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Every cloud has a silver lining. Those words rung hollow last time out to all blues’ detractors whose hearts beat with joy last time out, but now those words ping and ring supreme. “The blues will be back” I averred last week but I was reminded how having been fried at the Parc  des Princes the Blues would end up in the fire on the second leg. And while my words are not prescient they remind us how history some-times has penchant to repeat itself.
 
The Cauldron was rocking after Ba’s Ba-rilliant scooping effort to the roof of the net. This typified by Mourihnos manic dart down the touch line. The din of the Chelsea faithful raised the decibel levels inside the bridge with momentary late PSG raids muting the elation ensuring a squeaky bum time finish in injury time. PSG’s relative inexperience at this stage showed. For Cavani and Lavezzi it was de javu once again. Having thrown their weight around in the end it was a bridge too far for the Parisians. Talk of the small matter of PSG at the bridge and how they walked into the trap.
 
An early set back had robbed Chelsea of the attacking midfield maestro Hazard but in schurrle and the Schurrle show soon took centre stage. Fleeting feet and lightning speed his hallmarks. He was a thorn in PSG’s flesh. A brilliant display of tenacity and sheer believe puts the Blues  in the right frame of mind for the Semi-finals. And now all contenders must know that with Chelsea does not go down without a scrape, a fight, a really good fight. Bring them on the Bayerns, Barcelonas et al.
 
Now over to you Man U as you walk into the Lion’s den today! I needn’t substantiate the obvious. Ni Ku-bayern!!
 

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My Football Retrospect

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Solitude is one thing. Seclusion is another. What really is the meaning behind these words? Solitude or seclusion?
 Perhaps their interpretation lay behind the reasons for either. Reasons abound for both actions. These reasons, I believe, help in the definition of the subject. Solitude is sort of the moments you afford yourself. To recollect, reminisce, to wonder, wish and more importantly, to think. Most of the time, in solitude, you can connect with your higher self, be progressive. Seclusion on the other hand might be something like crawling back into your shell. And that’s retrogressive. Many at times seclusion leads to a drug-like low. That’s my understanding, at least.
So in these times of solitude my train of thought often speeds off to these pages right here. How one day I’ll come up with an article so razor sharp, it will earn me the recognition of my peers. All the while, praying God that till the day that I let my genius out, I won’t be out here writing dumb paragraphs about football in the +254. (Sic)
Right then, sometimes I soliloquy, then I understand that there’s lots of football being played in the different football echelons in the country. There is our Premier league of course. The biggest derby of all, ending with a barren draw, in essence, throws the title gauntlet to the top five teams. As a neutral, I bear no hard feelings toward FKF here for the seclusion of the GorMahia riff-raffs from setting foot in Kasarani. Good call.
  Then there’s the Copa Coca-Cola, the GOTV shield cup and the just concluded KPL U-19 tourney, where congrats are in order for Western Stima after emphatically putting four goals past Tusker to clinch the prize. Salut.
 If that isn’t enough, we have the WC qualifiers up next against Namibia. It will be interesting to see what kind of preparations Adel Amrouche, FKF and the technical bench have under their sleeve for the sixth and final match set for 7th September. I’m all out for a win, bowing out with some dignity intact. Feelings aside, Kenya occupies a lowly fourth and last spot in Group F with three points, two less than Namibia. Second placed Malawi has four more and leaders Nigeria have garnered a total nine points. Maybe this explains our recent drop in FIFA rankings to 129. Definitely not a number I have a liking for because that trend right there- seclusion. Retrogressive
 In times where goal-line technology is messing or cleaning up the game after referees, I suppose being an economic powerhouse in the East of Africa doesn’t say much for our secluded football. Then again, His Excellency Mr. Kenyatta made a journey east seeking better chances for the sons and daughters of this land of ours. In solitude, I inwardly hope and believe his endeavors are a step forward to finding and funding our own feet in sports. Maybe the adoption of laptops for school children will see to it that tech in sports education will help us get our act together. One thing though, I can’t help but wonder which turn P.E classes will take.  You-tube athletes-that’s your best answer (Shout out Julius Yego).
Parting shot…Don’t waste time on bullshit. In life,work or play. Facts only.

My Football Retrospect

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

May 29, 2013 22:00 PM: Follow on twitter @MugeraHoward

MugabevsAngola_1

Kenyan Midfielder Victor Mugabe (center) in action against Angola

It’s been for ever since I put pen to paper here. But, that’s about to change. I was out sight-seeing. The thought of me alienating myself from Kenyan football doesn’t seem logical. Never the less, sight-seeing is getting the better of me, so I’m back. And with that said I might need some getting used to. So bear with me, I’m the perfect “prodigal son”.

Onwards and forwards, I hear the Harambee Stars are getting ready for COSAFA and Thika United have nose-dived to the upper echelons of the league. Interestingly enough, if you have taken a closer look at the standings on the log, you will notice that Gor, AFC, Ulinzi, Tusker and other big guns haven’t really got going. And how would they? If at all the professionalism of some of these clubs comes into question, then a lot will be left to be desired. If it’s not Logarusic taking on Amrouche then it is the haphazard termination of a player’s contract, “shemeji-squabbles”, Ingwe TV and Supersport, poor displays in the “African Champions League”? Oh well…it doesn’t get mo Kenyan than that. Then again, it’s all we have, and it’s better than nothing. Plus, we share happy times in between J

COSAFA sure does have something to play for i.e. Rand 1,000, 000 prize money for the  winner,  first runners up and second runners up will bag R 0.5M and 0.25M in that order, and R 0.1M for the plate winners. Throw in similar bonuses for the top scorer and keeper… you get the point. So, let’s break down the tourney. 14 teams in total will battle for plaudits with Kenya and Equatorial Guinea as guest nations. There are two tiers of teams. The 6 seeded national sides that get automatic qualification for the quarters, and the remaining 8 that will face off in two groups of 4 teams each.

Matters Kenya…Stars have been pooled in Group B alongside Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The tourney kicks off on 6th– 20th July with 3 venues at; Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe.  With adequate preparation we won’t be on the back foot. So ‘cliché’ should not be a common lingo this time. It’s not cool to have players on 3000/= daily allowance considering the accommodation and meal costs for such a tourney. Believe that. FYI, the ‘MbaoforBao’ and ‘FriendsofHarambeeStars” are good initiatives to get the ball rolling. And Logarusic should keep his Gor Mahia nose out of Harambee Stars’ business.

Amrouche certainly doesn’t poke his nose everywhere, At least, not yet. But the hardest bit of business is minding your own though.

Ohoooo….I forgot. I just joined the KPL fantasy premier league. Of course I barely know some names but, it’s a start. You folks should too. After all, that’s fantasy football, in-the-254.

Good read this one…….

Let'sShineAfrica

Back then while growing up, I lost psyche for football around the time I used to hear of fans that could carrystones in briefcases when going to watch their team play with the intentions of using them which at times they did just in case they lost. Then for a while things started working well and i was proud of Kenyan Soccer once again as day in day out the fan base grew and everyone starting to appreciate homegrown or rather local soccer teams.
Well, i guess you can’t completely get rid of old ways from everyone at once just as displayed the other day when trouble came into the pitch. Hooliganism yet again.

Football is changing lives of so many out there with players abroad being paid millions weekly. In Kenya, we too can change and allow our young talents to sprout to the point where they can…

View original post 105 more words

 

Ashley Cole on his England debut against Albania in March 2001. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport Ashley Cole on his England debut against Albania in March 2001. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS SportPaul Chronnell Monday, February 4, 2013
11:11 AM

Even if you loathe him, the left-back is about to achieve something no home-grown Gunner ever has

Arsenal's Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell celebrate completing the double in 2002 after beating Manchester United at Old Trafford/ Photo: Neal Simpson/EMPICS SportArsenal’s Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell celebrate completing the double in 2002 after beating Manchester United at Old Trafford/ Photo: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

A testing question for Arsenal fans: who is the greatest player the club have produced?

Tony Adams, many would say, without much hesitation, who led the Gunners to four league titles spanning three different decades, while also captaining his country.

Adams may be a hard act to follow, but he never managed what Ashley Cole is about to do on Wednesday night, reach the landmark of 100 England caps.

Adams (who won 66 caps) need not feel too bad about that, because only six men in the history of the national game have achieved the feat, but Cole is expected to become the seventh against Brazil at Wembley next week.

Ashley Cole playing for Arsenal reserves in 2000. Photo: John Walton: EMPICS SportAshley Cole playing for Arsenal reserves in 2000. Photo: John Walton: EMPICS Sport

Of course, there is a slight problem here. Adams was a staunch one-club man for 19 years, whereas Cole infamously, controversially, and defiantly jumped ship to Chelsea in 2006.

The left-back has now spent longer at Stamford Bridge than he did as a first-team player at Arsenal, but he was a product of the Gunners’ youth academy, a boyhood fan plucked from the streets of Bow and made into a world-class player at Highbury.

It is easy to forget that 10 years ago Cole was to Arsenal fans what Jack Wilshere is now – the home-grown tenacious player among a multi-cultural squad, the cockney accent in a dressing room of foreign tongues.

By the time Cole left for Chelsea he and Sol Campbell, who departed that same summer, were almost the last Englishmen standing at the club.

Cole had learned his defensive trade not just from Arsenal’s youth coaches and staff, but also from the greats he briefly played alongside: Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, and of course Nigel Winterburn, the club’s legendary left-back who left Highbury the month after Cole made his league debut in May 2000.

Cole’s progress was to be rapid for both club and country, from the moment he took his chance, aged just 19, to replace the Brazilian Sylvinho not long after the start of the following season.

By May 2001 he was crying on the Millennium Stadium turf as his dream debut season ended in FA Cup final defeat to a Michael Owen inspired Liverpool.

Cole had won his first England cap two months earlier, entrusted by Sven-Goran Eriksson in a tricky away qualifier in Albania. He didn’t let his country down then, and has rarely done since despite an off-field reputation that is, to many in the game, beyond repair.

That is most true when it comes to Arsenal fans, despite his significant contribution to two league titles and three FA Cup wins in his six years at Highbury.

The manner of his departure, the offence caused by his awful 2006 autobiography ‘My Defence’ and all the bile that has since passed between Arsenal fans and Cole in his seven years in blue have burned many bridges.

But maybe, just maybe, when Cole reaches his century at Wembley, Arsenal can take pride in their role in producing a player who has achieved so much.

And maybe they can recognise a man who, despite his graceless exit, never gave less than his all during six undeniably glorious years in red and white.

Follow me on twitter @GazetteGooner

 

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Kenya Harambee Stars squad.

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Kenya’s Harambee Stars has moved seven places up in the latest Fifa rankings released on Thursday. Stars jumped from position 134 to 127 globally while at the continental level they are now at position 38.

Kenyan’s opponents in the World cup qualifiers-Malawi moved three places down to settle at position 114 while Namibia is just a spot above Kenya standing at position 126

Nigeria’s’ Super Eagles who tops Kenya’s Group in the World cup campaign is ranked ninth in the continent and 52 internationally.

Regionally, Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup champions Uganda still remains the best ranked team at position 81 globally while continentally they are at position 21. Neighbours Tanzania are ranked  124th with Burundi at 104.

Ivory Coast remains Africa’s kings retaining their top spot and a 14th place globally. Algeria, Mali, Ghana and Zambia follows in that order.

Internationally, Spain retains top spot followed by Germany, Argentina and Italy with Colombia completing the top five.

Burundi recently knocked Kenya out of the African Championships Competitions (Chan) after winning the first leg in Bujumbura 1-0 while holding stars to a scoreless draw at home. This is the first time Kenya is recording an improvement in its Fifa grid in the past nine months.

Stars have of late been active during Fifa calendars. They have played South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and Tanzania’s Taifa Stars where they were defeated 1-2 and 0-1 respectively. The team however, faired well at last years Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup held in Kampala, Uganda, where they finished as runners up.

The team is scheduled to play yet another friendly on February 6 against Libya in Tunis- Tunisia. The improvement in the rankings is a shot in the arm to the James Nandwa coached side as he prepares to face Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier slated for March

school is cool

CECAFA COUNTDOWN -2!

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Like a comet, eons ago, destined for earth, Cecafa tourney on its destined path to East and Central Africa?

                                                                                           By Mugera Howard ,

                                                                                            22nd . Nov, 23.00pm

            Yes. True that. Little after Issa Hayatou, CAF president flags off the tourney, Harambee Stars take on arch rivals Uganda Cranes in Group A at 6 pm, November 24th local time. On paper, it’s CECAFA’s group of death but far from the Champions League group of death with ManCiteh, Madrid, Dortmund or Ajax jostling for a stage in the famed European nights. For us, on the East of Africa, many will dismiss CECAFA with just a casual laugh… Fear not! In comes “Chengafunga”, the new warrior from the East, for our football. Ahem! Ahemm… the Ugandan football scene has witnessed steady improvement. All credit to Bobby Williamson, tactician since 2008. Evidence enough, is their status as 3-time defending CECAFA champions and an impressive FIFA rank of 86. Before you say a word… just let us gets with it. All right?

Uganda Cranes during a previous Training session before a friendly match with, Image Curtesy of Google image

            Okay, class is in session and for those with attention-deficit; no “Inception” while we are at it. Understand that The Cranes, holders and host for a second consecutive time, hold the highest number of CECAFA titles. Falling just short of a baker’s dozen. Impressive! Put to mind that Kenya has nothing close to half that number…With prize money of a cool 75, 50 and 25 million for 1st, 2nd and 3rd position, that money-anticipating look, that lights the higher self should be alive in every squad. Credit to Musonye and his team.

Often from its origins as the “Gossage cup” in the 30’s and 60’s, down to 2004-05, CECAFA has largely been a Ugandan-Kenyan affair. Migingo derby. Lately though, Uganda have remained masters of the show. In our golden days, particularly 1998, Kenya boasted her finest FIFA rank of 68 but consequently punctured to a lowly 137 in 2007. That should have been the signal for the economic depression that was to come, tear down forex markets with the dollar trading at an alarming 107/= or something, later in Kenya! The last two times the Migingo derby was played resulted to disappointing goalless draws. However, this doesn’t demean the rivalry therein whatsoever. Rather, it should serve as a launch pad for a thrilling one and half hour viewing. Bob Williamson’s 20 man squad includes:

Forwards

Robert Ssentongo, Emma Okwi, Hamis Diego Kiiza and Brian Umony

 

 

Midfielders

Saidi Kyeyune, Geoffrey Baba Kizito, Joseph Mpande, Manko Kawesa, Moses Oloya and Brian Majwega.

 

Defenders

Denis Guma, Nicholas Wadada, Godfrey Walusimbi, Joseph Ochaya, Henry Kalengi, Isaac Isinde and Wasswa Hassan.

 

Goalies

Ali Kimera, Hamza Muwonge and Abel Dhaira.

Best Case Scenario

Best case scenario for both teams is emerging group winner. Theoretically, that is as close as it gets to a gate-pass to the semi-finals. For Group A winners, the route to the quarter finals involves an encounter with 2nd or 3rd best placed team of the tournament. Runners up then have to play their opposite number in Group C.

Did you know?

  • CECAFA is the successor to the “Gossage Cup” held 37 times from 1926 to 1966? After the Uganda match, Kenya next play South Sudan and Ethiopia in that order starting at 1500hrs on 27th and 30th November.
  • Only two matches, 16 and 17, will be played at the War Memorial stadium in Nakivubo, Kampala city? It will feature Somali versus Tanzania and Malawi pitted against Zanzibar
  • Harambee stars last played in the tournament in 2009? Francis Kimanzi was in charge then but eventually lost in the final by a solitary goal to the Cranes at the Nelson Mandela stadium. Kimanzi’s assistant then was James Nandwa.
  • The Uganda Cranes, current title holders, beat Rwanda 3-2 on penalties in Dar-es-Salaam to win the tournament in 2011?
  • A total of 50 matches have been played between the two countries. Kenya has won 12, lost 16 and drawn 22? In the process, Kenya has conceded 57 and scored 55 in these games.
  •  Kenya’s biggest win over Uganda was a 4-1 win in August 2004? Alternately our biggest loss was a 1-3 result whereas the highest draw was a 3-all affair.
  • Paul Kiongera Mungai of KCB, Laurence Olum of Kansas Sporting (USA) miss out on a first appearance in national gear, after being dropped in the final 20 man list? Only Martin Imbalambala makes a debut while Anthony Kimani of Mathare returns to the fold.

 

Follow @M. Howard on twitter.

 

CECAFA COUNTDOWN 3!

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

So crystal ball, crystal ball… who will be crowned champion of them all?

                                                                                                      By Mugera Howard,

                                                                                                      22nd Nov, 1.00pm.

            Behold the season festivities!  In a fortnight, the train of thought in most Kenyan minds will be fun and adventure, parties and holiday trips and even more fun. You can only wonder how many ‘fanta’ bottles will quench that size of ‘fun-thirst’. Well, that’s the Y generation for you. As for the old folks …well, you know. No sweet tooth in their dental!  They are always fussing about the next paycheck, and the “dos” that it drags along. If it’s not about the increasing amounts of power bills, it’s probably the newly introduced premium on security fee for the estate, or how your high school brother, has had an upsurge in hormonal activity and a ravenous, wolf-like digestive tract.

Either way, that’s it. We will indulge no further. Reason why? Chengafunga is like a dog, we don’t speak, (much) but we understand. So, with four days to go, we are serving dessert. Football dessert to flag off the bandwagon of festivities even before Mr. Claus and his elves get a whiff of the festive ambience. After dropping 8 positions, to a land a round, even, three-figure 130th rank on the FIFA log, we are at it again. Taking our talents out to Kampala for the CECAFA senior challenge cup! Forget the consecutive losses to Bafana2 and Taifa Stars. Momentarily, at least. Starting November 24th, Harambee stars will do battle with the Uganda Cranes, Ethiopia and South Sudan in Group A. In four days time, it’s all or nothing. Our recent CECAFA outings with Uganda and Ethiopia haven’t been those to write home about. Whereas, South Sudan are the N.K.O.T.B (new kids on the block) and will be no push over’s, the point of concern is; Kenya isn’t well famed for putting teams to the sword. Rather, getting high off our own supply.  Better yet, we shoot ourselves in the foot.

Many a time, if we are not over enthusiastic in trying to salvage a goal after spurning myriad chances and overwhelmed with an all-out-attack-spearhead spirit, we are busy defending counter attacks and conceding daft own goals. Kamikaze style. Add to the fact that Michel’s comments on the importance of CECAFA are not your usual motivational power talks, and well… So unlike Musonye, who is disillusioned with Michel and doesn’t lose any sleep over our participation thus, we, the wananchi do. It matters least whether or not FIFA take importance in the tourney. With that in mind, let’s go to class.

 

The Harambee Stars squad to play in the tourney includes:

Goalies

Martin Musalia, Duncan Oluoch

 

Defenders

Thomas Wanyama, David Owino, Joackins Atudo, Martin Imbalambala, Joseph Shikokoti, Abraham Juma, Milton Olum and Patill Omoto

 

Midfielders

Bernard Mang’oli (deputy skipper), Humphrey Mieno, Anthony Kimani (skipper), Francis Kahata, Paul Were and Clifford Miheso.

 

Forwards

Michael Barasa, Rama Salim, Allan Wanga, Edwin Lavatsa and Enock Agwanda,.

Did you know?

  • CECAFA boasts three groups (A, B and C), of four teams each? Naturally, group winners and runners up make the next round. That goes some way in showing the magnitude of importance in our first match. On paper, qualification should be easy. After all we have Oliech, the Mariga brothers and Sserunkuma. Right… Gor Mahia fans? Wrong. Not for this tourney.
  •  The quarter finals will only slot three teams meaning semi finalists with tied points, might be decided on several criteria? Teams tied on points will be qualified on head to head results, outright goal difference or ultimately most goals scored or least conceded.
  • Former Tusker FC coach, James Nandwa who escaped the inferno that consumed Nakumatt in ’08 is now heading the Stars team to CECAFA? Sadly, then Tusker CEO-Peter Serry, former coach and player at KCB and Mathare did not make it. Nandwa’s first assignment is oddly against the Cranes.

Coach James Nandwa, Image curtesy of futaa.com

  •  Nandwa and three others; Mathare Utd goalie Duncan Ochieng, Tusker defender-Joseph Shikokoti and AFC forwardMike Baraza are the only survivors from the previous Kenyan team in the CECAFA tournament?
  • The top clubs in the 2011-2012 season Tusker, Gor, AFC and Sofapaka have contributed 16 (3, 3, 5 and 3 respectively) players to the provisional 25-man team sheet that should be whittled down to 20. No surprises there. Other KPL teams fielding players to the national side are: “The bankers”-KCB, Sony Sugar, Mathare and Thika United.
  •  Local top tier clubs have summed a total of 23 players within the Stars camp? Despite finishing 6th, 7th and 9th, Ulinzi, Chemelil and Western Stima have no representatives in the side while Azam FC (Tanzania) and Kansas (USA) are the only foreign clubs with players making the provisional squad. Kariobangi Sharks– 7th in the second tier division -has a single man in the camp as well.
  • Apart from the provisional squad of hard-nosed campaigners and recently capped players; (Rama Salim, Bernard Mang’oli, Martin Musalia, Enoch Agwanda and Clifton Miheso), only Martin Imbalambala, Edwin Lavatsa and the burgeoning Paul Mungai Kiongera are debutants for the national side?

Follow @M. Howard on twitter.