Thanking Sportpesa

The Kenyan sports industry has been neglected by stakeholders in the country for a very long time. This has seen talent in the country go to waste in enormous levels. Very few of those who get to exploit their talents manage to live up to their potential due to poor levels of support and facilitation in the industry. It is such a sorry state of affairs that has led to a lot of cases of broken dreams and high levels of youth unemployment that is accompanied with poverty. As always, whenever a people are left in such a desperate conditions they get easily taken advantage of. In Kenyan social circles, there is a term that has become very popular. “Team Mafisi” (Team hyenas)is a term that has become popular referring to people who salivate at potential partners that they can’t have while taking advantage of those that are desperate. A hyena is the last animal any straight thinking person would want associated with his name. Unfortunately, the people who have been showing up to support sports in Kenya have all been “Team Mafisi” until recently.

Politicians in Kenya have been the worst culprits when it comes to misuse of the sports industry. Only when the general elections are around the corner is when you will see a lot of sports activities happening all over the country. From Wajir in the farthest North East to Sirare in the furthest South West.From Lodwar in the Furthest North West toKilifi in the furthest South East. Even places like Moyale where we have almost been meant to believe that no sport talent exists will have numerous sporting events during this political season. It is an interesting period where you will come across many youths across the country with low quality t-shirts emblazoned with tournament names named after the sponsor who will always be among those eyeing a political seat. 

Corporates on the other hand have not failed in emulating the political class. They come up with all manners of gimmicks in the name of sports sponsorship just to get their brands into the media. Some have decided to come up with CSR outfits in the name of sports clubs while others arrange disorganized events in the name of tournaments.  You will be left laughing when you come to learn that these clubs that corporates come up with and boast of do not enjoy support of more than ten employees in from the sponsoring companies let alone the general public. For instance Tusker F.C, one of the oldest clubs in the Kenyan topflight and the third most decorated after AFC Leopards SC  and GorMahia has more media staff than fans who show up to watch their matches. Even EABL employees who would be quite a number don’t show up to support their own club in the stadium.

“Kenyans don’t like football, they only like gossiping and drinking beer in bars,” this is an infamous quote by the CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye. He said this out of anger in his heavy Luyha accent while he was commenting on the poor crowd turn-out in the 2010 CECAFA tournament that was hosted in Kenya. I almost agreed with him on this but after my heavy involvement in the sports industry for close to six years now I have come to totally disagree with him. Kenyans love not only football but many of the sports disciplines played in Kenya. The problem is the packaging and management of sports related institutions and activities.

To better explain this to you, kindly allow me to use football as an example. During the weekends, I see a very big number of Kenyans putting on jerseys of their favorite teams, many of them from European leagues especially the English Premier League. The number of people who show up in the smallest pub in my neighborhood to watch a match involving Arsenal or Manchester United is usually more than the number of fans you will find in a KRA versus KCB match at Nyayo stadium. The loudness of the groans when a player misses a goal scoring chance or the cheers and jeers that usually emanate from these joints in the neighborhoods where people watch European matches will tell you how much Kenyans are into football. The love that is shown by Kenyans for European football is because of two things, the management and packaging.

The management of Kenyan football has had numerous challenges for a long time. These challenges range from incompetence and lack of resources to blatant corruption. Despite this there has been some improvement. Some of the challenges that Kenyan football and sport in general suffer have been proven to not only exist in Kenya but even at the highest levels (i.e FIFA and IAAF).  It is this challenge that many corporates have used as an excuse to completely avoid or partially participate in Kenyan football. In my own opinion, this is an argument that is neither here nor there. If these corporates indeed believed that the mismanagement in Kenyan football will not be good for their brands they would not come up with the numerous teams that take up huge slots in the various leagues in the country. 

Kenyan corporates are being selfish and opportunistic. Selfish in the sense that they are not ready to fully engage in areas that will see them genuinely give back to society and opportunistic in the sense that they have always been in a rush to harvest where they never sow. East African Breweries (EABL) for almost three decades had been the company recording the highest amounts of profits in the country. Even though the brand has been associated with sports for quite a while, their contribution to the industry is almost negligible. It is until 21 August 2012 that EABL decided to sponsor the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). This is sad! Many will try to argue that by founding Kenya Breweries Football Club (Now Tusker Football Club), EABL has done a lot for Kenyan football. This is an example of one of the opportunistic decisions made by Kenyan corporates. 

For you to understand this better let me give you some numbers to crunch. On August 21st 2012 KPL signed what was referred to as the most lucrative deal in Kenyan football history. It was a partnership with EABL which saw the giant brewery take the league title naming rights through its Tusker brand to rename it the Tusker Premier League for a three year period.  Sources reported the deal to be worth Kshs. 170 million (USD 2 Million). Tusker is a brand that has existed in Kenya for over fifty years; the brand has come to be synonymous with the country’s name. After EABL failed to convince the KPL management to extend the deal that ended in June 2015, a very young firm less than two years old at the time grabbed the opportunity. Sport Pesa, an East African betting firm signed a four-and-a-half year deal which sources reported to be worth Kshs. 450 million (approx.. US$ 4.36 million). This saw the league renamed to SportPesa Premier League. The deal which is nearly three times the value of the previous deal with Tusker, if calculated critically is more than the total amount of spending EABL has done on football for the past four and a half years. This means that SportPesa has invested more money that EABL had put in the league through Tusker F.C and league sponsorship in the four and a half years before Sport Pesa signed the deal with EABL for the same period of time. The only deal by EABL that could come close to this is the Kshs. 330 million that was announced in 2005 that was to cover sponsorships in East Africa for a three year period.

The only other firm that has put more money than SportPesa into the league is Super Sport, Kenyans will not really appreciate their effort that much though. The reason being that, the sports broadcaster has for a long time taken a key role in killing of Kenyan football and sports in general. Their sponsorship has been seen by many as a case of compensation for the evil they have being doing. Super Sport has been on the spot for giving preferential coverage for foreign leagues over Kenyan football. This has seen more people in the country develop a strong affection for the English Premier League (EPL). Many Kenyans spend a lot of money in the pubs drinking EABL beer brands and watching EPL matches on Super Sport creating profits for the two African firms in millions of dollars at the cost of Kenyan talent.

Corporates in Kenya have been good at coming up with gimmicks that are aimed at taking advantage of the football industry where they put very little effort to support talent. A case in point is a recent activity that I watched on Nation Media Group’s main broadcast channel NTV. On their Saturday live programe “Top Sport” that aired on May 28th 2016, they were asked viewers to say which team they thought would win the UEFA Champions League between rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and the winners were to be rewarded with a GorMahia F.C or AFC Leopards S.C branded jacket. In a week, the total number of minutes Kenyan football coverage gets on NTV or QTv cannot go beyond fifteen minutes. The total amount of space Kenyan football gets in the Daily Nation and Taifa Leo will never on a regular day be more than that which EPL coverage gets. At most it will be half a page. The amount of time Kenyan football gets discussed on Nation FM and Q Fm cannot be more than one hour. All these media outlets are owned by Nation Media Group (NMG) the biggest media house in the country which is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange bourse.

Despite contributing almost nothing to grow football in the country or the Kenyan sports industry NMG found a way to make money. This was through manufacturing of merchandise for the most followed clubs in the country, AFC Leopards and GorMahia. They argue that through this they are helping build the Kenyan game. Wouldn’t it have made sense if they made merchandise for all league participants and sold it at cost instead of producing only for the two clubs and selling it for a profit? The optimist came and saw the glass half full, the pessimist saw it half-empty, and the opportunist saw the water and drank it all.

In February 2013 Kenya Power, an organization that is mostly talked about thanks to their poor client relationship management and frequent poor outages came up with the “Kenya Power Charity Cup” tournament which was to be an annual event. The originators of the idea probably thought it would be a good avenue to help bridge the wide gap that they have been having with their customers. You shouldn’t   wonder why they didn’t come up with this before creating many clubs across the country including Western Stima under their management. As I had told you earlier in this article, Kenyan corporates are selfish and opportunistic.

The Kenya Power Charity Cup was to be like the Community Shield in England, the aim was to raise money that would be distributed to community-based sporting initiatives “to encourage and promote sport as a healthy means of livelihood among the youth.” The funny part is that the event was to take place in a single day. Yes, in one day KPLC was to host an event like the Charity Cup which happens in England. It wasn’t a shock when this tournament disappeared as fast as it came up. An event that was to encourage youth to take sport as a means of healthy livelihood was being used to sell the KPLC brand name at the expense of the players’ health.  Why should a well moneyed corporate like Kenya Power subject players to an exhausting assignment of playing two matches in a single day!

Just like their brothers and sisters in crime, Kenya Power a company that spends only 1% of their net profits on corporate social responsibility was not really after developing football in the country through their Charity Cup idea. They had come to take advantage of the football industry. If the company took the amount of money they use on their clubs participating in the different leagues they to sponsor the league, the FKF Cup or a community based club, they would have managed to get far much better publicity for their brand than what they get. The poor publicity levels that they have managed through their clubs could obviously be the reason why they came up with the Charity Cup idea. Corporates should understand that they can’t eat the cake and have it at the same time. We have been told through poorly published articles on sports websites and social media posts by KPLC with scant information about the amounts of revenue that were raised through the first Charity Cup edition and how they were used. 

The organizers of the Kenya Power Charity Cup communicated through the KPLC social pages that the Kshs. 5,626,445.80 which was collected in the first edition of the tournament was used in lighting city stadium, refurbishing a football pitch in Kawangware and refurbishing Dandora Social hall. They went further to state that the funds were distributed through Red Cross for social good.  By the time this article was being published, City Stadium didn’t have proper lighting and thus couldn’t host a match under floodlights.

If you take all the above into consideration you will realize that SportPesa is the best thing to have happened in Kenyan football. Within less than five years of existence, Sport Pesa has shown both by acts and intent that they are taking Kenyan football and sports industry as a whole with the seriousness it deserves. Within their short stint as sponsors in the Kenyan sports industry, they have managed to scoop the Best African Sponsorship Award at the Discovery Sports Industry Awards. To lift this award, they beat big names on the continent like Kenya’s Safaricom who would rather paint the whole Kasarani Stadium including the toilet seats and urinals with their brand name in the name of sponsorship than sponsor a national team, league or local club. 

The SportPesa marketing manager in his speech when receiving the award was quoted saying, “We are delighted to have won this award ahead of global brands and campaigns that are strong and present on several mediums around the world. What excites us more is that our investment in the SportPesa Premier League is buoyed by a need to showcase Kenya club football as an engaging, exciting and a competitive league. This is therefore a win for local football in general and we are truly honored.” No one can doubt this. The seriousness of this statement can be supported by the fact that the league sponsors unlike their predecessors, went to Italy and shopped for a good/sleek looking 12 kilogram handcrafted trophy for the league. This goes a long way in improving the packaging of the league.

In his comments after receiving the award, SportPesa Marketing Manager Kester Muhanji said, “In a bid to revolutionize the face of football in Kenya we took up sponsorship of the Kenyan Premier League effective on August 1, 2015. Our aspiration is to have the Kenyan national team Harambee Stars compete in the 2022 World Cup.” Looking at the history Kenyan football has had with corporate sponsors, one will easily doubt this statement but when you look at the action that has come with the words from SportPesa you would be left with a lot of optimism. Apart from sponsoring the league, the betting firm has signed lucrative shirt sponsorship deals with GorMahia and AFC Leopards. The firm has also brought into the country Arsenal coaches to conduct coaching clinics with their Kenyan counterparts in a bid to raise the quality of the game in the country. KPL for the first time together with “K’Ogalo” and “Ingwe” were put in a very tight corner by the sponsor after they suspended their sponsorships for the two clubs due to hooliganism incidents involving fans of the two rival clubs. The big stick that was wielded by SportPesa saw for the first time docking of points happen as a punishment for hooliganism in the Kenyan Premier League. Not forgetting that the company has been sponsoring other sporting disciplines, isn’t this enough to show how serious they are with developing sports in the country?

SportPesa has set the bar high in terms of corporate participation in Kenyan football. It will be very encouraging to know if their counterparts are learning something. Imagine if the firms decided to form their own club and have it participate in the KPL, would they get as much publicity? It will be hard for anyone to refute the fact that Mumias Sugar got more publicity through their partnership with AFC Leopards than that which they got throughout the existence of their defunct Mumias Sugar F.C. The numbers of jerseys all over the country emblazoned with the brand say it all.

Instead of Kenyan corporates trying hard to always come up with shortcuts to get publicity through sports they should try and find workable ways of partnering with sports institutions to reap the benefits of the industry without diverting their energies from their core-businesses. SportPesa Ltd is a trailblazer and we Kenyan sports lovers wish others would follow suit. It is good that now much of the money that was being spent in pubs by those watching EPL matches is now being put into the SportPesa betting platform. This is the money that many of them would have spent on EABL products while shouting themselves hoarse cheering clubs that don’t know they exist here in Kenya. It is great that a genius company while teaching other corporates how to genuinely partner with sports institutions is now reinvesting the attention that Kenyans would have given to their own football in monetary terms.

Thank you SportPesa.

The Kenyan Premier League continues this weekend with a total of nine matches expected to be played across the country.

The biggest match of the weekend will see Gor Mahia host Ulinzi Stars at the Moi Stadium on Sunday in Kisumu as they seek to reclaim the top position of the table. On the same day, league leaders Tusker FC will also be looking to cement their place at the top when they host Bandari at the Kinoru Stadium.

Leopards continue the hunt for their first win in nine matches when they host Kariobangi Sharks on Saturday at the Afraha Stadium. Newly energized Sofapaka will battle it out for three crucial points with Nakumatt FC at the Ruaraka Grounds on the same day.

Below is a full list of fixtures and venues.

Saturday July 1, 2017

Nakumatt vs Sofapaka - Ruaraka Grounds (15:00)

AFC Leopards vs Kariobangi Sharks -Afraha Stadium (15:00)

Western Stima vs Muhoroni Youth- Moi Stadium   (15:00)

Nzoia Sugar vs Thika United - Sudi Stadium   (15:00)

Sunday July 2, 2017

Gor Mahia vs Ulinzi Stars - Moi Stadium, Kisumu   (15:00)

Tusker vs Bandari - Kinoru Stadium  (15:00)

Posta Rangers vs Chemelil Sugar - Afraha Stadium  (15:00)

Zoo vs Mathare United -Kericho Green Stadium   (15:00)

SoNy Sugar vs Kakamega Homeboyz- Awendo Green Stadium  (15:00)

 

Muhoroni Youth coach James Omondi has confirmed that they are on the verge of signing more new players ahead of the second leg of the Kenyan Premier League.

Kenyan Premier League side Sofapaka were held to a 2-2 draw in a friendly match by former KPL side Nairobi City Stars on Wednesday 28 June, 2017 at the Eastleigh grounds.

 City Stars' goals were scored by David Otieno and John Kamau, with Meshack Karani and Humphrey Okoti finding the target for Sofapaka .

Mathare United vs Ushuru

At Goan Grounds, Mathare United lost 1-0 to NSL side Ushuru FC in another friendly which was also played on Wednesday 28, June 2017.

The all-important goal was scored by Lwamba Bebeto from the penalty spot after being fouled in the penalty box.

The sides were using the friendlies to prepare for upcoming Kenyan Premier League matches where Mathare will face Zoo Kericho while Sofapaka tackles Nakumatt FC.

 

Kariobangi Sharks have completed the signing of striker Ismail Dunga ahead of the second leg of the Kenyan Premier League campaign.

Dunga, who has been training with Sharks, was widely linked with a move to AFC Leopards and looked set to head into the den. He has however agreed a deal with the William Muluya coached side and is now their player.

The 24-year old was recently plying his trade in Greece, where he moved from Nakumatt FC. He has also played for Bandari, SoNy Sugar, Tusker FC and Mathare United.

 

 The 2017 edition of the National Secondary School Ball Games is scheduled to be held in Nyeri Primary School-Nyeri County from 2-8 July and the pools have been released ahead of the tournament.

Kenya Simbas head coach Jerome Paarwater insists that they have no choice but to improve on their matchday tactics. This comes after his side dropped one place from position 25 to 26 in the latest World rugby rankings.

The drop comes after a disappointing 33-33 draw with Uganda in the Africa Gold Cup match over the weekend at the RFUEA ground.

Kenyans were overtaken by Portugal, who are now 25th with 57.26 points. The draw lifted Uganda to a whole five places from 45th to 40th with 48.46 points.

Simbas’ next play Tunisia on July 8 followed by home tie against Senegal on July 15. Head coach Jerome Paarwater said the next two weeks will be used to tighten the defence and improve on tackling as well as game management.

“It’s good we retained the Elgon Cup but much work lies ahead in terms of our defensive shape and structure and how to close out matches. This was our undoing in the matches against Germany and Uganda and we have no choice but to improve in that regard,” said Paarwater.

Paarwater said he expects a physical contest from Tunisia in their next match. “They have big physical pack which we must match and we must be able to dominate our scrums and line-outs. We expect a response from the boys after the draw against Uganda,” he added.

Mathare United defender George `Wise' Owino has revealed that he is not yet close to retirement.

The 36-year old recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Slum Boys and when asked about his retirement plans, he said that he still has a few more years to play.

“I still have the energy to keep on going but the condition of our pitches make it a bit difficult. I believe I still have a few more years left before I hang up my boots,'' said Owino.

He has set this season's target; helping Mathare United finish in top nine positions in the Kenyan Premier League table. That will however not be easy as they currently languish in the last position, having only managed ten points from fourteen matches.

 ``I want to help the team come out of the relegation zone then from there we can think of finishing inside the top half of the table. It is one game at a time for us.” 

The vastly experienced defender has played for several big teams in Kenya including Tusker and Sofapaka. He has also turned out for two of Tanzania's biggest teams Yanga and Simba.  

 

Mathare United have completed the signing of Victor Ashinga on a two-year deal.

The 24-year old did not feature much in the first leg of the Kenyan Premier League due to a heel injury which forced him out of action and has not played for the Thika-based club since Nicholas Muyoti took over the head coach role.

“I am happy to be back on the pitch and I have been working very hard in training.  I did not play in the first leg and I am taking that as a challenge to break into the first team. I want to rediscover my form and help Mathare United go back where it belongs,” said the former Mathare Youth player.

Mathare head coach Francis Kimanzi lauded the addition of Ashinga into the fold, saying that the player is a good back up for the recovering Edward Seda.

“Ashinga is a good signing because he is experienced and also technically gifted. We are not sure about when Seda will be back in action so we had to get somebody to make up for his absence. In Ashinga we have found an able back up.” 

Victor Ashinga becomes the fourth signing for the Slum Boys in the June transfer window after  Frank Liyayi, Samuel Olwande and Ronald Reagan join the club earlier. Mathare are currently last on the table standings, sitting 18th on the log with ten points from fourteen matches.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report by Skyports

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KS: Any closing words? 

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

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

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

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

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

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

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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