MILLIONS dead through genocide. Three quarters of the population living in dire poverty.
And just when the people of Rwanda thought things couldn’t get any worse, John Barnes has been appointed coach of the national football team.
The ex-England and Liverpool star, 45, who was sacked as Tranmere boss last month, recently held talks with the African country’s sports minister Joseph Habineza.
Barnes’ agent Winston Clarke said: “John has one thing on his agenda – to spur Rwandan football to greater heights.”
Bearing in mind that this is the man who came third in the two-horse race that is the Scottish Premier League, we don’t think you’ll be seeing Rwanda on the world stage any time soon.
Unless, of course, it’s at the Intercontinental Hangman Stakes when it’s a brilliant word to throw people with.
The Amavubi Stars lie 114th in the FIFA rankings. We’re not sure how low those rankings go but we’re sure Barnes will get to the bottom of it.
ANYONE who knows the story of Stephen Ireland will tell you, he’s a little bit prone to exaggeration.
“I couldn’t play because my gran’s died. Had to go to the funeral. Sad. Very sad. What? Oh yeah, of course she’s still alive. I meant me other grandma. What? She’s alive as well. Gods be praised gran’s back from the dead! It’s a miracle!” etc…
Now he reckons he almost died playing against Fulham the other day. Yeah right.
“Thankfully it wasn’t too serious because at the time I thought that was the end of me,” he said, after coming off following a dizzy spell.
Man Utd 3-3 CSKA Moscow
IT’S official. The Champions’ League Group Stage officially reached meaningless point this week.
When Sir Alex starts fielding a weakened team, you know it’s a foregone conclusion for 90 percent of the groups. Still, you can always count on United to make it interesting (if pointless) as they recovered after goals from Alan Dzagoev, Milos Krasic and Vasili Berezutski had given the visitors an unlikely 3-1 lead.
Michael Owen, who was fucking shit in front of goal, had levelled for United at 1-1 while a Paul Scholes header and Antonio Valencia’s deflected shot rescued a point.
“We made a lot of chances and we deserved the point because we kept on going.
“Their goalkeeper made some fantastic saves but we lost three goals at home and you don’t like that.
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Chelsea
CHELSEA boss Didier Drogba was singled out for praise by his minion Carlo Ancelotti after the striker-turned-manager hit both goals in the clubs draw with Atletico.
Drogba, who was back after a three-match UEFA ban, took his tally to 12 for the season as Chelsea reached the last 16.
“I want to keep him and I don’t want to change him with another striker,” said Ancelotti while massaging Drogba’s buttocks and risking a quick peck on his cheek. “He is in a good moment, I’m very happy. I hope he can continue.”
Drogs headed in to haul Chelsea level before putting them ahead late on only for Sergio Aguero to equalise in injury-time for Atletico.
Lyon 1-1 Liverpool
DEAD-man-walking Rafa Benitez still thinks Liverpool can qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
Maybe Rafa, but you won’t be in charge by then if you do.
The Reds need to beat Debrecen and hope Fiorentina fail to beat Lyon in the next round of group games to stay in the competition.
“It is difficult for us to qualify, but not impossible,” said Benitez. “We have to win our game and see what happens with Fiorentina and Lyon.”
Ryan Babel had put Liverpool ahead in Lyon only for Lisandro to equalise after 90 minutes to deny the Reds a much-needed win.
Arsenal 4-1 AZ Alkmaar
ARSENE Wenger believes his Arsenal side are capable of producing “something special” this season.
If ‘special’ these days means finishing fourth in the Premier League and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League then we fully agree. The Gunners turned on the style in a home win that all but seals their qualification.
Wenger said: “Let’s keep this attitude and spirit and we can deliver something special. I’ve said that for a long time and we want to show that. I just want to go from strength to strength.”
Cesc Fabregas grabbed a brace to add to Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby goals to earn Arsenal a 10th home win of the season out of 10 games.
Uni Uriziceni 1-1 Rangers
RANGERS ever-laughable attempts to reach the knock-out stage of the Champions League were dealt a blow by a stunning late leveller in Bucharest.
Marius Onofras blasted home two minutes from time after Lee McCulloch had opened the scoring for the visitors.
“We had to run the clock down and run the ball into corners. That would have been the thing to do, but we didn’t do it and it cost us dearly,” said dour Scot Walter Smith.
“I felt we played very well tonight. After getting in the lead in the manner in which we did, to give it up so late in the game was a really disappointing factor for us.”
Rangers can still qualify for the final 16 but, let’s face it, they won’t.
ELSEWHERE, Rubin Kazan continue to have the Indian sign over Barcelona after somehow holding them to a 0-0 draw. It leaves Barca third in their group.
Wrestling the big issues
BAH. We were sucked in. It says here, right in the first paragraph of that most revered of newspapers The Sun, that: “Robin Van Persie is desperate to face rival Emmanuel Adebayor in Arsenal’s powderkeg Carling Cup quarter-final at Manchester City.”
Ooo, sounds juicy right? After the boot-on-face, distract the referee incident of their last on-field meeting, we were hoping for some W.W.F. style-taunting between the two.
We can see it now. Stampface Van Persie side on to the camera, wearing a pair of thick-set sunglasses, sending a vi
deo message to his former tag-team partn
er and best friend.
Something along the lines of: “You know Adey. We used to be friends, I used to respect you. We were a great team and we achieved some great things together. (Stampface smiles and shakes head nostalgically).
“But it turns out (pause for dramatic effect), you’re just a goddamn liar.” (cue distant whooping from Arsenal fans).
Van Persie then turns to the camera and says: “And do you know how I found out that you’re a whining, wheezing, double-crossing, (distant whooping reaches fever pitch) money-grabbing, son-of-a-bitch?”
(The big reveal. Van Persie whips off his shades and the camera zooms in to reveal a row of clearly faked stud marks running down the left hand side of his face).
“THIS IS HOW I FOUND OUT ADEY!” (points violently to scars) “And this is why I’m gonna tear you a new A-hole on Smackdown Versus Raw on Tuesday night Carling Cup day!”
(Cut to a panning shot of rabid ring-side Arsenal fans all baying for Adabeyor’s blood, except for some weird-looking guy with a random “I love Chris Kamara” banner.)
Alas, that’s not what happened at all.
In a rather more straight-forward press conference, here’s what Van Persie actually said: “I want to play in that one. I’d love to play. If the boss decides to let me play, I’m happy. It will be a good game.”
So then, The Sun. Is Van Persie desperate to play against Adebayor? Probably.
Was that what he actually said? Was it bollocks.
Cruyff turns to Catalonia
• JOHAN Cruyff has agreed to become coach of the Catalonia team.
The 62-year-old Dutch Legend will be officially unveiled on Monday (November 9th) as the new manager of the Spanish region, who play friendlies against international teams.
Many of Barcelona’s Champions League winning players represent Catalonia, who are not permitted to play in official competitions by FIFA and UEFA. Catalonia have played six games in the last three years, the last a 2-1 victory over Colombia at the Nou Camp in December 2008.
Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t think they’ll be as good without Cerys Matthews.
• GREAT Train robber Ronnie Biggs has told his family he wants to watch Arsenal play live one more time. “My dad would love to go to the game, but it is not the easiest of things to get him over there,” said son Michael. “It has got to have the right facilities for him.”
• NEWCASTLE have changed the name of their ground to an email address. St James’ Park will be known for the rest of this season as sportsdirect.com@StJames’Park. Though justwhatkindofjokerisincharge@StJames’Park would seem slightly more apt.
• MEANWHILE, No1 recording artiste Jimmy Nail and other Auf Wiedersehen Pet cast members, including that bloke off Morse but not the guy out of Heavy Metal Kids, have recorded a version of The Blaydon Races in aid of the Rir Sobby Bobson Foundation.
• EVERTON’S famously uncapped Spaniard Mikel Arteta faces another month or two on the sidelines after undergoing a ‘wash-out’ on his knacked knee due to infection-ooze.
• AND Southend have avoided administration in the high court after vowing to clear their £2.135m tax debt by Friday. We were going to knock the five off the end of that number to round it down, but they can’t do that, so why should we?
BBM kiss of death alert
WE hate the French, the French hate us. We like the Irish.
Therefore, BBM will once again conveniently ignore the fact that the Irish hate the English, to cheer on the green brigade in their attempts to get past the FIFA-sponsored France team on the road to the World Cup.
The two national sides go head to head over two legs in the next couple of days and, let’s face it, there are few finer sights in life than watching a Frenchman cry.
Ireland, also known as the England B team, are still spitting their Guinness-flavoured dummies out over the fact that FIFA seeded the draw for the UEFA play-offs so that Portugal and France didn’t play each other.
And in an out-of-character bout of optimism, BBM thinks that drawing France may actually be a good thing for the Irish.
Because if there’s one thing BBM knows from years of using lazy, degrading and demeaning stereotypes for our Irish News section, it’s that you never want to get on the wrong side of an angry Dubliner. We think it must be the red hair and all that Guinness they drink.
And talking of insulting stereotypes, what’s the betting those arrogant Frenchies are already exporting garlic and frogs legs to Johannesburg, fully confident that they’ll piss all over a team 25 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Fuck Sepp Blatter. The man’s a xenophobe.
Curbs’ enthusiasm for pay out
ALAN Curbishley, the thin man’s Harry Redknapp, has won a case for constructive dismissal against Jackpot Payout club West Ham United.
The Hammers, who just love crazy cash giveaways, are already paying £20million in compensation to Sheffield United for the Carlos Tevez affair and may now have to fork out another £4m to former boss Curbs.
A Premier League managers’ arbitration tribunal has backed Curbishley’s claim that he resigned at the start of last season because Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney were sold to Sunderland against his wishes.
“I am obviously delighted with this result,” said ever-jolly Alan.
“I very much enjoyed my time at West Ham and never wanted to leave but, on joining the club, I insisted my contract contained a clause confirming I would have final say on the selection of players to be transferred to and from the club. The club completely ignored my contract when selling Anton Ferdinand.
“And when George McCartney was then sold, the club having given me assurances that no players would be leaving the club after the sale of Anton Ferdinand, I had no alternative but to resign.”
West Ham have refused to comment on reports that their traditional coat of arms badge, featuring a castle and two hammers, is set to be replaced by a picture of Carol Smillie leaning on a car and holding a large fan of £50 notes.