Football roundup

José Mourinho (left) and his team meet Antonio Conte (and his) at Wembley this weekend. (Jason Cairnduff)

José Mourinho (left) and his team meet Antonio Conte (and his) at Wembley this weekend. (Jason Cairnduff)

Dark horses collide in Cape Town Nedbank Cup final 

In Maritzburg United and Free State Stars we have two teams that capture the ethos of the Nedbank Cup — a competition marketed as a field on which the underdog can stretch his legs and dig up some gold.

Both shattered the glass ceiling of their station in the PSL. Both conquered famed opponents in the semifinals to ruin dreams of a “glamour final”. Now, they face each other for knockout glory. Whoever wins will have the perfect tangible accompaniment to mark their season a success.

Even now, rumours emanating from larger clubs have cast shade over the game. Orlando Pirates reportedly want Maritzburg’s star youngster Siphelele Ndlovu and Belgian striker Andrea Fileccia — two constants in the success of the Team of Choice. Ea Lla Koto coach Luc Eymael, meanwhile, is supposedly being courted by survival-clinching SuperSport United and suffering Kaizer Chiefs.

Not that these murmurs will bother him or his counterpart Fadlu Davids. Both coaches have significantly boosted their respective reputations by doing things their way this season and it’s unlikely we’ll get anything less in Cape Town. It’s a first Nedbank Cup final for the Mother City and could be a momentous marker for two ever-brightening lights of South African football. — Luke Feltham

Warning, tight FA Cup 

Final ahead

Eleven years after opening the new Wembley, Manchester United and Chelsea will do battle in the sacred stadium once more.

The aura surrounding the occasion is undoubtedly dampened this time around. Back then, the Red Devils had just been crowned English champions — winning one of the many mid-2000s tussles with the Blues. Since then their Manchester City rivals have firmly knocked José Mourinho’s men off their pedestal, but Antonio Conte could only lead his side to a meagre fifth-placed finish this year.

Could an FA Cup win save Conte his job? Unlikely, but Mourinho will derive much satisfaction from denying us an answer.

Now on the other side of that 2007 game, you don’t have to be a pundit to predict that the Special One is coming to London in a bus ready to be placed in park.

Chelsea’s attack is not exactly what you would call riveting recently either, so it will be fascinating to see what dynamic takes root in the early stages of the game.

Sure, fortune may favour the brave, but finals favour Mourinho. We await to see whether Conte can break what is fast becoming an English tradition. — Luke Feltham

Argentine ‘guide to flirting’ at World Cup causes stir

Argentina’s Football Association (AFA) apologised on Wednesday for issuing a World Cup handbook featuring a section on how to flirt with Russian women, admitting to an “unintentional error” following the outcry.

Under a page entitled “How to stand a chance with a Russian girl?”, the manual highlighted that “Russian women don’t like to be treated as objects”.

“Lots of men, because Russian women are beautiful, just want to take them to bed. Maybe they want it too, but they are people who want to feel important and unique,” the handbook added.

“Lots of Russian women, like other women, pay close attention to if you are clean, smell good and are well dressed. The first impression is very important for them, pay attention to your image.”

These recommendations, ahead of the June 14 to July 15 tournament, were passed on to a gathering of about 40 journalists during a course on Russian language and culture, and were then posted on social media.

Facing heavy criticism, the AFA later admitted this lesson in seduction was an “unintentional error”, and even though it was included in the manual, “it was never part of the training”.

In a statement, the AFA said it had led “an internal investigation in respect to yesterday’s events during the Russian language and culture course, and it has been concluded that the materials distributed were erroneously printed”, adding that “administrative personnel removed the manuals immediately”.

Claudio Presman, the head of the National Institute against Discrimation, Xenophobia and Racism, spoke out against the “sexist” content in the guidebook.

“We got in touch with the AFA to ask for explanations. This text is stigmatising for women,” he said.

The educational course held at AFA headquarters in Buenos Aires was intended for “executives, players, coaches and journalists who will be at the World Cup”, the federation said. According to the course’s teacher, Eduardo Pennisi, in quotes published by Argentine daily Clarin, the AFA had “approved” the material a month ago. — AFP

Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

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