By Paul Frederickson
Nineteen years ago a plane crash killed 18 members of the Zambia football squad in Libreville. This weekend the Chipolopolo returned to the Gabon capital to capture the African Cup of Nations. In an enthralling match that saw the highly fancied Ivory Coast national team miss a penalty in normal time through start player Didier Drogba, the Chipolopolo won an emotional final 8-7 earlier this morning. The population of 13 million and their un-fancied heroes will celebrate this enormous achievement for many years to come.
Honorable mention: Tottenham Hotspur have all but sealed a spot in next year's Champion's League with a 5-nil demolition of the high-flying Newcastle United.
This could feature in the bad and ugly section and it seems to be a contender on a weekly basis but the racial allegations and findings in British football continue to capture headlines. Fabio Capello stood down as the manager of the English team after feeling he wasn't consulted by the English FA over the sacking of John Terry as England captain for the second time. To compound the racial tensions Luis Suarez didn't shake Patrice Evra's hand in the blockbuster between Manchester United and Liverpool on the weekend. People need to stop using ignorance and immaturity as an excuse and own up top their shortcomings and prejudice. It seems to have influenced junior ranks with an Aston Villa mascot not shaking the hand of a fellow Manchester City mascot. Won't somebody think of the children?
THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY
Gold Coast United have played far better this season than their last place position in the Australian professional football league, the A-League would suggest. The downside for the young squad is the non-attendance at home games of Gold Coast residents. Yesterday, against Adelaide United, the crowd was just over 1700 people. The writing is not on the walls, it is written in the vast expanses of empty seats for home matches. The club has tried very hard to engage the community in recent times but has alienated their strongest supporters such as 'The Beach' when they needed them the most. The 'Beach' supporters normally sit behind the goals in the tradition of famous supporter groups from around the world. This section of the ground had been closed for weeks to try and reduce costs and it greatly offended many of the club's staunchest supporters. Whilst it was open again yesterday the 'beach' looked it had been the victim of a shark attack. It is almost impossible to see how the club can survive, without benefactor Clive Palmer's money the club would stand no chance of continuing as a football entity. The Courier Mail reported tha Clive Palmer has set his sites on the club being more than a Gold Coast entity, "There have been suggestions that the poorly supported club will next season be renamed Queensland United and play home matches in Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast." (1)
The A-League needs to make another difficult decision sooner rather than later. If you want a bit of peace and quiet, fancy wide-open spaces and love football, Skilled Stadium may be the place for you.
What do you think? What were your weekend's good, bad and the downright ugly?