AFCON 2017 Qualifier: Kenya Vs Guinea Bissau

Do not miss the return leg of the AFCON 2017 qualifier match between Kenya and Guinea Bissau that will be played at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday the 27th of March from 4pm. Kenya lost the first leg 1-0. 

In the run up to 2016 Gor Mahia elections, someone shared with me that Luo politicians were afraid to fund candidates opposed to the incumbent AmbroseRachier. Their main fear was to go against the Luo political kingpin and Gor Mahia patron, RailaOdinga who was behind Rachier. This meant that an economically endowed Rachier was up against candidates with lean financial muscle, he won.

On 29th June 2013, AFC Leopards’ went to the polls at Kasarani. Businessman Alan Kasavuli was elected Chairman and Nairobi politician George Aladwa won the Secretary General seat. The election was peaceful but the intrigues that preceded it were typical of elections in the two clubs with biggest following, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.

The results were expected because Aladwa was emerging as the leading Luhya politician in Nairobi and Leopards’ is typically a Luhya club. He had lost the Makadara parliamentary elections in March of that year so here is a man of limited education looking for soft landing. In February was the Mayor of Nairobi and by June was a citizen. I often bumped into Aladwa with a host of hangers on in the streets of Nairobi. Kasavuli beat financial expert Dr. Walter Onyino.

After the elections I saw Aladwa in the streets with an Ingwe fan I knew. I approached him and proposed to him that I had a wonderful idea I wanted to share with him. He quickly noted that I knew one of his aides and asked him to organize a meeting later for us to discuss it in detail; I am still following up to meet Aladwa to date. That is not the reason for writing this; my take is that Kenyan politics is behind the underdevelopment of Kenyan clubs, unfortunately the solution lies with our politicians.

I can share what I wanted to share with Aladwa now that he is back swimming in his waters of Makadara parliamentary elections. I first met Georgie, as Aladwa is known, in Makongeni area back in my days as a political activist and noted his mobilization skills. To rise from a school dropout, to a tout and end up as Mayor is no mean feat. I knew if I sold to him the idea that he can rise to the Luhya kingpin position through Ingwe, he will buy into the idea. He only needed to let Kasavuli the businessman run the day to day matters of the club then he does what he does best, mobilize Luhyas into club structures.

I knew his heart was elsewhere, he was just cooling his heels in Ingwe to remain in the limelight. This was going to be a win-win situation. He just needed to set up Ingwe branches in every constituency and determine the officials. Once that was set, he would return to Nairobi and sit pretty knowing that he had point men from Nairobi down to the villages in Western Kenya. These branches then had to submit annual subscription to Ingwe which would lead to the club having a steady stream of cash. Aladwa would then walk out at the right time with a network across the Luhya nation, which never happened.

Today, Leopards are in the same position with Gor Mahia. That place where a Tanzanian TFF official was heard saying about Gor during the 2015 Kagame Cup in Daresalaam; these are just noisemakers without money. The problem never seems to go even with a change of guard. Currently Daniel Mule is the chairman of Ingwe while Lawyer Ambrose Rachier is at K’ogallo elected in June and December last year respectively. 

Romours have it that Ambrose Rachier paid for the ODM ticket for Gem parliamentary seat but lost it to Raila’s cousin Jakoyo Midiwo. So Raila always has a political debt he owes Rachier which Gor Mahia unknowingly picks the tab. Rachier is the A to Z at Gor Mahia, the other officials are flower girls (and page boys). When the club is stuck and money is required, Rachier foots the bill only to pocket the gate collections without consulting anyone. No one will know how much was raised because no one knows the amount of money he chipped into the club the last time cash was needed. That is how he justifies his position at the club and fans, including progressive Luos have bought into it. Meanwhile the club is run from his Mayfair Court offices at Ralph Bunche Road even when the decoy office was open at Nyayo Stadium.

Until Sportpesa came along, both clubs were struggling financially. The money Sportpesa pays seems to have taken the officials back to comfort zone.To date, both clubs do not have operational offices or official merchandise vendors.  Even the CAF Club Licensing rules could not bring out the best of the two giants. Like the rest of the clubs, FKF looked the other way on many requirements. Meanwhile, the online pages of the two clubs are as active like bee hives. The problem is no honey flows from the fans to the clubs.

It is difficult to separate the Luo and Luhya politics from Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards’ respectively. This means that the only hope these clubs have lies in the networks and influence the politicians from the two communities have over their people. The problem is our politicians are selfish and myopic. Somehow when the clubs stretch out begging bowls once in a while, the politicians reach out to their pockets to massage their egos and feel relevant and not to help the clubs become self-sustaining. 

In our tribal based politics, the best place Luos and Luhyas can show this country that they are fit to lead is in football. The biggest irony of our times is that Kenyan football is dominated by the two communities yet they don’t call the shots where it matters. Even in areas where they enjoy near monopoly dominance, other communities including foreigners call the shots. Politics is diminishing the stature of our two big clubs but in there lies a way out as well. It boils down to more leadership and less ujuaji. Mutajua Hamujui!

@stuttistician

 

Gor Mahia coach Marcelo `Ze Maria’ Ferreira has criticized Thika United for their time wasting tactics in the second half of their match which ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday 21 May at the Stadium.  Thika were leading for a better part of the game until the final minutes when Godfrey Walusimbi earned a point for Ko’galo with a sublime free kick.


In Ze Maria’s view, Thika United wasted a lot of time in the second half and he felt that the referee should have added more than five minutes at the end of the match. ``I feel that the referee should have added more than just five minutes at the end of regular time. Thika were always on the ground during the second half. They didn’t play at all, just wasting time. I think we played only 35 minutes in the second half.’’


Ze Maria also believed that his team should have killed the match in the first half but his strikers were unlucky to get a goal. ``We created many chances and should have won the match in the first half, but the strikers were not lucky.’’


Gor Mahia are at the summit of the table standings with twenty six points, two more than second-placed Ulinzi Stars. They have so far won eight, drawn and lost two apiece in the twelve matches that they have played.

I am averse to betting for personal reasons but I will confess that the recent Ksh. 221 million jackpot win almost made me reconsider my stand. Kenyans have taken up betting like fish into water which has led to overnight growth of betting firms like Sportpesa. This has also attracted other global players in the industry into the local market. Betting has its negative effects which ended up in parliament. Even before parliament passed the bill, the government proposed severe tax measures beginning next financial year.

The government recently announced plans to tax 50% of betting firms gross profit and a further 30% on net profit. It can never get worse than this for any industry. The truth is, betting firms cannot survive these measures after enjoying great profits in the past. Sportpesa- the biggest player in the local industry – has reacted by threatening to withdraw sponsorship to football, boxing and rugby outfits. Is this sabotage or a genuine distress call?

Amidst all this, Sportpesa was reported to have signed a shirt sponsorship deal with EPL side Everton worth Ksh. 3 billion. This could have been prompted by the relegation of Hull City FC who have athree year deal worth about Ksh. 400 million with Sportpesa. The cry from local fans has been that Sportpesa makes the bulk of its money locally, gives local clubs peanuts but rewards foreign clubs well.

Recently Sportpesa spread across the border into Tanzania where they got into partnerships with local sports outfits. They are renovating the artificial turf in a local stadium while they are now the shirt sponsors of local football giants Yanga and Simba. I waited for the details of the two deals to shed light on the cry of KPL fans but it did not yield any juice for this article.

Sportpesa is giving Simba and Yanga about TSh. 5 billion each which is in the tune of Ksh. 250 million over five years. This is in the range of what Gor Mahia receives though slightly higher than what AFC Leopards earns which is Ksh. 225 million over a similar period. May be the outcry from local fans pushed them to set their ceiling around the amounts they have with Kenyan clubs. 

Sponsorship is not charity. A firm goes into a sponsorship or branding deal with a football club for purposes of brand visibility. Sportpesa is going to get more visibility in Tanzania through the two local clubs than they are getting in Kenya. Tanzanians love their football and they show up for matches in big numbers. The league is also well featured in the local press. Tanzania Breweries Limited the shirt sponsor of the two clubs pulled out of football after it changed hands which meant Sportpesa got the two giants in financial straits. This could be the reason why they may have given in to not so good deals.

Kenyans should build the brand equity of local football in general but most important KPL clubs in particular. Sportpesa will only pay what the brand they are partnering with is worth. There is a big difference between their deal with Everton and what they signed with Hull City yet both clubs played in EPL. If brand equity is a measure of sponsorship then Sportpesa has been good to Kenyan football, especially clubs. Look at their perks for Kenya Rugby Union, Ksh. 607 million over five years and purported Ksh. 360 million over four and a half years as KPL title sponsors.

The term ‘purported’ comes before the KPL deal because unlike KRU, KPL did not reveal the actual value of their deal. That is a big pointer of where brand equity tilts; Kenyan rugby is a better brand than football despite having fewer followers. To attract more funds, clubs must package themselves as institutions worth of any amount they feel they are worth. People do not buy products or brands; they buy emotions associated with them. We must make our clubs and league attractive.

As Sportpesa and other betting firms prepare to fight it out with the government over the new tax regime, clubs must prepare for any eventuality. If the government’s stands its ground, Sportpesa is justified in transferring about Ksh. 400 million annual budget for local sports institutions into part of the tax that the government collects. Only two things are certain in life, taxes and death. Either way, we must play football.

@stuttistics

AFC Leopards head coach Stewart Hall blamed his side’s missed chances in their 1-0 defeat to Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday 20 May. A solitary goal by former Leopards striker Mohammed Dialo was enough to condemn Hall’s charges to their fifth loss of the season.


The loss also took Ingwe’s winless streak to six matches, one of the worst runs from any team this season. Speaking after the match, Hall said that his side did not deserve to lose and blamed it on the numerous goal-scoring chances that were missed.


``We played well, but as usual, we missed many scoring chances. We deserved to have scored at least a goal, maybe more. We did not deserve to lose.’’
Leopards had started the season remarkably, winning four of their first six league fixtures and were widely seen as this year’s title competitors. A dip in form has however seen Stewart Hall linked with an exit from the club, with numerous clubs said to be interested in the former Azam tactician. Ingwe are currently 11th on the log with fifteen points from twelve matches.

Nzoia United coach Bernard Mwalala was elated that his boys finally got a much-needed win after thrashing Muhoroni Youth 3-0 on Saturday 20 May.

 

The win comes a week after the coach had lamented on his side’s 1-0 loss to Gor Mahia, alleging that they had lost unfairly to the league leaders. ``Against Gor Mahia we lost unfairly and the players were very disheartened by that, which is why I am very happy that they won this time.’’

 

Mwalala also praised his team’s overall performance in their match against Muhoroni, particularly the strikers who he termed as exceptional. ``Every department played according to instructions and the strikers were exceptional.

 

Although he was satisfied by the number of goals that they scored, he noted that they had the chance and capability to score even more goals. ``I think we could easily have scored five goals but the 3-0 result is still satisfactory.’’

 

Nzoia United are currently in 9th position after gathering sixteen points from twelve matches and their next match is against Sofapaka.

 

Mathare United coach Francis Kimanzi had mixed reactions after seeing his side fall 2-0 to Tusker on Saturday 20 May. Although he expressed his frustration from losing three consecutive matches, he believed that they created a number of chances but it was just not their day.

 

``This is the third consecutive loss and it is not good at all. The players created chances…It was just not our day,’’ said the former Tusker tactician.

 

Mathare United have actually lost four matches in a row and have only registered two wins in the twelve matches they have played since the start of the season. They sit 17th on the table with nine points, one place above the last position of the league.

 

 

 

Tusker FC coach George Nsimbe has appreciated his players’ efforts and commitment in their recent games, which has seen them rise rapidly in the table standings of the Kenyan Premier League. The Brewers started this season unexpectedly, losing two of their first league matches including a 5-2 thumping by new boys Nzoia United.


They however picked up from there and have not lost a match since, winning all six of their last matches. They have also moved from the bottom positions to 3rd in the table, locked on points with second place Ulinzi Stars and two adrift of leaders Gor Mahia.


``We are in a good place right now. The players have been very dedicated and the results are there to be seen. We kept a clean sheet today…Good,’’ said Nsimbe after their 2-0 win against Mathare United. Up next for them is a match against a struggling AFC Leopards side, who have not won six matches.

Posta Rangers tasted defeat for the first time this season after going down 1-0 in the hands of Ulinzi Stars on Saturday 20 May. Rangers coach Sammy `Pamzo’ Omollo was however not fazed at all by the defeat, saying that he knew that their unbeaten run would obviously come to an end along the road.


``I don’t know why people are surprised (by Ulinzi’s 1-0 loss). I knew that our unbeaten run would come to an end at one point this season.’’


Pamzo however chose to dwell on the positives from the match and look forward to their next assignment, which is a game against league leaders Gor Mahia.


``It has happened but it is not the end of the road. Infact, the defeat may be a blessing in disguise because it has exposed our weaknesses and mistakes, which we will work on before we meet Gor Mahia in our next match.”
Rangers weekend’s loss means that they have now gone three matches without a win, having drawn two matches prior to the defeat. They are currently in 4th position in the league table with twenty three points.

Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo has left the club by mutual consent after one season in charge in which they finished runners-up, the former European champions said on Monday.

Usually known simply as Nuno, the Sao Tome and Principe-born coach was halfway through his contract when he departed one day after his team suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Moreirense in their last league game of the season.

Porto finished second in the league, six points behind champions and arch-rivals Benfica. They kept up the chase for most of the season until their challenge faltered with home draws against Feirense and Vitoria Setubal.

They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League before losing to Juventus and suffered a shock elimination on penalties at the hands of Chaves in the Portuguese Cup.

"Porto and Nuno Espirito Santo reached an agreement on this Monday afternoon to end the coach's contract by mutual consent," said the club in a statement.

Porto won the Portuguese league nine times in 11 seasons from 2002/03 to 2012/13 but their dominance came to an abrupt halt, with arch-rivals Benfica winning the last four.

Since 2013, they have appointed Paulo Fonseca, Julen Lopetegui, Jose Peseiro and Nuno as coaches, while Luis Castro and Rui Barros have also been in charge on an interim basis.

Goalkeeper Nuno's playing career took him to Vitoria Guimaraes, Deportivo La Coruna, Merida, Osasuna, Dynamo Moscow and Aves, though he spent much of his time as second-choice.

He had two stints at Porto, the first from 2002-04 when he played second fiddle to Vitor Baia and the second from 2007 to 2010, when Brazilian Helton stood in his way.

Nevertheless, Nuno won a Champions League, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Cup, four Portuguese league titles and three Portuguese Cup winners medals during those two spells.

His coaching career began as assistant to Jesualdo Ferreira at Malaga. He was named Valencia coach in July 2014 but was fired one year and four months later.

Chelsea's Antonio Conte was named Manager of the Year at a League Managers Association awards ceremony on Monday after leading his side to the Premier League title and FA Cup final.

The 47-year-old Italian, whose team finished seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, will lead Chelsea out against Arsenal in the Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Chelsea's 93 points was the second highest total since the Premier League began in 1992 and they became the first Premier League team to register 30 victories in one season.

"I think I've had a lot of incredible emotions in my first season here in England. I want to say thank you to all the people who voted for me. It's great to receive this award. I hope I deserved this," Conte said.

"It's fantastic to read all the names that won this trophy and to stay with these managers is a great achievement for me. I hope to continue in the best way," he added after receiving the award from former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Chris Hughton, 58, was named Championship (second-tier) manager of the year after guiding Brighton & Hove Albion into the Premier League as runners-up to Newcastle United.

Angel Maria Villar was re-elected as the Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) president for the eighth consecutive time on Monday after he stood unopposed. The term of office for the 67-year-old, who got 112 votes with 11 abstentions and six spoiled ballots, will run until 2020, with Villar having been first elected in 1988.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder has presided over the most successful era in the history of the Spanish national team, who won successive European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and their first World Cup in 2010.

"We have received huge endorsement which has brought us an undeniable victory. We have worked and won cleanly, it is a legitimate triumph, ratified by a strong majority," Villar told reporters.

The president is elected by an absolute majority of the members of the assembly which includes 120 members representing the clubs, players, referees and managers/coaches, who in turn are elected by the federation's ordinary members.

The president's former secretary general, Jorge Perez, had said he would run against him for the post but instead brought a case against Villar to Spain's highest sports court over alleged irregularities in the election of the RFEF assembly.

Perez withdrew from the election in protest, deciding not to present his candidacy on May 5, and asked the Spanish Sports Tribunal (TAD) and Sports Council (CSD) to annul the election of the RFEF general assembly, which they did not do.

In response to Perez's accusations, the RFEF published a statement saying the assembly election process had been conducted with "absolute honesty and transparency" and that the criticism was "completely untrue and biased".

Inter Milan forward Gabriel Barbosa has apologised for storming off the substitutes' bench when he realised he was not going to be used during Sunday's Serie A match at Lazio.

The 20-year-old Brazilian has had a frustrating first season at Inter, making just nine appearances, all as a substitute, and playing a total of only 111 minutes since his 30 million euros ($33.71 million) move from Santos last August.

He has managed one goal and picked up three yellow cards in that short period on the pitch.

His frustration boiled over during the 3-1 win at Lazio after he was not among the three substitutes brought on by coach Stefano Vecchi in the closing minutes of the game.

Television pictures showed him angrily leaving the bench before the final whistle.

"Inter supporters and team mates, during yesterday's game I suddenly adopted a thoughtless and inadequate attitude by leaving the pitch before the end of the game," he said on his Facebook page.

"Once the heat of the moment had died down, I realised, in calmness and with the support of my family, that the incident was unsporting and contradicted my professional values.

"I recognise my mistake and would like to register my sincere apologies to all the Inter fans who always supported me and to my team mates."

Gabriel, whose made his professional debut as a 16-year-old in 2013, emerged as one of Brazil's great hopes during three seasons at Pele's former club as he scored 57 goals and impressed with his pace, trickery, skill and clinical finishing.

He scored on his Brazil debut against Panama last year, went on to play at the Copa Centenario and won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro with the under-23 team.

Vecchi said after the game that he expected the club to take action, although Inter have not commented since.

James Davison said it will be bittersweet to fill in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday but plans to do his best despite limited preparation time.

Davison completed 88 laps on the sprawling 2.5 mile oval speedway on Monday, with a best speed of 223.670 mph. It was the first time in two years the 30-year-old Australian, who has two previous starts in the race, was in the cockpit of an Indy car.

"It's certainly mixed emotions," Davison told IndyCar of replacing Bourdais. "No racing driver ever wants to secure an opportunity under these circumstances.

"I got to know Sebastien a little better when I was living in St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, and we were teammates together at KV Racing in 2014 when I was a rookie. He was very good to me there."

The 38-year-old Bourdais slammed head-on into the safety barriers when his Honda-powered car lost control on Saturday during qualifying.

Bourdais, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing, underwent surgery for pelvic fractures, officials said on Sunday.

Team owner Dale Coyne told IndyCar that Bourdais may not race again this year.

"He's got a plate, screws in his hip bone and plate on his pelvis. ... So it's at least 12 weeks, which may get him ready for Sonoma (in September), but why run one race?" he said.

"Let him rehab for the other four months and get ready to go for next year. Have him out and in January start testing with him and go at it."

Sunderland manager David Moyes has resigned after the team's relegation from the English Premier League. The former Manchester United coach announced his decision at a meeting with the club hierarchy in London on Monday.

Owner chairman Ellis Short says "having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character."

Moyes lasted only one season at Sunderland.

The Scot says, "I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League."

The team line-ups for the Under-17 World Cup (17th edition) to be held in India between 6 and 28 October 2017 are now complete, after the CAF (African Confederation) qualifiers were over on Monday.

Victories in their final group matches ensured Mali and Niger progressed to the tournament joining Ghana and Guinea, who had already sealed their qualification.

Niger made history by qualifying for a first-ever FIFA tournament after defeating Tanzania 1-0.

The 2016 AFC U-16 Championship held last year ensured Iraq, Iran, Japan and North Korea qualified for the tournament from Asia. Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States of America recently qualified from the CONCACAF (Central, North American and the Caribbean) region.

England, France, Germany, Spain and Turkey recently sealed their places for the FIFA event after finishing as the best 5 teams from the 2017 UEFA European Championship.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay are the final CONMEBOL nations that will participate from South America while New Caledonia and New Zealand have qualified from the OFC (Oceania) region. Hosts India qualified for the tournament directly.

Welcoming the 24 countries, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee Javier Ceppi said, "It is very exciting to know the 24 teams that will be playing the World Cup. The line-up is superb, with established powerhouses in the category (such as former World Champions Brazil, Ghana and Mexico) and teams making their debut, among them the hosts India. Having seen the teams and knowing of their quality, football fans are in for a real treat in October and it is key that they can start getting their tickets now and book their place in history before is too late".

With the 24 teams in place, the attention now turns to the official draw, which will take place on July 7 and determine the fixtures for each team.

The 24 teams are:  India, England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, United States of America, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand

Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid lift their 33rd La Liga title on Sunday as he scored his 40th goal of the season within two minutes against Malaga to put Real in the driver's seat in their bid of dethroning FC Barcelona.

Real Madrid were three points ahead of Barcelona on the La Liga table and needed a draw or win against Malaga to win the 2016-17 title. Madrid beat Malaga 2-0, thanks to goals from Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, while Barcelona won 4-2 against Eibar. It was Madrid's consistency throughout the season that eventually proved to be the difference.

Despite the happiness of winning the domestic title, Ronaldo slammed the media for projecting him what he's not, saying he's "not a devil."

Post the match, Ronaldo was asked about a gesture he made to Celta Vigo players midweek during Madrid's 4-1 win over the Galicians insinuating that Celta had been offered bonuses to damage Madrid's title charge.

Ronaldo hit back at the press for making a mountain out of a molehill.

"People say things about me without knowing a thing and it bothers me. You (the media) say things about Cris without knowing the truth," Ronaldo retaliated.

"I am not a saint, but I am also not a devil like many people think I am," Ronaldo added.

Ronaldo further said that he has a family and such negativity about him in public affects them.

"I don't like this type of thing because I have a family, I have a mother, a son, and I don't like that they say stupid things about me."

The smile was back on Ronaldo's face when he was asked about his form lately. With the goal against Malaga, Ronaldo scored his 14th goal in the last nine games.

"I've prepared to be in top shape for the end of the season," he said.

Ronaldo said he was glad to be of help to his team that won Madrid's first title in five years.

"I've helped the team with my goals, my decisions and for that I am happy," Ronaldo added.

Real Madrid have their eyes set for a European double now as they prepare to face Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final on June 3 in Cardiff.

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The figure of Ksh. 600,000 released by Gor Mahia today, as the total gate collections for the Gor Mahia vs Zoo Kericho match in Kisumu are ‘stupid figures’,  Gor Mahia Organizing Secretary Judith Anyango has told Kenyanstar in a long ranging Interview.

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? 

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”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."

Wilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ireland and Everton defender Seamus Coleman faces up to a year on the sidelines after breaking his leg during a World Cup qualifier against Wales.

The ever-present risk of serious leg injuries in football was unfortunately realised once again as Wales’ Neil Taylor was shown a red card for a poor tackle during the 0-0 draw.

Once he realised what had happened, Coleman held onto his damaged leg while waiting for help.

Coleman was given oxygen on the field as medical staff attempted to immobilise his leg before taking to and ambulance and then hospital.

The final score took a back seat to Coleman’s well-being  after the match.

“It’s a bad break. Seamus is a fantastic player and character - it’s a major blow for the lad, for his club and for us,’’ Ireland manager Martin O’Neill told the UK’s Sky Sports.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world - I haven’t seen it back - but naturally disappointed. He’s gone to hospital and I think it’s broken.

“I saw Seamus’ reaction - he was holding his leg up and it didn’t look good.”

The length of Taylor’s suspension is yet to the decided but one this is for sure – Coleman is facing a lengthy stint of rehab before his professional career resumes.

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