Something From The Weekend: Brits win low-stakes games; Barry Ferguson's contrition; Bafana Bafana premature

The Good, The Bad and The Odd
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The Independent Online

The Good: Brits win low-stakes games

In a sense, a weekend of sporting triumph for Brits in Japan. Jenson Button won the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, his third win of the season, but had to celebrate alongside the new world champion Sebastian Vettel, 124 points ahead of him with four races left. In Tokyo, Andy Murray played brilliantly to beat Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the Japan Open. Very impressive, but after heavy semi-final defeats to Nadal at the French Open, US Open and Wimbledon, it may have left him with a pang of frustration. To play one's best when it matters less: a very British approach. Perhaps Craig Levein should tell his Scottish players tomorrow's game in Spain is a friendly.

The Bad: Barry Ferguson's contrition

One man who will not be in Alicante tomorrow is Barry Ferguson. The man who has replaced Charlie Adam as Blackpool's own ex-Rangers midfield inventor is in international retirement after an unfortunate incident in 2009. Ferguson, dropped for his involvement in a drinking session, spent the match against Iceland holding up two fingers on his face to register his protest at the injustice. "I knew as soon as I did it, I was in deep trouble," he recalled this weekend. "I've looked at myself in the mirror a hundred times, 200 times and just wondered why I did it." Contrite, but he does not plan a return, even with the prospect of a play-off. "I think I made the right decision to go away from it and let Scotland rebuild."

The Odd: Bafana Bafana premature

To see a disallowed goal celebrated is entertaining. But to see a whole team dancing under the misapprehension that they had qualified for a tournament is to have that sensation multiplied. So it was with South Africa on Saturday. Bafana Bafana played out a 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone believing that it would send them to the African Nations Cup. In fact, the groups are decided by head-to-head, rather than goal difference, and so Niger went through instead. "I feel like I have failed" said coach Pitso Mosimane. In 1996 Manchester City played out a 2-2 draw believing it would keep them in the Premier League. It didn't, of course. But at least the players didn't dance on the Maine Road pitch afterwards.