Stewart Hall: My Targets At Leopards Are Crystal Clear

One of the region’s finest tacticians. A  well traveled coach who has won titles. In his own words, when his principles are threatened, he leaves. He indeed he has parted ways with many suitors. 

At a time when Leopards was flirting with relegation, and all hope was lost, he made a surprise move to join the Den. Probably surprising himself. His wife too, was astonished, and almost divorced him. However, he took up what he says is his toughest challenge ever. This season has looked promising but he says his main mission is not to win the title.

His words speak more about the man that is Stewart Hall. Kenyanstar sat down with the Ingwe tactician and here is his story, his analysis of Leopards and the derby.

Kenyanstar: When you first came to AFC Leopards, what did you see and what did you say to the management then?

Stewart Hall:  AFC have had financial issues, everybody knows that. I think most clubs In Kenyan football have financial issues and it’s one of the biggest issues holding back Kenyan football. So they originally wanted me to start in January when we agreed the contract but then I suggested to the management that I come in early for the last couple of games last season…not with an objective of winning the games or changing anything but with an objective of doing proper audit of the club. It was to have a look at the training staff, work with the players in training so that I could have a look at their attitude, character and also their ability, have a look at their training facilities, have a look at the setup of the club and produce a report of the club which we could act on and move forward. In that time, I also started looking for new signings. 

So I came in and I knew that I needed new players because the league table never lies…if you are 13th in the league it’s because you are not good enough, it’s not because you were unlucky. My personal objective was to look for new players so what I was doing is I was taking training sessions in the morning to assess my own squad and then in the afternoon I was meeting players that I would like to talk to and players that I knew from my experience in East Africa. I was watching DVDs as well in the evenings and they got me a lot of SuperSport DVDs where I was watching KPL games for that season looking at players. That’s where I first picked up Isuza…I watched several DVDs of Mathare and I was also going out to watch games. There was a lot of Division one games going on at Camp Toyoyo, I was watching KPL games and I also went to watch under twenty teams to see if there were any players in our under twenty team. I think I would say that is the hardest I have ever worked at a football club for a short period of time. Those three or four weeks before Christmas, I think I probably put in more hours, did more study and more work than anywhere else in the world I have ever worked.

KS: What is the biggest transformation at Leopards since you came in?

SH: In that audit I did, I talked to a lot of people, I even talked to supporters…supporters would stop me in the streets and I would talk to them. I listen to everyone…some people talk absolute utter rubbish but it comes out at the back side but some people actually talk sense. I talked to everybody about what they thought the problems were not only last season but over the last seven or eight years because everyone knows that it’s a long time since AFC were actually competitive as a club. Talking to everybody, the thing that kept on coming up was the discipline within the players was very very poor…another thing that kept coming up was that the fitness levels were poor and they were losing games in the last fifteen or twenty minutes. So those two things became a priority for me: improve the discipline and improve the fitness… so I drew a list of objectives and then I started working. The first things I worked on were the attitudes and the discipline of the players…

I also worked on the fitness levels of the players and that’s why I brought Mike the fitness coach and started getting together my own technical bench. So even the players who stayed from last season have changed their attitude; nobody is ever late for training and nobody ever misses training, we have very strict rules concerning time keeping and missing training. For the friendly games if anyone was late for training I left them. We keep strict records of every minute a player trains and plays so that we can keep very good records. There were a lot of issues with camping, with girls, with sex orgies and all sorts of stories about AFC. I think we have changed all that.

KS: How would you describe the situation when you took over Azam FC to when you took over AFC Leopards?

SH: The biggest difference is money and facilities. In Azam I had everything…I could spend 50000 dollars on a player and no problem. I could give a player 25000 signing fees and no problem. Here I have had to sign a whole squad for less than that…that’s the reason why you get the TcheTches, Pascals and you get real quality players. So it’s a completely different challenge. One of the reasons why I came here is that I wanted to work without money, where you work more on your instincts, knowledge and your ability to coach players. Here you fix problems by working on the small pitch but at Azam you could fix problems by signing another player. I have worked before without money but I have aso worked in clubs where I have money…so I wanted to prove to myself again and that’s the reason why I came here. 

I didn’t come here for the money, everybody knows that…my contract here is not even 40% of my salary at Azam…my allowances and bonuses at Azam were more than my salary here. My wife thinks that I’m absolutely crazy, the fact that I came here nearly got me divorced. I saw AFC as a massive challenge: working without money, working at a club where there are always big problems, and working at a club where there is always one disaster after another because that is what AFC has been in the last years.

KS: How would you describe yourself as a coach?

SH: My advice to young coaches is that there are three different path ways you can take in coaching; you can be a coach for young players and say that I want to focus on players under the age of nineteen to twenty one and I want to develop young quality players. For that you have to have a different kind of temperament and you need to have different qualifications. You can then be a coach for senior players and say that I want to coach a senior or national team…that requires a completely different skillset. You can also say that I want to be a coach of coaches…I want to be an instructor so you have three different career paths that you can go. I have the highest qualifications in every career path; I have advanced youth awards for coaching young players, I have academy Director’s license which you have to have in England to coach an Academy, I have UEFA pro license to coach senior players and I also have my youth UEFA coach of coaches awards, the highest awards which means I coach coaches. I produced million-dollar players at Birmingham City and not one or two of them…I took Gareth Southgate on his A license coaching award, I was his coach instructor. I also took Roy Keane so when you’ve worked at all those levels, that helps you as a coach because you draw on all those things. If I am working with Vincent Oburu, I draw on my ability and experience to work with young players because he is eighteen and doesn’t want me to treat him like Paul Kiongera.

KS: As a coach, you don’t get theatrical on the touch line and you are always silent…Is it your nature?

SH: Because you are thinking about the game…you don’t need to jump around and dance around on the touchline, when you are doing that you are missing something else that needs to be done.

KS:You came to a club that hasn't done well over the years for many reasons. How important is progression to a team and what will it take to move AFC Leopards forward?

SH: In one of the interviews you did with me after the game, you talked about pressure because we lost… you said we probably started too well and people then get expectations. Like our own chairman, he said after three games that we are going to win the league unbeaten… I mean I have no control of what people say, but I am a great believer in keeping the pressure off your players so that they can perform to the maximum. The pressure has to come to me, not the players because when the players get under pressure, things shut down and they stop expressing and enjoying themselves. People have to realize that we are going to lose games…we are building the team, it’s a new executive committee, it’s a new set of players so it’s going to take time and people have to be a little bit patient.

KS: Money or time?

SH: If you have money you’ll do it quicker, if you don’t have money it will take longer.

KS: Have you dreamt success this season? If so, what would it be like…

SH: Well, I will tell you what I have in my contract…my objective on my contract with AFC Leopards is to be in and around the top three so that’s 100% improvement on last season of being in the bottom three. Some of the fans will say that is not good enough for a club like AFC Leopards but I think that with the age of the squad because the squad is very young and with the fact that we have signed very many players, next season Leopards will be stronger than this season. But we all realize this season because of the expectations of the fans so we still have to have a good season. My objective is to be top three in the league and to have a good run in the cups.

KS: Expectations - Do you feel the club has had too much expectations. If so, how are you managing that?

SH: Well there is… I mean you never know with fans, the fans have been very good with me, very supportive, they can see things happening and I think what the fans want to see is players fighting for the club… they want to see players fight for the badge and even when we lost to Sofapaka, the game was 94 minutes but even in the 94th minute we were still pressuring, trying to score and we still showed good desire and hunger so the fans want to see that. The fans don’t want to see players giving up; the fans don’t want to see players who are happy with losing. One good thing about this team at the minute is their fighting spirit and I think the fans appreciate that… yes we want to win but if you can’t win, you have to show everybody that you really tried and gave everything you’ve got.

KS: You were at Azam, where there weren't too many fans as is the case for Simba & Yanga. You also worked briefly at Sofapaka where there were not too many fans as Leopards. How important are fans to a team’s success?

SH: Very important. I saw that at Birmingham City when we were in the Premier League and we had 30000 people every game…you could not get any ticket because every game was sold out so there was pressure there and there were expectations. I think it is important to have fans than not to have fans even though they bring pressure and different problems. It is better to have fans because sometimes with Leopards as I have seen, the fans are capable of lifting the players… sometimes people say that the fans can be the 12th man and that is very true. I think AFC fans especially that first game we were playing against Nakumatt when everybody wanted to see this new AFC team, I thought the fans were fantastic and the players thought so too.

KS: Who is the best player(s) you have worked with, and why do they stand out?

SH: The best player I have worked with Christophe Dugarry. He was French and won a World cup winners medal with France when they beat Brazil in Paris…he came to Birmingham after that, was there for one and a half years and he absolutely transformed the club. The club was going to be relegated because we were in the bottom three in the Premier League….he came and scored like thirteen goals in the second half of the season and is without doubt the best player I have ever worked with.

KS: The modern manager has so much to contend with - social media, lifestyles etc. How have you managed this at Leopards?

SH: I don’t read. I have a rule, don’t get suicidal when you lose and don’t be too happy when you win. One of my great things is I study philosophy…there is a saying in Philosophy that don’t make promises when you are happy and don’t make threats when you are angry, so I transfer that into football and say don’t get too disappointed when you lose and don’t be too happy and get carried away when you win because both of those things will stop you from seeing the real facts. If you get really unhappy, you miss the real facts of the game because you are in a cloud and if you get carried away when you win, again you don’t see the problems. You have to be focused all the time so don’t read social media… I talk to fans but I am not really listening, it gets in one ear and comes out the other…I’m probably thinking what I am going to have for my dinner. I know that sounds harsh but you have to separate yourself from everything otherwise you don’t think clearly. 

Another thing, don’t talk about the game immediately after…after the game, I only talk about the game with media because it is your job to interview me and it’s my job to answer the questions to the best of my ability. I don’t talk to players or committee members after the game because you’re in an emotional state and you will say something that you might regret. If you have lost, you can hurt people and if you have won, you can make false promises. The players will tell you… we have our team debrief one or two days after the game… we never do it immediately after the game because the emotional state you are in is not right.

KS: Egos, big egos is an issue in many dressing rooms. How have you managed this at AFC Leopards?

SH: No…we don’t have it because you’ve got to be strong and make sure there is no. I signed fourteen players that I thought were right…people might not believe this because they know AFC Leopards and know what has happened in the past where the committee signed players or the CEO or the General Manager…that has not happened here, I signed all the players. What I do is that I come up with a list of players and then find out who is available, how much they are going to cost me in terms of salary and signing bonus and then the third thing I do which is really important is to check on their personality. Talk to somebody who has worked with him and knows him to find out as much background as you can…that way, you don’t get many bad characters and ego in your dressing room. Don’t sign a payer just because you think he can do what you want him to do in the dressing room…find out what he is going to do in the dressing room, in camp or on the team bus.

KS: KPL is quite a lucrative league in terms of money, exposure etc. Compared to the likes of the UG League. However, in terms of talent, it's not up there. Why?

SH: Well, I think it is the other way round. I am not an expert in Ugandan or Rwandan football although I’ve been there but I think out of the East African countries, Kenya has the most talent. That might surprise you but I think Kenya has the most talent. Kenya has more players playing outside than any other country. Tanzania only has Samatta and Uganda has a couple so they are maybe second to Kenya. Look at how many Kenyan players are playing in Europe, they are everywhere: Bulgaria, Slovakia, Sweden, Norway and even in the MLS. I don’t think any other country has that coverage so I think there is more talent in Kenya than in any other East African country. When I watched the KPL under 20 tournament at Christmas, we signed players from that tournament and I was really excited with the talent in that competition. I could have signed five or six players that I liked but obviously you can’t take too many so we signed three and they are in my first team and they are on the bench every week even though they are seventeen and eighteen years…that is how excited I am. I think Kenya is a hotbed of talent. 

The second part of the question you asked about what is holding it back….administration and lack of finance. What goes on between FKF and KPL is absolute nonsense…it’s like a Disney film, it’s a comedy…it’s nonsense and it’s holding back football. There is a big saying that when the elephants rumble, it’s often the grass that suffers and I think that is the problem. When FKF and KPL rumble, it’s the game and the actual football that suffers… I don’t think the players are supported enough in terms of financial, medical, coaching, facilities and the administration of the game... I don’t think the players are supported well enough.

KS: Your analysis of the team so far?

SH:  We need to score more goals… against Sofapaka we created six chances to score one. We dominate possession, even in Sofapaka you saw the game…we absolutely dominated possession. We’re not scoring a lot of goals and that’s the problem. We should be scoring a goal every three chances created.

KS: Youth or experience?

SH: Both. I like youth…youth give you vibrancy, enthusiasm and hunger. All these players who earn 25000 to 30000 shillings, they want a new contract…they all want to earn 40000- 50000 shillings. You can work that off as a coach by pushing them harder and demanding more. But you also need a bit experience. My experience is Mangoli, my captain and Kiongera, my vice-captain. They are my experience and they are only 25 and 26, but I always consult them in everything because I feel it is important that you get the support of the players and the players agree with. If I have an idea and there is two ways of doing something, I’ll discuss it with the two captains and then we decide which way we’re going to go.

KS:  Goalkeeping - Ian Otieno hasn't been as solid in goal. Not more than 3 clean sheets. Is he good enough?

SH: Ian has done well. Goalkeepers take longer to mature and he is a young player. The keepers we have are still immature and are learning. We also had an issue with the goalkeeping coaches at the start of the season. That has affected the keepers. In pre-season the keepers made many mistakes, since we didn't have a proper keeper trainer. We had Iddi who left for Simba, where he had a better offer, and brought in another coach who lasted for a week. Then we brought in another coach who we have now. He is doing a fantastic job and the performance has improved. Ian is also in the national team and that shows he is doing okay. All in all I don't think he is  a bad keeper.

KS:Paul Kiongera has won you matches this season. You also have crumbled without him. Is he your main player this season?

SH: Everyone knows our squad is one striker short. We have lots of young players - The suspended Vincent Oburu, Ingotsi - It’s been a little physical for him. That leaves us with only two strikers - Gilbert Fiamenyo and Kiongera. If I could sign one player tomorrow it would be a striker. Everyone knows I wanted Masoud Juma, but Kariobangi Sharks beat us to his signature. I would have loved one more experienced striker. I think Kiongera is influential in terms of his character. He is also very good with the young players. Him and Mangoli look after matters for me on the pitch.

KS: To win a KPL title, you need someone to give you 15+ goals. Is Gilbert Fiamenyo a man to win you the KPL  this season?

SH: Gilbert is playing with an injury from his old club. We need to look into it. In an ideal situation, he should be playing fewer football. Like he played 3 games in less than 8 days. He should have played two of those. Due to injuries, we have been forced to play him, but I don't want to. Sometimes he frustrates me, he doesn't score goals. He needs to work harder. He is a little too selfish with the ball. But he is a very strong, talented striker. 4 goals in 8 games by any standard is good for any striker. That’s a goal every two games.

KS: You currently have used your young players sparingly despite starting off the season with the hope that they could help you work out things. Have you changed your mind on young players, like Marcellus Ingotsi?

SH: No. The training at the moment is key for them than the match. They need to fill up a little bit. They have the ability to play KPL, but lack strength to play. If you put them up against the likes of Ulinzi, they just can't make it. If I leave them in the team, that kills their confidence. The supporters and press will have a go at them. What we do with them now is we put them on the bench. They have fitness and conditioning programs too. They will come back and will be a major part of the future AFC Leopards. 

KS: Injuries - How much have they slowed you down this season?

SH: We had a small squad, and injuries slowed us down. Add that to the banning of Oburu and Ndungu Samuel situation. Its cost us.

KS: Take us into your training sessions. What’s the routine?

SH: We do lots of tactical work on team shape. We do lots of tactical work on individual players. Players should have a picture in their mind, when I get the ball in a certain position, what happens next? That picture comes from previous experience and coaching. Most of our training is done in 11 against 11, where we start the game in different scenarios. If we lose the ball there, what is your job, what happens? We also do lots of tactical work on how our opponent will play.

KS: You have really focused on strength and conditioning. Why so and how is it working for you?

SH: The fitness coach Mike has done a fantastic job. The players are in great shape. Some players have individual fitness programs too. Some will work on agility, some pace, the young boys on strength etc. When I came and got all figures from the EPL, which is largely the most intense league. Players run between 11 to 12 kilometers in a game. In Kenya, they don't run even 8km. Why? In KPL why do players run less kilometers? Yet Kenya has fantastic athletes, but footballers don't run. Why? 

KS: Looks like 3-5-2 is your preferred formation. Is it working for you? Have players adapted?

SH: It is the preferred one currently globally, but in Kenya, all clubs play 4-3-3. Why? Because they follow the KNVB coaching systems. That's what is preached here. One holding player, two wingers. So that is what everybody plays. But the federations needs to be very careful with that, because  you are actually developing one direction coaches and players.

Gor Mahia played 3-5-2 with Nuttal, even in the Kagame Cup finals sometime back. Gor actually have over the last 3 or 4 seasons have had a little tradition of 3-5-2. Most of the teams here in KPL play that. Posta Rangers in our last match  played 4-4-2 with one of the strikers dropping into midfield especially when they lose position. So 4-4-2 becomes 4-5-1. That is the reason they don't give goals away. They don't give goals away because they play in a very negative fashion. The rest of the teams play 4-3-3; One holding player, two offensive, two wingers and that is how they play. That’s dangerous.

Sometimes for us we play 3-4-3; One holding player and two offensive or two holding players and one offensive, or four across midfield. Two wingbacks, and two holding like Chelsea play.

We have different formations of 3-5-2. You know the word pragmatic? You have to have a pragmatic approach to football. That is why Pep Guardiola will struggle to make it in England. You cannot play one system all the time, because it doesn't solve what the other team and game will throw at you sometimes. On Guardiola, if you got the best players in the world, which he had at Barca, with fantastic pitch and in a league you dominate, you can play in one way. If you are in a more competitive league, you can't play in one way. Because you can't beat Stoke City away, or Manchester United away. Jose Mourinho beat Chelsea, why? He changed his system totally and  man marked Hazard because he(Mourinho) doesn't have a philosophy, a preferred system.

In Kenya it's the same. How can you go to Thika and play football? The pitch is awful. I have said I can't keep goats there. How can you go and say, “My philosophy is 3-4-3, we will play on the floor..You will lose.”

KS:Which player(s) not from Leopards do you admire most and would sign if given chance?

SH: I told my Executive Committee if we sign young players, I promise you we will sell players and it will ease the financial issues. The quickest way to get money is sell players. I asked for young players to grow them, and polish them, then sell them. I think there are players in this team we can sell. Duncan Otieno is good enough to play in Europe as a holding midfielder. Robinson Kamura is good enough to play in Europe. And there are others.

I admire some players. The winger at Ulinzi, Samuel Onyango. He is good enough for Europe. I think Kenneth Muguna will be good enough for Europe when he develops, he still need sto add in something more. The goalkeeper at Posta, Patrick Matasi is very good in the air. Last weekend we put lots of crosses in their box, but he comes and catches most of them. He has a big physical presence and they like that in Europe. If you aren't 6ft4 you cant play in Europe. In Europe they also want keepers who can kick it. Matasi can kick it miles away. He can play in Europe without a doubt.

KS: You haven't overseen many derbies in your career? Gor Mahia coming up. What does it mean to you?

SH: No. It’s a game, but it’s not anywhere near Simba- Yanga, and am sorry to say that. It’s not anywhere near Azam -Yanga. Azam - Simba. You won't get 60,000 fans. When you play in Tanzania, the people there support their football more than Kenya. I mean paying money to get into the stadium. You can go to Songea, MajiMaji and there 10,000 people, and that is in the middle of nowhere. You won't get 10,000 people in Nakuru.

When Azam plays Simba, there will be 5,000 fans, and 30,000 Simba fans and 10,000 Yanga fans and will join with Azam fans for the day. I have been in bigger derbies, Azam vs Birmingham, where you have to  queue for a month to get a ticket. The one on Sunday is just  a game of football.

KS: How’s the mood around camp ahead of the derby?

SH: I think what you have to make sure in derbies is you play the game and not the event because if you play the event, emotions will take over… you have to play the game and say that is their team and this is our team, how are we going to beat them... what is going to happen here? . Don’t worry about the crowd, don’t worry about the Executive Committee, and don’t worry about the media expectations. Play the game and not the event… the event will get you carried away and if you carried away by the event you lose the game so just play the game.

KS: Gor Mahia not in the best form really compared to previous seasons and they look vulnerable. What’s your analysis of their season so far?

SH: They play a very similar system to us but they play it differently. I noticed that they have been changing the midfield a lot and from when they started the season, they have changed the strikers…their preferred front two  at the start of the season  was Timothy Otieno and Jacques Tuyisenge with Meddie Kagere on the bench. But then Kagere came off the bench in one of the games and scored the winner, and since then he has stayed on the team. They have also changed the midfield around a bit…they have got probably five midfielders and they can pick any three from those five because they have the biggest squad, they have more money than us and they pay more salary than us so they should be. They tend to keep the three full backs and the two wing backs very consistent so when we sit down and try to second guess what their team might be, you know the goalkeeper, you know the back three and you know the wingbacks. But I think you’ll be guessing three midfielders from five and the striker you’ll be guessing two from three so you pretty much know what to expect.

KS: From your analysis of the Gor  team, what do you think are their strongest and weakest points?

SH: I think their defense is their strength and if they get beaten is only 1-0 so defensively they are quite compact and I think they have a lot of confidence In their goalkeeper. If they score a goal, I think they are quite confident they can win 1-0…but they are probably like us, they don’t score a lot of goals.

KS: AFC vs Gor, who has  a better team?

SH: They have bigger names, more established players because they have more money and a bigger budget but man for man, I don’t think there is a lot of difference. The players know each other so well that they tend to cancel each other out, and that is why these big games for the fans don’t turn out as good as you think they would be.

KS: If you were to beat Gor Mahia, what do you think will work for you?

SH: Hmm..not sure really.

KS: What makes the difference in a derby? Preparation, form or tactics?

SH: It’s everything but I think in big games you have an additional factor, that is you have nerves and anxiety. You have people who get carried away and play the event, not the game. This week will be key in getting the pressure off the players.

KS: Does this match have a direct impact on the title race?

SH: No…it’s too early. I think so far what I have seen, I like the Kenyan Premier League every year there is five or six teams who can win the league and that is healthy for Kenya’s football because it makes it harder to corrupt it. Like in Tanzania, Yanga and Simba corrupt everything and they are the league is always won between the two. If you look now, Ulinzi, Tusker, Gor Mahia, Leopards, Posta Rangers will be top six and then you will get one team who will surprise everybody, and at the moment it is Sofapaka.

KS: How well do you know Ze Maria as a coach?

SH: I don't. I can second guess how his team plays. I have heard him speak, but I don't think that's an issue. You need to know the system and players. It can't be me against him.

KS: So far as coach of Leopards, any mistakes you have made? Or anything you could have done better?

SH: Sign another striker, but I didn't have the money. If I could turn anything back now, tactically and attitude we have been good. Looking back, its been good. The team will be better.

KS: I understand that you were to present a list of your transfer wishes to the Executive committee this week… Ha that happened?

SH: No…it’s too early. May is very busy and you are still finding out about your players…you might get a bad injury where somebody is ruled out for three or four months so that changes your thinking.

KS: Any  remarks ahead of the match and also for the season to the fans?

SH: All the fans want us to win the game so we have to our very best for them. Having said that, we have to make sure that it doesn’t turn into an event so that everybody is thinking rationally, logically and you give your best performance so that is important. We know we have a responsibility to the fans but we have to manage that in a way that it doesn’t spoil the game. At the moment the fans are happy because every player is giving his everything for AFC Leopard so we have to continue that. For the rest of the season, we have standard of hard work. All players give 100% and we want to keep that.

KS: You have been very modest…you’ve not told me if you are winning this match or not…

SH: Kelele mingi sana…let the team do the talking and I just do my job. If we win, we will not get carried away; you will not hear us saying that we are going to win the league and if we lose you won’t see any panic…that’s what you have to do, you have to stay rational.

KS: Thanks coach for your time! All the best ahead on Sunday and in the league!

Watch Video Interview here...

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The match kicks of at 14:30

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER

Bayern Munich 21:30 VfL Wolfsburg

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

Mainz 05 16:30 Hertha BSC

RB Leipzig 16:30 Eintracht Frankfurt

Werder Bremen 16:30 SC Freiburg

1899 Hoffenheim 16:30 FC Schalke 04

VfB Stuttgart 16:30 FC Augsburg

Borussia Dortmund 19:30 Borussia Mönchengladbach

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Hannover 96 16:30 FC Köln

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 19:00 Hamburger SV

 

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

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

 

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

Atlético Madrid 14:00 Sevilla

Alavés 17:15 Real Madrid

Malaga 19:30 Athletic Bilbao

Girona 21:45 Barcelona

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Espanyol 13:00 Deportivo La Coruña

Getafe 17:15 Villarreal

Eibar 19:30 Celta Vigo

Las Palmas 19:30 Leganés

Real Sociedad 21:45 Valencia

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER

Real Betis 22:00 Levante

 

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

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

SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER

         West Ham United 14:30 Tottenham Hotspur

                       Burnley 17:00 Huddersfield Town

                       Everton 17:00 AFC Bournemouth

           Manchester City 17:00 Crystal Palace

              Southampton 17:00 Manchester United

                   Stoke City 17:00 Chelsea

              Swansea City 17:00 Watford

              Leicester City 19:30 Liverpool

SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER

Brighton & Hove Albion 18:00 Newcastle United

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER

                      Arsenal 22:00 West Bromwich Albion

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 SATURDAY’S RESULTS

All at Luveve Stadium

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

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

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

SUNDAY’S FIXTURES

All at Barbourfields Stadium

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

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

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

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

 

 GROUP A                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

Zimbabwe                 2          1          1          0          5          1          +4        4

Zambia                      2          1          1          0          7          4          +3        4

Malawi                      2          1          0          1          9          9          0          3

Madagascar              2          0          0          2          3          10        -7         0

GROUP B                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

Kenya                        2          2          0          0          16        2          +14      6

Swaziland                   2          1          1          0          5          2          +3        4

Mozambique               2          0          1          1          4          7          -3         1

Mauritius                    2          0          0          2          0          14        -14       0

GROUP C                    P          W        D         L          GF       GA       GD       PTS

South Africa                2          2          0          0          6          1          +5        6

Namibia                      2          1          0          1          5          3          +2        3

Botswana                    2          1          0          1          3          4          -1         3

Lesotho                       2          0          0          2          0          6          -6         0

 

 TOURNAMENT STATS

Matches Played: 12

Goals scored: 63

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

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

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

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

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

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KS: Any closing words? 

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

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

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

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

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

“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!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rayon Sports Club have confirmed that former Sofapaka and Amavubi goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana is no more. Unconfirmed reports claim that a heart attack on Tuesday September 12 at his home was the cause of his death.

Mutuyimana started professional football with Rwandese side Kiyovu Sport before joining Police Kibungo in 2011.The 26-year old then moved to Kenyan side Sofapaka in June 2014 where he played for three seasons. He later moved to Rayon SC, where he was the reserve goalkeeper until his demise.

Mutuyimana has also featured for the Rwanda national team, his most notable appearance being in a 5-1 loss to Tunisia in an International Friendly back in May 2012.

“As Rayon Sports officials, we want convey our message of condolences to all the club fans and family following the death of goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana this Tuesday morning.” his club posted on social media.

 

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.

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."

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."

Africa champions Cameroon were thumped 4-0 in Tuesday's international friendly against Colombia only five days before their Confederations Cup opener.

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

James Rodriguez opened the scoring with a fine effort from a narrow angle after 16 minutes when he beat Andre Onana with a thunderous effort, before Yerry Mina doubled the South Americans' lead 15 minutes later with a header. Mina added a second in the 52nd minute when he converted a fine delivery from Giovanni Moreno, but not before Spartak Trnava's Ndip Tambe had been sent off after tangling with Wilmar Barrios.

Substitute Jose Izquierdo completed the rout five minutes before time when he broke his international duck with a powerful strike.

The result adds to a troubled Confederations Cup build-up for Cameroon, who have lost first-choice left-back Ambroise Oyongo ahead of the tournament after he ruptured his patellar tendon against Morocco.

Similarly, FIFA has acknowledged the internal problems within the country's football administration, with some within the nation convinced that Tombi A Roko Sidiki's current regime has no authority to run the football federation.

Cameroon are competing in their first Confederations Cup since 2003, and have been drawn alongside Germany, Chile and Australia.

 

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