When the best of Serie A beat a Football League all-star XI

first_img Twitter Topics Share on Facebook But this was neither a charity match nor a friendly played for dubious benefits in a country with a questionable human-rights record. On 16 January 1991, before 18,000 fans at Napoli’s San Paolo stadium, a Serie A select XI took on the best of the Football League. Watching the footage, the camera angles take the mind back to the magic nights of the World Cup the previous summer. Indeed, in their red shirts, white shorts and red socks, the Football League side could have passed for an England team in their change kit. The Italian outfit was rather more garish, resembling an early-1990s Marseille top that had run in the wash. However tasteless the strip, though, theirs were apparently the better footballers.Van Basten’s goal, in the 26th minute, established the pattern. Two minutes later, Mark Wright – who had played in the stadium for England less than six months earlier in a World Cup quarter-final victory over Cameroon – dawdled on the ball. Once more, Careca seized on the mistake and this time beat Southall with his right foot, finding the bottom-left corner. Wright’s sliding tackle had failed to disturb the Brazilian and, as the ball settled in the net, the centre-half slapped the ground in frustration. The roar was noticeably louder for the second goal than the first, the Neapolitan crowd enjoying another chance to celebrate a player they had come to adore.In the second half, the Italians created another goal with a combination that would never be repeated. Genoa full-back Branco, who would go on to win the World Cup with Brazil in 1994, found Paolo Di Canio of Juventus, whose career ended without a full cap for Italy. Di Canio released the ball just before Wright’s tackle felled him. The pass found Simeone, at the time a young Pisa midfielder in his debut campaign in Europe. Pisa were relegated at the end of the season, so his goal against the Football League was a rare moment of release in a tough season. Nevertheless, Simeone looked strangely glum after his driven shot beat David Seaman, who had come on to replace Southall.Simeone’s haircut, too, was incongruous – a Chris Waddle-worthy mullet, on a man whose playing and coaching style demands a short back and sides. Simeone was no star of Italian football at that time. Had the A-listers – Frank Rijkaard, Giuseppe Giannini, Roberto Donadoni – been available, he would probably not have been chosen. The Italian broadcaster presenting highlights of the game talks of an “improvised” Serie A side and there was no Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Roberto Baggio or Gianluca Vialli. Yet coach Alberto Bigon’s squad would have given most teams of the era a serious game. features Read more Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Messenger • This article was published first on The Blizzard• Follow The Blizzard on Twitter and Facebook Football Share on WhatsApp Share via Email Share on Pinterest The Serie A team of the 1990s Guardian Sport Network Giovanni Galli, the goalkeeper, won seven trophies with Milan, including two European Cups. Aldair made 434 appearances for Roma, helping them to only their third Serie A title in 2001. Alessandro Bianchi, a right-winger for Inter, played nine times for Italy. In his only season in Italian football, Oleksiy Mykhailychenko was a champion with Sampdoria.Gabriele Pin, a clever midfielder remembered for his time at Parma and Lazio, worked extensively as Cesare Prandelli’s assistant, notably with Italy, when they reached the final of Euro 2012. Had he belonged to another generation, Pin’s sometime Parma teammate Lorenzo Minotti would have won many more than eight caps in the Azzurri defence. Instead, he fought for a place with Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, and Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro soon swept past him.The English side, managed by Lawrie McMenemy, was no less impressive. Hysén, Steve Nicol, Steve McMahon, Ian Rush and Barnes had won the title with Liverpool the previous season. Dixon, Limpar, Michael Thomas and Paul Davis would help Arsenal succeed them as champions four months later. Steve Bull never reached the top flight with Wolves, but that did not stop him making England’s squad for the 1990 World Cup. And Saunders was an improving forward with Derby who would join Liverpool for £2.9m five months after his trip to Naples.It’s a shame there are not more matches like this one. The hectic schedule would make it difficult to organise these days, but players were also busy in 1991. English clubs had just returned to European competition after their competitive ban – imposed after the Heysel Stadium tragedy in 1985 – so the fixture list was busier than it had been. It did not prevent the two federations gathering impressive squads. Would it be much more difficult for their counterparts today?The power of the top clubs would be a roadblock. Would Manchester City allow Sergio Agüero to represent the Premier League against another of Europe’s strongest divisions? Would Barcelona do the same with Lionel Messi, or Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo? Consider the following conversation between the Premier League and Pep Guardiola: “Look, Pep. I know you have a Champions League semi-final later this month, but we’d really like you to let us have Ederson and Kevin De Bruyne for a one-off game against Ligue 1. Pep? Hello? Pep?” Clubs kick up enough of a fuss when their players have the temerity to represent their countries in qualifying matches.Staunch Premier League believers it is the strongest division in the world. La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 have similar loyalists. Until the best of one league takes on the best of another, it will be impossible to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling combine to create a goal for Harry Kane, or watch Cristiano Ronaldo run on to a pass from Dries Mertens, hold off Gerard Piqué and shoot past Jan Oblak?Imagine if these moves could happen for real, not just in a games console. They could help dismantle lazy statements about the relative quality of different leagues. And, by the final whistle, we would have a good idea about which team, and therefore league, was stronger. The calendar may be packed but what difference would a few more dates make? It is time to revive the inter-league representative match. Now, who will volunteer to help me take the argument to the clubs? Attempting to collect a square pass, Glenn Hysén allows the ball to slip momentarily from his control. Too late. As he turns to try to recover his mistake, Careca is already gliding into the penalty area. Neville Southall saves the Brazilian’s low, diagonal shot from left to right but when the great goalkeeper regains his balance, Marco van Basten is closing in.You can guess what happens next. The Dutchman did not build a reputation as one of the world’s most proficient forwards by missing such chances and he swiftly gives his team the lead. Careca jogs over to congratulate Van Basten who is, unusually, wearing the No 11 shirt. The pair high-five and share a brief embrace.Even football’s most diligent historians might find it difficult to fathom how these 13 seconds of action were possible. How were these players on the same pitch at the same time? Van Basten and Careca were opponents in Italy, at Milan and Napoli respectively, from 1987 until 1993, but never played together. After his move from Fiorentina to Liverpool in 1989, Hysén, a Swede, and Southall, a Welshman, were adversaries on Merseyside until Hysén returned home in 1992. Neither Van Basten nor Careca played in England, while Southall spent his entire club career in that country, including 17 years with Everton.Also on the pitch that day were Diego Simeone, Lothar Matthäus, John Barnes and Dean Saunders. Gianluigi Lentini, who would become the world’s most expensive player when he joined Milan from Torino for £13m in 1992, came on as a second-half substitute. Halfway to winning his second league title for Arsenal, Lee Dixon was the English team’s right-back. Facebook Share on LinkedIn Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Response Programme Lauded

first_imgThe success of Jamaica’s national HIV/AIDS response programme in reducing the number of deaths among infected persons has been lauded by Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, and the Pan American Organization (PAHO). Speaking at the Ministry of Health’s Annual HIV/STI Review Forum at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, recently, Dr. Ferguson pointed to a 50 per cent decline in the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths, between 2004 and 2011. An estimated 1.7 per cent of the population, aged 15 to 49 years, is deemed to be living with the disease in Jamaica, He attributed this to improvements in healthcare delivery, inclusive of increased availability of and access to Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs), used in the treatment of infected persons; and improved surveillance programmes and testing processes. “Three hundred and thirty three (333) AIDS deaths were reported in 2010, compared to 665 in 2004. This represents a 50% decrease in AIDS deaths since the inception of universal access to ARVs in 2004 (a)… significant improvement over this period,” he informed. The Health Minister informed that procurement of a significant supply of ARVs was facilitated, primarily through the provision of a US$23 million grant from the Global Fund. Dr. Ferguson noted that improved healthcare in Jamaica, consistent with international standards, has contributed to more persons with HIV/AIDS, being able to live normal lifestyles. This, he contended, augurs well for the country’s prospects in securing continued assistance, particularly from international donor agencies, to further strengthen the sector’s capacity to effectively tackle the disease.  Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Programme is financed mainly by the Government of Jamaica, the Global Fund, UNAIDS, and the World Bank. Significant expenditures have been made on activities geared towards prevention, with approximately $676 million being allocated in this regard in 2009/10, and $625 million in 2010/11. Encouraged by the progress in Jamaica’s fight against HIV/AIDS, Minister Ferguson assured that the country will seek to fulfill new targets, in this regard, by 2015. These, he outlined, include: further reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS through sexual transmission, reducing the risk of persons engaging in substance abuse being infected, particularly where the sharing of needles occurs; reducing the number of tuberculosis-related deaths among persons living with HIV/AIDS; reducing the number new cases of the disease among children; and increasing the number of persons accessing treatment. “I feel very confident that we can see further improvements in our HIV and AIDS targets within the next three years. Jamaica’s HIV programme has been lauded as among the most successful in the Latin American and Caribbean Region,” the Minister said. Dr. Ferguson said, against the background of tight fiscal constraints, Jamaica continues to lobby international donor agencies for additional funding support to maintain the national programme. “We have to secure the gains that we have made. I am confident that our global partners will support our efforts at reducing the HIV prevalence among our population, thereby putting our country firmly along the path of development,” he underscored. A recent World Bank study on Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Programme, conducted in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica and UNAIDS, recommended that priority areas be identified for long term and sustainable funding. “Assess the allocative efficiency between prevention and treatment, and between specific programmes within prevention, to guide targeted efforts. Effective prevention, in the short term, will result in lower spending on treatment in the long term,” the World Bank study concluded. Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Advisor on HIV/STI Surveillance, Dr. Paul Edwards, who also addressed the HIV/STI Review Forum, in commending the effectiveness of Jamaica’s programme, as well, suggested that the country share its “best practices” with the rest of the Caribbean. “You have made tremendous achievements in 2011; a lot of very good work (is) being done here in Jamaica. There are a lot of best practices that need to be documented and shared across the Caribbean. I encourage you to do that,” Dr. Edwards said. In his recent message, focusing on the region’s AIDS prevention campaign, United Nation Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene, pointed to the prospect of “an AIDS-free generation” in the region that was “unimaginable” a generation ago. “Yet, we are cautioned by the reality that biomedical and behavioural tools still have to be brought to scale and that scarce resources and the persistence of stigma and discrimination are impediments to this dream,’ he stated. As such, Dr. Greene stressed the need for a redoubling of efforts to strengthen the health system’s response, advance treatment to prevent HIV/AIDS, and eliminate mother to child transmission, among other key focus areas. “These require creative and collective leadership, shared responsibility in public/private partnerships, and the engagement of all stakeholders,” Dr. Greene underscored.last_img read more