By Clifton Ross THE stage has been set for the final four teams, arguably the best of the best who, for the last time, will face off against one another in a bid to secure the two final-place spots and secure this year’s Hero CPL title.Penultimate rounds of any tournament are perhaps the most tense and crucial stages prior to the finalThis season, the bubble saw the best four franchises clawing and battling their way to the semis, with tournament hosts Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) destroying the competition by winning all 10 of their preliminary matches; with relative ease.The Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW), the most popular franchise in CPL history to not win a championship, had a mixed start to the tournament before turning up the heat in the latter stages; even being responsible for knocking out the-then defending champs, Barbados Tridents.Darren Sammy’s comeback to competitive cricket has been exceptional from a team’s perspective as St Lucia Zouks have played with much bravery and success this year, maintaining a solid position on the points table throughout the initial rounds, although minus ‘T20 Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle.Jamaica Tallawahs, led by Rovman Powell will want to enjoy the tag of once again being called CPL champions and their fighting-spirt will once again be tested come today when the most important battle gets underway. ZOUKS VS WARRIORS This match will most certainly be the tie-breaker, as both sides have managed to secure victories during the early stages, with GAW winning the last encounter handsomely by 7 wickets. GAW will be keen on utilising the form of their bowlers who have been instrumental in their success during crunch stages of a match.Imran Tahir will be the key for Warriors as Tallawahs in their last game against Zouks, unleashed their spin barrage to upset Powell and company.Class spinners like Mohammad Nabi, Zahir Khan, 22-year-old Javelle Glenn, who has been quietly becoming a menace, even grabbing 3-16 in the last game; will be responsible for at least 12 of the overs.Veterans like Kesrick Williams and Obed McCoy will also have their role on the big stage in the seam bowling department.Tahir, Naveen ul Haq, skipper Chris Green and the dynamic Kevin Sinclair (who should play again), along with Keemo Paul and Romario Shepherd, will be a lot for the scratchy Zouks batting order.The batting on both sides has been circumspect if not questionable at times. Warriors have recovered tremendously from their batting woes thanks to Shimron Hetmyer, the tourney’s leading run-scorer and they have managed to see some fireworks from the enforcer Nick Pooran who blasted the tourney’s fastest ton.Ross Taylor has yet to reach 30 so far, but his contributions of 20-odd scores which he has been providing have played a big part in Warriors getting over the line.All eyes will be on Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj, two West Indies batsmen who have had mixed fortunes this season, with the left-hander Hemraj having more to prove come today.Rakeem Cornwall and Andre Fletcher have also been victims of international misfortune. As Zouks openers they have yet to use their West Indies experience to fully get things going, but could pick today to go berserk.The main weapon for Sammy is Afghan power-hitter Najibullah Zadran, who has been the X-factor down the order as well as his countryman Nabi, another decorated lower-order power-hitter.Sammy himself has been cold but his reputation as a late-hitting game-changer might be put to the test today in this must-win encounter. TKR vs TALLAWAHS While the unbeaten hosts will not be taking the Tallawahs lightly, they will, however, fancy this encounter today, especially after the Zouks’ spin attack bamboozled them a few days ago.Kieron Pollard has been the best captain on show this season and his T20 know-how has rubbed off on his teammates, as they have been phenomenal this year.Apart from their highly-volatile batting order which consists of Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Colin Munro, Tion Webster, Sunil Narine and Pollard, all who have been in cracking form this season, Powell and company will have to contend with the Riders’ bowling unit.Led by Fawad Ahmed, their leading wicket-taker with 10 scalps, TKR have been beating teams by utilising their wide-array of bowling options, both spin and pace. Narine, Akeal Hosein. Kharry Pierre, Zimbabwean Sikandar Raza and other pieces have been overworking the opposition batsman.Seamers Ali Khan and Anderson Phillips, along with the veterans Pollard and Bravo, have been decent but deprived of wickets thanks to the spinners.Tallawahs have a shot to upset TKR and put an end to all their hard work, should they check all the boxes. Glenn Phillips maintained his spot in the top 3 run-getters charts and will play a big role today along with Andre Russell. TKR will be weary of him.Powell, Jermaine Blackwood and Nkrumah Bonner will have important roles with the bat come today while all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite will have to double his responsibility. Should Tallawahs use their bowlers wisely, the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, (2nd on the wicket-taker’s list behind Tahir), Sandeep Lamichhane and Veerasammy Permaul have important spells on their hands.Rearguard Fidel Edwards and the young bullish Oshane Thomas, along with Brathwaite will lead the pace attack against familiar names on the TKR batting line-up.Regardless of the outcome, today’s semi-final double-header at Brian Lara Academy, which bowls off with TKR versus Tallawahs starting at 10:00hrs followed by the Warriors/Zouks clash under lights, will set the stage for new champions come Thursday. – Rested Warriors favourites to reach finals
The President/Chief Executive of Dangote Industries Limited, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has felicitated with the President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick over the latter’s recent election into the Executive Committee of Confederation of African Football (CAF).Pinnick handed veteran Beninoise football official, Anjorin Moucharafou a 32-17 thumping at the 39th Congress of CAF in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 16th March, to earn the seat for West Africa Zone B in the elite club of African football’s supreme governors.In his letter of congratulations dated 29th March, reverred billionaire industrialist and football enthusiast Dangote wrote: “Your victory at the keenly contested election did not come to me as a surprise, given your exemplary track record in football administration in Nigeria. Delta State achieved several milestones during your tenure as the Chairman of the Delta State Football Association. It was also during your tenure that Delta emerged the overall champions at the 2012 National Sports Festival held in Lagos State. “As the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), you continued your winning streak by building bridges of understanding and encouraging dialogue as a way of resolving differences. Indeed, you brought stability into the NFF, and this has impacted positively on the Federation leading to Nigeria’s improved FIFA rankings.“Your recent election in Addis Ababa, into the powerful CAF Executive Committee representing West Africa Zone B, is therefore an eloquent testimony of the acceptance of your visionary leadership style. You did not only get elected, but you also helped make history by supporting your candidate of choice for CAF Presidency, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, to clinch the top seat.“I want you to see your election as an opportunity to project not only Nigeria’s image, but also that of Africa on the world’s stage. I wish you God’s continued guidance as you assume office.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
The stage is set for grueling fixtures in the final qualifying for the 2014 World Cup after ten teams including Ghana booked their places for the last round.Ghana and nine other group winners from the second round qualifiers have confirmed their places for the two-legged play-offs.Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon are all through to Africa’s final qualifying round.Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi expects every team to be up for the battle to Brazil.“We have a play-off which will be played in October and November. We do not know who our opponents as yet because the draw for that play-off will be conducted in Cairo,” Nyantakyi said.As Ghana push for a third-straight appearance at the World Cup, the final round draw which will take place in Cairo on 16 September will determine their next opponents. “The determination as to whether you play home first or away first will be based on balloting. We hope that we get a good ballot that will offer us probably a less formidable opposition that we can surmount,” said the GFA President, a day after the Black Stars defeated Zambia to qualify.“At that [final round] stage, you must bear in mind that no team will be cheap. Any team that has made it this far is strong and you cannot underrate any team at all.”The Black Stars beat Zambia 2-1 last Friday in Kumasi to progress from Group D, where they bagged in 15 points from a possible 18 points after winning five out of six matches.The draw will be based on the latest Fifa rankings to be released on Thursday and will create five two-leg ties, with the winners going to the finals in Brazil.