Kenyan Star of The Week - Jos Openda

While most coaches are losing hair plotting on how to have at least one trophy in the cabinet at the end of the season, to Jos Openda, that has never been a concern. To him, Kenya Hockey Union league title is assured even before the first ball of the season bullies off. In fact, his biggest concern is how to finish the season in style, to win the league without conceding a goal. 

Openda, a man who never played hockey beyond the confines of Kisumu with KibosSimba(Kisumu Sikh Union), now Butali Sugar, returned to the sport he silently walked away from as a form of protest due to poor treatment of players by the club management then to become one of Kenya's success stories. 

With seven African Club championship gold medals hanging on his chest,  17 league title with Telkom Orange and now targeting to win both without conceding a goal, Jos Openda is our KenyaStar of the week. 

KS: Thank you for having us Coach, tell us about your early days in sports.

I played hockey when I was in school, that is Kisumu Boys' High School. At that time we were doing Nationals and we were defending champions nine times in a row. Yes there was a year Kisumu Boys' held the title for the ninth time in a row, that was the time I was part of the team and I played two Nationals and we won both, one was in Nairobi the other was in Thika. Those were my playing days in hockey, I managed to play for some clubs in Kisumu, a team called Kibos Simba. I  played for Nyanza team and I remember there used to be a tournament called Tata Cup Interprovincial it used to be a very interesting tournament it used to be the highlight of National tournaments and then along the way I switched to basketball. 

KS: Which position in the field did you used to play in hockey?

I used to play mostly as a half but sometimes i could rotate. I played alongside Michael Omondi and Peter Katsa. We used to play at times at the central midfield and at times I'd be pushed to the right or left half.

KS: Your dad was a football administrator, your brother played football so why hockey for you?

Well, that's what  guys found actually amazing... many people wondered why hockey. Why I never played football much was because in football there is so much contact and basically I believe in playing a game where there is not much contact....that's why even when you watch the girls that I'm coaching the way they play, I tell them to avoid  physical contact because it does not really help much. So maybe that's why I decided not to play football. Basketball also was another one which i started as a joke, it just started as a joke and I can't believe I played for the national team also in basketball.

KS: Did you feature for the hockey national team too?

No...I didn't feature for the hockey national team but I had a call-up for the junior team way back, in 1979..... you were not born by then (laughs). In 1979 there is a team that went to Barcelona and I was in the call-up for that team but it was unfortunate that I could not stay in Nairobi for long because there was nobody to stay with so I had to go back to Kisumu.

KS: Where did you play your basketball?

I started off basketball in Kisumu also and that's when I became a household name. In fact people knew me more on basketball then than hockey...very few people knew that I played hockey. 

KS: You leaving hockey for basketball was not a choice. What exactly made you move to Basketball?

Actually what made me stop playing hockey was that I had a small rift with the people who were managing hockey that time, in Kisumu. 

We never used to get equal treatment and I didn’t like the way my fellow team mates were being treated. I was one of the best players so basically I would get first class treatment but the others who were like spurring partners were really not getting the same treatment. We realized that the allowances were kind of halved when we go out and that didn’t go well with me. I always feel that players should be treated equally, across the board. In fact, if you look at my team, Orange, those are some of the things that I work toward. I don’t see that any player is better than the other. However good you are. Talents are different but you know, when play as a team, you have to be treated equally and that’s why we’ve been able to achieve everything that we’ve got.

KS: So when you look back to that time, do you regret that you made the switch?

Nobody knew. Nobody knew that it was a protest.  They looked for me but I just told them, you know what.... in fact, we moved quite a number of players but some decided to go back.

When I meet people like Paul Omanyi, at times we laugh. He tells me that I decided that I didn’t want to see the world. That he saw the world. I would have been an Olympian, but it wasn’t meant to be. So I can’t say that I have any regrets, I am happy the way I am. Am happy with what I do now. 

KS: When did you start coaching hockey?

I started coaching hockey when I joined Posta...that time I was playing basketball too. It so happened that  we were training at the university grounds and I saw a few people who looked familiar, I had seen them on the corridors of Posta offices and I asked them if that was a Posta team and they reckoned it was... I asked if they had a coach and they said they don't have, so I took over. I coached them for one and a half years and I remember that time it was the Kenya Ladies Hockey Association that was running ladies' hockey and there were very few teams. Tobias Oduor was the man behind these things and I remember we used to play against Inter-Capital and we used to be beaten seriously: I remember in our first game we were beaten 17-0 then we started reducing the scores and by the time I was leaving back to basketball, at least we could hold Inter-Capital, they could not beat us so many goals... maybe just seven. We were reducing the number of goals then I had to stop and concentrate on basketball. We had a big assignment in basketball, we were playing the African Club Championship and we were going to Egypt so the office felt that I was needed more in basketball than in hockey because hockey by then was not popular.

KS: So here you are today and one of the best coaches in Africa. You’ve won several titles with Orange. Would just take us through that journey?

I say it’s been a sweet journey with Orange since i came back as a coach after I had stopped playing. In fact, I really protested the first time they contacted me to go back as a coach. I told them that it’s been many years when I was involved in hockey. It was way back in 1989 and I was coming back in 2002. That about 20 years plus. And I asked them, “why me?”

But Betty Masinde is the one who insisted that she wanted me back to coach the team. Maybe she realized something in me which I didn’t know. Initially, I was a bit adamant.  I didn’t want to take up the job but then I said, “why not?” Let me take up the challenge and I did. You can’t believe the first time when I stepped into the pitch to train them. They were already top gear, winning most of the games. I had to act like I knew what was happening but truth is I was a bit in the dark. I started growing with them gradually, learning a few things from them and other players who came in to help with coaching.

We lost in the final in my first continental assignment. We were the defending champions but we lost to Nigeria. The following year,we lost again to Nigeria, in the final. We had beaten them in the preliminaries and losing in the finals really disturbed me. When I got to know the trick, how to do certain things, how to prepare the team and how to have the team ready for all games– I learnt to know that you can beat a team in the preliminaries but when you meet the same opponent in the finals you can still be able to win and here we are now, celebrating along.

When I joined, Orange were the league champs. They had won the club champs once or twice but after that it became very elusive thing. Now when I got into the team, those are some of the things that we sat down and strategize on. I always believe in winning. There is no short cut in winning and when you want to win, you just have to plan. Winning is sweet and I told them that we will win the club champs as long us we’ll still be walking.

We want to get to the Guinness Book of records as the only women’s club to have won a record sixth Africa club championship in a row. We’ve won the club champs, five times in a row, something which has never been achieved by any other club in Africa in the ladies category and we are going for a sixth one this year. I’ve done seven clubs champs in total with the team; they won two before I came. 

I can’t remember when we didn’t win the league. They were winning the league before I came in and we’ve retained the same status and we don’t want anything to change. Not anytime soon.

KS: What are some of these tricks which make you tick?

I can say that you have to totally understand the players’ mood. You kind of create a rapport with them in a way that you don’t use a lot of dictatorship on them. You’ve got to listen to them once in a while but not all the time. I can say 60% of the time you got to be hard but once you give them room that you can also listen to them, it becomes easy. That’s the biggest thing. The other thing is just having the winning mentality. I’ve never believed in losing. In fact the lose that I had when I was just starting with the team provoked me. I had to go for a coaching course and seminars. KHU (Kenya Hockey Union) exposed me by taking me to a lot of seminars where I learnt a lot about hockey and from there I just implemented what I learnt.

I believe that having players who are ready to work and play for the team is also another thing that contributed to that success. You’ve noticed that the senior payers moved on when there was transition in the team. I lost about 15 players but it was a gradual lose and by the time I was getting to 20, the team had already transited. The players are seeing today have only been here for seven years of playing together.  They are the same players I went with to Ghana and we were last. When we came back, a major shift happened in the team but I told the young ones that their time will come. I exposed them in the tournaments where they played poorly but now they even want to win club champs without conceding a goal.

Our tactics are very simple. As a team we train pretty hard and then before game, we talk as a team. We call it ‘fungua  roho[open your heart]’. We sit down and players give us what they think and we analyze and advice on the best way to go about it. A player can sometimes think that what she knows is right. You have to listen to her and tell her why that cannot work in this particular game, why it will work in another game. Once you follow instruction life is very easy. But most importantly, once you give an idea, you don’t have to close them in that idea – that it’s cast on stone. Once in a while, thy have to go out of the box, do something extra ordinary. Allow them to express themselves. That way you’ll be able to se talent coming out. That’s what we do and that what makes Orange tick. Key thing is, I’ll listen to the players. In fact people wonder how I cope with these girls. Its simple, we have four female coaches and the Team Manger is also a lady. I’m the only male in the team. 

KS: What is your obsession with winning the title without conceding a goal? This is a target you first set in 2014. It has eluded you though at times with only two goal margin. Do you believe that this is the year to do it and what is the obsession?

It’s something that we set way back and it’s quite unfortunate that my friend coach Meshack  Senge (Strathmore) is the one who has messed it up most of the time. I remember last year, when we were on the verge of getting it, he pulled a two-all draw with us. Those were the only goals we conceded in the entire league tournament. When we got to the club champ, a team from Nigeria managed to score two goals against us. The only goals we conceded in that tournament. 

Looking at the analysis of the league and club champs, I realized that there are only two teams that have managed to score against us and asked myself a question that if only one team can manage to get a goal from us (in the league), then its possible that we can get the league without conceding a goal. We are really working very hard to stop all the team and it’s something that we’ll be able to achieve. This is one thing that I am obsessed with and I am quite sure that God will give it to us.

KS: Earlier in the year you said that you’ll be retiring from active coaching. This is not the first time you’ve said so and the information going round is that you may rescind that decision. Could be true that achieving this obsession, winning the league and club champ without conceding a goal is what is still holding you back? 

No. one thing that I want to make very clear is that I am not leaving this ladies team. We’ve been together for a very long time. I am with them. What is happening is that the lady coaches whom have been with all along are getting ready for bigger assignments. Last year they sat on the bench for league games and they did very well. They managed to win the league. This year again, with the target still set, am still with them, watching them from the terraces, I don’t sit on the bench if you’ve seen that but we are always together with them and see how we can help the team grow and from there, if all goes well they’ll be hands on. But I’m not leaving. I’ll still be with them.

KS: A time is coming that you’ll have to leave for one reason or another. When you leave hockey as Telkom Orange coach, what next for Openda?

That is already in plan. If you’ve noticed of late I’m not in Nairobi most of the time. I come in when the team has a session then after that I rush to Kisumu. I got into poultry farming. I don’t believe in spending and having a good life in Nairobi then when I die, you want to go bury me in my shags (village) which I don’t know anything about. Also I want to see if I can get a team in Kisumu and start something with them. I’ve already identified some Girls’ school -Nyawara Girls. I want to see if it would be possible for us to work together and see if I can take them to the national school games. Those are some of the things I’ll be doing but I’ll not leave. I will always be with them (Orange) till death do us part.

KS: This may be a tough one for you. There was a time, around 2014 when the spirit of your team was broken down when you lost one of your players. Ho was that time for you as the coach and the players? 

Betty Tioni. Losing her was my saddest moment with the team. She was in the team that played in Uganda in Club championship that year and less than six months we were back in Zimbabwe. As much as the team was emotionally affected by her death, something amazing is that when we went back to Zimbabwe for club champs, (that was going to be the third time in a row that we were chasing the title), the girls played for Tioni. They gave it their all for her and when we came back, we took the trophy to her grave and placed it there and told her: “This is for you.”

KS: Your dominance especially in the local league is quite amazing. What are other teams not getting right and do you think lack of competition is a challenge to the women’s hockey? 

I cannot talk for other teams. I can only talk for Telkom Orange. Our sponsors are doing everything for us and we have no other choice but to win. So I don’t know what other teams are doing. I don’t even know where they train. All I know is that Orange treats us well and that why we are here. We are like a semi professional club. 

KS: But does it bother you that you don’t have much competition locally and even at the continental stage, save for South Africa who are slightly ahead of us?

The competition is there. If you watch how we play against local teams, they come out. They want to bring us down. No team walks into the pitch with the  mind that they are going to loss. They actually make us sweat. It doesn’t come easy. The difference is, how do they prepare for us? Same to club champs. We are working extra hard. If you watched the way we played here during the club champs, it speaks volume. If you remember the final against Ghana Revenue Authority we beat them 2-0. That was a tight game. 

KS: Every match is a tough one for coaches but who is one team or coach that gives you sleepless night whenever you are going to meet?

I can’t say they give me sleepless nights because when you have a sleepless night it can be very dangerous but there are teams that are coming up, trying very much to dislodge us.  In the league am talking of the likes or Amira, Chase Bank and Strathmore University which has very good facilities but they don’t give us sleepless nights. Sliders used to be there but I don’t know what happened to them. I think they need to get their acts right. Vikings too used to be there but they slumped a bit. They have a few issues but I know they’ll come back. Basically, all teams are okey. All they need to do is to work hard because for you to beat Orange you must work extra hard.

KS: What structures do you have I place to take players up the ranks?

What is happening is that we have coaches in charge of different roles. For example we have Josephine Ataro who is in charge of scouting. Being a teacher, she identifies talents for us during school games.  

Besides that, we used to have a program for the junior team. We had about 16 players and the good thing is that most of the players have joined colleges where they play for their respective colleges and when they come of age they’ll rejoin Orange. We want to revive that program, subject to sponsorship we get from Orange. Hockey is a very expensive sport. 

KS: I’m going to ask you a difficult question. Who is the best talent you’ve ever worked with since you joined Orange?

The best talent I’ve worked with is Betsy Omalla. She’s currently based in the UK but she always come back and have sessions with us.

KS: on the same note: Is there any player in the league or out of your team that you’d like to work have in your team.

I look at a player like Yvonne Karanja of Strathmore. I like her play. A speedy player. She plays like our forwards. Forward oriented. She’s one player that I won’t mind coming over but also, I don’t want to kill other clubs. ThenI’ll talk about Pauline Naise whom I believe that her talent is still not being nurtured the way it’s supposed to be. I believe that she’s playing more of social than competitive hockey. That if she moves to Orange, she’ll be able to get a taste of these club champs more frequently and then her maturity in the game could really come up. 

KS: Have you made a move on any of these players?

Pauline, yes I did. There was a time she stopped playing hockey and I sent emissaries for her and when she came back, I was shocked she joined Amira. Maybe her friends are there, she feels comfortable but I told her the best place to be is Orange. Let’s wait and see how it goes. Yvonne of course is still in college so we cannot even discuss more about her.

KS: What are some of the challenges you face as a coach especially one who works with female players?

There was a time this pitch we are training on was at its worse. That is the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced as a team until they did some repair on it but it’s not the kind of pitch a team that has won club champs should be training on. We need a better pitch than this. 

Another big challenge we have is the availability on the pitch itself. We share the place with so many clubs and it’s become a very big challenge. There are times you have to cut short your training because other teams also want to train. Like now, the national team is supposed to start their preps for AFCON. When they come, it will be a bit hard for us to do our training on this pitch. The fact that there is only one hockey pitch in in Kenya is the biggest challenge.

Other challenges are on players. Initially we used to train from 10 A.M but when most of them, who by then were in colleges, started working, we pushed it to night. Most of them are not on work release so I have to wait for them to clear work duties.Most of them work in banks, and some are teachers so they have to finish their work then rush for training.

KS:Do you have plans as a club, to have your own pitch?

If only my team manager was here, she would have answered that question. There are somethings that I really don’t deal with directly. My job is to make sure that players are training and they are fit.

KS: What’s your take on corporate involvement in hockey as a sport. I know you have Orange but most of the teams do not have sponsors. What’s your take?

We need sponsors to come on board, not only for clubs but also for national team. For us to get back to where we used to be, especially the men’s team, we need to go out and play against the top clubs. This is only possible with big sponsorship. Ladies can do it because of Orange. If Orange is used well, it’s very easy for Kenya to conquer Africa but for men, they need to get back and the biggest thing is sponsorship. 

There was a time I handled the national team for an assignment in South Africa. We were in a pathetic situation. We didn’t have proper accommodation. Personally, I was not happy. There is nothing as bad as when you are coaching a team and you are not happy. We had a nice pitch to train on but after training we needed to rest.

If we can get sponsorship on board, Kenya can go far just the same way like Rugby. We are nowhere in Africa but now we just go, threaten people but no consistency. We need to win something instead of these bronze and silver that we keep on getting. We need to start going for Gold then get off the block and see where we are. If we can get sponsors on board and take the team out of Africa and play the best teams in the world, we’ll be good to go. 

KS: Would you encourage young people to join hockey and what are the advantages of playing hockey?

Long time in this country, it was a MUST you had to carry a hockey stick when you were joining High School. I don’t know what happened along the way. 

But what we’ve done as Nairobi Hockey Association which I’m also part of (vice chairman), is that we started a development side for young players. These are the people who are going to take us where we need to be if they are treated well. We are in partnership with some friends from Netherlands who are giving donations in terms of sticks, kits etc. Since hockey is a very expensive sport and we cannot tell the kid to go buy a hockey stick, all we need the kids to do is walk to City Park every Saturdays from 8 .am and play hockey. When schools close they do it from Monday to Friday. Teenagers need to be involved in a lot of sport. Once you keep your mind busy you’ll avoid a lot of things. 

KS: If you were not here today, as a coach, what would Openda be doing?

Jos Openda has a lot of things to do. Do you know that when I started coaching hockey I stopped doing fitness with my age mates? We used to meet and play for about two hours and after that….  I’ll still be involved in sports in some way or the other. 

KS: Lastly, you’ve talked about your experience in South Africa with the national team. What is your take on the kind of treatment players have received from KHU over the years when they step up to the national team? We are talking about allowances here.

That has been there. In fact I remember before we went for the world league, player had said that they will not travel without allowance. Some even turned down the call up. It’s their right. Let them be given their allowances. There are some things which need to be put into perspective before you call a team. Like you see these girls training here, if Orange tells me that they are not going to pay them, I’ll not call them for training. It would be a waste of time. 

Why do you call players to the national team then you don’t pay them? Give unto Ceasar what’s Ceacar’s and then tell, now that I’ve done this to you, I need results. And they will give you results. For example, we have a game in Mombasa this weekend, already we know where we are going to stay, what we are going to be paid in form of allowances. They will definitely travel to Mombasa, they will travel in the most comfortable way possible and they’ll sleep in a five star hotel. Will they not give you results? They have no choice. That’s the same way the national team should be. They should be put in a way that they don’t have a choice but to give the results.  But here we want to treat them like some third rate citizens and expect results from them. It’s so sad.

An underwhelming second half summarized KPL AllStars’ huge 4-0 loss to LaLiga 123 side Cordoba CF on Wednesday July 19, 2017 at the El Mauli Stadium in Spain.

Kenyans will now have the ease of watching the KPL Allstars match from the comfort of their homes after team sponsors SportPesa confirmed that the match will be aired live on Bamba Sports. KBC, K24 and SuperSport will also be airing the match live.

The KPL AllStar select team is set to take on  Spanish side Cordoba CF who play in the second division LaLiga 123 on Wednseday July 19, 2017. The match will be played at 10:00pm Kenyan time at the Estadio El Mauli in Antequera City, Spain.

The Kenyan team will be seeking good results that will motivate them in preparing for their second match which will be against Sevilla Atletico on Saturday July 22.

 

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi who also doubles up as the KPL AllStars coach has named the starting lineup that will face Cordoba CF on Wednesday July 19, 2017. The match is a friendly and is set to kick off at 22:00 Kenyan time.

A team of 30 students from different schools have been selected to represent the country in the East Africa Secondary School Games in the swimming category. This year's edition of the regional games are set to be held in Gulu, Uganda from August 14 to August 27.

Agah Khan Academy is the school that is most represented with five swimmers followed by Oshwal and Jaffery Academies who both have two. 

BOYS

NAME SCHOOL COUNTY

1. Emmanuel Ndonga Agah Khan Accademy Nairobi 

2. Atuhare Ambala Agah Khan Academy Nairobi 

3. SmitMalde Oshwal Academy Nairobi 

4. Andrew Wamarema Strathmore Nairobi 

5. Kevin Adede Makini Nairobi 

6. Kunyiha Kirundi Agah Khan Academy Nairobi 

7. Nabil Shikely Jaffery Academy Mombasa 

8. Rushabh Shah Oshwal Academy Mombasa 

9. Abdalla H. Mazrui Agah khan High Mombasa

10. Jono Opande Braeburn Kisumu 

11. Joseph Okal Kisumu Academy Kisumu 

12. Adrian Ngweno Laiser Hill Kajiado 

13. Nigel Amos Akala Brookhouse Nairobi 

14. Larson Agade Kamusinga Bungoma 

15. Osama Mohamoud Serani Mombasa

GIRLS

NAME SCHOOL COUNTY 

1. Hadassa Gichovi Loreto Valley Road Nairobi 

2. Joy Ndonga Rusinga School Nairobi 

3. Samantha Hawala Loreto Valley Road Nairobi 

4. Kemunto Ongera Agah Khan Academy Nairobi 

5. Aisha Nasser Agah Khan Academy Nairobi 

6. Alexandra Kranck Hillcrest Nairobi

7. Tatyana Kiruthi Brookhouse Nairobi 

8. Tanam Mohata Hillcrest Nairobi

9. Nabiha Shikely Jaffery Mombasa 

10. Nikita Kassandra Juja Academy Kiambu 

11. Michelle Osiro Alliance High Kiambu 

12. Stephanie Machuka Limuru Girls Kiambu 

13. Felicia Tanzer Greensteds Nakuru 

14. Ivy Mayende Kabarak Nakuru 

15. Nicole Kowido St. Mary’s Lwak Siaya

 

Haambee Starlets head coach Anne Aluoch has named the final squad of 20 players that will depart for Botswana for the 2018 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup qualifier. Starlets will play Botswana on Friday 21 July at the Lobatse Sports Complex, Botswana and the teams jets out of the country on Wednesday July 19.

Of the 20 players selected, 15 players are from high schools and participated in the recently concluded National Secondary School Ball Games that were held in Nyeri. In the tournament, Wiyeta Girls'  were crowned champions and have been recognized handsomely with seven of their players in the travelling contingent to Botswana.

Corazone Aquino who plies her trade with Soccer Queens has been tasked with captaining the team as they seek a slot in the 2018 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup which will take place in France.  

Travelling Squad

Goalkeepers: Lilian Awuor, Judith Osimbo (both Nyakach Girls), Dinah Tembesi (Wiyeta Girls)

Defenders: Lucy Akoth (St Paul’s Abwao), Wincate Kaari (Thika Queens), Vivian Nasaka (Ibinzo Girls), Maureen Khakasa (Wiyeta Girls), Robai Khamusa, Leah Cherotich (Wiyeta Girls),

Midfielders: Lilian Mmboga, Corazone Aquino (Soccer Queens), Sheril Angachi (Olympic High School), Cynthia Shilwatso (Ibinzo Girls), Marjolen Nekesa, Cynthia Atieno.

Strikers: Martha Amunyolete (Wiyeta Girls), Mercy Akinyi (Nyakach Girls), Rachel Muema, Jentrix Shikangwa (Wiyeta Girls), Diana Wacera (Mathare United)

 

Kakamega High School's Green Commandos and Wiyeta Girls are among the five teams that have been named to represent Kenya in the East Afrcia Secondary School Games that are set to be held in Uganda from August 14 to August 27.

Girls

In the girls' category, Kenya will be represented by Wiyeta and Ibinzo Secondary School. The two teams earned the spots after reaching the finals of the recently concluded National Secondary School Games which were held in Nyeri. In the finals, Wiyeta thrashed Ibinzo 3-1 on post-match penalties following a 1-1 draw in normal time.

Boys

Upper Hill, St Anthony's and Kakamega High School are the three teams that will represent Kenya in the boys' category. Upper Hill were crowned this year's national champions following a 3-1 win over St Anthony's on post-match penalties after the two sides had drawn 1-1 in normal time. St Anthony's therefore qualified as runners-up, with the Green Commandos going as number three.

Kenya's Representatives

Wiyeta Girls.

Ibinzo Secondary School.

Upper Hill.

St Anthony's.

Kakamega High School.

 

National Super League side Wazito FC proved as heavy as Gor Mahia by holding them to a barren draw in a friendly on Wednesday July 19, 2017 at the Camp Toyoyo Grounds.

Gor Mahia under coach Dylan Kerr opted to use young players in the friendly, starting the likes of Oliver Maloba and John Ndirangu. The back three was covered by Joash Onyango Joachim Oluoch and Mike Simiyu.

Wazito

Wazito had probably the most and best chances in the game but could not get a goal even with the likes of Bob Mugalia and John Mabia in attack. Mugalia was teed up by Mabia early in the first half but wasted the chance from a goal-clear position.

The woodwork prevented Dennis Gicheru from taking the NSL side ahead in the second half after his spinning header hit the bar and went out of play. Joachim Oluoch then almost scored in his own net  after deflecting a Marilu Ihaji free kick but seems luck was on his side. Wazito went on to summarize their wasteful trend in the match with a squandered chance from substitute Peter Karuri's attack late in the match.

Gor Mahia

With pace on the flanks through Maloba and Ndirangu, Gor Mahia sought to break on counter attacks but were unfruitful in their quest. Softie's first effort on goal was deflected for a corner, with Jeconia being denied a goal by Zachary Onyango after some exchange of passes with Maloba.

Zachary Onyango would then go on to stop John Ndirangu and Innocent Wafula's long range efforts to preserve the draw for Wazito.

 Gor, who will not be involved in this weekend's matches used the match to keep themselves fit for their next league assignment which is against Muhoroni Youth. Wazito on the other hand were using the friendly to prepare for their weekend GoTV Shield encounter with GFE 105 at the Kipchoge Stadium on Sunday 23.

Kaya Tiwi Girls and Laiser Hill are among the four teams that will represent Kenya in this year's East Africa Secondary School Games which are set to be held in Uganda from August 14 to August 27.

Girls

In the girls' category, Kaya Tiwi and St Brigid Girls made the cut after facing off in a hotly contested finals. Kaya Tiwi eventually emerged winners, retaining their national title with a 48-35 win over their opponents. St Brigid qualify by virtue of being runners-up with former basketball powerhouse BuruBuru Girls failing to make it to the regional games after finishing fourth behind Tigoi who were third.

Boys

In the boys' category, Laiser Hill and Upper Hill are the ones tasked with flying the country's flag. Laiser Hill defeated their arch rivals Upper Hill 51-43 in the boys’ basketball finals to clinch the national trophy.

Basketball Representatives

Kaya Tiwi Girls.

St Brigid Girls.

Upper Hill School.

Laiser Hill School.

 

Juventus have officially signed Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for an initial fee in the region of  €12.2million. If certain clauses are met in his time with Juventus, the transfer fee could however rise to €15.3 Million.

Szczesny has agreed a four-year deal which will see him with the Sere A Champions until 2021 and the former Arsenal man is well pleased with joining the team.

"I'm delighted to be at Juventus. I've spoken to Gigi Buffon – a true legend of the game. When you join Juve, it's because you've been chosen. I didn't hesitate one moment before coming here and I'm ready to take on this challenge. Juventus is the best possible choice for my career. I'm 27 years old and I want to win. At this club there's the right mentality to do so," he told a news conference.

The Poland international joined Arsenal from Legia Warsaw and made 181 appearances for the Gunners before joining AS Roma on loan for two seasons.

 

Arsenal took three points after beating Bayern Munich on post-match penalties after a 1-1 draw on Wednesday July 19, 2017. This was in the ongoing ICC Cup in Shanghai, China.

Bayern Munich however dominated most of the match and played more experienced players compared to the Gunners who gave match time to almost all their young players.

Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for Bayern in the 9th minute from the penalty spot after Maitland-Niles was adjudged to have bundled over Bernat in the box. Despite complaints from Arsenal players, the referee stuck to his decision and Lewandowski stepped up to send Petr Cech the wrong way to give Bayern the lead.

Arsenal would however equalize late in the game from a terrific counter attack, Ramsey clipping a perfect cross in for Iwobi to head into the far corner and make it 1-1 in the 93rd minute.

Arsenal then went on to win the penalties 3-2, Iwobi the man again to score the winning kick with Emiliano Martinez saving two spot kicks to hand Arsenal the win.

 

Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice to inspire Borussia Dortmund to a 3-1 win over AC Milan on Tuesday July 18 in the International Champions Cup.

Nuri Sahin opened account for Dortmund in the 15th minute, driving a low shot into the left corner past Storari before Aubameyang made it 2-0 from the spot four minutes later. 

In the 23rd minute, Milan striker Carlos Bacca displayed an incredible solo moment, getting past a handful of Dortmund players from midfielders before beating Weidenfeller. In the 61st minute, Dortmund broke into a quick counter attack, with Pulisic being fed with the ball in the left flank before teeing up Aubameyang to tap the ball home and seal the win for the Bundesliga team.

BVB Statring XI: Weidenfeller, Zagadou, Bartra, Sokratis, Piszczek, Sahin, Castro, Rode, Aubameyang, Dembele, Pulisic.

AC Milan Starting XI: Storari; Abate, Paletta, Zapata, Rodriguez; Kessié, Mauri, Bonaventura; Borini, Bacca, Niang.

 

FIFA Vice President and head of the Spanish Football Association Angel Maria Villar has been arrested in Spain in an anti-corruption operation. 

Other people reportedly arrested include his son Gorka, secretary of the Tenerife Federation Ramón Hernández Baussou and Finance Vice President at the RFEF and member of Uefa's Finance Commission Juan Padrón.

Maria Villar was arrested for alleged misuse of the federation's finances including to support his re-election to the role for an eighth consecutive term. He has been the President of the Spanish Football Federation for 29 years and was re-elected less than two months ago for another term in the office.

In 2015, Villar was fined more than 20,000 Euros by Fifa for failing to co-operate with an investigation into the awarding of the controversial 2018 World Cup.

 

Francesco Totti has confirmed that he will be staying put with AS Roma, but this time as the Director.

Totti retired from football at the end of the 2016-17 season after 24 years with AS Roma and there were rumours that he has received offers to play in Japan from next season. The Italian international has however quelled those stories after confirming that he is indeed Roma’s next Director.

“The first part of my life as football player is finished, now a second part begins as director, and I am hoping to do well as on the pitch. Now begins a new phase and a new adventure.” Totti told Roma TV

“It will take time, step by step, to understand the role most suitable for me, and I will try to help all, from the youth team to the chairman. I don’t know how long it will take. There are people who think about their new role outside the field while they play; until 28 May I thought only about the field, he added.

The Italian international further revealed his eagerness to work with the entire Roma fraternity, stressing that he is confident that he will thrive in that position.

“Now I have the opportunity to work with AS Roma, with the sports director Monchi, the president [James] Pallotta and the coach [Eusebio] Di Francesco. I am lucky to know this club so well, I just have to understand what I want to do, and find the right role. At the moment I want to be everything and anything, an important character for Roma. I think that my future will be beautiful; I will choose a perfect role for me. Di Francesco? I have a great relationship with him.’’

During his 24-year spell with Roma, Totti made over 786 appearances for the clubs where he scored a club-record 307 goals and lifted the Serie A title twice. The 40-year old also also made 58 appearances for Italy with his most successful moment with his country being 2006 where they won the World Cup

Arsenal continued with their impressive pre-season with a 3-1 win in a friendly agaisbt Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday July 15, 2017.

Unsettled striker Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for the Gunners in the 32nd minute from close range before Ramsey making the scores 2-0 from a well-timed run to connect with Nacho Monreal’s cross from the back.

Egypt international Mohammed Elneny made it three for Arsenal three minutes before the break after his deflected shot went into the net. Lustica pulled one back for the Ausrtralian team in the second half from an indirect free kick after Ramsey had been adjudged to have passed the ball back to keeper Emiliano Martinez.

The match ended 3-1 in favour of Arsenal. The Gunners are engaging in pre- season to gain fitness after the summer holidays. It is also an opportunity for new players like Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac to gel in with the team before the 2017-18 season starts.

Former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu is now a Barcelona after completing his move back to the LaLiga giants.

Everton FC striker Wayne Rooney is a happy man after scoring for the toffees in his first match since his return t the club.

Rooney made a return to his boyhood club from Manchester United and needed only 34 minutes to announce his arrival with a goal. Picking the ball from 30 yards, the England international unleashed a superb strike that went into the top-left corner past Gor Mahia keeper Boniface Oluoch. 

Rooney's goal was instrumental in Thursday's match, with Everton registering a narrow 2-1 win over KPL league leaders Gor Mahia. Two minutes after the former Manchester United man's goal, Jacques Tuyisenge equalized for Gor Before Kieran Dowle's late strike sealed the win for Everton.

“To score for Everton again is a great feeling. It’s something I’ve been thinking of for the last couple of weeks, once I knew [the move] was happening. Thankfully, I’ve done it in today’s game and that 45 minutes will only help,'' Rooney told Evertontv.

“I just received the ball from out wide and I was in a bit of space so I took my chance and thankfully it went in. I was pleased with it. It’s a good start but I think we have to improve still. It’s early days and we knew it would be a tough game in tough conditions but I thought we did well,” added the 30-year old.

Rooney will be instrumental for Ronald Koeman's side this season as they try to challenge for the EPL title and the Europa League.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”.

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.

 

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.

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.