PARIS (AP): Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed home the winner as Paris Saint-Gemain started the defence of their French Cup title with a scrappy 1-0 win over fourth-tier side Wasquehal yesterday. Playing their first game of 2016 in the northern city of Lille, PSG were in control throughout and created multiple chances, but lacked a cutting edge until the Sweden international connected with Marco Verratti’s long ball on the hour mark. Having opened up a 19-point lead at the top of the French league standings in just 19 games, PSG are looking to reproduce the domestic treble Laurent Blanc’s side achieved last season when they won the league title, the League Cup and the Cup. Among the top-tier teams also advancing to the round of 32 were Lorient, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux, Lyon, and Montpellier. Lyon’s new coach, Bruno Genesio, who replaced Hubert Fournier during the winter break, celebrated his first game in charge with a 7-0 thrashing of fifth-division Limoges, after Maxwell Cornet and Rachid Ghezzal each scored a brace. Montpellier, which also changed coaches during the festive period and appointed former player Pascal Baills following Rolland Courbis’ resignation, defeated fifth-tier Epernay 1-0. Bordeaux came close to suffering a shock exit at the hands of third-tier Frejus-Saint-Raphael, coming twice from behind, before Diego Rolan sealed a 3-2 win in added time with a fine volley. Nice will host Rennes today.
The administrators of West Indies cricket, once they assumed power, seem to have taken the view that once they assumed power “no guy can chat to me”. In fact, on one occasion the president of the board complained that he came in contact with players who didn’t even acknowledge him! This attitude, which has traits of the ‘baccra massa’ style, became the hallmark of every confrontation with the players and their representatives. This superior and condescending attitude appeared to have got stronger when the president’s friend and fellow Jamaican ex-Test cricketer became president of the Players’ union. Dispute after dispute with the players failed to reach any satisfactory conclusion until agreed arbitrators or the courts ruled in favour of the players. These so-called rulings were then followed by a slew of rule changes, which could be seen as being designed to render dissatisfaction by any player. Older and wiser heads in the Caribbean took note and encouraged the board to engage experts to review the state of West Indian cricket. But even after agreeing to the formation of different review boards, their conclusions were largely ignored, eventually reaching the ultimate insult of accusing a committee of prime ministers and other dignitaries that their considered opinion re the actions necessary to save West Indies cricket were faulty. ASSUMED POWER The West Indies cricketers have completed the ‘rolling triple’ by winning all three international competitions scheduled for 2016. The Under 19 cricketers are World champions, the women’s T20 are World champions and the men’s T20 are World champions … again, the only team in the world to have that distinction. To the fans and supporters who got up at 4 a.m. in Jamaica and at 5 a.m. in the rest of the Caribbean to watch both matches on television, congrats. Your support and dedication is the stuff of which legends are made. West Indies cricket has been suffering for years, as the best cricketers of the region were denied time and time again the opportunity to express themselves regarding their concept of right and wrong. PROPLEMS FACED The result was that the present World T20 champions played this year’s competition with what can be described as ‘the passion of the wronged’. The speech at the presentation ceremony by victorious captain Darren Sammy catalogued some of the problems the present team faced in the preparation for the tournament. Sammy praised those that contributed to their victory, including Rawle Lewis and coach Phil Simmons, for their work behind the scenes, as well as the support of the CARICOM Committee, for its support and words of encouragement which, as the captain pointed out, was conspicuously absent from the Board led by President Dave Cameron. As is now usual, the statement of the board after Sammy’s tirade promises to “look into his complaints”. How much longer will we the Caribbean cricket fans allow these men in suits to continue to lead cricket into oblivion, as the victorious captain has expressed doubt about whether any of these men’s World T20 heroes will be selected to represent the West Indies in upcoming competitions. Local cricket boss Billy Heaven has promised a suitable reception for the victorious Jamaicans on their return. When that will be is uncertain as international commitments will ensure that the men’s return will be fragmented. No such fragmentation is expected when the victorious members of the women’s team returns. An arrangement to host such a reception in the arena or the indoor sport centre must be mandatory. We have to show these cricketers (in real terms) what their victory means to us, Jamaicans and West Indians. We are champions!