Kenyanstar Of The Week - Richard Omwela

Born in Western Kenya, 60 year old Richard Omwela studied at Kakamega High School before pursuing a law degree at the University of Nairobi. While at the University he did not make the grade to  play Rugby   due to the School back ground. Omwela headed the Kenya Rugby Union for close to 8 years between 2003 and 2011, a period within which Kenyan Rugby grew to unprecedented heights.  For his contribution to the game, Richard Omwela is our Kenyanstar of the week ...   

KS: Who is Richard Omwela? 

I'm a 60 years old Kenyan, born in Western Kenya. I schooled at Kakamega High School and proceeded to study law at the University of Nairobi. I'm a lawyer by profession and for the last 37 years i have been practicing corporate law. I'm a partner at Hamilton Harrison and Mathews previously the Managing partner. I'm also the current Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union. 

KS:  What is your story with Rugby? 

I followed Rugby from my University days and was at the University of Nairobi when the University team  Mean machine was formed. I came from a football background in High school, back in those days Kakamega High School was primarily a football giant and not so much ruby. When i got to the University of Nairobi I had to be content with watching from the side lines as there were better, more established players from Rugby playing schools such as Nairobi and Lenana  so i did not make the grade.  In terms of managing the sport, i joined Impala club as a member of the club when i finished my university studies but between 1991 and 1995 I served as the chairman of the club. That is how i joined Rugby administration because Impala was then as it still is a Rugby playing club among other sports. It is from this that i got into Rugby initially as a director in charge of Fund raising because of my corporate background. I moved on to become secretary of the union them moved on to become chairman of the Union. It was always felt that because of my corporate background i would help fund raise for the union.  

KS: And how did the fund raising go? Did your leadership help? 

 Pretty well i would say, initially our targets were very low, just about Ksh 10 million to run the sport every year as compared to now where we are looking at annual budgets of close to Ksh 500 Million. And yes i believe my leadership helped especially in corporate governance, introducing structures and generating an interest in the game.  Back in the day we would call for an AGM and only a handful of people would show up and we would divide the available roles but now we have actual competitive elections. I have always looked at how much i can give to the game in terms of my expertise and time resources as opposed to how much i can get from it and I believe my contribution to the sport has been immense especially by putting in place structures that would outlive us when we leave management of the sport to others. 

KS: That is interesting Mr. Omwela considering in the last election you campaigned on the platform of 'Coming back to clean the mess that had been created'.  Are the structures not strong enough?

The structures we have been continually putting in place are the reason our Rugby got a chance for another two years of good leadership and are the reason why there will always be a chance to make amends when things go wrong.  The unfortunate thing, and it applies to the country at large, is that while we have very many able Kenyans, most of them shy away from positions of leadership.  Some of those who offer themselves for leadership  could be coming in for other reasons other than leadership Good leaders also need to take the initiative and step other than live in their glorious days. I believe we have a lot of credible people able to offer leadership post Omwela or post anyone else.  

KS: What would you say is the current state of Rugby in Kenya? 

Rugby has grown in leaps and bounds. You will find that in all counties in Kenya, Rugby is being played not just at club level but all the way from school level to Universities and colleges. So, the game has grown rapidly.  The issue we have now is how to manage it because as the game expands we need competent officials, referees, coaches and even equipment and medical support. In those aspects we are lacking. Rugby is also playing a part in improving the Kenyan society values because of the discipline of the game. For instance we have an Under 10 program we run at the union in partnership with Shamas foundation. This program collects youth from Kibera and Kawangware and parents have observed that the youth who join this program have shown improved grades and personalities. This is mainly because of the discipline demanded of a rugby player and in the case of the youngsters also just being around successful individuals who play or manage rugby inspires them to do better in other spheres beyond the game. 

KS:  How would you say we rate against elite Rugby playing Nations like South Africa, England, Fiji and the likes? 

We are far much behind the elite Rugby playing nations and we need to do much more to come close to them. These are countries playing fully professional rugby back in their local leagues while we depend on players who have different day jobs  are in Colleges or have just left College.  

KS: How long Mr. Omwela before we go fully professional? 

There are deliberate efforts to fully professionalize our league. Clubs like Kabras, Impala, and Homeboyz are already moving towards that direction but a key set-back which the industry has been grappling with is the lack or insufficient corporate participation because a professional league is very expensive.     

KS: One would imagine that with rapid growth of the game corporate organizations will be literary struggling to be associated with it. What seems to be holding them back? 

There are two important factors we as administrators need to work on before we get full commitment from sponsors;

The first one is accountability and issues to do with corporate governance. Sponsors not only want to know how every single shilling they gave you was used, they also want to ascertain the monies they give are directed for the correct purpose and for the growth of the game.  So the way you run the game has a bearing on if sponsors will come on board and our efforts over the years has won the confidence of people like KQ, Safaricom, EABL, Bamburi  and most recently Sports Pesa. 

The second is each sponsor wants a return on Investment so if they are putting money into the game what value worth of their money will they get back in terms of visibility and or publicity. Our league for instance is played over just seven months every year. This could have a bearing on when or if sponsors come on board because it is probably a short time for them to get value out the sponsorship But going forward we want to have a structured league where the main league can be supplemented by two other competitions so that whichever sponsor comes on board gets value across the year. So as we continue to professionalize our game these are some of the issues we have to look at.    

KS:  Has KRU and the various clubs under it complied with the Sports Act

Not 100%, it is still  work in progress but the intention is that by 2018 all the clubs plus the union will have complied fully. The union will be having an AGM in the coming month [March] and one of the agenda items will be to review our progress so far in complying with the Act. Some clubs have complied in some of the aspects like changing their constitution to have a 4 year circle for leadership instead of a one year circle... 

KS: Why is that particular one Important? Having a four year term instead of a one year term? 

 It is important because it allows the organization in question more time to concentrate on the sport which is the most important thing. If you keep it at one year then for a half of the year the people in office are thinking about re-election and the sport suffers....

KS: Does the four year term then completely fixes this? 

Not entirely because you still lose considerable amount of time with people politicking. At rugby we are looking at a possibility of a succession plan where you have the Chairman and probably 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen with a clear structure of who will be chairman after the incumbent and so the union leadership definite and known even for the next several years.   This will allow more time to be invested into the sport itself. 

KS: Will you be defending your position in the upcoming elections? 

Yes! I will vie again to serve one last term as the chairman. But I'm not campaigning. I want clubs to look at the work we have done vote us in or out based on that. I think as a sport we are in a position where we can make decisions based on tangible evidence and not mere rhetoric. 

KS: What is the union’s plan for Infrastructure? 

Currently our best bet is having the government come good on its promise because the President  of the Republic of Kenya HE Uhuru Kenyatta promised us a rugby stadium on our return from Singapore but if they don't then we will have to explore other options. 

KS: Is it the government's responsibility to put up this infrastructure? What role does the union play in ensuring it happens? 

Look, the government did build Kasarani and Nyayo stadium for football, the county government further built City stadium but for football yet again so it is not so much to ask that they do one for Rugby and Cricket for that matter we also pay taxes as a sport so why should all the resources be channeled to one sport that has produced no known result over the years?  

KS: So if the government doesn't come good on this promise?

Of course it has always been on the table for us. We had plans in 2011 to acquire the Ligi Ndogo grounds and combined with the KRFU, our main grounds then we would put up a standard facility including some bed and parking capacity, we had even already set aside some Ksh. 45 Million for this project. We had entered into an Agreement for buying Ligi Ndogo grounds and paid a deposit. Unfortunately there was a change of leadership and consequently a change of thinking around this project so we lost the opportunity. If it is to come up again then we will probably look at a partnership with the County Government of Mombasa to put up a Rugby stadium.

KS: Why Mombasa? Have you already engaged them?    

No, Not yet! But it would be our best shot if we ever want to get on the  World Rugby 7s circuit.

KS: Wasn't Safari Sevens meant for inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit?  

Safari Sevens is a great competition by the idea to submit a bid for its inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit was not well thought out. It was never going to make it for various reasons; For starters the hosting city needs to have a five star bed capacity of at least 20,000. Nairobi doesn't have that so our best bet is probably Mombasa combined with Diani and Malindi and they will still be strained. Secondly, you need not only have a standard rugby pitch for the main competition but also a second one for the women and several others for training. We are not anywhere close to these requirements. Lastly, the current thinking around World Rugby is to host all the legs of the circuit in low altitude cities so there is no possible way our high altitude Nairobi will have a chance unless this thinking changes. So if it were me i would not even submit that bid. 

KS: Why do you think the number of fans attending the Safaricom Sevens has dwindled over the years?    

It is a combination of factors and especially for last year's event. First is competition with other sports specifically motor sport which was on the same weekend. Second is the location, Kasarani you would admit is on 'the other side of town' with respect to majority of Rugby fans in the city and creates some sort of an inconvenience and lastly is the reduced level of Safaricom sponsorship. Previously the sponsorship included marketing the event through their various platforms but that was not the case last year so the event publicity suffered. Obviously we should have done a lot more for publicity but it's a lesson we learnt and have already put in place a committee for this year's event. 

KS: Is this a pointer we will not be going back to Kasarani for Safari Sevens this year? 

 We cannot rule out Kasarani but we need to look at other ooptions. Nyayo Stadium is one of them. Part of the reason why we have been having it at Kasarani is the Safaricom was the main Sponsor of the Stadium  and it made no sense to take it elsewhere. We understand that has now changed.  

KS: Shall we see the return of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series? 

The super series was a competition for regional Franchise teams in Kenya and Uganda sponsored by Bamburi mainly because their business covered these countries. The super series can of course make a comeback albeit with a bit of modifications but first we are sourcing for a sponsor because it is expensive to manage these franchises. The potential sponsor candidates are corporate organization with countrywide product reach and with that respect we have considered and engaging people like Bidco and others. It was a very good competition because from it we got teams like Western Bulls which has come up very strongly. 

KS: What are the union's top three priorities over the next five years? 

The first is to put up a high performance center. A piece of infrastructure that can comfortably host an international tournament without the limitations i mentioned earlier like Bed Capacity, Training facilities and even parking space. 

The Second is to have a fully functional secretariat with regional branches all over the country and effectively institute some supporting structures to manage the game throughout the country so we won't have to always dispatch resources human and material to various parts of the country when needed.

The third is to develop further our national squads, both the Sevens and the Fifteens. We missed out narrowly in the last world cup but we are hoping to qualify for 2019 one.  So you will notice we are putting a lot of emphasis on the junior teams and giving them more game time because in the near future we shall require them to step up. 

KS: Tell us about the Kenya Rugby Limited.

The idea behind Kenya Rugby Limited was to have a company that is fully owned by the union to run the business aspect of the game, while allowing the union to deal with the game itself.  It did not and still does not feel prudent to have the union involve itself in the business matters of the sport. The union's core function is to run the sport, not the business associated with the sport. Things like jerseys would be sold by the company not the union. Back then I had Kenya Rugby Limited running the Safari Sevens as an independent entity.

KS: What steps has the union taken to make the game safer especially following the recent deaths of several Rugby players? 

That is a very unfortunate thing that has been happening. We have sent our condolences to the affected families and I did convene and chair a meeting with all club representatives to discuss the matter. We made some resolutions that every club must take the responsibility to know the health status of their players and recheck the same on a quarterly basis just to ensure we are not risking anyone's life. We have also instructed the match officials to be keen and ensure that for the case of injuries the match must be stopped for the affected players to get medical attention. If the player is concussed then he must not come go back to the field of play. Such a player must undergo treatment and take leave from the game for at least two weeks.  And finally we are also calling out to all players to be conscious of their personal health status and not risk their life. 

KS: Has the union outlined any sanctions or penalties for any parties that do not adhere to these recommendations. 

We have a team working on that but need a buy in from Clubs and players. 

KS: What challenges do you think Kenyan Rugby is facing? 

The three main challenges are poor infrastructure, insufficient resources to effectively manage the growth of the game and relatively low uptake by sponsors. We don't have enough match officials, coaches and even qualified medical personnel and I encourage more Kenyans not only to train for these functions but also to come forward when these positions are advertised. 

KS:  What do you make of the teams participation at the Rio Olympics? 

There were some failures on our part but this was also an epic failure on the part of NOCK. On our part I think we had a poor team selection. On NOCK's part they did not consult and were failing even on the very basics. For instance if they would have consulted us then the rugby teams would not have camped in Nandi which is a high altitude area while we were going to play in a low altitude Rio. So while Nandi is a good training ground with good facilities especially for athletes, it was not the best preparation for our Rugby team.  I also think our friends at NOCK are not giving attention to team sports especially when they look at the prospects of one man bringing back a medal vis-a-vis seven men bringing back the same medal. So i think we went to participate not to compete.  

KS:  What lessons do you think other sports federations in Kenya can learn from KRU?  

Mainly it's improvement of their corporate governance.  Some things that happen are very disheartening. The hitches with player visas and travel arrangement to a point where government has to fork out Ksh. 40 million to charter a plane like it happened in football the other day are all a reflection of poor corporate governance. 

KS: What role do you think sports play in national cohesion? 

Sports play a big part in National cohesion because when we go out there to play we win or lose as Kenya, not as a Mluhya or Luo or Kikuyu or any other tribe. It is always about Team Kenya. A good example to look at is South Africa and the 1995 Springboks  winning team. Had that team not won then it would have been more difficult to hold that country together. 

KS:  Finally what would you like to tell Rugby fans in particular and Kenyans in general as your parting shot? 

I want to assure all rugby fans and Kenyans in general that we will continue to do whatever we can to grow the game despite all the challenges.  We have received enormous support from the country and we thank every single Kenyan for that. My phone never stops ringing every time we lose a match, with Kenyans asking what went wrong and commenting on the team selection. This is an indication that they follow our progress and we do not take it for granted. 

We are still young and short in capacity but we have enormous talent.  We are the only small country playing with the big boys but we hope and believe that Singapore wasn't an accident. We will win more. 

Finally i want to call upon the Government of Kenya to support our efforts more because their support will go a long way in taking us several steps forward. 

Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored first-half goals for Arsenal in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Gunners looked to restore a sense of supremacy in north London after a disastrous campaign last season.

Mustafi’s header looped over the Spurs defence from a disputed free kick and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was unable to get anywhere near the ball as it pinged off the crossbar into the goal in the 36th minute.

Sanchez’s goal came five minutes later after Alexandre Lacazette’s run down the right. The forward put in a crisp cross, which Sanchez had trouble controlling at first as it bounced down off his knee. But the Chilean composed himself at the near post to fire the ball over Lloris, who hesitated coming off his line to deal with the danger.

Just when Spurs fans thought the balance of power had irreversibly shifted in north London, Arsenal turned back the clock to offer a glimpse of its past dominance. There was slick passing, the three Arsenal forwards galloped past Spurs defenders with ease at times, and the usually shaky back line managed to hold its nerve this time.

Tottenham had come into this match on a high, sitting third three places above Arsenal in the league and finishing in front of the Gunners last season for the first time in more than two decades. Spurs are in the Champions League this season and Arsenal in the Europa League and impressed the football world with a shock win over Real Madrid in the group stage.

But Arsenal was the bigger side Saturday, managing to shut down star players Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to claim bragging rights in north London. Eriksen looked nothing like the player who scored a hat-trick for Denmark against Ireland during the international break.

Before the match, many observers sniggered when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed his side wasn’t the underdog going into this fixture. But it was Wenger who had the smug look on his face at the final whistle, while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared dejected after suffering his first Premier League defeat in a north London derby during his more than three-year tenure.

The only boos Wenger got Saturday was when he made a defensive substitution, taking off the prolific Lacazette for holding midfielder Francis Coquelin. There were even ironic cheers from Arsenal fans for Kane and Alli, when they were taken off with 15 minutes to go after a poor showing from both.

 

The 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season provided a perfect ending for both AFC Leopards and Ulinzi Stars, who reaped 4-1 and 4-0 wins against Muhoroni Youth and Tusker FC respectively.

Muhoroni Youth, who were long relegated, managed to hold Ingwe goalless for the entire first half but loosened their defense just one minute after the restart,  Whyvonne Isuza finding the back of the net from close range before Aziz Okaka doubled the scores five minutes later with a header. Having mastered the rhyme of the match, Leopards got a third one in the 63rd minute through Samuel Ndungu before Vincent Oburu making sure that he was in the score sheet with his side’s fourth in the 69th minute.

Hassan Kiyoyo netted a consolation goal for Muhoroni from the spot in the 73rd minute, buthis goal was not sufficient to have any influence on the match.

The win took Leopards’ point tally to 45 which propelled them to 8th place in the league table.

Tusker whipped

At the Afraha Stadium, defending champions Tusker FC were humbled 4-0 by Ulinzi Stars to condemn them to a sixth place finish this campaign.

The Brewers, who were eyeing the top three spots, started soaking in goals in the 15th minute after Stephen Waruru took the Soldiers ahead. Two Minutes later, Ulinzi got a second one through Elvis Nandwa before Waruru notching his second just past the half hour mark. Omar Mbongi  finally capped off the convincing 4-0 win with a goal in the 85th minute witch saw Ulinzi finish 7th with 48 points.

 

It was a day of extreme action on Saturday November 18 as the season came to an end, with Western Stima being confirmed as the second team to be relegated despite a 1-0 win over Chemelil Sugar at the Chemelil Sports Complex.

Stima were hoping to notch a win and Thika to be beaten and seemed well on course after Wesley Kemboi's 62nd minute strike took the leading till the final whistle.
Luck was however not on their side as Shami Kibwana inspired Thika United to a 1-0 victory over Bandari FC at home with a beautiful fee kick that all but ensured their safety.

With both sides recording wins and tied on 38 points, Stima go down just by goal difference as they have -10 compared to Thika’s -9.

Mathare hold Posta

At the Camp Toyoyo, Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi was a happy man after seeing his side hold ten-man Posta Rangers to a 2-2 draw which saw them stay afloat.

Chris Ochiengvwas the man to open account for the Slum Boys just three minutes into the game, dispossessing  Charles Odete the ball to head on and beat Patrick Matasi in goal.

Mathare then went 2-0 up in the 31st minute following Chrispin Oduor’s goal which took his goal tally of the season to eleven.

Posta however replied with a goal shortly before the interval,  Joseph Mbugi successfully converting a penalty after John Nairuka had been fouled inside the danger area by keeper Mark Kioko.

Kennedy Agogo, being a substitute, salvaged atleast a point for the mailmen with barely eight minutes remaining on the clock, heading the ball home from Nairuka’s cross to force a 2-2 draw.

 

A battling Simbas fell 40-30 in an entertaining match at the Hong Kong Football Club in Hong Kong on Saturday evening.

Conor Hartley’s third minute try put Hong Kong 5-0 up. Toby Fenn added a converted try four minutes later to see the hosts go 12-0 up.Roslee then added a penalty for 15-0, summing up a torrid opening quarter of an hour for the Simbas who had to deal with the ealry injury enforced loss of Peter Karia, Philip Ikambili making an early start off the replacements bench.

A Kenyan foray into HK territory saw them get a penalty,Mukidza’s with the successful goal attempt for a 15-3 score. A second Mukidza penalty brought the score to 15-6 before Lex Kalika’s converted try put HK 22-6 up.

The Simbas would get a try,Ikambili going over with Mukidza converting for 22-13, the Kenyans would end the half stronger, unable though to turn possession into points heading into half time.

A patient build up after the restar saw Sam Onsomu go over, Mukidza converting for a 22-20 score.

A Yiu Kam Shing try saw Hong Kong go 27-20 up before Vincent Mose was played in by Leo Owade to score and bring the Simbas to 27-25,two shy of Hong Kong.

Hartley landed his brace,Roslee converting o see HK go 34-25 up but Oliver Mang’eni responded straight from the restart,34-30 with little left on the clock. The hosts added two penalties at the death to hold a ten point cushion to full time.

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs have both released their matchday squads that will face off in a league match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday November 18.

The Gunners hold the advantage in the head-to-head stats, with 80 victories compared to Tottenham’s 62, but Spurs are the team currently in the ascendancy with Mauricio Pochettino’s men three places above their rivals.

Arsenal, who have not won any of their last four meetings with Spurs, have won all five of their home league games this season – keeping three clean sheets during that run.

Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Alexis

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin.

Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Davies, Dembele; Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele; Kane

Subs: Vorm, Son, Llorente, Foyth, Aurier, Winks, Walker-Peters.

Nzoia United head coach Bernard Mwalala has unleashed his starting lineup that will be involved in their final match of the season against Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday 18 November at Sudi Stadium in Bungoma.

Making his way back into the first eleven is keeper Mustapha Oduor who replaces the injured Benson Mangala. Oduor will do with help from the defensive quartet of  Festus Okiring, Hillary Wandera, Brian Otieno and Vincent Ngesa as Peter Gin, Lawrence Juma and Stephen Wakanya take up the midfield role. Luke Namanda and Victor Omondi are the strikers for Nzoia.

Starting XI: 23. Mustapha Oduor 26.Festus Okiring 16.Hillary Wandera 28.Brian Otieno 34. Vincent Ngesa (C) 22.Elvis Ronack 32.Victor Ogendo 04.Peter Gin 02. Stephen Wakanya 24.Lawrence Juma 12.Luke Namanda

Subs: 15.Humphrey Katasi 14. Edwin Wafula 25. Geoffrey Kariuki 17.Jonathan Lodaket 18.Patrick Kwitonda 06.Benjamin Muchuma 21.Brian Yakhama

Sofapaka head coach Sam Ssimbwa has preserved a relatively regular starting lineup in his final matchday squad to clash with Zoo Kericho on Saturday November 18 at the Narok Stadium.

Sofapaka, who are second on the table, will be going for a win that will ensure a perfect ending to the season in the same position.

Club top scorer Umaru Kasumba starts upfront alongside Ezekiel Okare and the talented Mohammed Kilume while Michael Oduor and Humphrey Okoti handle midfield issues. An unchanged defense will be involved in Saturday’s game with Mathias Kigonya standing in goal.

Starting XI: Mathias Kigonya, Willis Ouma, Maurice Odipo, Kennedy Oduor, Rodgers Aloro, Mohamed Kilume, Michael Oduor, Humphrey Okoti, Umaru Kasumba, Ezekiel Okare.

Subs: George Opiyo, Edmond Kwanya, Samwel Mutiria, Hansel Ochieng,  Brian Magumba, Meshack Karani, Francis Ochola.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have officially unveiled Belgian tactician Paul Put as the new Harambee Stars head coach, taking over from the embattled Stanley Okumbi.

Put, who has a long history in coaching African sides, will now take charge of the national team as they gear up for the upcoming CECAFA championships that are scheduled to start on December 6. Okumbi now steps a level down to the assistant coach’s role.

Put was manager of the Gambian national team between 2008 and 2011, before being appointed as manager of Burkina Faso in March 2012. He is famously known to have guided Burkina Faso to the 2013 Africa Nations Cup final where they narrowly lost to Nigeria.

The Belgian has also been in charge of Jordan and of Belgian sides Geel, Lokeren and Lierse. It is durinh his coaching spell in Belgium that he was banned by the Royal Belgium Football Association for his alleged involvement in the Ye Zheyun match-fixing scandal.

More to follow…

Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored first-half goals for Arsenal in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Gunners looked to restore a sense of supremacy in north London after a disastrous campaign last season.

Mustafi’s header looped over the Spurs defence from a disputed free kick and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was unable to get anywhere near the ball as it pinged off the crossbar into the goal in the 36th minute.

Sanchez’s goal came five minutes later after Alexandre Lacazette’s run down the right. The forward put in a crisp cross, which Sanchez had trouble controlling at first as it bounced down off his knee. But the Chilean composed himself at the near post to fire the ball over Lloris, who hesitated coming off his line to deal with the danger.

Just when Spurs fans thought the balance of power had irreversibly shifted in north London, Arsenal turned back the clock to offer a glimpse of its past dominance. There was slick passing, the three Arsenal forwards galloped past Spurs defenders with ease at times, and the usually shaky back line managed to hold its nerve this time.

Tottenham had come into this match on a high, sitting third three places above Arsenal in the league and finishing in front of the Gunners last season for the first time in more than two decades. Spurs are in the Champions League this season and Arsenal in the Europa League and impressed the football world with a shock win over Real Madrid in the group stage.

But Arsenal was the bigger side Saturday, managing to shut down star players Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to claim bragging rights in north London. Eriksen looked nothing like the player who scored a hat-trick for Denmark against Ireland during the international break.

Before the match, many observers sniggered when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed his side wasn’t the underdog going into this fixture. But it was Wenger who had the smug look on his face at the final whistle, while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared dejected after suffering his first Premier League defeat in a north London derby during his more than three-year tenure.

The only boos Wenger got Saturday was when he made a defensive substitution, taking off the prolific Lacazette for holding midfielder Francis Coquelin. There were even ironic cheers from Arsenal fans for Kane and Alli, when they were taken off with 15 minutes to go after a poor showing from both.

 

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs have both released their matchday squads that will face off in a league match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday November 18.

The Gunners hold the advantage in the head-to-head stats, with 80 victories compared to Tottenham’s 62, but Spurs are the team currently in the ascendancy with Mauricio Pochettino’s men three places above their rivals.

Arsenal, who have not won any of their last four meetings with Spurs, have won all five of their home league games this season – keeping three clean sheets during that run.

Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Alexis

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin.

Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Davies, Dembele; Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele; Kane

Subs: Vorm, Son, Llorente, Foyth, Aurier, Winks, Walker-Peters.

Regal Hotels Cup of Nations hosts Hong Kong have made known their squad that will tackle Kenya in the final round of the tournament slated for Saturday November 18 at 12pm EAT at the King’s Park Grounds.

The match is a must win for both sides, Hong Kong having lost to Russia in the opening round before recording a win over Chile while Kenya have lost both of their matches to Chile and Russia respectively.

Below is how Hong Kong will line up for Saturday’s game:

HONG KONG

1 Dan Barlow, 2 Dayne Jans 3 Dylan Rogers, 4 James Cunningham, 5 Kyle Sullivan, 6 Nick Hewson O, 7 Tony Fenin, 8 Thomas Lamboley, 9Jamie Hood, 10 Matt Rosslee, 11 Conor Hartley, 12 Lex Kaleca, 13 Tyler Spitz,14 Yiu Kam Shing , 15 Jack Neville

Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Benjamin Higgins, 18 Callum SmithAdam, 19 Adrian Griffiths, 20 Kane Boucaut, 21 Max Denmark, 22Cado Lee, 23 Ally Maclay

 

Following a one-week FIFA international break, the Barclays Premier League resumes this weekend and a total of ten matches are on the cards.

After losing 3-1 to Manchester City in their last match, Arsenal have a difficult task in their quest to return back to winning ways when they host North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday November 18 in an early kick off from 14:30.

The match will then be followed by six games which all start at 17:00. Among them, Leicester City will be seeking to inflict a first loss to leaders Manchester City while

Liverpool hunt for their second successive victory when the tackle Southampton at home. The last match of Saturday will see Manchester United face Newcastle United at the Old Trafford.

Below are all weekend matches (All times are in EAT)

Saturday 18th November

Arsenal 14:30 Tottenham Hotspur

AFC Bournemouth 17:00 Huddersfield Town

Burnley 17:00 Swansea City

Crystal Palace 17:00 Everton

Leicester City 17:00 Manchester City

Liverpool 17:00 Southampton

West Bromwich Albion 17:00 Chelsea

Manchester United 19:30 Newcastle United

Sunday 19th November

Watford 18:00 West Ham United

Monday 20th November

Brighton & Hove Albion 20:00 Stoke City

After a one-week FIFA international break, the Spanish Laliga resumes this weekend with a total of ten games scheduled to be played from Friday November 17 to Monday November 20.

The highlight of the weekend will however be between defending champions Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid which is slated for Saturday at 21:45 EAT. Real, who started the season on the wrong footing, are eager to catch up with leaders Barcelona who have distanced them with eight points. Ls Blancos are third while Atletico trail them closely in fourth.

Below are all Laliga weekend fixtures (All times are in EAT)

Friday 17th November

Girona 22:00 Real Sociedad

Saturday 18th November

Getafe 14:00 Alavés

Leganés 17:15 Barcelona

Sevilla 19:30 Celta Vigo

Atlético 21:45 Real Madrid

Sunday 19th November

Malaga 13:00 Deportivo La Coruña

Espanyol 17:15 Valencia

Las Palmas 19:30 Levante

Athletic Bilbao 21:45 Villarreal

Monday 20th November

Eibar 22:00 Real Betis

The German Bundesliga makes a return following a one-week FIFA international break. Nine matches have been lined up for this weekend and will be played from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19.

Below are all fixtures (All times are in EAT)

Friday 17th November
VfB Stuttgart 21:30 Borussia Dortmund

Saturday 18th November

Mainz 05 16:30 1. FC Köln

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 16:30 RB Leipzig

Bayern Munich 16:30 FC Augsburg

1899 Hoffenheim 16:30 Eintracht Frankfurt

VfL Wolfsburg 16:30 SC Freiburg

Hertha Berlin 19:30 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Sunday 19th November

FC Schalke 04 16:30 Hamburg SV

Werder Bremen 19:00 Hannover 96

A 30-man training squad for Namibia has been named to start preparations immediately in readiness for the upcoming 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships set to be held in Zambia from December 6-16.

The Young Brave Warriors have been selected from clubs across the country and beyond, with South Africa-based forward Leonard Tuhafeni, who plays for University of Pretoria, also called to the team.

Namibia have been drawn in Group C at the regional showpiece tournament along with Angola, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. Only the top team in each pool advances to the semifinals, along with the best runner-up.

Namibia begin their campaign with a fixture against the Angolans on December 6 at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe.
Namibia have a solid history in the competition and were in many ways the surprise-package of the 2010 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, making it all the way to the final before losing out to Zambia.

Namibia training squad:

Goalkeepers: Calvin Spiegel (Chief Santos) Josef Philipus (Otjiwarongo FC) and Vipua Tjimune (African Stars).

Defenders: Lubeni Haukongo and Aprocius Petrus (Eleven Arrows), Stanley Ndjavera (Tura Magic), Eric Naobeb (Eastern Chiefs), Ronny Hangala (Oshikoto region), Romario Hawiseb (Unam), Paul Kotjipati (Otjozondjupa), Migeri Hubert (Life Fighters), Peter Nampolo (Khomas), Johannes Hollambach (Chief Santos).

Midfielders: Venovineja Tjikundi and George Hummel (Unam), Anthony Kham, Marciano January and Rivaldo Festus (Eleven Arrows), Augustinus Hobexab (Eastern Chiefs), Jimmy Ulrich (Khomas), Ronaldo Zaahl (Kaizen Football Academy).

Forwards: Godwin Awaseb, Eldery Morgan and Enzo Mungendje (Tura Magic), Leonard Tuhafeni (University of Pretoria), Daniel Kamanya (Omusati) and Isaskar Gurirab (Eleven Arrows).

Malawi coach Ronny Van Geneugden has named a total of 28 players as part an extended training squad that will hit training in preparation for the upcoming 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships to be held in Zambia from December 6 to December 16.

Malawi have been drawn in Group A at this year’s regional showpiece competition along with hosts Zambia, Swaziland and East African guest nation Uganda.

They will play the opening game of the competition against the Swazis on December 6 at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe. Malawi finished a credible fourth in the COSAFA Under-20 Championships tournament in Botswana in 2011 having not played in the previous two installments of the competition, and then did not appear again in 2013.


Malawi training squad:

Goalkeepers: Charles Thom (Dwangwa United FC), Christopher Mikuwa (Blantyre United FC), Hastings Banda (Fish Eagles FC), Patrick Njolomole (Silver Strikers FC)
Defenders: Nixon Nyasulu (NMC Big Bullets Reserve FC), Kondwani Mwaila (Silver Strikers FC), Ben Manyozo (Dwangwa United FC), Haji Wali (Silver Strikers FC), Timothy Silwimba (Mzuni FC), Precious Sambani (Be Forward Wanderers FC), Kelvin Kadzinje (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Sydney Chambulika (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Charles Petro (Premier Bet Wizards FC)

Midfielders and Strikers: Gregory Machipo (Blue Eagles FC), Chimwemwe Idana (NMC Big Bullets Reserve FC), Mike Mkwate (NMC Big Bullets FC), Frank Mulimanjara (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Misheck Botomani (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Patrick Phiri (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Peter Banda (Griffin Young Stars FC), Francisco Madinga (Be Forward Wanderers), Levison Maganizo (Silver Strikers FC), Abel Mwakilama (Chitipa United FC), Ronald Pangani (Silver Strikers FC), Maxwell Daud (Griffin Young Stars FC), Aziel Johnson (St Benedicts, USA), Ernest Petro (NMC Big Bullets), Clement Bindula (Masters Security Services Reserve)

Popular Articles

The gambling industry is growing rapidly in Kenya. We could be competing with the West African nations. Since last year, the country has witnessed over 10 bookmakers join the industry with each contesting for a piece of the pie.

Those who love him, love him with so much passion. Those who hate him, also do so with the same gusto. If a book on ‘The most hated footballers’ were ever to be written, several chapters would be dedicated to him.

Matatu culture is part of living in Nairobi City and the transport means used by all. Soccer fans use their own cars, buses and matatus for traveling to away matches.

Eric Ochieng' aka Cantona is one of most iconic soccer athletes to grace Kenya Premier League in the 1990s.

He is the Kenyan version of Portuguese super agent Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes. He is many things to many people, and recently added another feather to his cap by venturing into player and coaches representation. Starting off as a journalist, he grew through the ranks to become a Television producer, took the big risk and ventured into football administration, before jumping ship to start what has been a largely successful venture of talent management.

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has landed 0.75 billion shillings from FIFA in a grant that is aimed to make the federation set up and manage their inhouse media activities.

Kenyanstar has learnt from sources privy to the deal that the world governing body has agreed to hand the Federation a grant of USD 7.5M to set up their own media production for the league matches.

The news coming barely weeks after Supersport suspended their broadcast deal with Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and later on laying off staff earlier on this week, will be welcome to the soccer industry.

FKF president has been in the news saying how FKF and the KPL would be produced in-house and availed for free to air (FTA) TV channels.

To reduce pressure in starting up, our sources say, FKF will absorb the staff that were working for Supersport to do the production and there is likelihood they may buy the studio Supersport had set up in Nairobi.

A terrific dribbler with an eye for goal. His skills and potential on the pitch have always left fans ecstatic. His dazzling runs and fantastic crosses have raised his profile in the local scene. He slowly grew through the ranks both at club and national level. He recently added to the statistics of players who have made the bold move from AFC Leopards to bitter rivals Gor Mahia where he penned a long term contract. 

Besides the magic on the pitch, critics have continually accused him of laziness and being a party animal. Is he? Kenyanstar sat with John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu and here is his story.

Kenyanstar: Thank you for your time. Tell us about your football journey so far.

John Ndirangu: I started playing competitive football at Nakuru AllStars when I was in form 2, by then the club was in playing in Nationwide League. I was with them all along, even when they got promoted in 2014 to the Kenya Premier League.  As a footballer, I have faced both difficult and easy times.

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

JN: I rarely talk too much, and people say my face is soft. So, Softie.

KS: Please tell us about your time at Nakuru AllStars.

JN: It was a bit hard for me since there were the demands on the pitch and at the same time I was schooling. I had to carefully plan my time. However, sometimes it was difficult for me because I had to leave school for training and when I got back to class I was so tired and couldn't focus fully.  

KS: You made a name for yourself  while you were at Allstars. Tell us about your time playing there and your relationship with the players, coach, management etc.

JN: First, I would like to thank Robert Muthomi. He took me as his son, he took care of me,he used to advise me and  managed me well. I also thank everyone who coached me. During my time there, I learnt something from all coaches and this made me grow to who I am today. My teammates were also supportive, as football is a team sport and you support each other. 

KS: You would later join Bandari. However, you never stayed there for long...

JN: I would not wish to discuss about my time at Bandari. It was very difficult for me.

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

KS: Well, you at one point joined Kariobangi Sharks. What necessitated the move?  

JN: After Bandari I went back to Nakuru Allstars to get my form back. However, at the end of the season the team got relegated and so we agreed with Robert Muthomi, the CEO,  that since I had already made my name and was still young, it wasn't proper to play in the lower tier. Therefore I joined Kariobangi Sharks. We agreed with President Nick Mwendwa that if the team won't get promoted to the top league he releases me and that's what happened when I joined AFC Leopards.

KS: Leopards - You joined the club, lots of expectations, but left. Kindly tell us about your time at Leopards.

JN: I enjoyed my time at Leopards and would like to thank the management and coaches. They believed in me and I wish them all the the best. In December, I was asked by Leopards to look for a suitable club where I would go on loan and I felt it was not good for me. Therefore I  asked them to just release me instead. As a team last season we were unlucky not to do well and meet the expectations but I personally think that I played my part and was very surprised when they suggested a loan move for me in the transfer window. 

KS: You have some serious football skills. Very good running, very good dribbles. What's the tactical secret for you?

JN: Apart from talent in me I do watch skillful players like Neymar, Ronaldinho and Cristiano and try apply what I see on the pitch. Besides, I also work very hard.  

KS: Harambee Stars: You have grown from U-23 to the senior team. Tell us about your time and experience so far at Stars

JN: Each and every coach has his style of coaching and the kind of players he wants. I think during Bob Williamson's time I was called several times to the national team. He liked my dribbling skills and speed and he would tell me to just do that in the pitch, since that is what made him like me and give me a call up.  

KS: We haven't seen you at the national team in recent days. Why?

JN: As I have said each and every coach has his style of coaching and kind of players he wants. However, while at AFC Leopards I earned a call up.  

KS: You made what many call a 'daring move' by switching from Leopards to Gor. Do you feel it was a daring move or just any other normal transfer?

JN: I believe if you have talent and you work hard everything is possible. Talent can never be hidden. Kama unajua unajua. For me I see it as a normal move. My time will come and I'll shine.

KS: Gor Mahia - How is life there. What are your targets/goals?

JN: I am enjoying life at Gor. They do things professionally and think that's what differentiates Gor with other clubs. My target is to play as many games and help the team lift the title and in future I go to Europe. 

KS: You have been accused of the following: Missing training at times intentionally, partying a little too much and alcoholism. Your response?

JN: In life you must have friends and enemies and for you to make in life you must have enemies. All these stories came up when I was at Leopards. When Ivan Minnaert left a Luhya coach took over and he only wanted Luhya players. Therefore, Ian otieno and  I decided to stay at home because no matter how hard we worked in training, we weren't being considered.  On the issue of alcohol, I even cannot tell how it tastes. Yes, I used to go to clubs and watch football while drinking Delmonte juice.  

KS: Any closing words? 

JN: I just want to thank God for the gift of life and talent. I also want to tell my fans that they should  not lose hope in me. I know they believe in me and I won't fail them. 

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

READ: John 'Softie' Ndirangu: Major Transfer Or Forced Out? 

Rayon Sports Club have confirmed that former Sofapaka and Amavubi goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana is no more. Unconfirmed reports claim that a heart attack on Tuesday September 12 at his home was the cause of his death.

Mutuyimana started professional football with Rwandese side Kiyovu Sport before joining Police Kibungo in 2011.The 26-year old then moved to Kenyan side Sofapaka in June 2014 where he played for three seasons. He later moved to Rayon SC, where he was the reserve goalkeeper until his demise.

Mutuyimana has also featured for the Rwanda national team, his most notable appearance being in a 5-1 loss to Tunisia in an International Friendly back in May 2012.

“As Rayon Sports officials, we want convey our message of condolences to all the club fans and family following the death of goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana this Tuesday morning.” his club posted on social media.

 

Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

Tanzanian government have informed SportPesa Limited that they also want to see a Tanzanian team play against Everton on July 12 at the National Stadium. Gor Mahia are the ones with the opportunity after winning the SportPesa Super Cup finals.

Director of Sports Development in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Yusuph Singo confirmed that they have asked the betting firm to organize a friendly match between Everton and one of Tanzania's bigwigs.

``We have asked them (SportPesa) to organse a special friendly match between Yanga and Simba later this month,'' said Singo.

``If all goes well, the winner of the match will confront Everton at the National Stadium. I am sure many local soccer fans would like to see the English Premier League team face one of the top teams in the country,'' he added.

 

Everton are considering a pre-season friendly in Tanzania as part of their expected new sponsorship deal with SportPesa.

Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga has come out to praise the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for the key role he has paid in developing the career of his brother Victor Wanyama.  

The Kenyan International skipper has been a vital part of the Spurs midfield, prove of just how much Pochettino trusts Wanyama. Big Vic first played under the Argentine gaffer at Southampton and were later reunited at Tottenham last summer.

“He (Wanyama) said Pochettino is the coach who has made him. He’s the one who, when Victor came to Southampton, he taught him what to do and how to play, all the things. He’s the one who taught him everything and made even more qualities for Victor. He gave him exposure and confidence. If you don’t have confidence from the coach, you cannot perform well. He’s helped him a lot,” Mariga told ESPN.

Pochettino’s favorite 3-4-2-1 formation has suited Wanyama perfectly as he provides cover to the wing backs when they move forward to attack, something that has put Wanyama in favor with both the manager and the Spurs supporters.

The midfielder will be expected to take his spot back in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday evening after a minor injury.

As the title race stiffens and Spurs still on track for the cup glory, Wanyama may just be the rock Tottenham needs to win the first trophy in over years.

Work has been completed on the first proposed venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - the Khalifa International Stadium. More than five years before the tournament kicks off, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed extensive renovations on the 40,000-seater venue are now finished.

The renovations include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar's successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26 degrees and the stands somewhere between 24 and 28 degrees.

SC secretary general H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: "The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of.

"As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I'm proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for."

The stadium, originally constructed in 1976, will first host the 2017 Emir Cup final on Friday and will also be the venue for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: "Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar's biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976.

"It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar's football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening."

Former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor has described joining Crystal Palace as the “worst decision” of his career.

The 33-year-old Togolese striker is currently playing for Turkish side ?stanbul Ba?ak?ehir after being released by the Eagles in the summer of 2016.

Adebayor signed a six-month deal with Palace at the beginning of 2016 – a decision he says he would reverse if given the opportunity.

“I had some great experiences in England in clubs who are among the best in the country,” he told L’Équipe, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

“I was happy there, my family too. The only error that I made was to sign for Crystal Palace in January 2016.

“I did it just to please my entourage, who were saying to me: ‘Manu, you have to start playing again!’ It was the worst decision of my career.”

He would played 15 senior matches for Palace under then boss Alan Pardew scoring once in a losing effort to Watford.

It turned out to be his worst return for a single club since turning professional nearly 20 years ago with hometown side AC Merlan Lome.

Prior to relocating to Selhurst Park, the enigmatic centre-forward had already plied his trade with three different English clubs, most notably Arsenal from whom he joined Manchester City before returning to North London with Tottenham Hotspur.

In his first season with Ba?ak?ehir, the former Monaco man, has managed to register six goals across 11 league appearances including a hat-trick against Galatasaray.

 

Drogba had been without a club since leaving MLS outfit Montreal Impact in November, after rejecting a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in February.

However, the 39-year-old Ivorian striker has finally found a home in Phoenix, where he will also be part of their "MLS expansion franchise ownership group."

Phoenix are in their fourth season in the USL, 12th in the Western Conference with one win after three games.

"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," said Drogba.

"After seeing firsthand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch.

"I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."

Drogba - a two-time African Footballer of the Year – scored 23 goals in 41 competitive appearances for the Impact, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League among other trophies with Chelsea.

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising club governor Berke Bakay.

"Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans everywhere we play throughout North America."