PLAY OF THE WEEK

If there is one player who’s reputation is bourgeoning with every passing match is Rafael Leao. Arguably the best young player in the world right now(with Vini jnr of course), he takes on defenders at will without fear or favor. His style of play reminds me of a younger Anthony Martial, cutting from the wing and can shoot with either foot. One just hopes he doesn’t lose that killer instinct like the Frenchman, but signs are great for Portugal going into the world cup especially with the decline of CR7. Enough of that, his second goal in the Derby de la Madonnina gets the play of the week. Look , Zlatan has been great for 20 years but Giroud makes a great and BETTER partner to Leao UPFRONT in an attacking FOURSOME. Leao had three defenders on him of which he beats like they are not there for an easy side foot past Handanovic. I hear what you saying, Bastoni, De Vrij and Skriniar aren’t the quickest in world but let’s not forget this was an Inter defense that conceded JUST 32 goals last season, the second fewest in all big 5 leagues. Both of his goals were special in that it came against the run of play as Inter were really on the ascendancy attackwise.

US OPEN:MEDVEDEV VS KYRGIOS

First thing that comes to mind when these two were drawn in the last 16 at Flushing Meadows was which Nick and which Daniil will show up. Both are the definition of blowing hot and cold this year. Although he hasn’t won a major this year, Daniil won in Los Cabos, his one and only title this year, whilst Nick has had his best season yet. Nick has shockingly good results such as reaching the Wimbledon final with shockingly poor performances like his ouster from Cincinnati by Taylor Fritz. All in all it would be a great encounter. If ever Medvedev was to win this one, he had to match the second serve tramp card by the Aussie. He did just that , getting 22 aces in process. The first set tie break was a nervy one. Check out 7-6 in the breaker. Nick will pick off any loose second serve without hesitation because he is the kind of player who has nerves of steel when it comes to shot making. Watch also how he saves set point crucially at 8-7 Medvedev. The backhand down the line was the more difficult shot than the cross court one but he still chose that shot. As just rewards he took the first set.

As second set goes, the number one seed got the better end of the rallies. Check out 1-0 Daniil first point on the Kyrgios racquet. Now as far as serve and volley play is concerned, this is as poor as it gets. One can see Daniil moving to his left court a mile away and the backhand volley should have been down the line again from the Aussie. That set being done and dusted, one would expect it to go the distance, but Nick had other ideas. Just look at the slice drop shot in the first game of the third, 30-15. Nothing like that to get the juices in your veins flowing and letting your opponent know you are in charge of the match. Now Nick is usually very loud in matches, but in this one he was laser focused and quiet by his standards, maybe the gravity of facing the best player in the world dawning on him. But you kind of can’t help but commiserate with Kyrgios when he went down at 1-0(15-30). Thankfully he recovered(Alejandro Davidovich Fokina didn’t earlier in the day in his match with Berrettini) and it didn’t affect his play at all. At set point 5-3(40-15), it looked as though he went to the well one too many times with the drop shot. Daniil’s execution of his own drop shot wasn’t up to it , fortunately for Nick. Kyrgios would win the fourth 6-2, outdoing Daniil in the winners department which was key. In ousting the defending champ, Kyrgios reaches his maiden quarter final in New York and will face Daniil’s compatriot Karen Khachanov.

ZIMBABWE SOCCER OFFICIAL UP FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT

In what is another indictment of the state of Zimbabwean soccer, a top official(or should I say former) has been banned for five years from all soccer activity by governing body FIFA. This comes after being found guilty by a FIFA Ethics committee of sexually harassing three female referees. Today I want to talk about sexual harassment in sports and professional settings in general. The Me Too movement has brought sexual harassment into the spotlight in recent years BUT it has been there since time immemorial. The silence about it was more about women being passive in their activism. In terms of soccer, the advent of the women’s soccer world cup in 1991 and soccer leagues globally has seen more women take up positions in associations including FIFA. However, most positions are still occupied by males which leaves many junior female employees under the direct power of the.

The official from Zimbabwe, Obert Zhoya was a secretary general of ZIFA, the soccer association of that country. He was responsible for looking for referees and welfare of women’s national teams. As such he had power to make or break the three girl’s career. According to the women, Zhoya sent texts of Whatsapp requesting they meet at a hotel for sexual escapades. This is the first point I want to make clear about sexual harassment. At what point does it become sexual harassment?Let’s get this clear, asking out someone on a date(not knowing yet if they like you) isn’t sexual harassment. It becomes dangerous when you PERSIST to engage your love interest when they make it clear they are not having it. Sexual harassment thrives when there is no channel to air grievances or when there is no proper channels to investigate as with this case. The first complaint came forward in late 2020 and as unfortunate as it gets, FIFA referred back the complainant to CAF saying they have quote “no competence to investigate or judge the conduct.

It borders on harboring the crime almost. Sexual harassment is degrading to the psyche of the victim. Being viewed as only good for one thing makes one feel inferior. It should also be said that females are also capable of sexually harassing males and also male on male and female on female. Because the later scenarios are so rare, the authorities are quick to dismiss them as bogus especially in those conservative societies where homosexuality is frowned on. For example in most societies, a male who reports the misconduct is almost always ridiculed and seen as “weak”. So to finish, did Obert’s punishment fit the crime? Yes in my book. The punishment should be more of a deterrent to future perpetrators than anything else. The five years should make him think twice about doing it again as he will lose a lot of money away from the game. The fine(of about USD20 000) is a lot of money in Zimbabwe terms and sends a clear message of zero tolerance.

US OPEN: HALEP VS SNIGUR

Here is how we got here. Simona Halep has had a lot of highs and lows on hard courts. Let’s start with the highs. A massive win in Toronto gave me hope that maybe, just maybe this is her year to win the Open. Then there is the matter of those injury enforced retirements in Washington and Cincinnati , then I got to thinking that maybe she isn’t quite ready yet. Still, you got to have fancied her against qualifier Daria Snigur of the Ukraine in the first round on Monday. Snigur ranked 124 in the world , competing in her first Grand Slam main draw showed no nerves at all. Best aspects of the Ukrainian’s game is her angled backhand cross court. She get a lot of back lift when making the shots generating power, but what impressed most is the direction she gets on the groundstrokes. Case in point, first point 30-40 for her first break of the match. Simona was committing so many errors , first set was over in 8 games. She had her moments though.

The Jekyll and Hyde performance epitomized by that dominant second set from the Romanian. What was the best from her? Passing shots especially attacking the weaker second serve. Daria tends to slow her serve way too much for my liking when under double fault jeopardy. Similar to Simona, she goes for the angled slice on serves. Check out 1-0 Snigur third set 15-15. My point of the match was in the same game on break back point for Halep 30-40. I truly believe that was the point that ultimately cost her the match. Halep did ever so well defensively to stay in the point, Daria’s two forehands were not good enough to close out the point, nor was that overhead smash. The passing shot was on thereafter from Simona, she needed the right execution, down the line would be what doc ordered. Snigur would have two chances to serve out the match, at 5-2 and 5-4. Before that, paragraph one above refers, 2-1 Snigur first point. Snigur would make the second chance to serve out count at 5-4. Simona showed grit and conjured up smart winners to push Daria. It goes to show closing out the match is the hardest part of it. Simona crashing a backhand on the net cord at 5-4(40-30). Those unforced errors really letting her down. We love ourselves a good upset, this one is the biggest of the US Open this year. Daria wearing the Ukrainian colors on her heart as well as her attire, worthy winner.

PLAY OF THE WEEK

The perfect reply to what has been a nightmare first two weeks for Liverpool. One might say they had a point to prove. Bournemouth never had a game plan, it was almost as though they came just to have a stroll on a Saturday afternoon. So many great goals to choose from here but one that caught the eye was from Bobby Firmino to make it 4-0. Yes Trent’s goal to make it 3-0 was something special but what made Firmino’s better was the level of focus that it required. The assist came from the opposing player unwittingly. Well one might say it was an unfortunate ricochet but what was the leaving the ball for the teammate all about by the Cherries defense. Not dealing with danger and passing the onus to your teammate is a cardinal sin for the defender. On the very least shout for the keeper to come and get. Goalkeeper comes out the goal doesn’t happen. That doesn’t take anything away from the volley by the Brazilian, keeping it low couldn’t have been easy, with the outside of the boot no less.