SportsNet - January 2013
The proud basketball tradition had faded to a deep charcoal the past couple decades. Not exactly black because it hadn’t completely died, and remnants of a glorious past still remained around its North Philadelphia campus, but for far too long, when the words La Salle University and hoops were uttered in the same sentence, students and alums of the school weren’t exactly beaming and shouting out, “Yeah, that’s us. We’re the Explorers. Bring it on.”
Now, after a week unlike any other in the program’s history over the last 60-plus years, they just might.
In beating Atlantic Ten rivals Butler and Virginia Commonwealth last week, the Explorers knocked off ranked opponents in back-to-back games for the first time since 1952. In the interim, they won an NIT title (1952), an NCAA title (1954), finished runner-up in the NCAA tournament (1955), and have had four of the truly legendary college players of all time don their gold and blue: Tom Gola, Michael Brooks, Lionel Simmons and Kenny Durrett.
It was a nervy and cagey atmosphere in group C as the various teams slugged it out to earn their qualification spots, Chelsea’s winger Victor Moses sent Nigeria through, thanks to 2 penalty fouls against him. Victor Moses rose up to the occasion and slotting the ball under intense pressure. The Ethiopian had a chance of qualifying as well going into the game. The Nigerian team dominated the first and created chances but could not make it count. The pressure was more on Nigeria to score goals as they had drawn their first 2 games. The Ethiopian made eight changes to their team and defended astutely leaving impressive Said Saladdin upfront as the lone striker. The Nigerian team at time lack the necessary urgency and passion, and were playing for the better part of the game as team with no desire. The tempo changed once Russia based Ahmed Musa came on – he was able to inject some pace into the game and the last 20 minutes witnessed some turn around. Celtic central defender Efe Ambrose started supporting the attack, the change in the game paid off for the Nigerian eventually when Victor Moses was brought down by the Ethiopian defender.
Neymar is already one of the most sought after players on the planet and a mainstay of the Brazilian national side, so comparisons between the 20-year-old and Argentine forward Lionel Messi were always going to be inevitable.
Known for his outlandish hairstyles, speed, dribbling and finishing, Neymar was named South American player of the year and selected in the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or trophy in 2011 and 2012, and won the FIFA Puskas prize for the best goal of 2011.
Neymar has also achieved club success with Santos, having won the Copa do Brasil, Copa Libertadores, Campeonato Paulista and Recopa Sudamericana.
Hype surrounding the young star has sparked rumours of links with Barcelona, Real Madrid, both sides from Manchester and most recently Bayern Munich.
The speculation comes as clubs and fans eagerly await his seemingly inevitable move to Europe.
On the other side of the coin, based on current form Lionel Messi is almost undisputedly the best player in the world at present.
Of all the English clubs, Manchester United are the sole side to have won the historic treble, during the 1999-00 season.
However, after a blistering first-half to the season and currently in contention for all of the three competition required to achieve the treble (Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League), many football pundits have started to talk about the possibility of the Red Devils rewriting the history books.
Thus, what follows is analysis of whether United can win the treble this term or not.
United currently sit at the top of the Premier League table with a four-point advantage (that could extent up to seven if they defeat Southampton on Wednesday night) over arch-rival Manchester City.
Having already played all the 'Top Six' clubs, apart from Arsenal, away from home and some even back-forth, United are in a commanding position to win back to Premier League title.