US missiles blast Syria base where chem planes took off

first_img PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) The United States blasted a Syrian air base with a barrage of cruise missiles Thursday night in fiery retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians. President Donald Trump cast the U.S. assault as vital to deter future use of poison gas and called on other nations to join in seeking “to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president just over two months ago. Announcing the assault from his Florida resort, Trump said there was no doubt Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical attack, which he said employed banned gases and killed dozens.“Assad choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children,” Trumped declared.The U.S. strikes hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. in Washington, 3:45 a.m. Friday morning in Syria. The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an “aggression.”The surprise U.S. assault marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the U.S. getting pulled into the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year. But the president earlier in the week appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, calling it a “disgrace to humanity” that crossed “a lot of lines.”About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.The president did not announce the attacks in advance, though he and other national security officials ratcheted up their warnings to the Syrian government throughout the day Thursday.“I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Florida, where he was holding a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.The strike came as Trump was hosting Xi in meetings focused in part on another pressing U.S. security dilemma: North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump’s actions in Syria could signal to China that the new president isn’t afraid of unilateral military steps. even if key nations like China are standing in the way.Trump has advocated greater counterterrorism cooperation with Russia, Assad’s most powerful military backer. Just last week, the Trump administration signaled the U.S. was no longer interested in trying to push Assad from power over his direction of a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.U.S. military officials sought to portray the strikes as an appropriate, measured response. But the assault still risks plunging America into the middle of Syria’s conflict, complicating the safety of the hundreds of U.S. forces fighting a separate campaign against the Islamic State group in the north of the country. If Assad’s military persists in further gas attacks, the Trump administration might logically pursue increased retaliation.Russia and Iran, Assad’s allies, pose other problems. Russian military personnel and aircraft are embedded with Syria’s, and Iranian troops and paramilitary forces are also on the ground helping Assad fight the array of opposition groups hoping to topple him.Before the strikes, U.S. military officials said they informed their Russian counterparts of the impending attack. The goal was to avoid any accident involving Russian forces.Nevertheless, Russia’s Deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that any negative consequences from the strikes would be on the “shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful and tragic enterprise.”The U.S. also notified its partner countries in the region prior to launching the strikes.Trump’s decision to attack Syria came three-and-a-half years after President Barack Obama threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside of Damascus. Obama had declared the use of such weapons a “red line.” At the time, several American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles, only for Obama to abruptly pull back after key U.S. ally Britain and the U.S. Congress balked at his plan.He opted instead for a Russian-backed plan that was supposed to remove and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.Thursday night’s strikes were launched from the USS Ross and USS Porter and landed in the early morning Friday in Syria.The world learned of the chemical attack earlier in the week in footage that showed people dying in the streets and bodies of children stacked in piles. The international outcry fueled an emotional response from Trump, who appeared to abandon his much-touted “America First” vision for a stance of humanitarian intervention, akin to that of previous American leaders. “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity,” he said Thursday.Trump seemed to rapidly reconsider his feelings about Assad, saying: “He’s there and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.”The show of force in Syria raises legal questions. It’s unclear what authority Trump is relying on to attack another government. When Obama intervened in Libya in 2011, he used a U.N. Security Council mandate and NATO’s overall leadership of the mission to argue that he had legal authority — arguments that many Republicans opposed. Trump can’t rely on either justification here.Unclear also is whether Trump is adopting any broader effort to combat Assad. Under Obama, the United States largely pulled back from its support for so-called “moderate” rebels when Russia’s military intervention in September 2015 led them to suffer a series of battlefield defeats. Instead, Obama sought to work with Russia on a negotiated transition.Trump and his top aides had acknowledged in recent days the “reality” of Assad being in power, saying his ouster was no longer a priority. But the chemical weapons attack seemed to spur a rethink. In Florida on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said of Assad: “There’s no role for him to govern the Syrian people.” Related Articles:Turkey: Syria autopsies show chemical weapons used in attackSyria chemical attack death toll now at 72; new strikes hitSuspected Syria gas attack kills dozens, including children US missiles blast Syria base where chem planes took off Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. SHARE Published: April 6, 2017 9:20 PM EDT Updated: April 7, 2017 6:45 AM EDT last_img read more

Women’s Swimming and Diving Notes: Argos return to action in Georgia

first_img Share    GAINESVILLE, Ga. – The West Florida women’s swimming and diving team returns to Georgia this weekend to compete at the Brenau Invitational and the Emory Diving Invitational. The Argonauts picked up three wins in LaGrange, Ga. on their last road trip.Swimming and Diving Notes (.pdf)NATIONAL COACHES’ POLLUWF came in at No. 21 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division II national coaches’ poll last week. Grand Valley State is currently ranked No. 1, followed by UC San Diego and Queens (N.C.), in that order. UWF is the highest ranked women’s team from the New South Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (NSISC) at No. 21, followed closely by Delta State at No. 22.ABOUT THE BRENAU INVITATIONALUWF will face a large and talented field at the Brenau Invitational, including Division II opponents Converse and Limestone, Division III schools Berry, LaGrange and Birmingham-Southern, NAIA opponents Brenau, Lindsey Wilson, Milligan, SCAD and Thomas (Ga.), and junior college opponents Darton State and South Georgia. In the CollegeSwimming.com rankings, Limestone is No. 21 in Division II, SCAD (No. 1) and Milligan (No. 12) are ranked in the NAIA, and South Georgia is No. 4 in the NJCAA ranks.ABOUT THE EMORY DIVING INVITATIONALUWF will be one of four teams at the Emory Diving Invitational, including Birmingham-Southern, Darton State and the host school Emory. The event will be the first diving competition for the Argonauts since a tri-meet against Birmingham-Southern and Centre on Oct. 18. Josie McKee picked up two wins at that event, finishing first at 1 meter (227.40) and 3 meters (226.30).ARGONAUT DUOThe highest ranked individual swimmers for UWF this season have been Peggy de Villiers and Anna-Marie Macht. In the 50 free and 100 free sprints, de Villiers holds top 20 times in the nation with a 24.30 in the 50 and a 52.95 in the 100. Macht holds top 20 times in the 100 breast (1:07.34), 200 IM (2:10.16) and 400 IM (4:35.78).HIGHLY RANKED RELAYSThe times set by the UWF’s top relay teams in the 200 free and the 200 medley in their first meet on Oct. 11 still rank in the top 10 nationally in Division II. The 200 free team of Peggy de Villiers, Emily Mitchell, Carla Robles and Cheryl Corvo posted a time of 1:38.52, and the 200 medley team of Mitchell, Anna-Marie Macht, Corvo and Robles had a time of 1:48.35. Both times rank seventh in the nation to this point in the season.FIRST PLACE FOR THE FIRST ARGONAUTCheryl Corvo has claimed the most wins so far for UWF, posting first place finishes in four individual events and four relays. Corvo was the first official member of the inaugural UWF women’s swimming and diving team, accepting a scholarship offer in 2012. The Fort Walton Beach, Fla. native competed for Division I Florida Gulf Coast in her freshman season in 2010-11 and helped lead the Eagles to the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association title. Corvo then transferred to UWF in 2011 to pursue a degree in pre-professional biology.INDIVIDUAL AND RELAY WINS8 – Cheryl Corvo (4 individual, 4 relay)7 – Anna-Marie Macht (4 individual, 3 relay)7 – Peggy de Villiers (3 individual, 4 relay)6 – Emily Mitchell (2 individual, 4 relay)5 – Carla Robles (5 relay)3 – Jennifer Starck (1 individual, 2 relay)3 – Savannah Antonetz (3 relay)2 – Karisa Kostecki (2 individual)2 – Josie McKee (2 individual)2 – Kelsey Fry (2 relay)1 – Allison Lehr (1 individual)1 – Alysiah Stock (1 individual)1 – Desiree Bowker (1 relay)1 – Grace Hutton (1 relay)OPENING WHISTLEUWF President Judith Bense blew the opening whistle for the Argonauts’ first ever meet on Oct. 11, marking the official start for the University’s 14th varsity sport. Before women’s swimming and diving, the most recent additions were women’s golf (2002) and women’s volleyball (2000). The 15th sport at UWF will be football in 2016.QUICK NOTESKarisa Kostecki, Allison Lehr and Alysiah Stock all posted their first collegiate wins at LaGrange; Kostecki won the 500 free and 1000 free, Lehr won the 200 fly and Stock won the 200 breast… Stock (200 breast – 2:37.92, Phoebe Briant (1000 free – 11:13.66) and Sydney Bexley (200 IM – 2:23.28) set new personal records at LaGrange… Carla Robles leads UWF with five relay wins. Print Friendly Version Women’s Swimming and Diving Notes: Argos return to action in Georgiacenter_img Meghan Zets and the UWF divers will return to action at the Emory Diving Invitational on Saturday (Emmele Photography) last_img read more

Diego Alves makes history with penalty save from Cristiano Ronaldo

first_imgDiego Alves made history with his penalty save from Cristiano Ronaldo during Valencia’s creditable 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.  CEST Upd. at 18:21 10/05/2015 The goalkeeper third in the rankings is Paco Buyo, of Real Madrid, who made 15 saves.  Sport EN This was his 16th penalty stop in La Liga, the same as Andoni Zubizarreta managed in his career – more than any other stoppers. The big difference between the two is that the Brazilian Valencia keeper has saved 16 of 37, more than 43 per cent, while Zubi kept out 16 of 102, a little more than 16 per cent.  It’s not just this – Diego Alves is the first goalkeeper to save two Cristiano Ronaldo penalties.last_img read more

Barça will start against Alaves at home and finish against Eibar away

first_img CEST Sport EN Alavés – Girona Celta – Rayo Vallecano Espanyol – Real Sociedad Getafe – Villarreal Huesca – Leganés Sevilla – Athletic Levante – Atlético Madrid Eibar – Barcelona Real Madrid – Betis Valladolid – Valencia Barcelona will begin their campaign as reigning Spanish champions at the Camp Nou as they host Alaves. Here is the first gameweek in full: IN SPORT.ES Athletic – Leganés Betis – Levante Celta – Espanyol Eibar – Huesca Girona – Valladolid Rayo Vallecano – Sevilla Barcelona – Deportivo Alavés Real Madrid – Getafe Villarreal – Real Sociedad El Barça iniciará la Liga 2018 / 2019 ante el Alavés en el Camp Nou The RFEF will draw the fixture list tomorrow despite not having an agreement in place with LaLiga Upd. at 14:28 Barcelona will end the season away to Eibar at Ipurua.Here is the final gameweek in full: The Asamblea General de la Federación Española de Fútbol have finalised the fixture list for the upcoming LaLiga season. The biggest change in this season’s draw was the fact it won’t be asymmetrical as in previous seasons. This means the first 19 fixtures won’t follow the same order in the final 19 fixtures. 24/07/2018 RELATED STORIES Mónica Marchante and Felipe del Campo were in charge of the draw which took place in Las Rozas.last_img read more

Indian Football: ISL Transfer News, Indian Arrows get their second win, and much more!!!

first_imgAdvertisement lxsnNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs2zWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre Ervaa( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) ieqWould you ever consider trying this?😱giaCan your students do this? 🌚9tchRoller skating! Powered by Firework Welcome to another installment of our Indian football news roundup. In this section, you will find all the news pertaining to Indian football that happened today. Today, we will talk about ISL transfer news and Indian Arrows’ second victory in the Hero I-League.Advertisement In the I-League, Indian Arrows registered their second win of the campaign. Furthermore, the referees’ list that will officiate in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup is also out. Surprisingly, no Indian referee figures in the list.In case you missed out our yesterday’s edition of the Indian football news roundup, you can check it out here.Advertisement Indian Arrows pip Gokulam FC to get their second win in Hero I-LeagueIndian Arrows registered their second win of the 2018-19 Hero I-LeagueIndian Arrows registered their second win of the 2018-19 Hero I-League by pipping Gokulam FC 1-0 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. This win takes the Blue Colts to the ninth position on the table. The Malabarians, on the other hand, remains on the eighth spot.The match started on a cagey affair with the defenders winning the duel in the final third. Apart from Rahim Ali’s shot in the 30th minute which kissed the woodwork, no other promising chance was created in the first half.Advertisement Gokulam FC coach Bino George made a blunder by taking out Christian Sabah and PA Nasar, two midfielders, and bringing in two forwards, S Rajesh and Suhair VP. The Indian Arrows got the upper hand in the midfield and were rewarded in the hour mark when Guilherme Castro shoved down Vikram Pratap Singh inside the box.The referee pointed towards the spot and, Amarjit Singh Kiyam converted the penalty to give Indian Arrows a slender 1-0 lead. The AIFF Developmental side would cling onto it and grab all the three points.AFC Asian Cup 2019: No Indian referees to officiate in the tournamentNot a single Indian referee will officiate in the 2019 AFC Asian CupAsian Football Confederation, the highest governing body of football in Asia, released a list of 30 referees and 30 assistant referees for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The list includes referees from countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore but not India, who are ranked ahead of them.India has six FIFA referees and eight FIFA assistant referees, who are allowed to take charge in official tournaments like the AFC Asian Cup. However, none of them even made it to the standby list.ISL Transfer news: Nongdamba Naorem pens the deal with Kerala BlastersNongdamba Naorem will play for Kerala Blasters from the next seasonMoving on to the ISL transfer news, Kerala Blasters has made their first signing since the sacking of their previous manager David James. According to Sportskeeda, Nongadamba Naorem, famously known for scoring a wonder-goal against Shillong Lajong in 2017, has signed a deal with the Kerala side.However, he will only join the Yellow Army after the 2018-19 ISL season is over. Kerala Blasters paid its parent club Minerva Punjab 10 lakhs as a transfer fee. As a part of the deal, Nongdamba Naorem will be a part of the Kerala Blasters family until the 2021-22 season.ISL Transfer news: Pritam Kotal signs with ATKPritam Kotal is back with ATKAccording to Goal.com, Indian international footballer Pritam Kotal has signed a three-and-a-half year deal with two-time ISL champions ATK. The Kolkata-based side has paid Delhi Dynamos a transfer fee of more than 15 lakhs to pen the deal.The 25-year-old will earn more than a crore each in every year as a part of the deal. Pritam Kotal is currently training with the Indian football team in UAE as part of their preparation for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Once, the tournament is over, he will join the ATK setup.ISL Transfer news: Cavin Lobo to stay at ATKCavin Lobo is not moving to Quess East BengalDespite rumors being rife that Cavin Lobo will move to East Bengal to bolster their midfield prospects, the man has himself clarified that he will stay with ATK.In an exclusive chat with TalkSports 24×7, the 30-year-old told that it is not true. Cavin Lobo plans to stay with ATK and is working hard to break into the first team. Advertisementlast_img read more

Principal does the hard yards

first_imgTHEY say the best kind of teachers inspire, and that’s just what one Beaconsfield principal did last Thursday. Beaconsfield Upper…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Brewers steamroll to Sunfest Tournament Title

first_imgNelson opened with a 10-4 win over Castlegar Steelers followed by a narrow 10-9 win over Castlegar Royals.The Brewers then outlasted the Castlegar Raptors 12-7 to conclude the round robin draw with a 3-0 record.In the semi finals, Nelson edged the Raptors again, this time by a 6-4 score.The team includes, Moss Beattie, Gavin Franklin, Levi Konken,Sebastien Conne Correnti, Cash Nay, Gunnar Evenson, Larson Proctor, Cohen Wolbaum, Connor Peters, Austin Shrieves and Dax Dewar. Coaches are Kevin Dewar and assistant Jordan Konken.The Brewers, undefeated on the season at 12-0, play the Trail BlueJays Wednesday in Beaver Valley. Dewars Brewers had the offence running on all cylinders, putting up 10 runs during a 10-8 victory over Trail Mariners in Castlegar Sunfest Minor Division Baseball Tournament Sunday in the Sunflower City.The win was the fifth of the tournament for the Brewers.last_img read more

2019 TG4 Players’ Player of the Year nominees announced

first_imgThe winners will be revealed at the 2019 TG4 All-Star Awards Banquet, in association with Lidl, which will be held at theCitywest Hotel on Saturday, November 16. The nominees have been announced for the 2019 TG4 Players’ Player of the year awards in the Senior, Intermediate and Juniorgrades. There are two Dublin players in the running for the Senior award, as six-time TG4 All Star Sinéad Goldrick and Siobhán McGrath, who’s won three All-Stars, have been nominated for the prestigious individual accolade alongside Galway’s Louise Ward.  Goldrick and McGrath were named in the 2018 TG4 All Star team, while Goldrick, who scored a crucial goal for Dublin in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Final victory over Galway as the Sky Blues claimed three-in-a-row, is a previous Senior Players’ Player of the Year nominee from 2012.McGrath and Ward are both nominated for the Senior Players’ Player of the Year award for the first time.Both Goldrick and Ward are preparing for huge games next Sunday, as they line out for their respective clubs in provincialSenior club finals.Goldrick is a key player for Dublin outfit Foxrock-Cabinteely, who are aiming for a fifth straight Leinster Senior title whenthey tackle Laois representatives Sarsfields.Ward and Kilkerrin-Clonberne, meanwhile, will aim to retain their Connacht crown when they face off against Roscommon outfitKilbride.All three Senior Players’ Player of the Year nominees have also been nominated for TG4 All Star awards.After producing a Player of the Match display in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final, Aishling Moloney is nominated fora Players’ Player of the Year award in this grade.Moloney, who was also nominated for the Intermediate award in 2017, is joined on the three-player shortlist by Tipperary colleague Orla O’Dwyer, and Meath goalkeeper Monica McGuirk.Moloney and McGuirk are also nominated for TG4 All Star awards.In the Junior grade, Louth’s TG4 All-Ireland winning captain Kate Flood could be collecting a third Players’ Player of theYear award.Flood, a winner in 2015 and 2018, is nominated again after lifting the West County Hotel for the Wee County at Croke Parkon September 15.Flood produced a Player of the Match display in the Final victory over Fermanagh but she faces stiff opposition in the raceto be crowned TG4 Junior Players’ Player of the Year.Fermanagh’s prolific young forward Eimear Smyth, who was The Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month for April, is also nominated,as is Hannah Noonan, a former Dublin player who enjoyed an excellent season for beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists London.The nominees in all three categories have all been selected by their fellow players, who could not vote for their own team-mates.TG4 Senior Players’ Player of the Year Award NomineesSinéad Goldrick (Dublin)*Siobhán McGrath (Dublin)*Louise Ward (Galway)*TG4 Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year Award NomineesMonica McGuirk (Meath)*Aishling Moloney (Tipperary)*Orla O’Dwyer (Tipperary)TG4 Junior Players’ Player of the Year Award NomineesKate Flood (Louth)Hannah Noonan (London)Eimear Smyth (Fermanagh)*(also nominated for a TG4 All Star award) print WhatsApp Facebook Twitter Emaillast_img read more

Lukaku gives Everton semi edge over City

first_imgLiverpool lead Stoke 1-0 from the first leg of their semi-final and Manchester City will still be hopeful of turning this tie round as they look to repeat their 2014 success in the competition.When Jesus Navas cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori’s first-half goal, City looked to hold a slender advantage ahead of the home leg in three weeks’ time but Lukaku’s headed goal 12 minutes from the end means the underdogs hold sway.Having won only three of their 11 Premier League games at Goodison Park this season — conceding 20 goals in the process — home advantage could have been seen as negligible for Everton as they looked to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 2008.City’s win at Watford last Saturday was their first away from home in the league since September but they did score four times in winning at Sunderland to launch their League Cup run and had rattled in 13 goals in three ties to reach the last four.They started as they meant to go on as they continue a pursuit of four possible trophies with all the possession in Everton’s half in the opening stages.But Roberto Martinez — who masterminded Wigan’s shock FA Cup final win over City in 2013 before joining Everton as manager later that month — is happy for his team to soak up early pressure as he tries to solve Everton’s defensive problems.And having kept City at arm’s length, bar a header from Nicolas Otamendi which went just wide following a corner, Everton grew into the game as an attacking threat.Twice the home side had the ball in the net but John Stones and Lukaku were rightly penalised for off-side.But then after Sergio Aguero had gone close for City with efforts saved by Joel Robles and blocked by Funes Mori they did make an effort count by taking the lead a minute into first-half stoppage time.– Second goal -Again Lukaku strayed into an off-side position but the ball dropped instead for Funes Mori after Willy Caballero had saved Ross Barkley’s fierce shot following a corner and the defender hooked in his second goal for the club.Everton didn’t let the tempo drop as they looked to push home their advantage after the break with Gerard Deulofeu testing Caballero with an attempted chip.The City keeper, deputising for rested England number one Joe Hart, then made a better save to deny Barkley after the midfielder had brushed aside Otamendi and raced into the box to create a shooting chance.But the visitors began to threaten themselves as they looked to level a pulsating tie.Aguero sliced an effort wide after being set up by David Silva and Robles was then grateful to grab a header from Fernandinho following a Navas cross.The Everton keeper was tested again as Kevin de Bruyne played a one-two with Aguero before curling an effort towards the bottom corner.And City’s pressure paid off with 14 minutes to go when they made it 1-1 with a superb goal on the break.Fernandinho’s long ball released Aguero and after running at the Everton defence, he slipped the ball into the path of Navas who side-footed home his first goal since September, 2014.City would have been delighted to have been going back to the Etihad Stadium on level terms but parity lasted just two minutes as Gareth Barry’s cross was powerfully headed home by Lukaku to give Everton the edge.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Lukaku gives Everton semi-final edge over CityLIVERPOOL, January 7 – Romelu Lukaku’s 19th goal of the season gave Everton a 2-1 win over Manchester City in their League Cup semi-final first leg clash on Wednesday.Everton haven’t lifted a trophy since the 1995 FA Cup but they took a step closer to Wembley and a possible repeat of their 1984 League Cup final with local rivals Liverpool thanks to Lukaku’s late winner.last_img read more

Soweto’s football derby frenzy

first_imgSoweto was bustling with excitementahead of the football derby betweenKaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, SouthAfrica’s biggest football teams.(Image: Nosimilo Ndlovu)Soweto was full of excitement on Saturday 31 October ahead of the much-anticipated football derby between top local teams Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, which both call the township home.Lying in the southwest of Johannesburg, Soweto is South Africa’s largest and most famous township, home to over 1-million people.The Soweto derby is the biggest game in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League and always attracts a huge following of fans. But Saturday’s face-off was particularly significant because it was the first time in 26 years that the giants battled it out on home turf, where their rivalry began.The match was played at Orlando Stadium, newly refurbished as a training venue for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Over the past two decades the derby venue has mostly been Soccer City in Nasrec, outside Soweto, but that stadium was unavailable because it is also undergoing World Cup renovations.When news broke that the Soweto teams would be returning home, Joburgers of all kinds wanted in on the action.Driving through downtown Johannesburg on the morning of the game, dressed in my Kaizer Chiefs yellow T-shirt and matching black pants, derby frenzy was in the air.Almost everyone on the streets was dressed in their favourite team kit. Minibus taxis, draped with either Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates flags, hooted as they drove past fans, who were waving and blowing on vuvuzelas, plastic trumpets used as noisemakers at local matches, to announce the big game. Even my car radio pumped our blasts of vuvuzelas.Queues snaked around the corner at all the shisa nyamas, isiZulu for the informal pavement restaurants where you can buy meat and have it cooked on site, on an open fire. Fans were filling up on pap en vleis (Afrikaans for stiff porridge and meat) before making their way to the stadium, chanting in unison.By midday the city centre was almost empty – everyone had rushed to Soweto to see the big clash. Traffic heading to Soweto was flowing, but as we got closer to the stadium it almost ground to a halt. Traffic officers quickly stepped in to get the cars moving again, much to the relief of the fans.In Orlando East, where the stadium is situated, the rainbow nation filled the streets as football supporters from both teams marched along with vuvuzelas and flags in hand. Black, white, coloured, and Indian South Africans shared stories and laughed as they approached the stadium gates.Business boomingBusiness was booming outside the stadium, with vendors lining the road to sell branded flags, vuvuzelas, umbrellas, hats, assorted sweets, food and cigarettes – anything a fan may need before, during or after the game.Young car guards ran up and down whistling and waving at drivers, hoping to score a decent tip for pointing out a good parking spot.Yoliswa Ndaba sat a short distance from the stadium with her pots and gas stove, selling hot pig trotters – a culinary hit with the locals.“I arrived here early in the morning hoping to secure a good spot and catch supporters as they started arriving and wanted something to eat before the game,” she said.It was the first time she had sold food at a game. “I usually sell at the local train station, but decided to come here today. This is a big match – everyone will be coming here so I think business will be good.”Next to her three men had also set up tables and a gas stove, selling another local favourite – cow liver and pap.The rich aromas stopped a number of passing fans, who stared longingly at the huge frying pan sizzling with mounds of liver. Cooks Mxolisi Sithole, Lesego Mokoena and Thandanani Mbambo cajoled them with, “Come on my brother, just R30 for a plate. Come, my sister, come, we’ll do it quickly for you.”It was also their first time to sell to match-day crowds. “Business is really good here,” said Mokoena. “Next time we are going to make salads and come earlier. They’ll find us here when they arrive and we’ll be waiting for them when they come out.”Mbambo added: “People are excited when they come here. Their pockets are loose. Some come with children –and children always want food.“We’ll be here in 2010. We’ll be selling this food to tourists who want to experience truly South African cuisine. The tourists are used to rice and shawarmas – they’re not going to come all the way here just to eat the same food they eat back home. They will want something unique, and we’ll be here to give it to them.”It was five minutes before kickoff, but supporters were still queuing at the stadium gates. As they waited they were entertained by local ball jugglers showing off their best skills, hoping for a tip, and a young gymnast pulling off remarkable contortions as he spun around in the air.A band of photographers cut in, promising fans free entry to the game if they bought a photo of themselves. “Same time memories, same time photos and free tickets,” they shouted as they ran up and down through the crowds. Inevitably, the tickets never materialised.Football nationFootball is the most widely played sport in South Africa, particularly popular among the country’s black community. Local teams are followed with passion by fans across all nine provinces.In Soweto on the day of the derby, the streets emptied out as the game began. Many people headed indoors to catch the action on TV, while the diehard fans who couldn’t get tickets – the match was sold out three days before the event – gathered at local hot spots where the match was being screened.The game ended with a draw, probably the best outcome for the fans, and for Soweto. With no-one disappointed, the celebration continued. Crowds cheerfully shared beers and analysed the game, while the more energetic headed to nearby parties that raged on until the next morning.last_img read more