“Oh What A Night “ and Day!

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Marc Pozzo

Last Saturday Yours Truly had a pretty hectic but enjoyable day. My first line of duty was at the OK Grand Challenge. The climax of the 2019 Shop, Gallop and Win promotion.

My day at the races was my usual television presenting for the DSTV racing channel. It’s always a good day when the crowds come in, it makes the atmosphere so much better as normal race meetings are pretty dismal these days!

Anyway once again I failed to deliver my correct seven horses past the post for the $10 000 prize on offer from the sponsors. The main race, the OK Grand Challenge was won in fine style by last year’s winner (3), Simona, owned by the Newbury Racing (Pvt) Ltd.

It was the same old ,same old . Same trainer Bridget Stidolph and jockey Calvin Habib who seems to have set up a superb relationship with this five-year old mare who has now won 10 races from 23 starts, and has nine places as well. She actually won pretty easy, as all the betting attention was on the stable companion Peggson, who had to settle for 4th place this year.

From Borrowdale Park it was down to the vlei ,Old Georgians Sports Club, as we had a sponsored event with our partners, Heineken and oh what a night! Despite the game being a bit of a yawn, at the end of the day, it’s the trophy that counts and a win is a win, and one must grasp it with both hands.

So the celebrations started, and it was a real night to remember for all Liverpool fans in Zimbabwe, let alone around the world.  Liverpool’s celebrations shifted to their home city on Sunday as tens of thousands of fans greeted the team which beat Tottenham to win the Champions League final in Madrid the night before.

Supporters turned Liverpool into a sea of red as the open-top bus carrying coach Jurgen Klopp and his victorious players edged through the city. Liverpool became champions of Europe for a sixth time when Mohamed Salah’s second-minute penalty and Divock Origi’s late strike secured a 2-0 win in the sweltering Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

It was a first trophy of any sort in seven years for the club and banished the memories of last year’s bitter defeat to Real Madrid in the final in Kiev. The win also represented a personal triumph for Klopp, who finally snapped his run of six straight losses in cup finals.

Celebrations ran late into Saturday night in the Spanish capital and in Liverpool, as ecstatic supporters danced drunkenly in the streets and the club anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” rang out. Liverpool’s sixth success in Europe’s top club trophy came after wins in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and the memorable come-from-behind victory against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005. Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, who scored a penalty awarded in the first minute for a disputed handball from Moussa Sissoko, said he had drawn on the disappointment of last year’s final in which he trudged off in tears with a shoulder injury.

Liverpool’s success also underlined the financial muscle of the Premier League, made rich by TV contract revenues that dwarf other European leagues. Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk, signed for £75 million, and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker, a £65 million recruit, both played crucial roles in Liverpool’s success. Three weeks ago, Liverpool were denied a first league title in 30 years by Abu Dhabi-backed City, despite losing just once all season.

The Cricket World Cup has begun in earnest and we have as I write, seen two massive upsets . Firstly, South Africa went down to Bangladesh on the weekend and then on Monday, favourites and hosts England lost to Pakistan  at Trent Bridge by 14 runs. They ended a long losing streak in one-day internationals despite two centuries for the World Cup host nation. Joe Root (107) and Jos Buttler (103) were guiding the tournament favourites towards an imposing target of 349 after Pakistan left England, number one in the ODI rankings, needing a World Cup record chase.

The pair put on 130 for the fifth wicket but both were out shortly after reaching their hundreds and the tail had too much to do. It was a remarkable turnaround for Pakistan, whose opening match of this World Cup had seen then slump to 105 all out in a seven-wicket defeat by the West Indies at the same ground on Friday.

That defeat was their 11th straight loss in completed ODIs, including the recent 4-0 series defeat by England. But Pakistan, who won the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, started strongly on Monday and made 348 for eight, Mohammad Hafeez top-scoring with 84. No side had previously made more batting second to win a World Cup match than Ireland, with 329 for seven against England at Bangalore in 2011.  It really now opens up the tournament and I think we could be in for some great cricket over the next six weeks.