Swamibapa Humilate Sikh Union and proceed to Halt Gymkhana's Winning Stride

source: cricketkenya.com

The highly anticipated contest between Stray Lions Cricket Club and Kanbis Sports Club in the ongoing Npca T20 League turned out to be a one-sided thriller that saw the defending champions cop up a historic seven-wicket hammering.

The match,  strategically shifted to Sikh Union Club from the hosts’ grounds at Peponi School saw Kanbis Sports Club bundled out for a lowly 85 runs in 18.1 overs. Narendra Kerai (17) was the first to be dismissed, caught by Collins Obuya off Ibrahim Akello as he tried to loft him out of the park, only to sky the ball within the square in the fifth over. His opening partner, Dhiren Gondaria (05) departed five balls later, via a spectacular run in catch from Praveen Kumar on the ropes.

At 2/21 entered Rakep Patel who steadied the innings with Nelson Odhiambo, rotating the strike to add 33 runs to the third wicket before a bowling change saw Patel play to Bansi Patel at square leg off Sagar Muley’s first ball, having managed 26 runs off 21 balls, inclusive of three boundaries. Odhiambo stayed put until the 17th over when Hiren Varaiya struck to have him bowled on 17 runs off 28 deliveries, the scoreboard effectively reading 9/79.

At his best, Varaiya came back for a fourth to bag four wickets from a maiden over that included two off two balls. in spite of missing his hatrick, Varaiya bowled a terrific spell with turn and variation that additionally had Ramesh Mepani (01) bullet back his first delivery, Gautam Bhudia bowled for a golden duck and Rajesh Varsani caught by Collins Obuya at long-on.

Ibrahim Akello and Bilal Habib bagged 2/09 and 2/12 from their six overs combined, while Sagar Muley bagged 2/12 from 3.1 overs. In reply, Stray Lions had a false start when Akshay Tembhekar was caught short of his crease by Rajesh Bhudia in just the fourth ball of the innings for a duck. Seven balls later with only fifteen runs on the board, Praveen Kumar (08) played back to Rakep Patel in his bowling stride bringing skipper Collins Obuya to the crease.

With all to play for, Collins Obuya smacked an unbelievable, chanceless 29-ball 54, his first half century in this format, capitalizing with four boundaries and five maximums to take his team over the rope in just 9.3 overs, their quickest run-chase of the season. Unbeaten on the other side was his elder sibling, David Obuya (15*), contributing to their unbeaten 57-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Gautam Bhudia (1/08) and Rakep Patel (1/11) were the stand-out bowlers for Kanbis in their combined four overs.

Swamibapa humiliate Sikh Union

The super division of the ongoing Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) T20 League wound up its penultimate Saturday preliminary round matches this past weekend. An unexpected loss to Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club headlined the matches, an embarrassing loss to Sikh Union Club while Nairobi Gymkhana and Stray Lions Cricket Club won big.

Sikh Union Club continued with their torrid run form, succumbing to an embarrassing 105-run defeat away to Swamibapa Sports Club at the Nairobi Jafferey Academy. In spite of Swamibapa electing to bat on familiar turf, Sikh Union managed to bowl them out for 139 runs, courtesy of a steely half century from Alex Obanda, his fourth of the season. With opening partner Nicholas Oluoch copping a golden duck, Obanda went on to add 38 runs to the third wicket with Rikesh Kahar (09) before he was dismissed on 76 runs off 56 balls that comprised of four boundaries and two maximums.

Emmanuel Bundi (15) was the next top scorer as Zahid Abbas spun his way to 3/20 for Sikh Union. In reply, Elijah Otieno paced himself to a terrific line that yielded 6/14 off just 2.3 overs to have Sikh Union wrapped up for a measly 34 runs in just 8.3 overs. James Ngoche backed up the bowling with 3/09 off three overs as the visitors registered five ducks and a top score of 11 from Gurdeep Singh. 

This was Sikh Union’s second consecutive loss after last week’s to Ruaraka, bringing their tally to four losses from five matches. 

Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club kept their loss tally rolling over the weekend when they suffered a 15-run loss playing away to Ruaraka Sports Club on Saturday. Budding all-rounder Tony Ochieng’ (38) stirred up his batting to lead Ruaraka to 5/151 off their 20 overs. Purshotam Vekaria added 25 runs while Tushar Vaghani was unbeaten on 23. 

Kongonis’ pursuit of the score set off in the right direction with skipper Shem Obado and Chris Childs putting on a 47-run opening partnership before the former was dismissed for 32 runs. Childs added a further 30 runs to the third wicket with Dominic Wesonga (11) before Newton Muthee contributed 15 runs at the tail. 

However, with wickets tumbling frequently, Childs had to contend with staying unbeaten two runs short of a half century as Kongonis finished on 6/136. Martin Mworia picked 2/22 for the visitors as Harish Rabadia bagged 2/12 for the hosts. 

Stray Lions Cricket Club’s hunt for bonus points this time round took them to Samaj grounds where they wrapped up victory in 12 overs to bag a fourth consecutive one.

A comfortable opening partnership of 38 runs between Rahul Rabadia (27) and Chirag Pindoria (18) bowled off Samaj to a good start before skipper Collins Obuya dismissed the former by a return catch. The match went downhill from there on for Samaj, losing 4/16 to find themselves at a precarious 5/66 in 13.2 overs. A rearguard effort from Rashmin Bhuva produced a 21-ball 20 but the hosts stumbled yet again to lose their bottom half for only 11 runs as David Obuya stormed into the action to effect five stumpings.

Sagar Muley made a grand entrance to the Lions’ den with 3/14 off his three overs while Bilal Habib added 2/13 off three overs to his wicket tally. Stray Lions wrapped up victory in just 12 overs despite losing five wickets in the process with Praveen Kumar finishing unbeaten on 32 runs from 31 balls. Debutant Akshay Jhambekar converted his fruitless fortunes with the ball to a 14-ball 30 that included five boundaries and a first-ball maximum. 

Jay Raghwani was the star with the ball, bagging 4/32 for Samaj in a fantastic spell that had all his victims dismissed via catches. 

Over at Forest Road, the neighbourly duel between Premier Club and Nairobi Gymkhana sealed a fourth convincing victory for Gymkhana, setting their highest total while at it, 3/202.

Electing to bat, skipper Karan Kaul led from the front with a 37-ball 49 before he was the last to depart with the scoreboard on 180 runs. Currently on a tremendous form, Irfan Karim contributed a 37-ball 49 before he was caught off Ankit Patel in the 11th over. Prashant Srinivas added a 25-ball 26 before limping off on a sore knee, breaking off his 75-run partnership to the third wicket with his skipper.

Premier’s sloppy bowling contributed to their undoing, accumulating 37 negligibles which were highlighted by 21 wides. Despite the hail or runs, Ankit Patel (2/38) and Vijay Patel (1/24) stood out with the ball for the hosts. In reply, Premier looked good on a 35-run opening partnership between Darshit Patel (22) and Parth Patel (17) but losing 3/16 had their middle order crumbling with the board on 4/53 after 11 overs. Raj Savala and Nikul Patel spun their way to 4/23 and 3/27 respectively, engineering the hosts’ mid-bottom order collapse. 

Even Sandip Patel’s 20-ball 33 was not enough to stitch the innings, only aiding in a 41-run partnership to the 5th wicket with Ankit Patel (11) as the hosts folded for only half the score in 18.2 overs. 

Sunday wrapped up the penultimate weekend of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) T20 League preliminary matches with exhilarating wins for Swamibapa Sports Club and Kongonis Cricket Club. A tense, albeit thrilling encounter at the Nairobi Gymkhana saw Swamibapa Sports Club outmanouver the hosts by 22 runs to maintain their hold at the top of the table. 

Some quality bowling from Nairobi Gymkhana meant that Swamibapa could only manage a competitive 7/135 from their 20 overs. A shaky start saw them lose Saumil Patel (07) who was landed in Irfan Karim’s gloves and Nicholas Oluoch (00),bowled two balls later all in the fifth over by Bhavya Thaker. 

Alex Obanda then muscled up a 35-ball 27 inclusive of four boundaries on his way to rebuilding the innings with a 38-run partnership for the third wicket with Morris Ouma (14). Rakesh Kahar (23) and Nehemiah Odhiambo (09) then added 30 runs to the fifth wicket before Emmanuel Bundi joined the party, finishing unbeaten on 26 runs. 

Bhavya Thaker had impressive figures of 3/14 from his entire contribute while Nikul Patel bagged 2/28. In pursuit of the target, Gymkhana lost Abdul Najmi (05) and Kavi Dosaja (02) cheaply with only 28 runs on the board. Star batsman, Irfan Karim (23), was run out by Morris Ouma in the eighth over, leaving his skipper Karan Kaul (35) to soldier it out to the 18th over. Kaul managed a 45-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Lucas Oluoch who stayed unbeaten on a 25-ball 24. 

With 52 runs required off the last four overs, the target look achievable with the set batsmen in play but the return of Nehemiah Odhiambo to the run up killed their dreams when he had Kaul caught by Nicholas Oluoch off his fourth over, in an economical spell of 2/07 off his last two overs. 

Elijah Otieno completed his spell on 1/17 after coming back to concede just four runs in the penultimate over of the second innings. At Nairobi Club, Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club were back to winning ways with dominant in a 8-wicket win over SCLPS after four consecutive losses since their opening win against Sikh Union Club. SCLPS managed to ruffle up 7/97 as the Kongonis trio of Martin Mworia (2/15), Martin Okoth (2/15) and Dominic Wesonga combined their ten overs to bowl a fiery spell.

With the top – middle order crumbling at 5/41, a seemingly fruitless effort from the bottom yielded runs from Hiren Vekaria (29), Ravi Rabadia (22) and Kaushik Hirani (20).

Kongonis made quick-work of the total, pummeling Samaj’s bowlers to nail down victory in just 14 overs, losing only two wickets in the process. Shem Obado highlighted his return to form with an unbeaten 24-ball 43 inclusive of six boundaries and two maximums with James Whitnel making 25. Promoted to opening the innings in the absence of regular opener Chris Childs, Emmanuel Opura made an important 18 runs, with a 47-run opening stand alongside his skipper Shem Obado. Shyam Rabadia picked respectable figures of 1/03 off his two overs for SCLPS.

Mary Keitany took 41 seconds off the women’s-only world record* at the Virgin Money London Marathon, running 2:17:01 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

Keitany said in the build-up to this year’s race she was in shape to break Paula Radcliffe’s mark of 2:17:42 and while she demurred when asked about the possibility of bettering Radcliffe’s outright mark of 2:15:25, Keitany was running minutes inside Radcliffe’s schedule in the first half.

Keitany was paced by her training partner Caroline Kipkirui, who she was full of praise.

“I want to thank the pacemaker who was taking me all the way to 14 miles,” said Keitany. “From there, I started to go alone and see how my body was.”

Resolution Impala Saracens II successfully defended their Eric Shirley crown with a 13-12 win over KCB II in the final played at the USIU Ground on Saturday 22 April 2017.

This match was a close contest through and through, the teams heading into the interval locked 0-0. Collins Wanjala’s unconverted try after the restart gave KCB II a 5-0 lead but Quinto Ongo’s two quick penalties saw Impala II go 6-5 up.

Vincent Onyala landed a converted try as KCB II went 12-6 up but a moment of indiscipline saw them crumble, conceding a penalty try that handed Impala II the win.

Rugby enthusiasts around the country have a reason to be happy as they can now look forward to this years’ National Sevens Circuit set to start from late July to early November this year.

The circuit is a series of sevens a side competition taking places in various towns and cities in the country. It also brings together passionate rugby fans to mingle, have fun and of course enjoy some rugby.

Rugby in the country has grown popularity due to the National Sevens Circuit and the success of the Shujaa on the world stage.

This years’ schedule is as follows:

July 22, 2017- Mombasa Driftwood

July 29, 2017- Kabeberi Sevens, Nairobi

Sept 2, 2017- Prinsloo, Nakuru

Sept 9, 2017- Homeboyz

Sept 23, 2017- Christie, Quins

Sept 30, 2017- Dala Sevens, Kisumu

Nov 5, 2017- Safaricom Sevens, Nairobi

 

 

Kenyan football governing bodies KPL and FKF have confirmed that SuperSport’s decision to pull out of the deal of broadcasting Kenyan Premier League will not be revised after the sports channel company categorically reiterated the decision. The South African company has been sponsoring the Kenyan League for almost ten years but recently decided to terminate its relationship with Kenyan football

FKF had tried negotiations to see if SuperSport will change their decision but according to capital fm, they confirmed that SuperSport is gone for good. ``Yes, we got a response from SuperSport and the long and short story of it is that they are not coming back,’’ asserted FKF Chief Executive Officer Robert Muthomi on Monday morning.

KPL CEO Jack Oguda backed Muthomi’s words, who also said that there are other suitors eyeing the broadcasting deal. `` It’s an unfortunate event for Kenyan football but that doesn’t mark the end of football in our country. In the late 2000s, we didn’t have a broadcast sponsor but we still played football. For us, it’s a big challenge but what we are working on is to try and value the product properly to get more partners on board.’’

SuperSport’s decision had other effects apart from the league, with several people becoming jobless and the clubs’ monthly grants are also set to be reduced.

Muthomi said that they will be holding a Joint Executive Committee (JEC) meeting and also an FKF National Executive meeting to discuss the way forward and also discuss on some interests that have arisen. Oguda on his part suggested that they are trying to move forward with the issue. ``Our main focus at the moment is to see that we are back on TV and we get a good deal from whoever partner will come in,’’ he said.

 

Joyciline Jepkosgei won the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday, breaking the course record of 1:08:55 set last year by her fellow country-mate Eunice Kirwa. She finished the race with a winning time of 1:07:44 to set a new record at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Jepkosgei, who is the World half marathon record-holder, was determined from the start of the race, braking off the pack with only Belaynesh Oljira of Ethiopia behind him. By 20km, Oljira was quickly closing the gap between them but Jepkosgei proved too much for her, winning the race while Oljira came in second with a time of 1:08:19

In the men’s race, Alexander Mutiso won after facing very stiff competition from Macharia Ndirangu. The two, who live in Japan and run for Japanese corporate-sponsored track teams, were tied from the start of the race. The two were together at 20km in 58:00 and Ndirangu was the first to enter the stadium ahead of Mutiso, but Mutiso sprinted in the last 100 metres of the race to pass Ndirangu and finish first. The two athletes were recorded to have finished the race at the same time, both in 1:00:57 and that is the closest ever finish at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon.

 

Photo credit: Saddique Shaban

The Africa U20 Championship final was held on Sunday 23 April 2017 in Antananarivo Madagascar where Kenya U20 faced Namibia U20 with the latter emerging Champions having registered a 66-24 win.

Trailing 19-0 minutes in the first half, Chipu got on the scoreboard courtesy of flanker Stanley Isogol try with Henry Ayah adding the extras. Scoreboard then reading 19-7 to Namibia had Chipu attack the Namibia U20 resulting to another Kenya try through Victor Matiko with the conversion sailing wide. Moments to Half time, Namibia would extend their lead to 26-12.

Enter second half, Namibia got in two converted tries before Kenya bounced back with two tries by Stephen Keter and Charles Tendwa as Fullback Joshua Mwangi converted Tendwa's try. Namibia managed to drill in a try in between the two Kenyan tries as the scoreboard now read Chipu 24 - Namibia 47. Namibia's dominance saw them add 19 extra points bringing the score to 24-66 at full time.

English Premier League football clubs posted record revenues, but still a collective pre-tax loss of £110m (€131m/$141m) in the 2015-16 season, according to the latest figures from accountancy firm Deloitte.

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Esports to receive medal status at Asian Games

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Berlusconi finalises AC Milan sale

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After a victorious weekend, AFC Leopards is back on the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Ingwe, started the season brightly and have shaken off a couple of off pitch issues to ensure they remain in contention for the title. One highlight before the 2017 season kickoff was the issue of kitting. Reliable sources informed Kenyanstar that the club officials were torn between different kit suppliers, with the club settling on a key supplier just days to the start of the new season.

After one season in the English Championship, Newcastle United secured an immediate return to the Premier League by beating Preston North End 4-1 on Monday.

Under Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who won the Champions League during his time at Anfield, Newcastle enjoyed an impressive season although two defeats and a draw in its last three league games led to a few nerves at the north-east club.

One of England's best supported clubs which regularly attracts crowds more than 50,000 for home games, Newcastle sealed promotion with two matches remaining.

Championship leader Brighton and Hove Albion secured one of the two automatic promotion places a week ago. Brighton leads Newcastle by four points.

Benitez was unable to save Newcastle from relegation last season after being appointed for the last 10 games, but decided not to activate a clause in his three-year contract allowing him to leave if the club was demoted.

The former Real Madrid manager, after meetings with owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley, announced his intention to stay in May and his decision has been vindicated.

Despite selling Dutch midfielder Gini Wijnaldum to Liverpool for a reported 25 million pounds following relegation, Benitez has acted astutely in the transfer market.

The signings of striker Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace and Scotland winger Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth have paid dividends, with Gayle scoring 22 league goals and Ritchie 12.

An awful start to the season when Newcastle lost its opening two league games was quickly erased with five successive wins, creating a momentum that stalled only in the past month, on the verge of promotion. It got there in the end.

Manchester City look set to pip rivals Manchester United to the signing of highly-rated Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, according to the Daily Star.

Both Manchester sides are in the market for a new left-back at the end of the season, with City keen to strengthen in this area come the summer.

United, meanwhile, are looking to replace Luke Shaw at left-back, with Jose Mourinho prepared to allow the England international to leave at the end of the season.

Mendy has been mooted with a possible Premier League switch in the past, with Liverpool and Arsenal also believed to be interested in the France international.

However, the 22-year-old will only consider a move away from Monaco for another team in the Champions League, which puts City in pole position to secure his services.

Yamaha dominated the season's first two grands prix with Maverick Vinales, but Marquez won from pole in America and moved up to third in the championship, 18 points off new leader Valentino Rossi.

Honda ran first and second for most of the race with Dani Pedrosa and Marquez, while Vinales had an early crash from fourth, and though his pace faded Pedrosa was still able to finish third behind Rossi.

The Japanese marque will test at Le Mans next Tuesday with Marquez and Pedrosa, who will both be using the second day of their five-day allocation for the season.

All five of MotoGP's other manufacturers will also be present at the French track, with Aprilia also opting to hold a private two-day test this week at Mugello.

Marquez, who dislocated his shoulder at Jerez in February during his first private test day of the year, believes the Le Mans test will be crucial for improving the RC213V to be able to take on Yamaha.

"It's important [to win] because we are third again in the championship," said Marquez, who had crashed when leading the previous race in Argentina. "Before the race I was eighth, and I said 'OK, we need to start coming back.'

"Still I don't feel perfect with the bike, we are missing something. Now we have an important test at Le Mans and an important race at Jerez.

"We need to understand [the problem], because if we understand it there and fix this problem, we can fight strongly for the championship."

Marquez was unsure where Honda's improvement relative to Yamaha had come from at Austin and said he had not been comfortable with the bike even on the way to victory.

"I was playing a lot with the set-up, trying to find stability and have more confidence," he said. "For some reason we didn't find it, then I was looking to tyre life because the front tyre I was destroying a lot.

"On Friday with just 12 laps my front tyre was destroyed and impossible to ride fast. Then on Saturday we did a great pace, but we don't know if it was the temperature.

"[In the race] everyone suffered but we were able to manage quite well and I felt better. But still it didn't feel like I wanted."

Honda informed Marquez that Vinales had crashed via his pitboard, though the reigning champion said he had already seen a replay of the incident on the video screens.

"It didn't change my plan, which was to try and understand the situation," said Marquez when asked if knowing Vinales was out had influenced his subsequent riding.

"The mistake of Argentina was big and I didn't want to repeat it."

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”.

Serena Williams, who announced her pregnancy last week, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour on Monday. The 23-time Grand Slam winner takes over the top spot for the eighth time in her career and 317th week overall, third all-time behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. 

Williams will not play again in 2017 because of her pregnancy -- but plans to return in 2018 -- so her leap to the No. 1 position will be a temporary one. 

No. 2 Angelique Kerber will once again unseat Williams atop the rankings if she wins her first two matches at this week's Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Williams, who got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December, posted a photo on Snapchat last Wednesday, prompting widespread speculation that she was pregnant with her first child. 

The 35-year-old Williams took a side-profile bathing suit mirror selfie with the caption "20 weeks" that showed her baby bump. A representative for Williams confirmed the pregnancy to the media later in the day. 

On Monday, Williams wrote a moving letter to her unborn child in an Instagram post, sharing her excitement in reaching No. 1 again. 

"My Dearest Baby, You gave me the strength I didn't know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can't wait to meet you. I can't wait for you to join the players box next year," Williams wrote alongside a photo of herself in a swimsuit. 

"But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you.... once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. ... from the world's oldest number one to the world's youngest number one. -- Your Mommy." 

Williams holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles of any player in the Open Era, clinching her 23rd at January's Australian Open, her last tournament

Lionel Messi on Monday hailed Barcelona's dramatic 3-2 Clasico victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid as an "important step" in the race for the La Liga title. Messi's last-gasp goal marked his 500th for Barcelona and blew the La Liga title race wide open at Real Madrid on Sunday.

Victory takes Barca top of the table thanks to their better head-to-head record with both sides locked on 75 points, but Madrid have a game in hand. 

"We went to the Bernabeu to win and to continue to fight for La Liga," the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said on his Facebook page.

"There is still a long way to go, but we left with the joy of having taken an important step," added Messi, the top scorer in La Liga with 31 goals, alongside a photo of himself celebrating one of his goals.

Barcelona are bidding for a third straight La Liga and Spanish Cup double. They play Alaves in the Cup final on May 27.

There are no two teams in sports history with this much rivalry, there is no single match that amasses greater footballing talents in one pitch, there is not a better derby in world football, El- Clasico, where the Galacticos from Madrid clash with Barca from Catalonia in a backdrop of over 600 million spectators across 185 countries in the world, this is football at its prime.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have met for 233 official Clasico matches, a rivalry that has span across 115 years. Out of the 233 encounters Los Blancos have won 93 while Barca have 91 wins, 49 of the games ended all square. The matches has always been too close to call as in the last 5 league fixtures each has two wins with the most recent match ending as a draw.

When it comes to goals Leo Messi that is top of the scoring chats with 21 Clasico goals in 33 matches. He is followed by a Real legend Alfredo De Stefano with 18 goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Messi has been on a 6 game goal drought against Real and it is Neymar who has the best scoring and assist record against their rivals with 6 goals and 3 assists. Barca will clearly miss the services of the Brazilian attacker as his suspension is confirmed.

The best in the world have played in this fixture with the likes of Ronaldo De Lima, Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup and the current Barca coach Luis Enrique having played for both teams.

This editions Clasico will be as decisive as always as a win for Real Madrid will all but guarantee them the league title.

 

Who will be the Barcelona manager next season? One of the names linked with the job is Laurent Blanc. He was a player at Camp Nou, knows the club and is currently out of work. After leaving PSG he decided he wanted to rest, now, according to his agent Jean-Pierre Menes, he is ready to work again.

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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.

Even thou they finished fourth in the just concluded Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association Basketball championships, Rueben Muraya is one person who has caught the eyes of many. His dazzling dribbling skills and speed has made him a crowd favorite and a contender for the MVP award.

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? 

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."

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”.

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.

Bale and Ronaldo both played as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 yesterday. Goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro strengthened their grip on the La Liga title.

However, despite the victory, all is not well at the Santiago Bernabeu. Spanish outlet Diario Gol claimed yesterday that Ronaldo was fuming with Zinedine Zidane for substituting him late on.

The former Manchester United star provided the assist for Benzema's goal but was replaced by Isco in the 79th minute. It was said that Ronaldo believed Bale should have been substituted instead after an abject display.

But Diario Gol claim Bale was also angry after the game. The former Tottenham star's stock is rising in Spain after helping Madrid win the Champions League twice in the past three years. And the Wales international reportedly believes Ronaldo is preventing him from becoming the club's main man.

Bale has to play on the left wing due to Ronaldo's desire to play further up the field. He feels that Zidane is making a mistake by deploying him in that position as he prefers to play on the right, where he can cut inside.

Club chief Florentino Perez is now monitoring the situation as Madrid's two biggest stars aim to do outdo the other. 

"Victor suffered a big injury on his back and we’ll see now what happens. We’re sad for both players and now we have to wait," was Pochetino's response on Victor Wanyama's injury.

A friendly match between Ivory Coast and Senegal was abandoned after 88 minutes after crowd trouble spilled onto the pitch with dozens of fans invading the field of play and confronting players.

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