I Gave My Best,I Have No Regrets: The Story Of Antony Kimani

 Photo: Michezoafrika.com

Leader. Inspirational. Eloquent. Those are just some of the few adjectives that describe Antony Kimani. One of the finest talents to come through the Mathare United ranks, Kimani has seen it all. His experience both at national level has earned him lots of admirers. His meteoric rise was halted by an injury and this forced him into the business world and TV punditry. After several years both in business and on the screens, Kenyanstar caught up with the well-spoken retired defender to speak about his journey.

Kenyanstar: Tell us about your football journey

Antony Kimani: I started playing a while ago at about 8 years in Korogocho, where I grew up. We formed a small team and started playing in the MYSA U-12 Zonal league in Baba Dodo. It was quite a distance but because of our passion, we would go all the way. That is where my relationship with the game and MYSA started. We slowly grew through the ranks. I was at mathare United where I won the title, and would later join AFC Leopards which was my last club. I suffered an injury in my final match and it was quite serious. When I suffered an injury, and was laid off for sometime, I did some soul- searching and asked myself a lot of questions. I settled on one thing; I have probably done my bit for the clubs I have played for and the national team and I don't feel I will come back as strong as I was. I had set my standards and I felt I wouldn't come back as strong as I was before. It was however, encouraging that after recovery, Leopards were willing to offer me two more years. That meant a lot to me. It was a good gesture not just for me, but for Kenyan football. Looking back, i would say I had a successful career. Although I never won as many titles as I would have wished, but football is about experience, friendship and making you a better person and I think I got all that.

KS: You were a skipper at 21, and lifted the KPL title. Probably one of the youngest captains then. How was this?

AK: Well, I think it's because of a couple of factors. You cannot become a skipper because of one factor alone. It was a great honour to captain one of the best sides in kenya, and at that time there were many good and experienced players. For me, that mantle with those kind of players means a lot and I had to work very hard and prove that I deserved it. I think I gave my best. As captain in my first year, we won the KPL and I also got an award for the most disciplined player. It was one of my career highlights.

KS: You became a leader very early on, and continued to become  a leader through your career? Are leaders born or made?

AK: It’s hard to put a finger to it. I think it’s hard to tell. Again I can say that a lot of who become in life depends on nature and nurture. It’s a little of both; You could be nurtured or the environment around you made you become one.

KS: How important was Mathare United to you in your career development?

AK: It was very important and it was more than just football. It was a family and the entire community. Bob Munro was a father figure and did encourage and challenge us about life beyond football. He would bring people to talk to us and encourage us. The organisation also had lots of programs like Community service and HIV awareness programs. For you to get your salary at the end of the month you were supposed to have completed 60 hours of community service. So all these helped to grow us into all-round individuals. It was a great experience, and it was more than just football.

KS: You once said in September 2010 that Edgar Ochieng’ is your role model and the best defender you have see locally. Do you still hold the same thought?

AK: Yes. I have never played with a defender of his calibre. He was everything in one package- Strong, Tall, calm under pressure.. I still maintain that. He is still one of the best I have played with.

KS: In 2010, you said, “KPL has done a tremendous job and with the SuperSport deal it's exciting to see how football has grown by big margins.

However I think the coaches and technical benches should go for refresher courses to be tactically aware as the players should also put more effort in the game. The officiating should also improve as other departments improve to make it equilibrium…”  

KS: So two questions; first, With the exit of Supersport, how much does the game suffer? Secondly, I interviewed two coaches recently- Hall and Ze Maria and they said that the football courses in Kenya teach our players one-directional football and there is little development really because everyone is playing the same football. You have been part of these courses. Do you agree with Hall and Ze Maria’s comments?

AK: I think Supersport’s exit was a big blow to the game, current players and upcoming players. Supersport gave us a platform for talented players to show the world what they are made of. That opened lots of opportunities for most of our players. The exit denies the current players that window of exposure to showcase their talent. It  was big blow, but I hope somebody else can come and give Kenyan players that window. They deserve they best.

On the second question; I differ with what the coaches said. As I said earlier, I was in a coaching course months ago and we were taught lots of systems. Its down to the coach to decide what system they want to play, and it’s also down to the type of players you have. A few teams are playing 4-4-2 in Kenya, but not all. Going back to what i said then, coaches have done a great job. They have sought more knowledge and I think we are headed to the right direction.Credit goes to the current federation as they are doing a lot of courses and training for free. As you know, knowledge is expensive and it’s a big thing for the federation to give this for free. 

KS: You suffered a very serious injury at some point in your career. Take us through this moment in your career and what does it take to come back from an injury as serious as the one you suffered?

AK: A lot of the recovery depends on the support you get from friends, family and the club. Healing is not about the physical bit, but the mental bit which is really key. If mentally you still feel weak that tends to affect the physical injury as well. Most times, the injury is totally healed but you don't believe that you can go back to the pitch and do it. Further, the quality of treatment is key.

KS: Discipline - Why do you think it’s a major issue in our game to date. Who is to blame?

AK: No One is to blame. You are the one who is on that journey. Discipline is key, not only in football, but also in other careers. Looking at the Kenyan setup, it has a lot to do with who you surround yourself with. I have seen good players join clubs, but they end up joining the wrong group of people, and here I mean basically tagging along people who don't share the same dreams as you.You might be in the same club with them, but they don't share a similar vision as you. You all might be in the same club, but for them, that is their dream club, whereas you probably had dreams to play at a bigger club. So if you don't associate yourself with people of the same vision as you, you get swayed and consumed. In football, once you can't hold your foot on the ground, you are gone. Another thing again that affects our players is they tend to get into comfort zones easily…’I was on tv...on newspapers..’ and with that most players think they are on top of the world. However, nothing is further from the truth. Once you get to the top of one hill, there is another hill to climb. 

KS: Tactically, what does it take to be a good defender?

AK: Concentration. Your consecration has to be a notch higher than the strikers than everyone else on the pitch. It's a sensitive position and a second of blinking you get punished, Second, simplicity. You have to play it simple. You are playing a few yards from your goal. A little of too much anything, the ball ends up in your own net.

KS:Footballers have often been criticized locally for failing to give education much attention. How important is it for a footballer to spend time with the books, or do the fans/media demand too much of them?

AK: I think it's a justified call. We all as human beings need that guy who is watching over you, and always ready to criticize you and encourage you. We all need that constant reminder, and so most of us concentrate a little too much on the pitch not knowing it's a short career. It's even shorter when you pick an injury. At the end of the day, what happens when the career ends? Footballers should try find a balance in academics as on the pitch.

KS: There is always talk over the years, that best footballers are from some part of the country. Do you feel some of this discussions have some truth and what's your take?

AK: Everyone has an opinion. Depending on where you sit, you could have a different opinion. However, all it takes is hard work and how much you are willing to work. Not about where you are from and how hard you work.

KS: Business - You started off with a movie shop, then computer accessories then tyres and spares. Tell us about your business so far and why it's been a success story.

AK: It's key to do your homework before venturing into an business; read, talk to people and get a mentor who is in that industry. Even after that, you still will face lots of challenges and learn a lot on the way. Always have an open mind, be prepared for any eventuality and most of all try engage in an industry where your passion is. I am passionate about cars, so it was easy for me. 

KS: TV punditry - What pushed you into TV and how is the journey to date?

AK: It wasn't planned at all. I must thank Carol Radull so much. She believed in me, and gave me the first opportunity to try out., She always encouraged me and always told me that it takes a long time before you get there. I am not there yet, but still learning. I am enjoying it, and it looks like I am playing football. I Have to study opponents, and put myself in the footballer's situation before I critique.

KS: What’s your take on the local game currently? Both the league and the national team? 

AK: I think we are getting better as country. With the national team, we are headed in the right direction. The current federation is doing a lot in terms of friendlies and preparation. Right now, we are playing several good sides and that's the only way we can get better. If we don't give our players such exposure as in the friendlies, we will really lag behind. Also, the fact that we have stayed with one coach for quite a long time, it is  a good thing. That was a major undoing for us; We would change coaches very often and things keep changing while other countries are moving forward.

KS: Do you feel you quit left a little too early? Does it pain you that you didn't achieve your maximum potential?

AK: Not at all. Looking back, the only thing I feel I didn't do, and would have loved to do was play for a club outside this country. I wanted to play in one of the best leagues and challenge myself and see what impact I would have had. I played as much as I could and for the span I could.No regrets.

KS: Are we going to see you on the touchline soon?

AK: Yes, but I am not sure at what time. In the near future, I will be there shouting instructions and imparting knowledge to young guys like someone else did to me

KS: As a player and captain, what would you want to be remembered for the most?

AK: That I was a player who gave my all for club and country. That I tried to do my best. I hope I was a joy to watch, and that I didn't disappoint and proved wrong those who didn't believe in me. It was a roller-coaster. The lowest moment was when I was captain of Harambee Stars in Uganda and scored an own goal and the highest was in 2008 when I won the KPL title. However, i gave my best. 

KS: Thanks Antony. All the best ahead.
 

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…

SoNy Sugar have witnessed one returnee as they released their matchday squad to take on leaders Gor Mahia on Saturday November 18 at the Moi Stadium, Kisumu.

Tanzanian international Abdalla Hamisi makes the cut into the starting eleven after coming back from international duty and will partner with Benjamin Mosha and Amos Asembeka just behind George Abege, who is tasked with leading the tem upfront.

Starting XI

Kevin Omondi, Bernard Omondi, Dennis Junior, Alfred Onyango, Kevin Oluoch, Abdalla Hamisi, Benjamin Mosha, David Simiyu, George Abege, Amos Asembeka, Justin Monda

Subs

Kevin Otieno, Joseph Omweri, Samuel Olare, Nick Akoko, Tobias Otieno, Marwa Chamberi, Yema Mwana.

Match Officials

Referee: Davies Omweno

Assistant Referee 1: Caroline Kiles

Assistant Referee 2: Peter Sabatia

Fourth official: Isaac Memusi

Match commissioner: Edward Lumbugu

 

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)

Hosts and holders Zambia will have to contend with a tricky first round group at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships after the draw for the pool stage was conducted in Johannesburg on Thursday November 9, 2017

African champions Zambia will take on Swaziland, East African guest nation Uganda and Malawi, with just the top team assured of a place in the semifinals.

The Young Chipolopolo will meet the Ugandans in their tournament opener at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe on December 6.

The regional showpiece competition will get under way earlier in the day when Swaziland take on Malawi.

The Group of Death in this year’s tournament appears to be Group B as last year’s runners-up South Africa must contend with North African guests Egypt, Mozambique and Mauritius.

Group C will also be a tough one to call with Angola, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe vying for top spot.

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

Matches will be played at the Arthur Davies and Nkana stadiums in Kitwe. Angola will also be in action on the opening day against Namibia.

The group stage will be completed on December 12, followed by a rest day, with the semifinals to be staged at the Arthur Davies Stadium on December 14.

The third-place play-off and the final will move to the Levy Mwanawasa in Ndola on December 16.


 2017 COSAFA UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIPS DRAW

Group A
 Zambia
 Swaziland
 Uganda
 Malawi

Group B
 South Africa
 Egypt
 Mozambique
 Mauritius

Group C
 Angola
 Lesotho
 Namibia
 Zimbabwe

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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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