Kenyanstar Of The Week - Japheth Munala

He is soft spoken. A man of few words but with an overflowing pot of humor. Japheth Munala, the Kenya Pipeline head coach is a man on a mission; to transform the Kenya Volleyball scene. His humility and dedication to his work has seen him record great success with both his club, Kenya Pipeline with whom he has lifted three consecutive league titles. He also assisted the national women's team, christened Malkia Strikers to their first international title when Kenya wrote history thousands of kilometers away by lifting the FIVB World Grand Prix in Australia in 2015. Munala also uses his free time to give back to the society. He shares his skills with grassroots coaches and upcoming volleyball players in High Schools. His effort has since been rewarded when he guided three different Schools to both the national and regional School stages.

K.S: Thank you coach for your time. Just walk us through your first contact with Volleyball.

Munala: I started playing volleyball while in School. Musingu Boys High School. I feared going for cross country and i would hide among volleyball players. The captain saw my height and convinced me to stop running and concentrate on volleyball. I excelled so fast and before the end of that year i was in the starting lineup. While in form four, i took the team to the nationals. That's how I begun playing volleyball.

K.S: So how was the transition after high school?

Munala: That was in Form Four. I went back for Form Five and Six in the same School. While playing for the School, I joined a club, MOW of Kakamega. I played for both the school team and  Club and when I cleared form Six, I moved to MOW on full basis and stayed with them for three months. I then switched to Kenya Ports Tele Communication (KPTC) in 1988. That was a branch volleyball club of KPTC. After one year in Kakamega, I was transfered to the headquarters in Nairobi where the senior team was based. I remember they were the national champions for very many years. They saw me play in Kakamega then transfered me to the bigger club, Posta men where I played until I retired.

K.S: What was your most memorable moment as a player and what are some of the achievement you can point out during your time at Posta?

Munala: The most memorable  day was when I played for Posta for the first time. We had good players in the team then and  It wasn't easy for anyone especially a new and upcoming player to get a slot in the starting line up. When I got the starting role, I never looked back. I held that position (left attacker), up until I retired from the team in 2007. Unfortunately I never played for the national team. I was called several times but I never made it to the final squad. We won the national title with Posta severally. We were the national champions for more than 10 years in a row. We also won KICOSO games and we finished third at the Africa Club championships, the first time a Kenyan team finished in the medal bracket at the continental stage.  Only Kenya Prisons (men) has done better than that when they finished second in 2013.

K.S: You must have had some bad luck there with the national team. Sorry about that. So then how did you transit from the court to the bench?

Munala: While still playing, I went for a coaching course in 1997. I was still very active as a player but i needed to have the certificate with me. So i went for Level 1- coaching course and got the necessary papers. I continued playing until 2005 when I started doubling up as a coach-player, still with Telecom. I actually started as a player-trainer then coach-player. After I got retired from Posta, I took coaching as a career in 2008. I started with the Telkom in division two and took them to division one. I later left Telkom for Kenya Commercial Bank as assistant coach to Paul Bitok. When he (Bitok) left for Rwanda, I took over the team as the head coach. We won the league that year with KCB, finished second  in Africa (Club Championship). In 2011, Pipeline saw me and that's where I am to-date.

K.S: What are some of the challenges facing the growth of women's volleyball in Kenya?

Munala: When we joined volleyball, i would say there was shortage of players but some of us took up the challenge as coaches to go back to Schools and nurture players. Currently, there are a lot of players coming through from Schools. The only major challenge is the few number of clubs which is not enough to absorb the growing number of talent coming out of High School. For a very long time Schools have played the role of feeder to various clubs in this country.  What I can say is that there is no shortage of players now but we have a shortage of the number of clubs, especially for women.

My wish and appeal is to corporate bodies, the private firms to come in to Volleyball. We should have more institutional clubs which should be able to employ these players so that we can have transition from Schools to club volleyball. Otherwise the four clubs in the women's top division are not enough to take in the big number of players coming from School. I would challenge corporate institutions to form clubs that will absorb all these talents being wasted.

K.S: Talking about Schools,  we've seen you working very closely with quite a number of institutions. Why so and do you do it for monetary gain?

Munala: Not at all. Money is not the driving factor. I started with Malava Girls when they had absolutely no impact in School volleyball. There were only two schools then - Lugulu Girls and Mukumu. Those two schools were very good in Volleyball. So Malava came nowhere near them. I started with Form Ones and by the time they got to Form Two, they were the champions in Western Province. Until the time I left, they were the champions East Africa.

Then I went to Kwanthanze Secondary in Machakos County. In my first year with Kwanthanze, they finished fifth. The second year they came third and the third year they finished in position one, both at Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) and East Africa School games. After Kwanthanze I went to Soweto Secondary. Soweto is a very small School from Kibera slums. Not known in Volleyball but after one year stay with them, Soweto became the Nairobi and Metropolitan regional champions. Then they finished second in both the national and East Africa. So those are the achievement I can point out at school level. I can say that the majority of young players in Kenya Volleyball today, about 70 percent have passed through my hands as a coach of schools. I've seen them grow. In fact, majority of them are now coming up to the national team ranks. This is an initiative that every coach in Kenya volleyball should take up.  That way, we may not lack volleyball players in future.

K.S: Coach thanks so much for doing a lot to bring up young layers. Kenya has dominated continental volleyball for the last two decades. Unfortunately, that is not the same case when we cross over to the international stage. As the national team coach, what would you say is the biggest difference between Kenyan Volleyball and the rest of the world.

Munala: The biggest challenge I would say is lack of basic skills from our players. That has been the biggest undoing whenever we play outside the continent.  But if all coaches would go back to the grassroots to start teaching these basics straight away from School, I think we'll go far at the international stage. But I am thankful that we've made some progress in the last few years and made impact at the international level.

K.S: We've seen your success with both the national team, at Club and even School level, as a coach. Besides your achievement with Schools,  you have won the national title three times in a row with Kenya Pipeline and several accolades with Malkia Strikers. Unfortunately,  during your time as a player you were not this successful. How did you turn it around, to be this successful on the bench?

Munala: As a coach you have to be very committed. You have to instill discipline in players, whether it's at School or club level then push it. Becoming the national coach has given me a lot of experience.  I've traveled the world, I have seen how other players are playing and how other coaches are conducting themselves and I have learnt a lot in terms of drills to give to the players.

What worries me is the lack of support Sports receives from the government. For example, our main undoing at the international stage is the poor reception. About 99 percent of our league matches are played outside. This shouldn't be the case. The way you receive the ball in the gym is totally different from the way you receive the ball in a windy environment outside. Outside there, volleyball is played in the gym. In Kenya we only have one standard gym for volleyball which is shared by every body,  including politicians. I thought the county government would help us by constructing more Gyms. If only the county government would construct at least 20 gymnasium for indoor sports, then we would be far. I don't know what happened along the way and we are still waiting for somebody to come to our rescue (laughter)

K.S: What is your obsession with young players?

Munala: The way to go is to give young players a chance. For continuity of the sport, you have to at least have that generation, the old and young. Every coach should strike to have at least two or three young players in his or her team at any given time. If you rely solely on old players you may find yourself in a very awkward situation. Old players will 'cheat' you that they are on form but when they step on the field, they tire very fast.

K.S: What are some of the challenges you face as a coach specifically as someone who works with female players?

Munala: Very difficult. Coaching women is very difficult. You have to understand each and everyone of them.  You have to understand their mood especially when they are on their menses. But the most important bit is, as a coach you should never date a player. The moment you do that they will stop listening to you and that's the last thing you want as a coach. There is also the issue of pregnancy coming in when you least expect it. Your best player leaves for maternity and you have to devise ways of filling the gap. These are the issues we battle with as women's team coaches. For example my employer will not understand why i lost a match because of the absence of one or two players. But the truth is, the team can be completely weakened due to unavailability of that one player. Its never easy coaching women.

K.S: Back to your achievements if you don't mind.  We've seen you dominate the local volleyball scene for the last three years with Kenya Pipeline, something that usually guarantees you an automatic ticket to the Africa Club championship.  This title has eluded you for the last five years. Currently you are preparing for that very event. Is this the right time for Pipeline to win their first continental title in over a decade?

Munala: If there is any stressful moment for a coach, it is during club championship and national playoff. It gives me sleepless nights. Long nights because you don't know in which pool you are going to land. Whether it is going to be friendly to you or not. Club Championships are a headache to any coach.  It has eluded me several times since 2011 and now we are goin to 2017. I hope God will give it to me this time round. I've done my best, we've tried everything and I hope we are going to do well in Tunisia.

K.S: Finally, as a coach, what do you consider when signing a player, height or skills? And is Volleyball all about height?

Munala: What I can say is that height is an added advantage in Volleyball. But again, you can be tall but lack the jump. Volleyball is nothing but to have a powerful jump. If you have a powerful jump then height is an advantage, even better for a player. You should have a moderate height or above medium.  But if you are tall and have the jump, then that's the ideal player every coach will be looking to have in his team.

K.S: Thanks so much coach for your time.

The interview was conducted at the Kasarani indoor Arena during Kenya Pipeline training ahead of the 2017 Africa club championship.

Vincent Oburu's days at AFC Leopards seem to be taking off well as he bagged his sixth goal for the Club in just five matches. On Saturday against Diero, the teenager nearly equaled Livingstone Madegwa's goal record in a single match. Perhaps for lack of history knowledge, the lads would have helped him seal that historic feat.

As the final whistle blew, the much chided and  under fire side in the Club's history which saw only a sizeable crowd follow them to Kisumu did not know they were breaking a 50 year old record in the goals scored by the Club in  a single match since the Club's founding in 1964.

Leopards made minced meat and took a  1-15 win over Diero in the FKF Cup in Kisumu in the first round of the FKF Cup.

Vincent Oburu and Whyvonne Isuzza also broke Demonde Selenga's seven year record at the Club  after each bagged a hat trick in the match since the Club's promotion to the league in 2009.

Oburu scored five goals, Whyvonne Isuzza bagged four goals, the highest tally by any of the Club's players in a single match in the post promotion era.

Prior to that. the last player to score a hat-trick at Leopards was Demonde Selenga in 2010 in the sensational 4-3 comeback against Kenya Commercial Bank  in the KPL at City Stadium that saw a Harry Gentle free kick  grab all the vital points with Leopards fighting from 3-0 to win the  league match.

AFC Leopards longest record in a competitive match since promotion to KPL is the 6-2 win over Posta Rangers in Mumias in the KPL.

Highest goal scored by the Club

On June 18, 1967, AFC Leopards walloped Homabay Silver Stars  13-1 lin the league. On that day, Livingstone Madegwa scored 6 goals.

In the Football Association Cup results since 1986, Leopards has had some other high scoring matches.

1988: AFC Leopards  5-1 Ruiru Prisons
1994: AFC Leopards  6-0 Alaskan
1995: AFC Leopards  5-1 Kakamega Posta
1996: AFC Leopards  6-1 Gusii Mwalimu
2013: AFC Leopards  5-0 Wazee wa Kazi
2017: Dero FC         1-15 AFC Leopards  

AFC Leopards start the hunt for the Go TV Shield Cup on Saturday 24 June, 2017 against Kisumu-based side Dero FC. The match will be staged at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu from16:15.

With Leopards a little bit way off the top spots in the Kenyan Premier League, the Go TV Shield is the tournament that they have a `realistic’ chance of winning. It will however not be a walk in the park, given the sub-standard performance that the team has posted recently.

The club’s hierarchy is however desperate to deliver silverware to the fans this season as a way of bringing back the lost smiles on their faces, and they have identified the Go TV Shield as their prime target this season after admitting that they will not be in contention for the Premier League title due to the club’s restructuring project.
Speaking to KS in a recent interview, AFC Leopards CEO Ronald Namai confirmed that the tournament is indeed one of their prime targets this season as they seek to balance the development project and winning silverware.

``We are balancing the two. There is the project which is long term but there is the fans' expectations which you have to address, which is why we have two targets for the year; one on the project and the other on winning the GOTV to show the fans that we are at least on the right track. So you satisfy the fans with some silverware but again you do not move away from the project,’’ said Namai.

``So our target is to do all we can to be in the finals of GOTV cup, with an aim of winning it. GOTV is five matches and so it is the only target of a win that we have this year,’’ he added.

Ingwe start the pursuit of their target in an away match against Maisha Siaya County League side Dero FC, hoping to proceed to the next round. In last year’s competition, Leopards were tossed out by Western Stima in round of 16 stage after being humbled 3-0 in the same venue that they are scheduled to play Dero FC.

The Go TV Shield commences on Saturday June 24, 2017 with twelve matches set to be played across the country.

On Saturday, six Kenyan Premier League teams will be in action, with most notably AFC Leopards playing Dero FC. Kariobangi Sharks face Bungoma Stars, with Nzoia United facing Bondo United while Bandari clash with Uweza FC.

Below is a full list of Saturday's matches and venue:

Machakos United vs Nairobi Stima 1:00 pm Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos

Poror Mote vs Kenya Commercial Bank 1:00 pm Afraha Stadium, Nakuru

Tandaza FC vs Zetech University 1:30 pm Camp Toyoyo

Griffin vs Palos 2:00 pm Moi Stadium Kisumu

Bungoma Super Stars vs Kariobangi Sharks 3:00 pm Sudi Stadium, Bungoma

Bondo United vs Nzoia Sugar 3:00 pm Moi Stadium Kisumu

Karatina Homeboyz vs Administration Police 3:00 pm Kaiyaba Grounds

Uweza FC vs Bandari 3:00 pm Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos

Al Ahly vs Kenpoly FC 3:00 pm Savannah Complex

Timsales vs Sony Sugar 3:15 pm Afraha Stadium, Nakuru

Naivas FC vs Kakamega Homeboyz 4:00 pm Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos

Dero FC vs AFC Leopards 4:15 pm Moi Stadium Kisumu

 

Coastal based Bandari FC has roped in Mathare United sensation Moses Kinyanjui Gitau during the June transfer window. The 22 year old striker confirmed he has signed a three year contract with the dockers.

Kinyajui, who previously featured for the FKF Division Two Club Shanzu United  was signed by Mathare United  last year  after being spotted during the Betway Talent Search Competition in which he emerged the winner alongside goalkeeper Mark Kioko Ndhiwa.

The Betway Talent Search Competition involved 1,600 aspiring footballers across the country  training and showcasing their skills under watchful eyes of both local and international coaches at the Goan Institute in Nairobi.

The duo subsequently earned a trip to United Kingdom and enjoyed an opportunity to showcase their skills  with English Premier League side West Ham United first team as well as enjoy home game against Chelsea and watch away game against AFC Bournemouth

More withdrawals continued to affect the smooth running of the Go TV Shield Shield Tournament with  Kenyan Premier League side with Thika United becoming the latest top team team to withdraw from the championship. Thika united were scheduled to travel to Mombasa and play against FkF Division Two side Young Divers from Kilifi at KPA Mbaraki Sports Club on Saturday June 24th, 2017.

A club official of Young Divers revealed they had received communication from the federation that match had been cancelled after Thika United confirmed the withdrawal and told that they had advanced to  the second round.

``As per the GO TV Round 64 fixture we were set to host Thika United but the latest information we have received is that the visitors are not traveling to honour the match. We now focus our attention to the second round after getting  got a bye, ’’ said a Young divers club official

Following the development Young Divers await to play against the winners of  Sundays clash at Kipchoge Keino  between Eldoret  Youth and Nakuru All Stars in the second round.

Besides Thika United, other  clubs that have pulled out of the Go TV Shield tournament are Kenya Police from Nairobi and Nyakach United from Kisumu. Kenya Police were scheduled to travel to Coast and play Mwatate United at Wundanyi stadium while  Nyakach United were set to host Eldoret based GFE 105  at Chemilil Sugar stadium.

SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri has categorically stated that come 1st January 2018, the betting firm will withdraw all sponsorships with clubs and sports organizations. This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed The Betting, Lotteries and Gambling Act to increase the current rates to 35%.

Be prepared

Karauri confirmed the planned withdrawal of sponsorships on Friday in a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel where the Association of Gaming Operators had gathered to respond to the recent Finance Bill that was signed into law. ``With the new bill coming into effect on January 1st 2018 we want our sports partners to plan accordingly,'' read one of his tweets on his official page.

``Our cost of doing business as a company will be greatly affected hence we have to consider the impact on operating besides partnerships. As @SportPesa we will be giving notice to clubs and unions that from January 1 we will withdraw all sponsorships,'' Karauri went on to add.

Until Wednesday, lotteries were taxed at 5%, betting firms at 7.5%, casino gambling at 12% and competitions like raffles at 15%. In the 2017/2018 budget, Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich had proposed a 50% tax, reasoning that the rapid growth in gambling activities have negatively affected the youth in the country.

This will be a huge blow to the clubs that have been sponsored by the betting firm, most of whom were suffering from lack of funds to cover their daily activities before SportPesa came to their rescue. These include Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, NSL side Nakuru AllStars and the national rugby teams. SportPesa is also the sponsor of the Kenyan Premier League and three FKF Women Premier League sides; Soccer Sisters, Soccer Queens FC and Vixens FC.

 

Kenyan Premier League side AFC Leopards have signed Raymond Omondi on a two-year deal. This comes a few days after releasing another forward Paul Mungai Kiongera.

KCB’s Kenny Andola and Mwamba’s Brad Owako made the cut for Simba’s squad in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup Clash against Uganda. The match will also serve as the Elgon Cup return leg. The duo, who will start off the bench will come in place of Biko Adema who is unavailable due to work commitments and Kelvin Masai.  20 year old Steve “Security” Otieno is also in line for his Simba’s debut. Otieno replaces Martin Owila who is rested for this clash.

There will be two main changes to the side that started the 23-18 away win over Uganda in Elgon Cup action a fortnight ago with Joshua Chisanga and fly half Isaac Adimo handed starts.

The fixture is set for the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi.

Regular tickets for the game are available at Ksh 400 with a limited number of VIP tickets retailing at Ksh 1000. These can be sourced online on Tikiti

Game day tickets will still be available for Ksh 500 at the RFUEA grounds.

Simbas Full Squad

15.Tony Opondo, 14. Darwin Mukidza (captain), 13. David Ambunya, 12. Patrice Agunda, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Isaac Adimo, 9. Samson Onsomu, 1. Moses Amusala, 2. Peter Karia, 3. Dennis Karani, 4. Simon Muniafu, 5. Oliver Mang’eni, 6. Eric Kerre, 7. Davis Chenge, 8. Joshua Chisanga Replacements 16. Philip Ikambili, 17. James Kubasu, 18. Curtis Lilako , 19. George Nyambua, 20. Steve Otieno, 21. Kenny Andola, 22. Brad Owako, 23. Leo Seje

 

British No 3 Dan Evans has announced that he tested positive for cocaine in April and he will be provisionally suspended from 26 June.

Evans, who is ranked 50th in the world, claims he took the illegal substance out of competition and for reasons "completely unrelated to tennis".

The 27-year-old called an impromptu press conference at the Novotel hotel in London on Friday afternoon, where he took no questions but made a statement

Evans said: "This is a very difficult day for me and I wanted to come here in person to tell you guys face to face.

"I was notified a few days ago that I failed a drugs test in April where I tested positive for cocaine. It's really important you know this was taken out of competition and the context was completely unrelated to tennis.

"I made a mistake and I must face up to it. I do not condone for one second to anyone that this was acceptable behaviour.

"I've let a lot of people down - my family, my coach, my team, sponsors, British tennis and my fans.

"I can only deeply apologise from the bottom of my heart. This has been an extremely sad and humbling experience."

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have released a statement stating they were "very disappointed" at the news.

"We are very disappointed at the news that Dan Evans has tested positive for a recreational substance. We absolutely condemn any form of drug-taking and will support the process which needs to take place.

"We are in touch with Dan and we will offer appropriate guidance, support and education to him on how best to address the issues he now faces."

The Birmingham-born player climbed into the world's top 50 earlier this year after an excellent upturn in results, which included reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open in January. In May 2015, he had dropped as low as 772nd.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said Evans provided the positive sample at the Barcelona Open on 24 April and he will be provisionally suspended from 26 June.

A player can be banned for up to four years for an anti-doping violation, according to ITF rules.

Report by Skyports

 

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is reportedly demanding a new contract with wages of £200,000 per week – the same as Blues team-mate Eden Hazard and as Manchester United ‘keeper David de Gea.

The Belgium international has established himself as one of Europe’s top shot-stoppers in his time at Stamford Bridge, and is now looking to more than double his current earnings.Courtois, 25, is currently on £90,000 a week, and his current deal runs until 2019, meaning the Blues may want to get the dispute resolved soon.

Real Madrid have been linked with Courtois in recent times, with the Spanish giants also looking at the likes of De Gea as they plan a big-name signing in goal this summer.Courtois’ demands have reportedly seen Chelsea put off contract talks for the time being, though they hope to reach an agreement with the former Atletico Madrid man before the start of the new season, according to the Daily Mail.

Manchester United are in talks to complete the transfer of Alvaro Morata, who has reportedly ignored Zinedine Zidane’s pleas to stay with Real Madrid.

The Spain international has been strongly linked with a move away from the Bernabeu for much of the summer, and is now being tipped to finalise his switch to Old Trafford.United are in need of strengthening up front after the departure of veteran front-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Morata has done all he can to help force a move through.

Marca claim that Los Blancos boss Zidane had been keen to keep hold of the 24-year-old after some fine performances as a squad player last season, but his attempts have proven unsuccessful.

Jose Mourinho is said to have swayed Morata by guaranteeing him a key role in his United side for next season, something he has been unable to achieve at Real.Morata started his career with the Spanish giants before spending two seasons at Juventus, where he impressed with more regular football, convincing Real to buy him back last summer.

Galatasaray coach Igor Tudor has blasted outgoing winger Bruma‘s attitude and behaviour, saying the new RB Leipzig signing is harder to deal with than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Bruma’s excellent form for Galatasaray in the second half of the season – in particular since Tudor took over at the Turkish club in February – has earned the Portuguese winger a move to German side Leipzig.

The 22-year-old scored 11 league goals this campaign for Galatasaray, finishing the campaign as their top goalscorer, although the club was only able to finish fourth in the Super Lig.

However, despite his impressive form, Tudor has claimed Bruma is suffering from an attitude problem and was not thrilled with how the wide-man behaved both on and off the field this season.

And the 39-year-old coach – who played at Juventus with Zlatan Ibrahimovic – believes that Bruma’s temperment is worse than what the Swedish icon displayed during their time together in Italy.

The Galatasaray coach told Bild: “I like Bruma a lot, he is still young, but already a top player.

“But the fact is that there are 20 more players in a squad. They all listen to you, except Bruma. I played with Ibrahimovic at some point and have experienced a lot throughout my career.

“But I have never seen someone behave like Bruma. It might be the way he was raised. He crossed a line.”

 

Bastia have confirmed that they have been further demoted to the third tier of French football after the DNCG found financial irregularities.

Bastia were relegated from Ligue 1 this season, finishing bottom of the division, and had been preparing to start the new campaign in Ligue 2.

However the DNCG, the organisation responsible for monitoring the financial accounts of professional football clubs in France, have recommended a further demotion for the club.

Bastia were the subject of an audit on their books on Thursday and the club have shared a statement from the regulation officers, which shows that the club have been sent down another division after failing to guarentee they had the finances to compete in Ligue 2.

The statement read: “Following it’s audit today before the DNCG, Sporting Club Bastia has been given notice of a provisional relegation.

“The delays obtained via appeal will allow the club to sell it’s players as best as it can and balance the books before the next audit.”

Bastia – who will now play in National 1 – have endured a torrid campaign with the side only relegated by three points.

The club recently lost an appeal over a forfeited match against Lyon in April, during which the match was suspended due to crowd trouble. The French Footbal Federation determined that Bastia fans were responsible and awarded the result to Lyon.

Had Bastia won that game they would have remained in Ligue 1 on goal difference.

 

 

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has made history for the Chile national team tonight by moving ahead of Marcelo Salas to become their all-time leading scorer on 38 goals.

The 28-year-old scuffed home a left-footed effort from close range after a woeful error by Gunners team-mate Shkodran Mustafi in the Germany defence to confirm his status as an all-time great for his country.

Sanchez has been a Chile international since all the way back in 2006, and managed his feat in his 111th appearance for the South American giants.

It is worth noting that Eduardo Vargas is also still active for the Chile squad and is just four goals behind Sanchez in the all-time leading scorer ranks.

 

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly growing in confidence that he can sign Kylian Mbappe in a world-record transfer deal this summer.

The France international is one of the most in-demand players in world football at the moment after a stunning breakthrough season for Monaco in 2016/17.

Real Madrid are also among the contenders for the 18-year-old’s signature, while reports today claimed Paris Saint-Germain had made a world-record £123million bid for him.

However, Arsenal believe they can pip Europe’s top clubs to Mbappe, with Wenger apparently gaining confidence over a deal in the last 48 hours.

The Gunners boss is now said to be preparing a rival bid to Monaco for the teenage forward, which would exceed the amount PSG have put on the table, according to football.london.

Arsenal need signings up front this summer due to fears over Alexis Sanchez’s contract situation and apparent desire to leave for rivals Manchester City.

 

Manchester United have been given the green light to make a move for Gareth Bale after Real Madrid admitted that they would be willing to sell the 27-year-old, according to reports in France.

L’Equipe claims that Zinedine Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez met with Kylian Mbappe last week in order to persuade the Monaco forward to move to the Spanish capital this summer.

During their conversation, Zidane and Perez reportedly told Mbappe that they would be willing to offload one of Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema in order to guarantee him more playing time next season.

L’Equipe claim that out of those three players, Bale’s transfer would be the most likely and United could now follow up with a bid, given their long-standing interest in the Wales international.

Earlier this month, reports claimed that Bale was open to the idea of joining United but Madrid would command a £100 million transfer fee.

United have held talks with over a deal for Bale, although Madrid’s hierarchy are reportedly split over their decision to sell the forward they signed from Tottenham for £86m four years ago.

 

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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.

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.

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? 

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”.

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.

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.

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."

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 Tottenham striker Souleymane Coulibaly has accused the Egyptian club of treating him “like a slave” and “traumatising” his family.

Coulibaly joined Spurs in 2011 from Siena for £1.5m but failed to make any senior appearances.

He has played for Grossto, Bari Fc, Pistoiese, Peterborough United, Newport County and later Kilmarnock where he left in January to agree a three-and-a-half year deal with Al Alhy. He later returned to England without the club’s permission, prompting the Egyptian Premier League champions to lodge a complaint with FIFA.

The 22-year-old Ivorian has now claimed his actions were because of mistreatment while in Egypt, saying his family has been left “traumatised” by the experience.
Coulibaly added that Al Ahly had confiscated his passport which prompted him and his family to “flee” back to England at the first possible opportunity, and that he is willing to accept a ban from FIFA for his actions.

He said in a statement: “I’m not crazy, I left for a reason. I’m very sorry but I could not stay in that team anymore. My passport was held hostage. I was forced to do what I was told, for example bow down and pray every time I scored. I did not feel comfortable in the team and environment. I have tried my hardest for five months but I have reached my limit.

The team wasn’t welcoming. They never passed the ball so I had to fight and struggle in order to score. The coach forced me to play how he wanted me to play. I can’t play being forced to follow orders. If I didn’t obey the orders I was taken to the office and yelled at. My wife and kids are traumatised. My family is Christian and didn’t feel comfortable practicing their religion in the country.

I’ve been playing and working hard since I started without the right to a break. I left without saying because I had to flee the first chance I had a hold of my passport. They treated me like a slave all because of money. If FIFA are going to ban me I am willing and ready to accept the ban. My peace of mind and safety are what are most important to me.”

Al Ahly president Mahmoud Taher has since denied Coulibaly’s statement. Taher believes that Coulibaly’s accusation comes in response to Al Ahly’s complaint to FIFA and insists the club will not back down.

The club president’s statement read: “We deny all of Coulibaly’s allegations. What he claims never happened and he was never mistreated or abused by the club’s coach or players. Logically, if he was being abused he should have immediately spoken about this as soon as he left us, not after we filed a complaint to FIFA.

Al Ahly will not be blackmailed and will not back down until Coulibaly pays for what he did. This is a false accusation and a lie. He thinks that by saying this we will withdraw our complaint and back down but Al Ahly will not be blackmailed.”

Wilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.