Zuma sticks up for team
President Jacob Zuma has rallied to the defense of the national soccer team after Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula called them “useless” and a “bunch of losers.” Bafana Bafana were booted out in the first round of this year’s African Nations Championship after by Nigeria in the fourth tournament failure in 12 months for coach Gordon Igesund. That led to a furious outburst from Mbalula at a press conference on Monday, calling on the country to build a new team. “That mediocrity we saw yesterday is disgraceful. In Africa we have won nothing — we are the laughing stock. This generation of players we must forget. It is back to the drawing board.” Zuma, who clashed with Mbalula after the latter backed Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in the African National Congress’ 2012 leadership race, disagreed with his minister. “We’re well aware that some people are criticizing the way the national team played against Nigeria. Some want the team disbanded. It has improved greatly and needs our support,” Zuma told radio station SAFM. “The current coach knows what he’s doing. He’s great at his job.”
Spurs fan charged for ‘Yid’
Police said they charged three people on Tuesday for allegedly chanting the word “Yid” during Tottenham Hotspur matches. The men were charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words, Scotland Yard police headquarters said in a statement. Gary Whybrow, 31, and 24-year-old Sam Parsons allegedly chanted the word during a Europa League home game against Moldovan side FC Sheriff on Nov. 7 last year. Peter Ditchman, 52, is charged in relation to a Spurs home match against West Ham United on Oct. 6 and is also facing cocaine possession charges. All three will appear in court on Feb. 4. “Yid” is a term for a Jew that is often considered derogatory, but Spurs fans often chant the word in defiance of those who taunt the London side’s links with the local Jewish community.
Park comeback unlikely
A shock return to the South Korean national team looks unlikely for Park Ji-sung as the former Manchester United player has arranged a charity game in Southeast Asia shortly before this year’s FIFA World Cup finals, his father told local media yesterday. Speculation that Park could play in Brazil grew after head coach Hong Myung-bo this month said he wanted to talk to him about a possible return. However, the player’s father, Park Sung-jong, confirmed that his son would be going ahead with his annual charity match, the “Asian Dream Cup,” which is to be held on May 31 or June 1 in Malaysia or Indonesia. “This is something he had planned to do all along,” Park Sung-jong told the Yonhap news agency. “He is executing plans that he had made when he retired from international play three years ago.”
Blackpool fire coach Ince
Former England midfielder Paul Ince was sacked as Blackpool manager on Tuesday after less than a year in charge of the Championship club. Ince, 46, was named in February last year and briefly took Blackpool to the top of the second tier this season after they won five of their first six games. However, they have now lost eight of their past nine and sunk to 14th in the tables, as well as being knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle by Bolton Wanderers. Midfielder Barry Ferguson will take charge of training, the club said in a statement. Blackpool are now looking for their fourth full-time manager since being relegated in 2010-2011.