Roseline Odhiambo: The best female Luo volleyballer speaks on her heart condition and love for music

Her illustrious career on the volleyball court was abruptly cut short by a deadly heart condition which has seen her survive three major hear operations. Despite the numerous health challenges punctuated by several trips to the hospital, Roseline Odhiambo, a former National team centre blocker and 2010 and 2012  Africa’s best blocker and server still has a big heart of helping the needy with the little resources she should ordinary be sharing with her two young sons.

Odhiambo, the former Kenya Pipeline player and a mother of two runs an annual sports tournament- Kanyanam memorial Cup at her village home every December, bringing together idle youth most of whom she tries to link up with various High schools and negotiate for scholarships, her best way of giving back to the society.


Kenyanstar sat down with the now Community Development student at Africa Nazarene University who played volleyball for only ten years before she was forced into early retirement due to a health related issue, on her journey in volleyball, her music career as well as her fight with a heart condition.

KS: Hallo Roseline? Thank you for welcoming us to your house. Just to begin us off, who is Roseline Odhiambo?
Odhiambo: I like associating myself with my tribe. Roseline is a Luo lady. The only Luo who played for both national team and club during her time as an active player. I was actually the only Luo lady in the entire Kenya Volleyball Federation league. I played for my club, Kenya Pipeline and National team. I joined Pipeline in 2003 directly from School. I was first called to the national team in 2008 until 2012 then abruptly retired  from active volleyball the following year.

I started as a strong player (left attacker) in school but I was converted to a centre player by my club coach because of my good blocks. When I was in school I was the strongest player but when I joined the club, I was told that they needed very strong players on the left, the masculine type which I was not so I had to move to the centre.

KS: How did you get to volleyball considering that you went to a village school in Nyanza where volleyball is not that well spread out?
Odhiambo: I went to Jera Girls. My passion all along,while growing up had been singing. I loved singing. I was a very good singer but i was forced to join volleyball just because of my height. I was very tall and slender otherwise my passion was singing. In fact, my first tournament in volleyball, I was voted the best player in Siaya District. From there on, I was spotted by coach Gilbert Ohanya who happens to come from my place. That’s how I joined Kenya Pipeline.


The national women's volleyball team during the world cup in Japan

KS: Unlike many Kenyans, you like identifying yourself with your tribe. I remember during your time as an active player, you were the only Luo lady in the entire Kenya Volleyball Federation league. Currently, there are only two. How was life then and what do you think is ailing Nyanza volleyball?
Odhiambo: Being the only Luo lady in the team then wasn’t easy. You know Volleyball is dominated by Luhyas and Kalenjins. They have the best schools in Volleyball and so by default they produce so many players.

Being the only Luo in the team, sometimes you’ll find these groupings sitting together and speaking in their mother tongues and you get to be isolated. Some people even wanted me to be chased because immediately after school, unfortunately, I got a baby, my first son, Eugene. I was  only 19.

When I came back, some of the players felt that it was unfair because they’ve been playing for long while I was a way and some even said that I’ve done something very wrong, an abomination for giving birth.There were also some tribal discrimination of sort from coaches but that never bothered me. Fortunately, I had two good friends, Esther Jepkosgei who loved me right from day one. She was like a mother to me.  At least nowadays I can talk, before; I was a very silent lady, polite and stuff. I have never known how to fight and whenever people would offend or even mock me, Esther was there for me.

And then I had a very rough friend. My best friend is a very rough lady –Asha Makuto. She could even fight other people just because of me.  I passed through so much but I thank God for the two ladies.

KS: Your career, especially at club level was punctuated by a lot of success. What are these achievements?
Odhiambo: Well, for national team, I never won any individual award but we lifted the Africa Nations Championship, finished third in the 2010 All African Games and several world championship qualifiers. I also took part in World Cup in Japan and World Championship in Doha Qatar.?

With the club, I was among the Kenya Pipeline squad that won the club its last Africa Club Championship title in 2005. Actually I made my debut at the Africa Club championship in 2003, when I had just joined Pipeline from high school. The following year (2004), I had my first kid at 19 years, took one year leave then came back the following year and made the team which won the African title in 2005.  Thereafter, I took part in almost all the editions which we honored until I retired in 2013.
I also had a couple of league titles with my last coming in 2011 when we beat Kenya Prisons at Nyayo stadium. That was nostalgic.I was voted the best serves, in Africa (Club Championship) in 2012, best blocker 2010 at the same championship.


Roseline Odhiambo (in light blue) with friends, Esther Jepkosgei, far left,  Ruth Jepngetich, David Lung'aho and Asha Makuto at JKIA during Kenya Pipeline team arrival from Tunisia.
 

KS: How was life when you got your first kid, at that very early age

Odhiambo: Life was tough. It was very tough. I went through a lot, single-handed. My village had seen me as a role model, I resorted to being indoors most of the time. People didn’t know that I existed. And also at the team, I was the ‘good one’. People took that chance to mock me but my parent were very supportive. I remember when I got the labour pains, I was rushed to the hospital by my dad. In fact, the doctors addressed him as my husband. They thought that we were a couple until I told them that he is my dad. After that I came back to Nairobi with a young baby. I really struggled but I thank God his grace is sufficient, here I am today.

KS: That must have been quiet tough on you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of your struggle. Your career took a nose dive about seven years later at the prime of your career. Can you just take us through that?
Odhiambo: About my health? Where do I start from? It’s a long story.  It was during the national team assignment. We were training for some championship. In the course of the drill,my heart started beating too fast but I never knew that I had a problem. I never thought it was serous.  So a round 2010 when we were preparing for World Championship in Doha, we had a Japanese coach, Sadatoshi Sugawara. On this day, he took me through a marathon drill and during the break, I took some cold water. Immediately, my heart started pumping. I went and hide somewhere at the back of the court then I started shaking.

The team doctor came where I was and asked if I was okay. There was tension in the team and the Team Doctor at that point was torn between calling Kioni (Waithaka), chairman Kenya Volleyball Federation or the Ambulance?

To me, I never took him seriously because all along, I would get such attacks, take some rest then life continues. But later that day, when the doctor asked me that question, I thought to myself, something must be wrong somewhere. But still, I didn’t give it that much attention.

Later that year, 2010, we were playing in Kisumu (league matches) against Kenya Prisons when I felt something. I stepped on the line and told the doctor that my heart was beating fast and the coach took me off. After some time, I returned to the court. After the match, the team doctor advised me to go see a cardiologist. I did that. I was tested but the result was negative. So they had to implant a reveal device, to try and detect the problem. I was given something like a remote control of which I would ‘press’ once I get the attack to record what is going on in my body.

I then returned to the game and immediately I got the palpitation. But you see, we players, take a lot of things for granted. Players would make fun about my ‘remote’ and we would laugh about it. So we recorded the whole thing and I returned back to the hospital and that’s when the doctors realized that I had a false pathway in my heart. A hole of sort. The doctors told me that that thing couldn’t have just occurred at that time in my life. Maybe it’s something I had lived with only that it was never detected early enough. In fact they were wondering how I managed to play with an ‘open heart’ (laughs). I count myself one of the lucky people.

The doctors recommended for an open heart surgery but our doctor (Dr.  Stephen Bore) was not for the idea. He said I was still very active player and the team needed me so they had to seek for another solution. That’s when I was taken to SanningHil Hospital, in South Africa and they did a minor surgery to fill the false pathway through the groins. It wasn’t open surgery.  The surgery took eight hours. After that I was taken to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) where I stayed for a week. I recovered very fast and came back and resumed training. That year I made the team for Africa Club Championship in Madagascar. When I came back, I got my second born.

Things were just ‘normal’ and one day, while in class, I suffered a mild attack. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know that it was a heart attack. I just felt some unbearable chest pain and I couldn’t walk afterward but again I assumed it. I came back home but I couldn’t walk the following day. That was on a Friday.

The following day, I was taking my kids to the hospital. All of them are asthmatic. I drove to the hospital with the kids in the car. When I got there, I made a phone call to my mum, told her that I was not feeling well. She advised me to go and see a doctor.

I didn’t see the need but sometimes you just do things because you’ve been told by your mother. It is not easy challenging moms. So I did that. They did some random test – body pressure, pulse rate and all that and the next thing I saw was people running up and down in the hospital corridors. I heard them make calls to my Doctor (Dr. Charles Kariuki) that I’m in a very serious condition. Remember I drove to the hospital with kids and my sister in the car.

Within a very short time the doctor arrived and he was comforting me –saying that I was in a very critical condition and that things will be well and all that. He then asked if I had anybody and if I came via public transport. I told him I came driving and he was so surprised.

I was told I was in a very critical condition - my heart rate was very low, below 30 and that I shouldn’t move. I was advised to call someoneto come for the kids. That, my life was in great danger.

I was transferred to Nairobi Hospital and immediately taken to the HDU for a surgery the next Monday. Unfortunately, my blood pressure was very low due to the mild heart attack I suffered the previous week had caused complete heart block. The electrical heart system could not work and so they had to implant a pace maker. With the pace maker, they (doctors) had to do ‘settings’ which I used to go for all the time because I had just got the implant.

I returned home but surprisingly, everything was blurry. By then I used to live with my sisters. I remember telling them not to go to bed that night because I knew I was going to die if I sleep but they thought I was joking. They laughed, stayed with me till late in the night then they retired at some point in the night.

The following day at around midnight, I experienced a breathing problem and I was rushed to the hospital . At this moment, I was still walking but the moment I got to the hospital,my heart stopped beating. The heart rate was around 390. It was literally vibrating.

The problem was with my pace-maker. This thing (Pace-Maker) has two leads: on the upper and lower chambers and it uses a battery. One of the lead was touching the valve and they had to remove it again and another planted.

That year I was in and out of the hospital, but I started improving. Last year I was admitted twice, this year, I haven’t gone to the hospital though I take drugs. I can say that I’ve improved because I know God and I just want to thank him for walking with me.



KS:Tell us more about your love for music. I’m also aware that you are a gospel musician. Is that true?
Odhiambo: The journey to music I think is genetic. My dad was a very great musician. There are so many Catholic songs which were composed by my late dad. In fact in his funeral, almost three quarters of songs which were played were his original compositions. So music, I would say is something in us. I just love singing and I am very religious. I can confess, I’ve never stepped in a club. I hate secular music. The loud secularmusic but interestingly, if you play gospel song - even full blast, I don’t feel anything. I love it.
I released a one album and if you listen to those songs, I used to sing about ‘my heart’. Somebody may think that I sang those songs because I had heart problem or something, the truth is, I wrote those songs way before I was diagnosed with heart problem.
I put a break on music to concentrate with my class work. Music is demanding in terms of time and money but it’s something in me. I intend to take it further when am done with my school course. I will be graduating this October (2017)

KS: You’ve talked about some nerve wrecking incidences like driving yourself to the hospital, sometimes at a very critical state even though you may have not been aware of the gravity of your situation. Does it worry you that maybe someday you may experience the attack in some risk places? And if so, what are some of the safety measures you put in place to get out of danger is case of an attack?

Odhiambo: To be sincere, I live my life one day at time. I live today and tomorrow will take care if itself. What I know is that the Lord is my strength. I’m never worried. I know I will not die soon. In fact I was telling some of my volleyball colleagues that they will die before me (laughs).

At one point my heart rate was below 30 and the doctor told me that I survived it because I was a player. Players naturally have low heart rate. A normal person couldn’t have survived though at one point I knew I was going to die and I was ready. I was imagining myself in a Church, lying in a casket with people coming to view my body. I was imagining being buried.  I think when you’ve gone through a lot; death is the last thing you can fear. But I always believe that as long as you have that faith, you’ll always pull through.But I know the symptoms. When I feel like I’m getting weak or breathing becomes a bit of a problem, I rush to the hospital. By now, I know almost all the danger signs of the heart, the ones to ignore and those to take seriously.
One thing I hate is when people look at me like this sick person. That, I can’t do anything. Okay, there are some tasks I can’t do like lifting heavy stuff but I don’t like it one bit when others sees me as a sick person.


Roseline Odhiambo (9) with members of the national team during the world cup in Japan.

KS: Do you think you’d be alive today if you took up singing and not sports?
Odhiambo:I think this was God's plan. Sometimes I would say to myself that this could be a punishment from God because he called me to sing and serve him but I took up volleyball. Maybe God is trying to destabilize me so that I stop playing to go back to him. But again maybe this was his plan too, to prolong my life. He took me to volleyball. Sports people have low heart rates and he took me there to give me a low heart rate, something that has helped me survive severe attacks. Sports has really helped me. Naturally, in my family we are big (bodied) but as a sports lady especially a volleyball player, there is recommended weight. You can imagine if I had this condition and above 100?Kg.  If it wasn’t for sports, I think I would have been long gone. My heart rate used to go low, were it not for sports, I don’t think I would have made it. Sport has helped me a lot.

Anytime I am stressed or distressed, I have to spend the night in a hospital but being in the field where I laugh and make jokes with players, I am always very happy and lively. Sport has greatly contributed to my health. Also, I was employed because of volleyball and to afford the medical services at the best hospital it’s purely because of sports. If it were not for volleyball, maybe my dad could have sold some piece of land to take care of my hospital bills which I don’t think would have been enough.

But my life in sports was cut short. This is like a marathon, a race its only that mine was a fault start. I just started the race and I was shown the red card. I had to step out of the track but life has to continue. I’m still going strong.

KS: What made you enroll for a course in Community Development especially at a time when you were not at the best state of health and the future wasn’t that bright for you-health wise?
Odhiambo: (laughs) …Imagine I’ve never know why...studying Community Development has really helped me to grow. I looked at my village and saw so many people who need help. I’ve always wanted to help. If I had the resources, I would be having an orphanage modeled into a sports academy for needy children – as we speak.

There are a lot of people who need help, starting from my village. People like the disabled, the orphans, those living with HIV and the old. So I put myself in that category, the sick and so I said that, because I have a story to tell, I also wanted to encourage the community. You don’t have to be sleeping the whole day just because you are sick. I wanted to encourage guys who are positive that there is life after the infection. HIV is not life sentence. After all, my condition is even worse than AIDS because there you just need to take your drugs unlike me who depends on a battery to survive.

This is why I shopped around for a course that will allow me to serve humanity. Also I considered the fact that I can’t do technical courses like electrical engineering because there are some tasks which I can’t perform. That’s how and why I settled for community development.To serve the vulnerable in the society.

KS: You have a great story and a big heart. Thank you so much for your time.

Odhiambo:You are welcome.


A last minute goal by Leandra Smelda rallied South Africa to a 2-1 win over hosts Zimbabwe to be crowned this year's COSAFA Women's Cup winners on Sunday September 24 at the Bulawayo Stadium in Zimbabwe.

Thembi Kgatlana  has given South Africa in the 45th minute before lethal striker Rutendo Makore equalized for the hosts in the 73rd minute. Leandra Smeda then sent the South Africa's technical bench into jubilation with a goal in the 90th minute which all but sealed the title for Banyana Banyana.

South Africa have now won the tournament a record four times, having lifted it in 2002, 2006 and 2008. Losing finalists Zimbabwe are the only other team to have won the tournament having done that in 2011.

 

Bandari FC's miseries continued on Sunday September 24 after losing 1-0 to Chemelil Sugar in a Round of 27 match played at the Mbaraki Sports Club.

An 85th minute penalty converted by Alexis Kitenge was all AFC Leopards needed to get past a tough Vihiga United on Saturday September 24 at the Afraha Stadium and consequently book a date with Kariobangi Sharks in the finals of this year's Gotv Shield tournament.

In a match that Vihiga were the better side, Clyde Nevade had the first chance for thema in the 2nd minute just outside the box but his uncalculated shot went wide off target. Dennis Simiyu then saw his header saved by keeper Ian Otieno in the 17th minute after he had risen the highest to connect with Nevada's cross. 

The best chance for the National Super League leaders came in the 21st minute from a counter attack, Kevin Ichiami flinging a through ball to Rashid Kyambadde but once again Ian Otieno reacted the quickest to prevent his side from going down.

Vihiga keeper Barnabas Tiema then followed the footsteps of his equal opponent ten minutes with a brilliant save to deny Alexis Kitenge who had taken a shot at goal.

In the second half, Leopards coach Robert Matano decided to introduce Keziron Kizito and Marcelus Ingotsi for Vincent Oburu and Whyvonne Isuza respectively in a bid to spice up his attack.

Substitute Kizito almost made an impact in the 77th minute following Samuel Ndungús pass but saw his shot fail to find the target.

Just as the match seemed to be headed into post-match penalties, Leopards were awarded a penalty five minutes from time following defender Edwin Otieno's apparent hand ball inside the box. Burundian international Alexis Kitenge stepped up to take the resulting penalty, burying the ball to the far left corner to earn his team a hard fought 1-0 win over Vihiga.

Ingwe will now clash with fellow league competitors Kariobangi Sharks in the finals of the competition. Sharks eased past SoNy Sugar 2-0 in the first semifinal.

Leopards Starting XI: Ian Otieno,  Michael Kibwage, Dennis Shikhayi,  Abdallah Salim, Robinson Kamura, Samwel Ndungu,  Musa Mudde, Duncan  Otieno, Alexis Kitenge,  Whyvonne Isuza,  Vincent Oburu

Reserves: Mukolwe, Nyakha, Kizito, Majid, Wanami, Ingotsi, Yakubu

Vihiga Starting XI: 1.Tiema Barnabas (GK), 2. Edwin Mukoya , 3. Dennis Ombeva , 4. Liuva Mophat , 5. Ochieng Bernard , 6. Imbalabala Martin (C), 7. Christopher Masinza , 8. Kevin Muhanji , 9. Rashid Kyambade , 10. Clyde Senaji , 11.Dennis Wafula

Subs: Frank Mwenda (GK), David Kavaji , Soita Silicho , Okulo Patrick , Airo Godfrey , Dennis Lugalia, Gideon Abucheri

 

 

Masoud Juma's goals in either half secured a place for Kariobangi Sharks in the finals of this year's Gotv Shield tournament after overcoming SoNy Sugar 2-0 on Sunday September 24 at the Afraha Stadium.

Sharks were more determined from the start and had a chance in the 4th minute when Michael Bodo initiated a counter attack, but SoNy Sugar defenders stood firm on ground to snatch the ball from Ellie Asieche.

The Nairobi based club was then dealt a blow in the 27th minute,  Pattillah Omoto being forced out of the game with an injury and was substituted by Christopher Kimathi. They however took the lead just three minutes through dangerman Masoud Juma who showed keeper Kevin Omondi what he is capable of doing with the ball. 

SoNy then sort a reply in the 33rd minute but Wycliffe Otieno was swift to clear the ball out of danger.

In the second half, the sugar millers came back stronger in search of an equalizer but Masoud Juma put the match beyond reach for them with his second goal in the 80th minute. 

The 2-0 victoryautomatically secures Sharks' a place in the finals of the competition, where they will face the winner between AFC Leopards and Vihiga United in the other semifinal.

Kariobangi Sharks Starting XI: Jeff Oyemba, Michael Bodo, Geoffrey Shiveka (c), Wycliffe Otieno, Paul Kamau, Sven Yidah, Patilla Omoto ( Christopher Kimathi), Elli Asieche, Duke Abuya ( Francis Manoah), Mathew Odongo, Masoud Juma

Subs: Malcolm Oigo, Pascal Ogweno, Ibrahim Kitawi, Cavin Odongo, Ebrimma Sanneh.

SoNy Sugar Starting Xi: Kevin Omondi. Bernard Omondi. Dennis Junior, Joseph Omweri, Alfred Onyango, Nick Akoko, Benjamin Mosha, Fredrick Onyango, Mwana Yema, Amos Asembeka, Justin Monda,

Subs: Tom Muthomi, Samuel Otieno, Justin Omari, Clement Owino, Tobias Otieno, David Simiyu, Laban Gambareko.

 

Vihiga United head coach Edward Manoah has released hi starting lineup that will face AFC Leopards in the semifinals of the Gotv Shield tournament on Sunday September 24 at the Afraha Stadium.

The match kicks of at 14:30

Starting XI: 1.Tiema Barnabas (GK), 2. Edwin Mukoya , 3. Dennis Ombeva , 4. Liuva Mophat , 5. Ochieng Bernard , 6. Imbalabala Martin (C), 7. Christopher Masinza , 8. Kevin Muhanji , 9. Rashid Kyambade , 10. Clyde Senaji , 11.Dennis Wafula

Subs: Frank Mwenda (GK), David Kavaji , Soita Silicho , Okulo Patrick , Airo Godfrey , Dennis Lugalia, Gideon Abucheri

 

Ian Otieno has been handed a starting berth in goal as AFC Leopards head coach Robert Matano unleashed a strong starting lineup that will take on Vihiga United in the semifinals of the Gotv Shield tournament on Saturday September 24 at the Afraha Stadium from 14:30.

Otieno will be covered in defense by Michael Kibwage, Dennis Shikhayi,  Abdallah Salim and Robinson Kamura. Samuel Ndungu and Musa Mudde will pull strings in midfield while the attacking trio of Alexis Kitenge,  Whyvonne Isuza and Vincent Oburulead the team upfront in search of goals that would earn them a ticket in the finals of the competition.

Starting XI: Ian Otieno,  Michael Kibwage, Dennis Shikhayi,  Abdallah Salim, Robinson Kamura, Samwel Ndungu,  Musa Mudde, Duncan  Otieno, Alexis Kitenge,  Whyvonne Isuza,  Vincent Oburu

Reserves: Mukolwe, Nyakha, Kizito, Majid, Wanami, Ingotsi, Yakubu

 

It wasn’t the race that anybody anticipated, but Eliud Kipchoge came away from the 2017 Berlin Marathon on Sunday with the win in 2:03:32 and some unanticipated late-race competition from a newcomer to the distance. 

Although the prerace hype focused on a battle between the “big three” of Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang, and Kenenisa Bekele, by 30K the competition came down to just Kipchoge and Guye Adola, a 26-year-old Ethiopian running his first marathon. Bekele lost the lead pack just past the halfway point (he eventually dropped out) and Kipsang suddenly stopped at 30K without showing any signs of distress. 

Adola came with a personal best of 59:06 for the half marathon and now is the owner of the fastest marathon debut ever, finishing second in 2:03:46, besting Dennis Kimetto's 2:04:16 previous debut record he set in 2012.

Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia was third in 2:06:09.

Although the goal was to beat Kimetto's world record time of 2:02:57, the leaders fell off that pace after 30K. They passed the halfway point in 1:01:29, putting them within reach, though it was not to be in the end. The weather conditions were not ideal and likely made such lofty objectives difficult, with rain, 97 percent humidity, and a starting temperature of 58 degrees.

Kipchoge, 32, is from Kenya and the 2016 Olympic marathon champion. He became a fan favorite following the Nike Breaking2 experiment, where he ran a 2:00:25 on a racetrack in Monza, Italy. Though it remains the fastest time ever for 26.2 miles, it didn’t count as an official record because of the tactics used, such as the team of rotating pacesetters who aided his attempt to break two hours.

With his race on Sunday, Kipchoge now owns three of the fastest marathons in history, not including his Breaking attempt.

In the women's race, Kenya's Gladys Cherono claimed the win in a time of 2:20:21. Ethiopia's Ruti Aga finished second in 2:20:41 with Kenya's Valary Ayabei claiming third in 2:20:53.

 

On Saturday September 24, The CAF Executive Committee under the chairmanship of CAF President Ahmad held a special meeting in Accra, Ghana where they deliberated on several issues regarding African football.

A last minute goal by Leandra Smelda rallied South Africa to a 2-1 win over hosts Zimbabwe to be crowned this year's COSAFA Women's Cup winners on Sunday September 24 at the Bulawayo Stadium in Zimbabwe.

Thembi Kgatlana  has given South Africa in the 45th minute before lethal striker Rutendo Makore equalized for the hosts in the 73rd minute. Leandra Smeda then sent the South Africa's technical bench into jubilation with a goal in the 90th minute which all but sealed the title for Banyana Banyana.

South Africa have now won the tournament a record four times, having lifted it in 2002, 2006 and 2008. Losing finalists Zimbabwe are the only other team to have won the tournament having done that in 2011.

 

On Saturday September 24, The CAF Executive Committee under the chairmanship of CAF President Ahmad held a special meeting in Accra, Ghana where they deliberated on several issues regarding African football.

The German Bundesliga continues this weekend with nine matches on the cards from Friday September 22 to Sunday September 24.

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

FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER

Bayern Munich 21:30 VfL Wolfsburg

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

Mainz 05 16:30 Hertha BSC

RB Leipzig 16:30 Eintracht Frankfurt

Werder Bremen 16:30 SC Freiburg

1899 Hoffenheim 16:30 FC Schalke 04

VfB Stuttgart 16:30 FC Augsburg

Borussia Dortmund 19:30 Borussia Mönchengladbach

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Hannover 96 16:30 FC Köln

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 19:00 Hamburger SV

 

Round six of the Spanish LaLiga takes place this weekend, with ten fixtures expected to be played between Saturday September 23 and Monday September 25.

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

 

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

Atlético Madrid 14:00 Sevilla

Alavés 17:15 Real Madrid

Malaga 19:30 Athletic Bilbao

Girona 21:45 Barcelona

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Espanyol 13:00 Deportivo La Coruña

Getafe 17:15 Villarreal

Eibar 19:30 Celta Vigo

Las Palmas 19:30 Leganés

Real Sociedad 21:45 Valencia

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER

Real Betis 22:00 Levante

 

The Barclays Premier League continues this weekend with a total of ten matches programmed to be played between Saturday September 23 and Monday September 25.

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

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

         West Ham United 14:30 Tottenham Hotspur

                       Burnley 17:00 Huddersfield Town

                       Everton 17:00 AFC Bournemouth

           Manchester City 17:00 Crystal Palace

              Southampton 17:00 Manchester United

                   Stoke City 17:00 Chelsea

              Swansea City 17:00 Watford

              Leicester City 19:30 Liverpool

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Brighton & Hove Albion 18:00 Newcastle United

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER

                      Arsenal 22:00 West Bromwich Albion

 

Chelsea are loaning Diego Costa to Atlético Madrid for the rest of the season and the Spanish club have committed to buy him for €65 million (£57.1m) at the end of that arrangement.

The deal for Costa to leave was finally struck after it was agreed that Chelsea would not subsidise his wages, even though he cannot play for Atlético until January because of their transfer ban, or pay him any loyalty bonus.

The terms of the agreement mean that Costa is no longer Chelsea’s concern and can now travel to Madrid to complete his medical and agree personal terms  – and is expected to be presented to the supporters before the home game against Sevilla on Saturday.

 After that, of course, Atlético face Chelsea at their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium in the Champions League and it will be fascinating to see whether Costa is in the stands for that eagerly-anticipated encounter.

Given Costa has gone AWOL for 11 weeks, spending the entire summer in Brazil, and has refused to return to Chelsea this season, then the notion of a loyalty payment would seem remarkable although contractually it related to a percentage of any transfer fee agreed being due to him under his contract.

Chelsea have repeatedly fined Costa during his absence, insisting that he is an employee in breach of contract. The Professional Footballers’ Association blocks players being fined more than two weeks' wages but that is only in the case of them making themselves available to play. Costa has not done that and given he earns £150,000-a-week then he may well be £1.5m out of pocket.

To do this Chelsea have adhered to a four-point plan – that Costa, despite his desire to go, needed to return to England, train, get fit and get himself in contention – despite, also, manager Antonio Conte having texted the 28-year-old to tell him he was not part of his plans.

Chelsea were always prepared to sell Costa but the message from owner Roman Abramovich was clear: he would not be allowed to force his way out on the cheap. It almost became a point of principle at the club. Atlético, whose coach Diego Simeone has driven the deal, had initially offered as little as £26m for Chelsea’s top-scorer last season in the belief that the Stamford Bridge hierarchy would simply want rid of him. There was a fear at Chelsea that Atlético may make a similarly low offer in January.

Costa is not allowed to play until then because of the transfer ban on Atlético which may, actually, have helped him to secure his move given the club were close to signing Alexandre Lacazette before he agreed a deal to join Arsenal. Costa has been determined to return to his former club, three years after left in July 2014 when his £32m release clause was triggered, since summer 2016. Indeed he told Conte on the preseason tour of the United States 14 months ago, soon after the Italian was appointed, that he wanted  to go back to Madrid. But, at that time, Atlético bought the French striker Kevin Gameiro instead.

Costa has always been a firm favourite of Simeone who wanted him back at the club and even demanded it as part of his recent contract negotiations. The Spanish international will be allowed to train with Atlético but he cannot be registered to play for them until the ban is lifted on January 1 2018

 

Trailing 3-0in the 70th minute, South Africa offered perfect response to Zambia by equalizing and overcoming them on post-match penalties to reach the finals of the continuing COSAFA Women's Cup.

Barbara Banda had given Zambia the lead in the 21st minute before Chanda's 45th minute goal doubled their lead heading into halftime. Chileshe had the chance to make it 3-0 six minutes after the restart from the spot but saw her effort go wide off target. Zulu however made it three for Zambia in the 75th minute to double their hopes of storming into the finals.

The turn over started two minutes later when Leandra Smelda scored two quick goals, one from the penalty spot before Rafiloe Jane's 84th minute strike restored parity for Banyana Banyana.

With the scores tied at 3-3 after the final whistle, the two teams went into a penalty shootout where South Africa won 5-3 to book their spot into the finals of the competition.

They will now face the winner of the second semifinal clash between Kenya and hosts Zimbabwe.

 

East African guest nation Kenya proved the big winners on the day as they thumped Mauritius 11-0 in their Group B clash at the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship at the Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday.

The result leaves Kenya top of the pool on goal-difference from Swaziland, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Mozambique, with those two sides to meet in their final match on Monday

Neddy Okoth was the hero again for the guests as she netted four goals to go with her hat-trick in Kenya’s 5-2 opener against Mozambique on Thursday, and now leads the scoring charts in the tournament with seven goals. Lucy Mukhwana and Jereko Adam were also on the scoresheet for the Kenyans as they grabbed a brace each.

Mozambique battled back for a point as Betinha struck late in their 2-2 draw with Swaziland, who had led twice via Celiwe Nkambule and Nqobile Dlamini. Lucia had also earlier netted for Mozambique, who have kept their hopes alive of finishing as one of the best placed runners-up.

Botswana also kept themselves in contention for a semifinal spot with a 3-0 victory over Lesotho.

All of their goals came in the opening 26 minutes through Boitumelo Gammu and Bonang Otlhagile (two) as the Lady Zebras picked up a first ever victory in the COSAFA Women’s Championship.

Sunday will see the conclusion of two pools as hosts Zimbabwe look to secure top spot in Group A when they take on Malawi (14h00 local; 12h00 GMT), who have been Jekyll and Hyde in this tournament both winning and losing by 6-3 scorelines in their last two games.

Malawi have it all to play for as a win could take them top of the pool if Zambia don’t win their final match against Madagascar at the same time. Zimbabwe and Zambia both have four points, while Malawi have three and the Malagasy zero.

In Group C, South Africa will hope to seal top spot when they take on Botswana at the Luveve Stadium (16h30 local; 14h30 GMT), but will also be wary of their opponents.   Namibia will be waiting for any slip-ups as they take on Lesotho at the same time, who are now out of contention for a place in the semifinals.

South Africa have a full haul of six points from their two games, while Namibia and Botswana have three and Lesotho none.

Only the top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals, along with the best-placed runner-up.

 

 SATURDAY’S RESULTS

All at Luveve Stadium

Kenya 11 (Adam 9’, 85’, Okoth 25?, 32?, 45?, 51’, Mukhwana 34?, 49’, Salano 54’, Nixon 79’, Rassoie 90og) Mauritius 0

Lesotho 0 Botswana 3 (Gammu 3’, Otlhagile 22?, 26’)

Mozambique 2 (Lucia 74’, Betinha 90’) Swaziland 2 (Nkambule 49’, Nq. Dlamini 75’)

SUNDAY’S FIXTURES

All at Barbourfields Stadium

Zambia vs Madagascar (14h00 local; 12h00 GMT) – Barbourfields Stadium

Zimbabwe vs Malawi (14h00 local; 12h00 GMT) – Luveve Stadium

Namibia vs Lesotho (16h30 local; 14h30 GMT) – Barbourfields Stadium

South Africa vs Botswana (16h30 local; 14h30 GMT) – Luveve Stadium

 

 GROUP A                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

Zimbabwe                 2          1          1          0          5          1          +4        4

Zambia                      2          1          1          0          7          4          +3        4

Malawi                      2          1          0          1          9          9          0          3

Madagascar              2          0          0          2          3          10        -7         0

GROUP B                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

Kenya                        2          2          0          0          16        2          +14      6

Swaziland                   2          1          1          0          5          2          +3        4

Mozambique               2          0          1          1          4          7          -3         1

Mauritius                    2          0          0          2          0          14        -14       0

GROUP C                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

South Africa                2          2          0          0          6          1          +5        6

Namibia                      2          1          0          1          5          3          +2        3

Botswana                    2          1          0          1          3          4          -1         3

Lesotho                       2          0          0          2          0          6          -6         0

 

 TOURNAMENT STATS

Matches Played: 12

Goals scored: 63

Biggest victory: Kenya 11 Mauritius 0 (Group B, September 16)

Most goals in a game: 11 – Kenya 11 Mauritius 0 (Group B, September 16)

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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.

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“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.

 

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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.

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The Indomitable Lions beat Egypt to win the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon earlier this year, but despite downing Morocco at the weekend, they were thoroughly outclassed by Jose Pekerman's side at Getafe's Coliseum Alfonso Perez Stadium

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