Lebanon Loses 1 – 0 To Qatar in Football World Cup Qualifier

I am not here to provide sports commentary. Sadly enough (or perhaps luckily enough for my nerves), I didn’t watch the game. Blame medical school exams scheduling and my very non-existent studying-time managing skills.

Over 50,000 Lebanese gathered at the Camille Chamoun stadium in Beirut to cheer for our team. These are a few pictures of the people gathered there, with all the enthusiasm they mustered, which is actually a whole lot:

We’re used to seeing faces painted with the flags of Italy, Germany, Brazil. But never Lebanon.

Because it wouldn’t be a Lebanese game without some serious trolling

(Picture by Bachir Itani.)

For the technical rundown of the game, here’s a source you can check.

What’s sad about the whole affair is that both teams were nowhere near an equal field when it comes to, well, everything. First, the Lebanese team was full of Lebanese who are underpaid, underfunded and do this more so for “leisure” than for credible prospects in a country where football had taken a backseat to basketball for a long, long time.

In fact, many Lebanese were upset how none of our local TV stations was broadcasting the game. I have to ask those: where was this enthusiasm when Lebanon went through the World Cup qualifiers year after year and didn’t get anywhere? Don’t blame our “poor” TV station. Blame the monopolizing giant Al-Jazeera which doesn’t let anyone else get the rights for a football game. God forbid that happens!

But I digress.

On the other hand, here’s how the Qatari teams breaks down:

“Hi. My name is Sebastian. And I am Qatari.”

Doesn’t make sense to you? It’s not meant to. But here’s another one.

“Hi. My name is Lawrence. And I am Qatari too.”

When more than half of the team on the field is nationalized, what can one expect? It looks like Qatar have so much money on their hands that they simply decided to purchase a national team. Many people on Twitter, most of whom weren’t Lebanese, had this to say: “Qatar team, why you no have Qataris?”

So very true.

Towards the later half of the second half, based on the bits and pieces I watched, the Lebanese team looked totally run out of stamina, which has been the case in their previous games as well. Based on this, what worries me the most is not losing to Qatar, it’s Lebanon having a second game on June 8th against Uzbekistan and then another one on July 12th against South Korea, all the way in Seoul. Will our players be able to handle the severe effort those games will require, let alone the time zone difference and the traveling?

I really hope so. But sometimes realism needs to tone down the sense of nationalism. And I’ll leave it at that for now.

Lebanese Audience Forbidden from World Cup Qualifier Lebanon vs Qatar Football Game on Sunday

Update: the audiences are now allowed to attend the game.

Blog Baladi & Plus 961 have all the details. Ticket sales have been rumored to be about 20,000 for the football game. Those people will be severly disappointed.

Why so? Because the government is worried about the crowds bad-mouthing the Qatari prince.

You know, while they’re at it, why not just ask the Lebanese national team to lose the game to Qatar? That would surely please the prince and not put “unnecessary” pressure on the relations of the two country.

Let me call this Lebanese fuckery of the day. Kello ella yez3al l amir l Qatari.

Moneyball – Movie Review

Moneyball, based on the book of the same title, is a movie about a baseball team manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), in his quest to build a formidable team that can go through the year long tournament. To do so, he enlists the help of Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who has a theory that building a team not based on a player’s reputation but based on his statistical averages is the way to go. The idea proves tantalizing for Beane seeing as his team, the Oakland Athletics, has a very dismal budget to begin with. As he put it, “There are the rich teams, then there are the poor teams, then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us.”

So instead of splurging on A-list players, Beane hunts down players whose days are apparently behind them. Some have nerve injuries to their elbows, some are too old to play and others have a bad reputation behind them. The critics will rise against Beane and his experiment but he perseveres in an attempt to prove everyone wrong. Moneyball is based on a true story.

To say Brad Pitt delivers a tour de force performance as Billy Beane would be an understatement. I have not watched all the Oscar nominated actors yet but I can safely say that among all the actors who have gotten and are getting award-hype this season, Brad Pitt is without a doubt my favorite so far. He’s being pitted against George Clooney in The Descendants (check my review) as the frontrunners. No offense to George Clooney but Pitt’s performance is lightyears better. It is more engaging, more thrilling, more interesting, more nuanced. It is exquisite. He portrays his character with the exact amount of strength and emotion that it needs. At times, he shows Beane’s fragile side as he faces the looming fear of failure and at other times, as he sits in the changing rooms behind the stadium, he shows undeniable resolve. Sometimes he shows both in one frame. You can actually say that Moneyball is Billy Beane and Billy Beane is Moneyball. The symbiosis between this character and the movie is that strong. Brad Pitt embodies Billy Beane perfectly.

Jonah Hill is very interesting as well as Beane’s assistant. His performance has been rightfully nominated for many awards, including an Oscar. In fact, one of the driving forces for Moneyball is the chemistry exhibited on screen by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the Athletics’ manager, is great as always in a more silent yet comical performance.

Moneyball has a great screenplay as well, as only can be expected from The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin (check my review of The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian, responsible for this year’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (check my review), to accompany the all star cast it enlists. The movie flows smoothly, never feels slow. And for a movie about baseball, a sport that I don’t particularly understand, it rises above the toughness of the game and turns this movie into one that is truly heartfelt, comical at times and entertaining throughout.

At the end of the day, Moneyball isn’t a movie about baseball as it is about changing the game, defying the system and breaking the boundaries imposed by other people on you. It is a movie that defies the baseball genre in which many people categorize it and rises above every single other baseball movie ever made. In fact, Moneyball might even be the best sports-related movie ever made because it doesn’t dwell on the technicalities of the sports it portrays, it rises above it to show a humanitarian aspect that everyone can relate to.

9/10