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...

Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored first-half goals for Arsenal in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Gunners looked to restore a sense of supremacy in north London after a disastrous campaign last season.

Mustafi’s header looped over the Spurs defence from a disputed free kick and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was unable to get anywhere near the ball as it pinged off the crossbar into the goal in the 36th minute.

Sanchez’s goal came five minutes later after Alexandre Lacazette’s run down the right. The forward put in a crisp cross, which Sanchez had trouble controlling at first as it bounced down off his knee. But the Chilean composed himself at the near post to fire the ball over Lloris, who hesitated coming off his line to deal with the danger.

Just when Spurs fans thought the balance of power had irreversibly shifted in north London, Arsenal turned back the clock to offer a glimpse of its past dominance. There was slick passing, the three Arsenal forwards galloped past Spurs defenders with ease at times, and the usually shaky back line managed to hold its nerve this time.

Tottenham had come into this match on a high, sitting third three places above Arsenal in the league and finishing in front of the Gunners last season for the first time in more than two decades. Spurs are in the Champions League this season and Arsenal in the Europa League and impressed the football world with a shock win over Real Madrid in the group stage.

But Arsenal was the bigger side Saturday, managing to shut down star players Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to claim bragging rights in north London. Eriksen looked nothing like the player who scored a hat-trick for Denmark against Ireland during the international break.

Before the match, many observers sniggered when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed his side wasn’t the underdog going into this fixture. But it was Wenger who had the smug look on his face at the final whistle, while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared dejected after suffering his first Premier League defeat in a north London derby during his more than three-year tenure.

The only boos Wenger got Saturday was when he made a defensive substitution, taking off the prolific Lacazette for holding midfielder Francis Coquelin. There were even ironic cheers from Arsenal fans for Kane and Alli, when they were taken off with 15 minutes to go after a poor showing from both.

 

The 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season provided a perfect ending for both AFC Leopards and Ulinzi Stars, who reaped 4-1 and 4-0 wins against Muhoroni Youth and Tusker FC respectively.

Muhoroni Youth, who were long relegated, managed to hold Ingwe goalless for the entire first half but loosened their defense just one minute after the restart,  Whyvonne Isuza finding the back of the net from close range before Aziz Okaka doubled the scores five minutes later with a header. Having mastered the rhyme of the match, Leopards got a third one in the 63rd minute through Samuel Ndungu before Vincent Oburu making sure that he was in the score sheet with his side’s fourth in the 69th minute.

Hassan Kiyoyo netted a consolation goal for Muhoroni from the spot in the 73rd minute, buthis goal was not sufficient to have any influence on the match.

The win took Leopards’ point tally to 45 which propelled them to 8th place in the league table.

Tusker whipped

At the Afraha Stadium, defending champions Tusker FC were humbled 4-0 by Ulinzi Stars to condemn them to a sixth place finish this campaign.

The Brewers, who were eyeing the top three spots, started soaking in goals in the 15th minute after Stephen Waruru took the Soldiers ahead. Two Minutes later, Ulinzi got a second one through Elvis Nandwa before Waruru notching his second just past the half hour mark. Omar Mbongi  finally capped off the convincing 4-0 win with a goal in the 85th minute witch saw Ulinzi finish 7th with 48 points.

 

It was a day of extreme action on Saturday November 18 as the season came to an end, with Western Stima being confirmed as the second team to be relegated despite a 1-0 win over Chemelil Sugar at the Chemelil Sports Complex.

Stima were hoping to notch a win and Thika to be beaten and seemed well on course after Wesley Kemboi's 62nd minute strike took the leading till the final whistle.
Luck was however not on their side as Shami Kibwana inspired Thika United to a 1-0 victory over Bandari FC at home with a beautiful fee kick that all but ensured their safety.

With both sides recording wins and tied on 38 points, Stima go down just by goal difference as they have -10 compared to Thika’s -9.

Mathare hold Posta

At the Camp Toyoyo, Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi was a happy man after seeing his side hold ten-man Posta Rangers to a 2-2 draw which saw them stay afloat.

Chris Ochiengvwas the man to open account for the Slum Boys just three minutes into the game, dispossessing  Charles Odete the ball to head on and beat Patrick Matasi in goal.

Mathare then went 2-0 up in the 31st minute following Chrispin Oduor’s goal which took his goal tally of the season to eleven.

Posta however replied with a goal shortly before the interval,  Joseph Mbugi successfully converting a penalty after John Nairuka had been fouled inside the danger area by keeper Mark Kioko.

Kennedy Agogo, being a substitute, salvaged atleast a point for the mailmen with barely eight minutes remaining on the clock, heading the ball home from Nairuka’s cross to force a 2-2 draw.

 

A battling Simbas fell 40-30 in an entertaining match at the Hong Kong Football Club in Hong Kong on Saturday evening.

Conor Hartley’s third minute try put Hong Kong 5-0 up. Toby Fenn added a converted try four minutes later to see the hosts go 12-0 up.Roslee then added a penalty for 15-0, summing up a torrid opening quarter of an hour for the Simbas who had to deal with the ealry injury enforced loss of Peter Karia, Philip Ikambili making an early start off the replacements bench.

A Kenyan foray into HK territory saw them get a penalty,Mukidza’s with the successful goal attempt for a 15-3 score. A second Mukidza penalty brought the score to 15-6 before Lex Kalika’s converted try put HK 22-6 up.

The Simbas would get a try,Ikambili going over with Mukidza converting for 22-13, the Kenyans would end the half stronger, unable though to turn possession into points heading into half time.

A patient build up after the restar saw Sam Onsomu go over, Mukidza converting for a 22-20 score.

A Yiu Kam Shing try saw Hong Kong go 27-20 up before Vincent Mose was played in by Leo Owade to score and bring the Simbas to 27-25,two shy of Hong Kong.

Hartley landed his brace,Roslee converting o see HK go 34-25 up but Oliver Mang’eni responded straight from the restart,34-30 with little left on the clock. The hosts added two penalties at the death to hold a ten point cushion to full time.

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs have both released their matchday squads that will face off in a league match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday November 18.

The Gunners hold the advantage in the head-to-head stats, with 80 victories compared to Tottenham’s 62, but Spurs are the team currently in the ascendancy with Mauricio Pochettino’s men three places above their rivals.

Arsenal, who have not won any of their last four meetings with Spurs, have won all five of their home league games this season – keeping three clean sheets during that run.

Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Alexis

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin.

Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Davies, Dembele; Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele; Kane

Subs: Vorm, Son, Llorente, Foyth, Aurier, Winks, Walker-Peters.

Nzoia United head coach Bernard Mwalala has unleashed his starting lineup that will be involved in their final match of the season against Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday 18 November at Sudi Stadium in Bungoma.

Making his way back into the first eleven is keeper Mustapha Oduor who replaces the injured Benson Mangala. Oduor will do with help from the defensive quartet of  Festus Okiring, Hillary Wandera, Brian Otieno and Vincent Ngesa as Peter Gin, Lawrence Juma and Stephen Wakanya take up the midfield role. Luke Namanda and Victor Omondi are the strikers for Nzoia.

Starting XI: 23. Mustapha Oduor 26.Festus Okiring 16.Hillary Wandera 28.Brian Otieno 34. Vincent Ngesa (C) 22.Elvis Ronack 32.Victor Ogendo 04.Peter Gin 02. Stephen Wakanya 24.Lawrence Juma 12.Luke Namanda

Subs: 15.Humphrey Katasi 14. Edwin Wafula 25. Geoffrey Kariuki 17.Jonathan Lodaket 18.Patrick Kwitonda 06.Benjamin Muchuma 21.Brian Yakhama

Sofapaka head coach Sam Ssimbwa has preserved a relatively regular starting lineup in his final matchday squad to clash with Zoo Kericho on Saturday November 18 at the Narok Stadium.

Sofapaka, who are second on the table, will be going for a win that will ensure a perfect ending to the season in the same position.

Club top scorer Umaru Kasumba starts upfront alongside Ezekiel Okare and the talented Mohammed Kilume while Michael Oduor and Humphrey Okoti handle midfield issues. An unchanged defense will be involved in Saturday’s game with Mathias Kigonya standing in goal.

Starting XI: Mathias Kigonya, Willis Ouma, Maurice Odipo, Kennedy Oduor, Rodgers Aloro, Mohamed Kilume, Michael Oduor, Humphrey Okoti, Umaru Kasumba, Ezekiel Okare.

Subs: George Opiyo, Edmond Kwanya, Samwel Mutiria, Hansel Ochieng,  Brian Magumba, Meshack Karani, Francis Ochola.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have officially unveiled Belgian tactician Paul Put as the new Harambee Stars head coach, taking over from the embattled Stanley Okumbi.

Put, who has a long history in coaching African sides, will now take charge of the national team as they gear up for the upcoming CECAFA championships that are scheduled to start on December 6. Okumbi now steps a level down to the assistant coach’s role.

Put was manager of the Gambian national team between 2008 and 2011, before being appointed as manager of Burkina Faso in March 2012. He is famously known to have guided Burkina Faso to the 2013 Africa Nations Cup final where they narrowly lost to Nigeria.

The Belgian has also been in charge of Jordan and of Belgian sides Geel, Lokeren and Lierse. It is durinh his coaching spell in Belgium that he was banned by the Royal Belgium Football Association for his alleged involvement in the Ye Zheyun match-fixing scandal.

More to follow…

Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored first-half goals for Arsenal in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Gunners looked to restore a sense of supremacy in north London after a disastrous campaign last season.

Mustafi’s header looped over the Spurs defence from a disputed free kick and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was unable to get anywhere near the ball as it pinged off the crossbar into the goal in the 36th minute.

Sanchez’s goal came five minutes later after Alexandre Lacazette’s run down the right. The forward put in a crisp cross, which Sanchez had trouble controlling at first as it bounced down off his knee. But the Chilean composed himself at the near post to fire the ball over Lloris, who hesitated coming off his line to deal with the danger.

Just when Spurs fans thought the balance of power had irreversibly shifted in north London, Arsenal turned back the clock to offer a glimpse of its past dominance. There was slick passing, the three Arsenal forwards galloped past Spurs defenders with ease at times, and the usually shaky back line managed to hold its nerve this time.

Tottenham had come into this match on a high, sitting third three places above Arsenal in the league and finishing in front of the Gunners last season for the first time in more than two decades. Spurs are in the Champions League this season and Arsenal in the Europa League and impressed the football world with a shock win over Real Madrid in the group stage.

But Arsenal was the bigger side Saturday, managing to shut down star players Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to claim bragging rights in north London. Eriksen looked nothing like the player who scored a hat-trick for Denmark against Ireland during the international break.

Before the match, many observers sniggered when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed his side wasn’t the underdog going into this fixture. But it was Wenger who had the smug look on his face at the final whistle, while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared dejected after suffering his first Premier League defeat in a north London derby during his more than three-year tenure.

The only boos Wenger got Saturday was when he made a defensive substitution, taking off the prolific Lacazette for holding midfielder Francis Coquelin. There were even ironic cheers from Arsenal fans for Kane and Alli, when they were taken off with 15 minutes to go after a poor showing from both.

 

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs have both released their matchday squads that will face off in a league match at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday November 18.

The Gunners hold the advantage in the head-to-head stats, with 80 victories compared to Tottenham’s 62, but Spurs are the team currently in the ascendancy with Mauricio Pochettino’s men three places above their rivals.

Arsenal, who have not won any of their last four meetings with Spurs, have won all five of their home league games this season – keeping three clean sheets during that run.

Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Alexis

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin.

Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Davies, Dembele; Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele; Kane

Subs: Vorm, Son, Llorente, Foyth, Aurier, Winks, Walker-Peters.

Regal Hotels Cup of Nations hosts Hong Kong have made known their squad that will tackle Kenya in the final round of the tournament slated for Saturday November 18 at 12pm EAT at the King’s Park Grounds.

The match is a must win for both sides, Hong Kong having lost to Russia in the opening round before recording a win over Chile while Kenya have lost both of their matches to Chile and Russia respectively.

Below is how Hong Kong will line up for Saturday’s game:

HONG KONG

1 Dan Barlow, 2 Dayne Jans 3 Dylan Rogers, 4 James Cunningham, 5 Kyle Sullivan, 6 Nick Hewson O, 7 Tony Fenin, 8 Thomas Lamboley, 9Jamie Hood, 10 Matt Rosslee, 11 Conor Hartley, 12 Lex Kaleca, 13 Tyler Spitz,14 Yiu Kam Shing , 15 Jack Neville

Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Benjamin Higgins, 18 Callum SmithAdam, 19 Adrian Griffiths, 20 Kane Boucaut, 21 Max Denmark, 22Cado Lee, 23 Ally Maclay

 

Following a one-week FIFA international break, the Barclays Premier League resumes this weekend and a total of ten matches are on the cards.

After losing 3-1 to Manchester City in their last match, Arsenal have a difficult task in their quest to return back to winning ways when they host North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday November 18 in an early kick off from 14:30.

The match will then be followed by six games which all start at 17:00. Among them, Leicester City will be seeking to inflict a first loss to leaders Manchester City while

Liverpool hunt for their second successive victory when the tackle Southampton at home. The last match of Saturday will see Manchester United face Newcastle United at the Old Trafford.

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

Saturday 18th November

Arsenal 14:30 Tottenham Hotspur

AFC Bournemouth 17:00 Huddersfield Town

Burnley 17:00 Swansea City

Crystal Palace 17:00 Everton

Leicester City 17:00 Manchester City

Liverpool 17:00 Southampton

West Bromwich Albion 17:00 Chelsea

Manchester United 19:30 Newcastle United

Sunday 19th November

Watford 18:00 West Ham United

Monday 20th November

Brighton & Hove Albion 20:00 Stoke City

After a one-week FIFA international break, the Spanish Laliga resumes this weekend with a total of ten games scheduled to be played from Friday November 17 to Monday November 20.

The highlight of the weekend will however be between defending champions Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid which is slated for Saturday at 21:45 EAT. Real, who started the season on the wrong footing, are eager to catch up with leaders Barcelona who have distanced them with eight points. Ls Blancos are third while Atletico trail them closely in fourth.

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

Friday 17th November

Girona 22:00 Real Sociedad

Saturday 18th November

Getafe 14:00 Alavés

Leganés 17:15 Barcelona

Sevilla 19:30 Celta Vigo

Atlético 21:45 Real Madrid

Sunday 19th November

Malaga 13:00 Deportivo La Coruña

Espanyol 17:15 Valencia

Las Palmas 19:30 Levante

Athletic Bilbao 21:45 Villarreal

Monday 20th November

Eibar 22:00 Real Betis

The German Bundesliga makes a return following a one-week FIFA international break. Nine matches have been lined up for this weekend and will be played from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19.

Below are all fixtures (All times are in EAT)

Friday 17th November
VfB Stuttgart 21:30 Borussia Dortmund

Saturday 18th November

Mainz 05 16:30 1. FC Köln

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 16:30 RB Leipzig

Bayern Munich 16:30 FC Augsburg

1899 Hoffenheim 16:30 Eintracht Frankfurt

VfL Wolfsburg 16:30 SC Freiburg

Hertha Berlin 19:30 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Sunday 19th November

FC Schalke 04 16:30 Hamburg SV

Werder Bremen 19:00 Hannover 96

A 30-man training squad for Namibia has been named to start preparations immediately in readiness for the upcoming 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships set to be held in Zambia from December 6-16.

The Young Brave Warriors have been selected from clubs across the country and beyond, with South Africa-based forward Leonard Tuhafeni, who plays for University of Pretoria, also called to the team.

Namibia have been drawn in Group C at the regional showpiece tournament along with Angola, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. Only the top team in each pool advances to the semifinals, along with the best runner-up.

Namibia begin their campaign with a fixture against the Angolans on December 6 at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe.
Namibia have a solid history in the competition and were in many ways the surprise-package of the 2010 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, making it all the way to the final before losing out to Zambia.

Namibia training squad:

Goalkeepers: Calvin Spiegel (Chief Santos) Josef Philipus (Otjiwarongo FC) and Vipua Tjimune (African Stars).

Defenders: Lubeni Haukongo and Aprocius Petrus (Eleven Arrows), Stanley Ndjavera (Tura Magic), Eric Naobeb (Eastern Chiefs), Ronny Hangala (Oshikoto region), Romario Hawiseb (Unam), Paul Kotjipati (Otjozondjupa), Migeri Hubert (Life Fighters), Peter Nampolo (Khomas), Johannes Hollambach (Chief Santos).

Midfielders: Venovineja Tjikundi and George Hummel (Unam), Anthony Kham, Marciano January and Rivaldo Festus (Eleven Arrows), Augustinus Hobexab (Eastern Chiefs), Jimmy Ulrich (Khomas), Ronaldo Zaahl (Kaizen Football Academy).

Forwards: Godwin Awaseb, Eldery Morgan and Enzo Mungendje (Tura Magic), Leonard Tuhafeni (University of Pretoria), Daniel Kamanya (Omusati) and Isaskar Gurirab (Eleven Arrows).

Malawi coach Ronny Van Geneugden has named a total of 28 players as part an extended training squad that will hit training in preparation for the upcoming 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships to be held in Zambia from December 6 to December 16.

Malawi have been drawn in Group A at this year’s regional showpiece competition along with hosts Zambia, Swaziland and East African guest nation Uganda.

They will play the opening game of the competition against the Swazis on December 6 at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe. Malawi finished a credible fourth in the COSAFA Under-20 Championships tournament in Botswana in 2011 having not played in the previous two installments of the competition, and then did not appear again in 2013.


Malawi training squad:

Goalkeepers: Charles Thom (Dwangwa United FC), Christopher Mikuwa (Blantyre United FC), Hastings Banda (Fish Eagles FC), Patrick Njolomole (Silver Strikers FC)
Defenders: Nixon Nyasulu (NMC Big Bullets Reserve FC), Kondwani Mwaila (Silver Strikers FC), Ben Manyozo (Dwangwa United FC), Haji Wali (Silver Strikers FC), Timothy Silwimba (Mzuni FC), Precious Sambani (Be Forward Wanderers FC), Kelvin Kadzinje (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Sydney Chambulika (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Charles Petro (Premier Bet Wizards FC)

Midfielders and Strikers: Gregory Machipo (Blue Eagles FC), Chimwemwe Idana (NMC Big Bullets Reserve FC), Mike Mkwate (NMC Big Bullets FC), Frank Mulimanjara (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Misheck Botomani (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Patrick Phiri (Premier Bet Wizards FC), Peter Banda (Griffin Young Stars FC), Francisco Madinga (Be Forward Wanderers), Levison Maganizo (Silver Strikers FC), Abel Mwakilama (Chitipa United FC), Ronald Pangani (Silver Strikers FC), Maxwell Daud (Griffin Young Stars FC), Aziel Johnson (St Benedicts, USA), Ernest Petro (NMC Big Bullets), Clement Bindula (Masters Security Services Reserve)

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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? 

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.

 

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

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

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

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor has described joining Crystal Palace as the “worst decision” of his career.

The 33-year-old Togolese striker is currently playing for Turkish side ?stanbul Ba?ak?ehir after being released by the Eagles in the summer of 2016.

Adebayor signed a six-month deal with Palace at the beginning of 2016 – a decision he says he would reverse if given the opportunity.

“I had some great experiences in England in clubs who are among the best in the country,” he told L’Équipe, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

“I was happy there, my family too. The only error that I made was to sign for Crystal Palace in January 2016.

“I did it just to please my entourage, who were saying to me: ‘Manu, you have to start playing again!’ It was the worst decision of my career.”

He would played 15 senior matches for Palace under then boss Alan Pardew scoring once in a losing effort to Watford.

It turned out to be his worst return for a single club since turning professional nearly 20 years ago with hometown side AC Merlan Lome.

Prior to relocating to Selhurst Park, the enigmatic centre-forward had already plied his trade with three different English clubs, most notably Arsenal from whom he joined Manchester City before returning to North London with Tottenham Hotspur.

In his first season with Ba?ak?ehir, the former Monaco man, has managed to register six goals across 11 league appearances including a hat-trick against Galatasaray.

 

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."

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