Springboks will play a three-test series against Ireland.
The first of these tests will be on June 11 (at Newlands) which means the new coach will have just two weeks to work with his team.
After June, it will be back into Super Rugby until early August – and the Boks will then be in action again in the Rugby Championship during August, September and October.
As Meyer knew, and reaffirmed during his stint in charge, Springbok tests have to be won – so there will hardly be any time in which to impart a different, more fluid pattern.
By the end of the Rugby Championship, the players will be exhausted, the end-of-year tour to the UK will be in the offing (tests against England and Wales have already been confirmed) and the new coach will find himself on an unrelenting treadmill.
Throw in the fact that many great players from this era will have retired and many more will be overseas, and it is easy to see how a coach might fall into a mind-set of trying to win matches at all costs rather than rebuilding a team to become a world beater in future.
For Saru, the challenge therefore is not to simply appoint a new coach. They have to find a way to help him to be successful.
GENIUS Neymar has been a marvel to watch for Barcelona SUPERSTAR Cristiano Ronaldo won the award in the
past two years
SUPERB André Ayew scored on debut for Swansea RISING STAR Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang has been a revelation for Dortmund
STAR PERFORMER Yaya Touré has been an integral
part of Manchester City
LITTLE MAESTRO Lionel Messi is tipped to walk away with the top award again