Dan Rawley

Cape Verde: Africa's Overachievers

on January 20 2013 3:09 PM
Cape Verde: Africa's Overachievers

The Cape Verde Islands' qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations shocked many in the football world, and their fine start to the competition last week highlights a story threatening to rival fellow underdogs Zambia's march to the ACON title last year. 

Playing their first official match in January 1979, a 3-0 loss to fellow minnows Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde were only affiliated to FIFA in 1986. The country's attempt to qualify for the ACON began eight years later, but Cape Verde failed to complete the qualification process again until 2000. Their tiny population of just 500,000 makes competing with regional heavyweights Ghana, Nigeria and Egypt a huge challenge; indeed, Cape Verde are the smallest country ever to reach the finals of Africa's premier competition.

Real Betis vs Levante Preview

on January 12 2013 10:03 AM
Real Betis vs Levante Preview

This fixture marks the half-way point in the league campaign of both Real Betis and Levante, and each club will be looking to continue their good starts to the season in a bid to secure European qualification. With 18 games played, just a solitary point separates these two sides, and fifth-placed Betis trail Malaga - currently holding La Liga's Europa League spot - only on goal difference.

Betis come into this game on the back of good yet unpredictable form: Pepe Mel's men recorded excellent away wins against Deportivo La Coruna and Celta Vigo in December, and won 2-1 at Real Zaragoza in their last game, but have also recently been beaten at home by strugglers Real Mallorca and were held in the Copa Del Rey by mid-table second-tier outfit UD Las Palmas.

Levante's fortunes have been similarly mixed: their last five results read "Lost, Won, Lost, Won, Lost"; while comfortable wins over Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao in the last month suggest a free-flowing, efficient attack, recent 0-1 and 0-3 reverses at the hands of Real Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano respectively show they have a tendency to blow hot and cold in front of goal.