NBA Mock Draft 2017

1.   76ers via trade with Celtics

Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

Is Fultz "can't-miss"? He's as close as there is to can't-miss as there is in this draft, which is loaded with great talents but devoid of a Karl-Anthony Towns-like, Kyrie Irving-like, LeBron James-like transcendent and surefire superstar. It remains to be seen how Fultz and Ben Simmons, both players who flourish with the ball in their hands, will mesh together on the basketball court. But whatever. The Sixers are going with the player with the highest ceiling, and building a team that could be a juggernaut in the future. Fultz does it all: He's got phenomenal size for an NBA guard, a diverse set of offensive weapons and elite athleticism. Yes, I wonder about his decision to play his one-and-done season at a floundering collegiate program like Washington, and winning only nine games there. But the talent? Yeah, it's undeniable.

2.  Lakers

De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

Oh, what the hell. The Lakers have been sending out signals (or perhaps just misinformation) that Lonzo Ball isn't as done of a deal as it has been portrayed. Do I think the Lakers will pass on Ball? In the end, probably not. In the end, that's probably the pick. Do I think they could? Absolutely. And if they do, Fox is a fun, fast, Showtime-type player (and personality) who could play well into the Lakers' post-Kobe rebuild. The shooting stroke is a concern for Fox; he shot 24.6 percent from three at Kentucky. But (small sample size alert!) he did shoot 47.4 percent in his final 10 games. If he were more reliable of a shooter, everyone would be talking about him as a possible No. 1 pick in this draft, as he's got the size, length, athleticism and speed to become a John Wall-like player in the NBA. "Speed kills," one NBA scout told me about Fox - and you can't teach speed. It remains to be seen whether you can teach consistent shooting.

3.  Celtics via trade with 76ers

Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas

There's been lots of talk lately of Jackson as a possible No. 1 pick. I never bought it, but I always saw where it was coming from, because the Jackson is a gritty Brad Stevens type of two-way player in a way that Fultz never seemed to be. I love this kid's potential. Jackson is a phenomenal athlete with a ridiculous motor. He gets after it on both ends of the floor. His ceiling will depend on whether he can develop into a dynamic small-ball four in the NBA. I think he will. One word of caution: The incident at Kansas in December, where Jackson allegedly vandalized a car and threatened to beat up a women's basketball player, made at least one coach tell me he'd be wary. I'm surprised a bigger deal hasn't been made of this in the lead-up to this draft. Clearly, any worries Danny Ainge may have had about Jackson's legal troubles have been quelled.

4.  Suns

Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

The Suns win the lottery's lottery ticket as, somehow, Lonzo Ball falls to them. Ball falling to fourth is a dream scenario for the Suns. He may not be the scorer that Fultz is, or the athlete that Fox is, but as his dad loooooves to say, the kid is simply a winner. Yes, this is bad news for Eric Bledsoe. He has two years left on his contract, so perhaps this marks the beginning of the end. Or perhaps it's not that at all, and Ball and Bledsoe can play together. Man, what a fun starting five that could be on offense: Ball, Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss and Tyson Chandler now, Dragan Bender later. And by the way: I don't buy all the concern about LaVar Ball. Sure, he's loud and obnoxious, but he's raising a great, talented, grounded son.

5.  Kings

Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

This is the easiest pick in the entire draft. Conventional wisdom has the very top tier of this draft ending at the fifth pick. (I would argue that Florida State's Jonathan Isaac could belong in this tier as well, because his potential is sky-high, and possibly Lauri Markannen as well.) All the Kings have to do is take whichever player falls to them. I worry about a player of Tatum's abilities going to a franchise that has struggled like the Kings, but this team does have some intriguing young pieces in Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis. Tatum may be the best natural scorer in this draft, someone who can score effectively from all three levels. He does all the little things - the footwork and the hard work - that can turn a big talent into a star. And I love the mature head on this young man's shoulders. The floor is very high for a player like Tatum.

6.  Magic

Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

Hey! I got a nickname for Markannen! Let's call him "The Whooper Swan." Because that's Finland's national bird, and Markannen is kind of like a Finnish (Larry) Bird (this, by the way, is why I don't work in marketing). Anyway: I think Markannen could be a near-star in this league, a Dirk Nowitzki Lite. He's one of the top 3-point-shooting 7-footers in college basketball history, and was one of the most efficient scorers in all of college basketball last season. The Magic need everything. Markannen is the type of unique package you can't pass up on. He's versatile on offense, mobile on defense and has great instincts.

7.  Timberwolves

Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State

A home-run swing for a team that's one young star away from making some serious noise in the Western Conference. I loooove Isaac's potential. Think it's the highest ceiling in this draft, in fact. He's 6-11 and, according to his college coach, still may be growing. A late growth spurt meant that he grew up playing guard positions before he shot up in height, a la Anthony Davis. Coaches have raved about his unselfishness and work ethic. Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, a onetime NBA coach, told me Isaac has one of the best basketball IQs he has ever seen. And a near-seven-foot athlete who can shoot, pass and blocks shots is a huge asset in today's NBA. While his offensive game is far from complete and he needs to pack muscle onto his thin frame, Isaac is a helluva shooter for a big man, making 34.8 percent of his 3s and shooting 78 percent from the free-throw line. "He has the versatility to be whatever a coach wants him to be," Hamilton told me. If this pick hits, the Timberwolves will be contending in the West in a few years. And I think it'll hit.

8.  Knicks

Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

The most electric player in this draft playing at Madison Square Garden? Gimme that. Monk is a superb athlete and a fantastic (if streaky) shooter. Monk can light it up from deep like no other player in this draft. I can't wait for him to go on one of his signature three-minute tears at MSG, where he's the only guy who matters on the court. In practices you can see how his work ethic ends up paying off in games. Yes, he's incredibly streaky, and yes, his size -- 6-3 -- is more the size of a point guard than an NBA two. But Monk is an exciting young player who, paired with Kristaps Porzingis, breathes more life into a struggling franchise. 

9.  Mavericks

Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

A high-IQ basketball player with remarkable perimeter defensive skills and great game management talents -- and I don't mean that as faint praise. Ntilikina's physical profile -- 6-5 with long arms -- is impressive for a point guard. In time, he'll learn to be more aggressive, which is something he needs to do.

 

10.  Kings

Dennis Smith, PG, NC State

The Kings, once again, have an easy decision: Take whoever falls to you. The Kings' fifth pick may be the end of the elite tier, and the 10th pick is the end of that next tier, I believe. We'll see if they end up shopping these two picks to move up, as has been rumored, but that makes no sense to me (unless they're swinging some deal to get Fultz, which is highly unlikely). Smith is a bit small but an absolute stick of athletic dynamite on the court. His inconsistency might make teams worried. In January, he scored 32 points in a stunning upset at Duke, but in his last collegiate game he had seven points and four turnovers.

11.  Hornets

Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

I have long had an unabashed love of Kennard's game (every mock needs to have a hipster element: "I thought this was cool before everyone else thought this was cool"). As a shooter Kennard was one of the best in college basketball last season, but to pigeon hole him as only a shooter is a mistake. Kennard is an all-around scorer who leverages the respect teams give his outside shot to score effectively from all three levels. He's a surprisingly good ball-handler who, when he doesn't have the ball, knows how to move well off it. Will he be able to defend at the next level? I don't know. I mean, he's not going to lock down Russell Westbrook, but who can? I believe that Kennard will be competent as a team defender and more than make up for it on the offensive end as a J.J. Redick-like presence. He might be the steal of the draft.

 

12.  Pistons

Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

Mitchell is an absurd athlete with terrific measurements, as evidenced by his showing at the NBA combine. His wingspan is 8.75 inches longer than his height (which at just shy of 6-2 is subpar for an NBA shooting guard). He is speedy and an incredible leaper, and he was Rick Pitino's most-trusted player last season at Louisville. With improved 3-point shooting his sophomore year (35.4 percent), Mitchell can score from anywhere he wants. Yes, there's the hero-ball element to Mitchell that NBA coaches will have to pound out of him. But the dude is a high-motor both-ends-of-the-floor type of guy.

13.  Nuggets

Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

Long and lanky with a high IQ and a variety of offensive tools, Jackson came back for a junior season determined to improve the parts of his game NBA scouts told him were lacking. And he did. He improved his 3-point shooting to a respectable 37 percent, which was key in showing NBA teams he can play the three in the league. A star? No. A reliable NBA starter if he can add strength to his lanky frame? Absolutely. Jackson took a while a while to develop into a star at the college level -- he was a higher-ranked recruit than future one-and-doners Karl-Anthony Towns, Justise Winslow and UNLINK' data-slug="" data-subtype="">D'Angelo Russell -- but by his junior season, that's exactly what he was, the most talented player on a title-winning UNC team. 

14. Heat

Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

Christmas in June for Pat Riley's team, as Collins falls to 14. The young big man is just solid, solid, solid. We got to see Zach Collins' best college game on the biggest of stages when he dropped 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks on South Carolina in the Final Four. While he'll never be called spectacular, there are few holes in Collins' game. He combines size and mobility, touch and strength. If Collins can stretch his range and become a consistent NBA 3-point shooter, he could be a very impactful player. Not a star, but you'll have a great chance at getting a very solid all-around two-way big man, and that's a valuable thing. 

15.  Trail Blazers

Harry Giles, PF, Duke

A surprise pick here. With three first-round picks the Trail Blazers can afford to take a home-run swing on the biggest risk-reward pick since Joel Embiid. And I don't believe Giles will last until 20, when the Trail Blazers have their next selection. Leading into Giles' senior year of high school, he was one of the top three or so talents in this stacked draft -- then he tore an ACL for the second time. Giles is a gifted athlete who talent evaluators would mention in the same breath as Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett. If you watched Giles last season, you barely caught glimpses of that as he recovered from two knee injuries over the past calendar year. But he was once that good. The risk here is huge; so is the reward. He could become an All-Star, or he could never see a minute of NBA playing time.

16.  Bulls

OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

Also a risky pick, as Anunoby's injury during his senior year might keep him off the floor during his rookie season. But if his health improves he could be the Draymond Green of this draft. Yes, he is a bit of a tweener, but that's not nearly as much a negative in the NBA as it was even five years ago. He can guard multiple positions. He's a great athlete. He plays bigger than his height (6-7 with a 7-2 1/2 wingspan). His offensive skills are very much a work in progress. But there aren't any sure things at this point of the draft anyway.

17.  Bucks

Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

The size is there. The potential is there. I worry about the shooting (56 percent from the free-throw line in college) and the lack of offensive tools. But a college coach who recruited Allen raved to me about his focus and work ethic. He's not the type of kid who will get in trouble, instead just staying in the gym and working on his game. At the very least he can be an intimidating, explosive low-post presence. That's a pretty nice floor.

18.  Pacers

John Collins, PF, Wake Forest

Guess who had the highest player efficiency rating in college basketball last season? It was Collins, who was incredibly efficient around the rim. Collins made 62 percent of his shots, and he was one of the best rebounders in college hoops, especially on the offensive glass. And he's incredible at getting fouled, drawing more fouls per 40 minutes than any projected draftee. He's not effective away from the basket, but remember: Collins made a huge jump from his freshman to his sophomore season under coach Danny Manning. He's a coachable player motivated to improve his game. Can he play alongside Myles Turner? I believe so.

 

19.  Hawks

Ike Anigbogu, PF, UCLA

Anigbogu is a project, especially on offense. He's an 18-year-old freshman who plays with energy -- a tall, strong and athletic big man with long arms and loads of potential. He has a long way to go to develop his offensive game, but being so young and such a remarkable raw talent means Anigbogu still has lots of room to grow, both physically and as a player. He has an ideal frame, athleticism and energy for a high-level shot-blocking, rebounding, dunking NBA center.

20.  Trail Blazers

TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA

A tall, white power forward from UCLA who can rebound and make 3s? Wait, I think I've heard this one before. No, Leaf isn't Kevin Love 2.0, but the comparison has some merit. Leaf is the type of guy who will fit on any NBA team, as that 46.8 percent 3-point shooting clip in college would suggest. A safe pick for the Blazers after the risky Giles pick at 15.

21.  Thunder

Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia

Russell Westbrook needs another shooter next to him, and Ferguson has the prettiest shooting stroke in this draft, with length and elite-level athleticism to boot. Ferguson has the tools to become a special wing in the NBA. One scout told me his season playing in Australia against grown men would be a better transition to the NBA for Ferguson than a year in college would have been. If he can become a more dynamic half-court player, Ferguson could be an absolute steal at this point. If not, he could still be a useful 3-and-D wing.

22.  Nets

Justin Patton, C, Creighton

The worst franchise in the NBA doesn't have a pick until No. 22. Rough spot, and the penance for trading away all your draft picks to try and do the win-now thing with aging players. It's a tough place to draft, because at 22 we're long since past sure things and are starting to run out of the risky home-run type of guys. Patton, I believe, is the last home run possibility left (assuming he lasts this late). He is a great athlete for a 7-footer. Though he certainly needs to add some muscle to his thin frame, Patton's offensive versatility and efficiency (he was one of the most efficient shooters in college basketball last season) and shot-blocking skills make me believe there's a high ceiling here. The Nets will have to be patient with him. But it's not like they'll be playing for anything over the next few years anyway. 

23.  Raptors

Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso 

Peters was one of college basketball's top shooters last season, with a remarkable 60.4 percent true shooting percentage. As the best player in the Horizon League last season, teams ganged up on Peters, so ignore his 36.3 percent from 3-point land and look at his previous two seasons, where he shot 46.6 and 44 percent from three respectively. Is he going to be a star? No. He's far from the "elite NBA athlete" level. But shooting like he does -- and being able to score from all over the court -- means he'll be able to be a productive player in this league for a long time.

24.  Jazz

Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue

Not only is he the most heart-warming story of this draft but "Biggie" also is the most NBA-ready player available late in the first round. He's simply going to outwork everybody on the floor. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around. And he knows his role in the NBA. He told me there will always be a place for a rebounder in the NBA. That's where he's going to butter his bread, and he knows it. The questions about his body, size and athleticism are overwrought. He's a winner, pure and simple. Fans should want this inspiring and inspired young man on their squad.

25.  Magic

Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Lithuania

A lefty 7-footer, Hartenstein is big and agile, physical on the boards and a guy who gets after it on both ends. It remains to be seen whether he can become an asset on the offensive end aside from crashing the glass and getting putbacks.

26.  Trail Blazers

Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

Is he a tight end or a basketball player? Well, if the NBA doesn't work out, the NFL is only a phone call away. Adebayo was one of the most physically imposing players in college basketball last season, and at a cut 6-10 and 250 pounds, he'll be able to come into the league immediately and bang with 10-year veterans down low. He's no creative offensive force, but Adebayo can make a difference on both ends of the court based on sheer size, athleticism and motor. He could easily go eight to 10 spots higher than this.

27.  Nets

Kyle Kuzma, SF, Utah 

A solid stretch four type, Kuzma is a rare high-ceiling guy who will be available late in the first round. And that's what the Nets need instead of pieces that fit their needs, because this franchise needs just about everything. Kuzma is an excellent, versatile athlete who doesn't have many glaring holes in his game. His solid offensive performance at the NBA combine opened a lot of eyes about his potential.

28.  Lakers

Tony Bradley, PF, North Carolina 

Bradley is a huge -- 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan, weighing in at 250 pounds -- and physical big man who doesn't shy away from contact. He may need some time in the D-League -- er, the G-League -- before he can make an impact at the NBA level. But if he develops a more refined offensive game, this could turn into a solid pick.

29.  Spurs

Josh Hart, SG, Villanova 

Hart could be the Malcolm Brogdon of this draft, a player who came into college underrecruited, got better and better each of his four collegiate years under a great coach, is full of intangibles, and simply is a winner. If that doesn't sound like a prototypical San Antonio Spur, I don't know what does. He's a high-IQ, hard-working consistent player who can play multiple positions. He can shoot, he can rebound, he can defend. If Hart slips into the second round, he'll be an absolute steal there. He can help a team immediately.

30.  Jazz

Frank Jackson, SG, Duke 

Jackson could add an exciting scoring threat to one of the NBA's most plodding (though efficient) offensive teams. Yes, he's a tweener, and there's plenty of uncertainty around whether he'll fit as a point guard or shooting guard at the next level. But he's a natural scorer, an excellent 3-point shooter and a guy who can flat-out get to the rim.

 

Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya has unleashed a strong starting lineup that will take on AFC Leopards in the finals of the Gotv Shield tournament on Friday October 20 at the Moi Internationals Sports Centre,Kasarani.

In goal will be keeper Jeff Oyemba who will do with the defensive partnership of Kamau, Geoffrey Shiveka, Pascal Ongweno, and Michael Bodo. Patilah Omoto, Ellie Asieche and Sven Yidah will pair at the center, with Michael Odongo deployed just behind the attacking duo of Masoud Juma and Duke Abuya.

The match kicks off at 15:00.

Starting XI: Jeff Oyemba, Paul Kamau, Geofrey Shiveka, Pascal Ogweno, Michael Bodo,Patillah Omoto, Sven Yidah,Ellie Asieche Michael Odongo, Masoud Juma, Duke Abuya,

Subs: Robert Mboya, Francis Manoah, Christopher Kimathi, Ebrimma Sanneh, Calvin Odongo,Ovella Ochieng

 

Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has predicted that he will knock out his opponent Carlos Takam in their fight in 8 days from now on October 28 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

The Everton fan who appeared to try and strike a Lyon player could land his club a Uefa sanction, while Ashley Williams may face punishment too following the ugly scenes in Thursday’s Europa League tie.

Williams instigated a fracas in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End midway through the second half at Goodison Park when he barged into Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

A melee involving players from both sides ensued and moved to the advertising hoardings, where one Toffees fan, who was holding a child with one arm, pushed Lopes in the head before hitting out at him again.

While that was occurring, Williams seemed to raise his hand to Lucas Tousart’s face, yet the only initial outcome of the skirmish was a booking for Everton’s captain-for-the-night and Lyon’s match-winner Bertrand Traore.

Speaking after the Toffees’ 2-1 loss, Williams told BT Sport 2 of the scuffle: “It’s what happens, it’s football. It is what it is.

“It’s high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times.”

Yet retrospective action could be forthcoming from Uefa, for both Williams and the club, a possibility ex-Premier League referee Graham Poll deems likely.

“Ashley Williams and Everton will surely face further sanction from Uefa once video evidence is studied,” he said in the Daily Mail.

“Williams totally lost the plot.

“There were numerous players from both teams involved in the melee behind the Lyon goal and even a fan from the Everton section at the Gwladys Street End became involved — first pushing then appearing to aim a punch at a Lyon player.

“The fact that a couple of Everton backroom staff had to enter the field to calm Williams down showed how out of control the captain was and, while their intervention helped, they should not enter the field of play.

“The Uefa delegate and referee’s observer will have met with the official after the game and discussed their findings before submitting individual reports. Unless the referee ill-advisedly says he saw everything, sanctions really must follow.”

It was the referee, Bas Nijhuis, who under-fire Toffees manager Ronald Koeman blamed for his players losing their cool during a defeat which leaves them facing Europa League elimination having taken just one point from three games.

“I think the irritation grows in the game for our players and in my opinion that was the problem by the referee,” Koeman argued.

“The referee was Dutch but he didn’t do anything against the theatre of some of the Lyon players. (Nabil) Fekir in the first half dived 10 times.

“I understand with my players, that comes out of frustration.”

It compounded another miserable night for Everton and Koeman, who is under mounting pressure with his team having won just two of their previous dozen fixtures.

“I think the performance was under the level in the first half — a lot of mistakes, a lot of doubts, players without any confidence,” he said.

 

Amos Asembeka and Yema Mwana have been named among substitutes as SoNy Sugar released their lineup to take on Vihiga United in the Gotv Shield third place playoff match on Friday October 20 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Bernard Omondi, Joseph Omweri, Alfred Onyango and Justin Omari will make up the back four with keeper Kevin Otieno just behind them in goal. Running midfield duties will be Benjamin Mosha and Victor Ademba while the trio of eorge Abege, David Simiyu and Justin Monda lead the team upfront in search of goals

Starting XI:  Kevin Otieno, Bernard Omondi, Joseph Omweri, Alfred Onyango, Justin Omari, Kevin Oluoch, Benjamin Mosha, Victor Ademba, George Abege, David Simiyu, Justin Monda

Subs: Kevin Omondi, Dennis Junior, Fredrick Onyango, Amos Asembeka, Tobias Otieno, Marwa Chamberi, Yema mwana

 

Match officials who will oversee the finals and the third-place playoff matches of the Gotv Shield tournament on Friday October 20 have been named.

The first match will be the third-place playoff where National Super League (NSL) side Vihiga United will lock horns with SoNy Sugar from 12:00. For this game, referee Andrew Juma will take charge with assistance from Jane Cherono and Oliver Odhiambo.

The match will then be followed by the much anticipated finals clash between AFC Leopards and Kariobangi Sharks which is set to kick off at 15:00. Overseeing this match will be Peter Waweru, with Gilbert Cheruiyot and Samwel Kuria filling in as the first and second assistant referees respectively.

Match officials 

SoNy Sugar vs Vihiga United

 Center referee -Andrew Juma

 1st Assistant Referee-Jane Cherono

2nd Assistant Referee-Oliver Cherono 

Reserve Referee-Samwel Mwaura 

Match commisioner-Damaris Kimani

AFC Leopards vs Kariobangi Sharks

Centre Referee-Peter Waweru 

1st Assistant referee-Gilbert Cheruiyot 

2nd Assistant Referee-Samwel Kuria

 Reserve Referee-Anthony Ogwayo 

Match Commissioner-Peter Kiereini

 

Kenya men's hockey team captain Maxwell Fuchaka believes that AFC Leopards will overcome Kariobangi Sharks in a tightly contested match to lift the Gotv Shield tournament trophy on  Friday October 20.

 The match, scheduled to be played Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani from 15:00, will be third meeting between the two teams this season and Sharks hold the majority share with one win and a draw.

Fuchaka is himself an Ingwe diehard fan who also had interest in football and even sought to join the team by attending trials in 2010 at the Ikulu Grounds. 

``I'm a very big fan of AFC Leopards and I wish the m all the best. There was this time that I even went for their trials so that shows you my passion for the club,'' he said.

``Sharks are a good side but lightning does not strike the tree twice (Laughs). So this time round, all that matters is the trophy and I think the boys come out on Friday with that clearly on their minds. It's a final so it will be a different ballgame altogether.''

``My prediction is that the match will be very tough but Ingwe will surely win this,'' stated Fuchaka.

National duties

On Friday, Fuchaka will be leading the men's national hockey team to Egypt where they are set to participate in this year's Hockey African Cup for Nations. The tournament is scheduled to take place from 22nd to 29th October 2017, with winners of each event (men and women) qualifying for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

 

Muhoroni Youth have made known their matchday squad that will come up against Zoo Kericho in a league catch up match on Thursday October 19 at the Muhoroni Stadium.

The side, who are bottom of the table with 24 points, will be gunning for atleast a win that would take them to within one point of 17th placed Western Stima who are joint on points with Thika United at 28.

Gradus Ochieng starts as the goalkeeper and will do with the defensive quartet of Ogada, Jeconia Ogendo, Faina Jacobs and Robert Indimuli. Manning the midfield will be Collins Agade and Kennedy Rono while Bliss Kityo and Hassan Kiyoyo operate on either flanks. 

The first leg match between these two teams  ended in a 1-1 draw.

Starting XI: Gradus Ochieng, James Ogada, Jeconia Ogendo, Faina Jacobs, Robert Indimuli, Collins Agade, Kennedy Rono, Maxwell Onyango, Hassan Kiyoyo, Bliss Kityo, Ambrose Ayoyi.  

Subs: Said Juma, Jacob Ombija, Farouk Mudoola, Anthony Otuoma, Venval Thomas, John Mark ochieng.

 

Zoo Kericho head coach Sammy Okoth has made one change in starting lineup that will take on Muhoroni Youth on Thursday October 19 at the  Muhoroni Stadium from 15:00.

After serving a one match suspension, Isaac Kipyegon makes a return into the starting eleven and replaces Stanlaus Akiya. Meanwhile Vincent Miskhu remains in goal with the quartet of Dominic Ouma, Isaac Kipyegon,  Gilbet Kibet and Johnstone Ligare pairing up in defense.

Bernard Odhiambo, Michael Madoya and Nicholas Kipkirui will lead the team upfront in the hunt of goals while Dennis Kawanga, Geoffrey Gichana and Danson Namasaka pulll strings in midfield.

The first leg clash between the two team ended in a 1-1 draw.

Starting XI: 9. Vincent Misikhu, 39.Dominic Ouma, 12. Isaac Kipyegon, 27. Gilbet Kibet, 6.Johnstone Ligare,28. Dennis Kawanga, 5. Michael Madoya, 18.Geoffrey Gichana, 22. Nicholas Kipkirui, 16. Danson Chetambe, 10. Bernard Odhiambo

Substitutes: 1. Richard, Omboko, 31. Stanlaus Akiya, 13. Sabiri Sindani, 15. Kevin Oduor, 26. Kepha Ondati, 20. Dumonde Selenga, 35. Ernest Kipkoech

 

Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has predicted that he will knock out his opponent Carlos Takam in their fight in 8 days from now on October 28 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

The Everton fan who appeared to try and strike a Lyon player could land his club a Uefa sanction, while Ashley Williams may face punishment too following the ugly scenes in Thursday’s Europa League tie.

Williams instigated a fracas in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End midway through the second half at Goodison Park when he barged into Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

A melee involving players from both sides ensued and moved to the advertising hoardings, where one Toffees fan, who was holding a child with one arm, pushed Lopes in the head before hitting out at him again.

While that was occurring, Williams seemed to raise his hand to Lucas Tousart’s face, yet the only initial outcome of the skirmish was a booking for Everton’s captain-for-the-night and Lyon’s match-winner Bertrand Traore.

Speaking after the Toffees’ 2-1 loss, Williams told BT Sport 2 of the scuffle: “It’s what happens, it’s football. It is what it is.

“It’s high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times.”

Yet retrospective action could be forthcoming from Uefa, for both Williams and the club, a possibility ex-Premier League referee Graham Poll deems likely.

“Ashley Williams and Everton will surely face further sanction from Uefa once video evidence is studied,” he said in the Daily Mail.

“Williams totally lost the plot.

“There were numerous players from both teams involved in the melee behind the Lyon goal and even a fan from the Everton section at the Gwladys Street End became involved — first pushing then appearing to aim a punch at a Lyon player.

“The fact that a couple of Everton backroom staff had to enter the field to calm Williams down showed how out of control the captain was and, while their intervention helped, they should not enter the field of play.

“The Uefa delegate and referee’s observer will have met with the official after the game and discussed their findings before submitting individual reports. Unless the referee ill-advisedly says he saw everything, sanctions really must follow.”

It was the referee, Bas Nijhuis, who under-fire Toffees manager Ronald Koeman blamed for his players losing their cool during a defeat which leaves them facing Europa League elimination having taken just one point from three games.

“I think the irritation grows in the game for our players and in my opinion that was the problem by the referee,” Koeman argued.

“The referee was Dutch but he didn’t do anything against the theatre of some of the Lyon players. (Nabil) Fekir in the first half dived 10 times.

“I understand with my players, that comes out of frustration.”

It compounded another miserable night for Everton and Koeman, who is under mounting pressure with his team having won just two of their previous dozen fixtures.

“I think the performance was under the level in the first half — a lot of mistakes, a lot of doubts, players without any confidence,” he said.

 

The UEFA Champions League continues on Wednesday October 18 with a total of eight matches from four groups set to be played in venues across Europe.

Below is a list of all fixtures (All times are in EAT)

GROUP A

Benfica 21:45 Manchester United

CSKA Moscow 21:45 FC Basel

GROUP B

Bayern Munich 21:45 Celtic

RSC Anderlecht 21:45 Paris Saint Germain

GROUP C

FK Qarabag 21:00 Atlético Madrid

Chelsea 21:45 Roma

GROUP D

Barcelona 21:45 Olympiakos

Juventus 21:45 Sporting Lisbon

 

Hours after sacking manager Craig Shakespeare, Leicester City Vice Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha has sought to clarify on their decision to do so.

Shakespeare's sacking comes just four months  into a three-year contract that he had been given after following a successful spell in caretaker charge.

 “ Craig has been a great servant to Leicester City – during his spells as an Assistant Manager and since taking over as Manager in challenging circumstances in February,'' Srivaddhanaprabha was quoted by the Mirror.

“However, our early promise under Craig’s management has not been consistently evident in the months since and the Board feels that, regrettably, a change is necessary to keep the Club moving forward – consistent with the long-term expectations of our supporters, Board and owners.

“Craig is and will remain a very popular, respected figure at Leicester City and will be welcome back at King Power Stadium in future, both professionally and as a friend of the Club.”

Leicester are third from bottom, with six points from eight games, and Michael Appleton, Shakespeare’s assistant, has been asked to take charge of the team for Saturday’s game at Swansea

 

Manchester City attacker Kevin de Bruyne has come out to explain his argument on the pitch with teammate David Silva during their side's 2-1 win over Napoli.

As the two teams were heading towards the tunnel for the half-time break, De Bruyne attempted to speak with the fourth official before being pulled away by Fernandinho and Silva. The Belgium international then took it with Silva and was overheard angrily shouting ‘let me talk’ three times before he turned towards the tunnel in frustration.

 “We had a little discussion at the time, it happens,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong, after one minute then it’s over.

“I think at home I also get into some arguments with my wife, I think it’s normal.

“I think it’s necessary. But now everything is okay.

“It’s just what happens sometimes, you have a collision of words, there was nothing big about it.”

 

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has been talking about Harry Kane at his press conference on Monday.

The England forward has been linked with a big-money to the reigning Champions League winners and asked whether we would  see Kane at Real Madrid, the Frenchman replied: “I do not know what will happen in the future.

“He is a key player for Tottenham He is very good at everything, the best thing is that he always has the goal in his head.”

Zidane was speaking before Tuesday’s Champions League clash between the clubs. Spurs travel to the Bernabeu on Tuesday night with Kane looking to add to the 10 goals in 11 games he has plundered already this season.

Tottenham have always maintained that Kane is not for sale at any price, but Dario Gol last week claimed Madrid were prepared to offer a deal with €200m with as many as three Real players involved.

Karim Benzema and former Spurs stars Gareth Bale and Luka Modric were the players named who may be offered in exchange for Kane, but for now the England man remains focused on Tottenham.

Kane has shown no desire to leave Tottenham, but given he is yet to taste trophy success with the club, and given he’s at the top of Tottenham’s wages payment ceiling at £100,000 a week, the player may well be tempted if Real showed their colours.

Discussing whether he would ever play abroad, Kane recently said: “I would never say no or yes. You’d not rule out anything.

“It’s not something I definitely want to do, but you never rule anything out.

 

“I’m very happy here (at Tottenham), but we’ll see what happens.”

Germany booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 with a convincing 4-0 victory over Colombia in New Delhi on Monday. The win takes the European side into a last-eight match-up versus Brazil or Honduras in Kolkata on Sunday.

The Germans took the lead in fortuitous circumstances just seven minutes after the start. Colombia goalkeeper Kevin Mier was unable to collect a loose ball at the feet of Jann-Fiete Arp and the Germany captain took advantage by neatly finishing from a tight angle.

Though Colombia pressed forward, every German attack had more potency as the opening half wore on. John Yeboah had several chances to find the scoresheet, with his best opportunity cannoning off the crossbar on 34 minutes. The Europeans would not be denied, though, as Yann Bisseck rose to head home Sahverdi Cetin’s corner from the left to hand a two-goal lead to Germany at the break.

They then sealed their passage to the last eight with another two after the restart. Yeboah converted an Arp pass in the Colombia box on 49 minutes before the captain scored his second of the match to secure a four-goal victory. The only blemish was a yellow card to winger Dennis Jastrzembski that rules him out of Sunday’s quarter-final through suspension.

 

It was a historic moment in Lagos on Sunday when CAF President Ahmad and some CAF Executive Committee members graced the Nigeria FA Cup final on Sunday (15 October 2017) that saw Akwa United beat Niger Tornadoes 3-2 on penalties at the Agege Stadium.                                          

 After a scoreless encounter in regulation time, the match was decided via penalties which saw both sides lost three out of the initial five penalty kicks; and Gabriel Okechukwu turned Akwa United’s hero by striking the winner.

 The feat by Akwa United was an encore for the club after a similar success in 2015 in the country’s oldest domestic competition which climaxed the 71st edition.

 Apart from the mouthwatering 25 Million Naira ($70,323)prize money  and the glittering trophy  as winners, Akwa United also earned the ticket to represent Nigeria in next year’s Total CAF Confederation Cup.  

 It was the 11th time the competition was decided via penalties after it began in 1945 as Governor’s Cup. It was later known at various times as Challenge Cup and Federation Cup.

 Meanwhile,  the entourage of CAF President  Ahmad at the Agege Stadium popularly known as ‘Soccer Temple’ include First Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi, Second Vice President Constant Omari Selemani and CAF Emergency Committee member, Souleiman Waberi.

 

TROPHY WINNERS SINCE 1990

    1990:Stationery Stores   0-0(5-4pens) Enugu Rangers

    1991: El-Kanemi Warriors          3-2     Kano Pillars F.C.

    1992: El-Kanemi             1-0     Stationery Stores

    1993: BCC Lions             1-0     Plateau United

    1994: BCC Lions             1-0     Julius Berger FC

    1995: Shooting Stars                2-0     Katsina United

    1996: Julius Berger                   1-0     Katsina United

    1997: BCC Lions             1-0     Katsina United

    1998: Wikki Tourists                  0-0     Plateau United

    1999: Plateau United                 1-0     Iwuanyanwu

    2000: Tornadoes           1-0     Rangers

    2001: Dolphins FC                     2-0     El-Kanemi

    2002: Julius Berger                   3-0     Yobe Stars

    2003: Lobi Stars             2-0     Sharks FC

    2004: Dolphins FC                     1-0     Enugu Rangers

    2005: Enyimba               1-1(6-5pens) Lobi Stars

    2006: Dolphins FC                     2-2 (5-3pens)Bendel Insurance

    2007: Dolphins FC                     1-1 (3-2pens) Enugu Rangers

    2008: Ocean Boys                     2-2 (7-6pens)Gombe United

   2009: Enyimba                1-0  Sharks FC

  2010: Kaduna United                 3-3(3-2pens) Enyimba

   2011: Heartland              1-0     Enyimba

   2012: Heartland              2-1     Lobi Stars

  2013 Enyimba                             2-2 (5-4pens) Warri Wolves    

  2014: Enyimba                           2-1     Dolphins FC

  2015: Akwa United                      2-1     Lobi Stars

  2016: FC IfeanyiUbah                 0-0(5-4pens) Nassarawa  United

  2017: Akwa United                      0-0(3-2pens) Niger Tornadoes

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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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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