d’Hooghe criticises challenges

by John Stephens

Every Sunday afternoon men, young and old, the length and breadth of the country play in Amateur football leagues. Far removed from the Theatre of Dreams they are faced with the Theatre of Reality on a variety of different pitches, each one more worn out than the previous.

In recent weeks in high profile games we have seen a few robust challenges, most notably Nigel De Jong on Hatem Ben Arfa which resulted in the latter having to undergo surgery to repair his tibia and fibula. Of course these are commonplace as you descend further into the murky depths that football reaches.

Dr. Michael d’Hooghe of Fifa recently stated that ‘some players come on the field… to break a career’ and even labelled the acts as ‘disfiguring football at the highest level’ and ‘criminal’. On a game on Sunday that was played on Cavalry Park’s own Theatre of Reality, the only criminal acts were those of violent conduct and not of the beautiful game played in its somehow attractive brutal force with a real injection of venom in tackles.

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Spartans to replay Scottish Cup tie

By Ross Hart

Edinburgh side Spartans have earned a Scottish Cup reprieve after the Scottish Football Association ruled today that Elgin City fielded an ineligible player in Saturday’s original tie.

Mickey Lawson’s side were defeated 2-1 at Borough Briggs but the home team fielded goalkeeper Joe Malin, who signed on loan from Ross County after the date of the original tie that was postponed on November 29th.

The capital club launched an appeal for the match to be replayed after finding out Malin was ineligible and the SFA committee said that Elgin were in breach of Competition Rule 15b. This states that “When a match is postponed, drawn or abandoned, is played or replayed, only those players who were eligible by means of their registration at the date fixed for originally playing the Round, may play.”

The match will now be replayed at Elgin’s Borough Briggs ground on Monday December 15th with a 7.45pm kick off.

Last season, Brechin City were expelled from the tournament after it was discovered they fielded two ineligible players during their victory over Hamilton Academical.

Weekend Sport Preview

Graeme Macleod previews this weekend’s sports action.

Rugby:

Heineken Cup Pool Two

Edinburgh Gunners vs. London Wasps

The Gunners welcome Guiness Premiership champions Wasps to Murrayfield for this Heineken Cup clash on Friday. Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson is set to make one change to the team that defeated Ospreys last week. That means full-back Chris Paterson is set to make his 50th european appearance for the hosts as they look to repeat their 2005 win over Wasps.

The visitors are two-time winners of the competition with their last success coming as recently as 2007. This will be Wasps first match since a boardroom reshuffle – which saw World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio appointed a director of the club – earlier this week.

Football:

Scottish Premier League

Falkirk are looking to bounce back from conceding a late equaliser against Hibernian last week when they host St Mirren.

Inverness CT welcome Dundee United to the Caledonian Stadium while Kilmarnock host Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Motherwell were dumped 2-0 at Pittodrie last week and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host in-form Hearts at Fir Park. The Jambos picked up a superb three points last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Rangers at Tynecastle. That means Csaba Laszlo’s side have won five games in a row, lifting them up to third spot in the SPL table.

Rangers take on Hamilton to Ibrox looking to bounce back from that defeat. Walter Smith is likely to have Kenny Miller, Sasa Papac and Steven Davis back in the squad.

In Sunday’s match, Hibernian entertain Celtic at Easter Road. Mixu Paatelainen’s men salvaged a draw at Falkirk last week thanks to sub Colin Nish’s late strike and the towering forward is likely to be vying for a start when the champions visit. Celtic on the other hand are looking to rack up their 13th consecutive league win before Wednesday’s Champions League match agains Villarreal.

Scottish Cup

In the re-arranged third round fixtures, Edinburgh City host Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium while Spartans travel north to play Elgin City. Forfar Athletic take on Stranraer and the all non-league matches see Forres Mechanics face Dalbeattie Star and Inverurie Locos host Vale of Leithen, with the winners in that match set to be take on Premier League Motherwell at home in the next round. Junior outfit Lochee United host Second Division Ayr United with the winners meeting Kilmarnock in Round Four.

Boxing:

Amir Khan vs. Oisin Fagan

Bolton fighter Khan returns to the ring for the first time since his 54-second knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott. The Olympic silver medalist is looking to rebuild his career following that defeat, the first of his professional career. The 21-year-old boast a record of 18-0-1 and will have to win this one to keep his hopes of a world title fight alive.

Opponent Fagan turned professional in 2003. The Irishman goes into this fight in London with a record that reads 22-0-5. The ‘Gael Force’ last fought in March against Paul Spadafora when he lost in a split decision after 10 rounds.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao

After Khan vs. Fagan, attention turns to Las Vegas where Oscar De La Hoya takes on Manny Pacquiao. This fight sees two of the best pound-for-pound fighters going head-to-head with the winner likely to be rewarded with a multi-million pound match with Ricky Hatton next year.

De La Hoya’s record reads 40-0-4 and his last appearance in the ring was a win over Steve Forbes in May. Pacquiao comes into the fight with a record of 47 wins, two draws and three losses. This clash with the ‘Golden Boy’ presents probably the biggest challenge of the Filipino’s career.

Big football weekend for Capital clubs

By Ross Hart           

This weekend marks the third round of the Homecoming Scottish Cup and two part-time Edinburgh sides will be looking to defy the odds and advance to round four.

Spartans travel north to play Elgin City of the Third Division, while Edinburgh City take on Second Division Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium.

Spartans have earned a reputation for giant killing in the tournament, having twice reached the fourth round in recent seasons.

This season they have already beaten junior side Pollok and Third Division Annan Athletic, who won a vote ahead of Spartans to gain entry to the Scottish Football League after Gretna went out of business last season.

Their hosts Elgin, by contrast, have had a poor start to their league season, having won just two out of their 14 matches and go into the tie on the back of a 5-0 loss to Annan.

Edinburgh City meanwhile have beaten Highland League sides Nairn County and Wick Academy to progress to the third round but they arguably face the toughest test.

Brechin are currently joint top of the Second Division, recording 32 points and 27 goals in the process and are serious contenders to win promotion to Division One.

But Edinburgh have claimed seven points from their three league games played and will look to Robbie Ross to fire them through, the striker having scored 15 goals this season.

An exciting day of cup football awaits and the Edinburgh duo will be hoping they will join their illustrious city neighbours Hearts and Hibernian in Monday’s fourth round draw.

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