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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mancini Losing Control of Man City Dressing Room

If money could buy cohesion, if money could buy discipline, then Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini could have advised, actually, pleaded, with club owner Sheikh Mansour to break the bank and buy it at whatever cost.

If discipline was an injection or medicine, Mancini could have administered an overdose to a good number of one too many bad aples in his squad. Mario Balotelli would be the first in line, then Carlos Tevez while Edin Dzeko would also need some. Just in case.

For how can you possibly explain or even try to address a situation whereby a player, earning well over £200,000 a week (it will take me 87 years to accumulate that total if my current financial status doesn’t improve – thank God it will) refuses to play for the club that pays him that unfair amount!

Well, such a scenario can only happen in a money-rich club and Manchester City is one. The latest saga featuring wantaway striker Carlos Tevez who all accusations point to the fact that he refused to come in as a substitute in the Citizens’ 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in their Champions League encounter.

The 27-year-old Argentine has since been suspended by the club for two weeks but the question that many are asking is whether the Italian tactician has lost control of his dressing room. Tevez wasn’t the only sign of indiscipline on City’s dugout at the Allianz arena. Edin Dzeko had his own show of petulance after being substituted for Nigel De Jong.

So while prima donna Mario Balotteli seems to have taken a break from the Eastlands player-power-cast and reports suggest that Tevez could be handed a worldwide ban, it’s also important to ‘google’ Mancini and really ask questions about his man-management.

What is a talent as good as Adam Johnson doing on the bench? If they don’t play him, why not sell him? And just what happened with Craig Bellamy? Is it really bloated player egos that is bringing discomfort at Man City or does Mancini have his own egotism to nurture and protect?

Tevez has been the club’s topscorer in the past two seasons and it’s his goals that helped the club lift its first major silverware since 1976. He clearly expressed his displeasure with life at Eastlands and the city of Manchester as a whole and a move to Corinthians was being worked on but fell through.

Tevez swore never to play for the club again but after coming back from a long holiday in South America, he performed a U-turn. But it seemed Mancini wanted to punish the former West Ham and Man United player who has played more games on the bench this season, making only two starts and two substitute appearances. Tevez was also stripped off the captaincy.

Tevez’s saga is well documented, and so is Mancini’s fellow Italian Mario Balotelli. The two have been on cross-roads ever since the striker joined the Abu Dhabi-funded club just over a year ago. During the preseason, the two had a scrap at each other after the talented striker attempted to score with a spinning backheel. He successfully missed.

Whether these chronicles of player indiscipline will cost Mancini his job (it once happened at AC Milan) is a matter of wait and see. For Carlito, this may just end up being the lowest chapter in his already topsy-turvy career in English football.

In the meanwhile, we can all sit back and watch how this modern Soap Opera with a cast as diverse as having two Alejandros (read Italians), an Argentine and, well, a Bosnian pans out.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Champions League Round Up : Brave Bavarians Sink Man City as Young Spares United Blushes

Two late first-half goals in eight minutes from Mario Gomez were enough for German giants Bayern Munich to cruise past money-rich Manchester City as the Champions League group stage matches entered match-day two.

The Citizens bossed their Bavarian opponents for the better half of the first period and David Silva should have been awarded a penalty when he was tripped in the box by former City defender Jerome Boateng.  Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai was in no moods and whisked claim away.

Edin Dzeko wasted a chance to put the away team ahead when he was put clear on goal but the Bosnian shot straight at Manuel Neuer in Bayern goal. Bayern turned around the game thereafter and were rewarded with a goal in the 38th minute.

Frank Ribery stormed down the left wing, cut inside and rifled a shot which City custodian Joe Hart could only parry into Thomas Muller’s path. The German international tried to convert the rebound at point blank range but Hart pulled off another save. However, the second rebound got onto Mario Gomez’s path and he made no mistake smashing the ball home to give the home team the lead.

Jupp Heyncke’s side doubled their lead eight minutes later. Muller swung a freekick which was headed on goal by centerback Daniel Van Buyten drawing a save from Joe Hart. But with no City defender in sight, Gomez pounced on the rebound to score his and Bayern’s second of the game.

The second half saw more drama off the field than on it. Edin Dzeko slammed his boots against the ground after being substituted and Carlos Tevez appeared to refuse playing but the Bavarians were a cohesive unit as they collected three vital points that not only put them in charge of the group but underlined their credentials as favourites to lift the Champions League trophy this season.

For Roberto Mancini and his City team, it will be back to the drawing board as they continue searching for their first win in the competition after drawing their first match 2-2 with Napoli. The Italians beat City’s next opponents Villarreal 2-0 courtesy of a 14th minute strike from Marek Hamsik and a penalty from Edinson Cavani three minutes which moved them second in the ‘group of death’ with four points.

Meanwhile Mauro Zarate was the hero as Serie A champions Inter Milan rebounded from a shock loss to Tranzonspor a fortnight ago to beat CSKA Moscow 3-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium. Brazilian Lucio volleyed in the first for the Nerazurri after only seven minutes and Giampaolo Pazzini doubled the lead in the 23rd minute but Alan Dzagoev riffled in a freekick to draw one back for the Russians just before the interval.

Vagner Love brought the teams level in the 77th minute but Zarate hit the winner just after the restart to make it two wins in two for new tactician Claudio Ranieri. In the other group match, Moussa Sow and Gustavo Colman were both on target as Lille shared the spoils with table-toppers Trabzonspor at the Huseyin Avni Aker stadium.

The third round of matches sees CSKA Moscow welcome Trabzonspor while Inter travel to Stade Lille-Metropolle to face Ligue 1 Champions Lille.

Ashley young saved Manchester United the blushes as his late header earned Sir Alex Ferguson’s side a 3-3 draw against unfancied FC Basel at Old Trafford. Danny Welbeck scored a brace in two minutes to give the Premier League champions a healthy 2-0 lead heading into half time.

Fabian Frei drew one back and his Frei namesake, Alexander, scored two more as the Swiss outfit surged 3-2 ahead and it looked like they would claim a famous win at the Theatre of Dreams. Young had different ideas though as he headed in the equalizer in the 90th minute from a Nani cross. Bruno Cesar scored the only goal for Benfica as they claimed a 1-0 away win over Romanian Champions Otelul Galati to move joint top with Basel.  

Real Madrid and Olympique Lyon took control of Group D with 3-0 and 2-0 wins over Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb respectively. Batefimbi Gomis lifted a sumptuous chip over Zagreb custodian Ivan Keleva to give the seven-time French champions the lead in the 23rd minute and Ivorian Bakari Kone secured the points for Remi Garde’s side mark three minutes before the interval.

Cristiano Ronaldo (25), Kaka (41) and Karim Benzema (49) secured Madrid the points at the Santiago Bernabeu to give Jose Mourinho’s side maximum points as they prepare for a more stretching double-header with Lyon. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Onwards and Upwards for LFC as Captain Fantastic Returns

Liverpool’s 2-1 win over championship side Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round of Carling Cup was a major boost after back-to-back defeats against Stoke and Tottenham. Kenny Dalglish rung seven changes from the team that suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hand of Spurs last weekend, and this included giving full debuts to summer signings Craig Bellamy and Sebastian Coates.

The latter was especially instrumental in the win and scored the opening goal, had a hand on the second and also saw his 35-yard freekick come off the crossbar. Bellamy’s linkup play with Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez Luis Suarez was especially a joy to watch as it allowed the Merseysiders to play their fabled pass and move style of football.

The win against the Northampton-esque banana skin was vital. However, nothing compared to the sight of Steven Gerard exchanging a hug with Luis Suarez on the touchline before making his long-awaited return from a six-month groin injury. So was the excitement so much so that even Seagulls’ supporters joined their fellow Kopites in welcoming the return of Captain Fantastic, who finally abandoned the suits on the stands to don the famous red shirt with No.8 tucked on its back in the 73rd minute.

He may have limited himself to some short passes and half forward runs but the sight of him touching the ball in an active game is always enough to nudge up the tempo at Anfield. Stevie won’t admit it but he like all others know that his presence in the field makes the Kops’ sing a little louder. For the manager, he add class and never-say-die attitude, for the players, guile and creativity, and for the supporters, he oozes confidence and is the epitome of class, leadership and composure, to name but a few.  

His return, to quote the King ‘will be like a new signing’. With Kuyt, Maxi and Bellamy having a good showing at Brighton and the captain returning, the selection headache returns in full throttle for Kenny Dalglish. Charlie Adam, Lucas and Gerrard will all be competing to boss the central midfield position. Maxi, Jordan and Kuyt for the right wing, while it’s now debatable whether Bellamy (if he doesn’t play on the wing) will be an understudy to Caroll or vice versa.

Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio and Daniel Agger are the only players who are still in the Melwood treatment table. The return of the talismanic captain however means the club should move onwards, and upwards. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spain Regain No 1 Spot in Latest FIFA Rankings

Reigning world and European champions, Spain, have regained the spot as the world’s No 1 team in the latest FIFA Ranking, leapfrogging Holland whose reign lasted only one month.

The world champions’ 3-2 friendly win over Chile and a 6-0 thumping over Liechtenstein the Euro 2012 qualifiers amassed them enough points to displace the Dutch who drop to second in spite of registering a record 11-0 win over San Marino and a 2-0 win over Finland, both in Euro qualifiers.

Germany remained in third place, while Copa America champions Uruguay moved up one place to fourth. Portugal made the biggest move in the top ten, moving three places up from 8th to 5th while the resurgent Italians also moved a place up to sixth.

England were the biggest casualties in the top 10 dropping down four places to 8th behind seventh-placed Brazil. Croatia and Argentina complete the top 10 lineup.

Cote D’Ivoire remains the highest placed African team albeit dropping one place to number 16. Egypt and Ghana both lost 26 points since the last rankings were released on August 24 and sit in positions 36 and 37 respectively.

Kenya’s 2-1 win over Guinea Bissau gave them two points and nudged them up three places to position 130, four places behind neighbours Tanzania.

Top Ten teams in the World

1. Spain 2. Netherlands 3. Germany 4. Uruguay 5. Portugal 6. Italy 7. Brazil 8. England 9. Croatia 10. Argentina

Top Ten teams in Africa

1. Cote D’Ivoire 2. Egypt 3. Ghana 4. Burkina Faso 5. Senegal 6. Nigeria 7. Algeria 8. Cameroon 9. South Africa 10. Morocco

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Champions League Week 1 Review : Shock Defeat for Inter as Barca, Arsenal, Man United Draw while Madrid and Chelsea Register Wins

The 2011/12 UEFA Champions League season kicked off in earnest Tuesday night with defending champions Barcelona hosting seven-time winners AC Milan at the Nou Camp. The Catalans started the match on the worst way possible conceding a goal just 24seconds after kickoff.

Brazilian hitman Alexander Pato exposed Barca’s makeshift defensive partnering of Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano who were precariously playing high up the field, outpaced them before slotting the ball between Victor Valdez’s legs to give the Rossoneri the lead.

Milan, perhaps unsurprisingly, resorted to a defensive game and Barca found the eight-man defensive wall hard to break until a moment of magic from Lionel Messi saw whiz past three defenders before squaring for Pedro to tap in the equalizer.

David Villa put the Catalans ahead with a sensational freekick in the second half but Thiago Silva headed late on to secure the Italian champions a 2-2 draw. In another encounter in the group, Czech Republic’s FC Viktoria Plzen, making their first appearance in the Champions League, took the lead at home to Belarus side BATE Borisov courtesy of a Marek Bakos first half strike but Renan Bressan equalised in the second half to force a 1-1 draw.

Arsenal also thought they were cruising to victory against Bundesliga champions Borrusia Dortmund until Ivan Perisic hit a delightful volley in the 88th minute to tie the match 1-1. Robin Van Persie scored for Wenger’s side in the first half. Marseille had a successful outing at Olympiakos winning by a solitary Lucho Gonzalez goal to take the lead in the group.

In Group E, Fernando Torres failed to score for Chelsea but registered two assists under his belt. David Luiz benefited from Nando’s first assist and fellow Spaniard Juan Mata scored the second as the London club overcame Bayer Leverkusen 2-0. Belgian outfit Racing Genk earned a 0-0 stalemate against Valencia in the other group encounter.

Other matches on Tuesday night saw Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk surrender an early lead away to Portugal's Porto who staged a comeback to win the match 2-1. Brazilian Luiz Adriano opened the scoring for Shakhtar but Hulk levelled before half-time and Pinheiro Kleber hit the winner after the interval. Gustavo Manduca and Ailton were both on target for Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia as they registered a 2-1 comeback win over Zenit St. Petersburg, the Cypriot side's first ever victory in the Champions League. Konstantin Zyryanov had given the Russian champions the lead in the 63rd minute.

The shock result on Wednesday night football came from the San Siro stadium where 2010 champions Inter Milan were humbled 1-0 by Trabzonspor. A late strike from Ondrej Celustka coupled by some fine goalkeeping from Tolga Zengin gave the Turkish side who replaced Fenerbahce in the group stages a famous win.

Lille and CSKA Moscow shared an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Stade Lille Metropole. The home team looked to be cruising to victory after Mousa Sow netted the opener late in the first half and Benoit Pedretti doubled the lead early in the second half but Seydou Doumba scored a brace including a goal in the dying minutes to earn the Russians a draw.

Two first half grandstand finishes from Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo and Man United’s Ryan Giggs saw the two teams share the spoils at the Estadio da Luz. In the group's other match, Switzerland’s Basel needed a late Alexander Frei penalty to beat Romanian newcomers Otelul Galati 2-1 as both teams ended the match with 10 men.

A goal from Toni Kroos and Rafinha in either side of the half earned Bayern Munich a 2-0 win over Villareal in the group of death. Frenchman Frank Ribbery provided Kroos with the assist to score the opener just seven minutes into the match and Rafinha’s solo run in the 76th minute saw him slot past Diego Lopez in the Submarine’s goal to give the Bavarians a vital win. Mega-rich Manchester City earned a 1-1 draw with Napoli on their Champions league debut. Edinson Cavani drew the first blood for the Italians in the 69th minute but Aleksandar Koralov saved the Citizen’s blushes with a free kick five minutes later.

Angel Fabian Di Maria scored the only goal for Real Madrid as they paid a visit to Dinamo Zagreb. Marcelo provided the assist but was sent off later after earning his second booking.  Lyon and Ajax shared a scoreless draw at the Amsterdam Arena.

The games will resume on Tuesday September 27.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Suarez to Real Madrid in January? What Liverpool Need to Do to Keep El Pistolero at Anfield

There’s no doubt that Uruguay and Liverpool forward Luis Alberto Suarez is one of the hottest properties in word football today. The 24-year-old was voted the best player in the Copa America tournament that ended in July, a tournament in which he scored four goals including one in the final against Paraguay.

After helping his country to a record 15th Copa America triumph, many thought that El Pistolero would be rested as the English Premier League kicked off just a week later. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, however, knows best what the Uruguayan brings to his team and had his man hit the ground running in the opening fixture against Sunderland. Suarez has gone on to play in the club’s last three fixtures in which he has scored two goals including the second in the 2-0 win against Arsenal last month.

In fact, the South American starlet has himself come out to state that he needs no rest. “I want to play in all the games I can for Liverpool, I don’t want any rest at all,” he said.

 It is perhaps this hunger for success, attitude towards the game, explosive start to the new season (after a red-hot end to last season) and mindboggling dribbling that leaves defenders in his wake that has caught the eyes of supremos in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

According to Barcelona-based newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, the oldest sports newspaper published in Spain, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has identified the former Ajax man as one of his prime targets come the January transfer window.  

Of course identifying a player and buying him are two different things. But then, this is football and we all know how things can change in a wink. Liverpool’s valuation of the player – if it exists – may be astronomical but then again, so was Cristiano Ronaldo’s who the Los Blancos priced out of Manchester United for £80 million.

With all that said and without implying that the Merseyside club will be required to consider the position of Suarez if El Mundo’s interview with the Real supremo are to be given some weight, it’s nevertheless important to try and figure out how King Kenny and the Anfield boardroom can keep the Uruguayan gem at L4.

Loyalty plays an important part in life, football notwithstanding. But don’t we all know how hard it is to judge a footballer’s loyalty to their clubs today? Fernando Torres was loyal, and so was Michael Owen and lately, Raul Meireless. Until…

So with loyalty out of question, Liverpool’s best chance to keep El Pistolero at Anfield would be to actually increase the player’s wages. Right?... Wrong.

Suarez, for all intents and purposes, is not a go-for-the-money kind of a player. He remained at Ajax for nearly five years even as big European teams kept banging the door. At Liverpool, although no one really knows how much he earns, am cocksure it’s not Rooney-esque figures, never mind it can be argued that they both make measurable contributions to their respective teams.

With money out of question also, it’s obvious that the only thing that can keep the Salto-born marksman at Anfield is when they start winning trophies. And they can. But the most immediate is getting back to Europe. Players and even the owners have reiterated on the need for England’s most successful club to return to European competition which they will be missing out for the third consecutive season.

The song has been sung countless times about how bad ownership and directionless recruitment of players almost sent the club to the dogs. Not anymore. Kenny Dalglish, Director of Football-cum-master-statistician Damien Comolli as well as owners, Fenway Sports Group led by John .W. Henry have done a tremendous, if not perfect, work at Liverpool since January.

New players have been recruited and all the deadwood have been offloaded to places where they belong. Liverpool is a club going forward and I believe Suarez and the likes can see that.

Liverpool's 1st and 2nd XI
Returning to Europe looks achievable with such a squad boasting of the some of the Premier League’s best players at their position. New signings Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam, Sebastian Coates, Jordan Henderson and deadline day signing Craig Bellamy all look the part of a Liverpool squad ready and willing to mount a serious European, if not EPL title charge.

Add the names of Daniel Agger, Steven Gerard, Andy Caroll, Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva and you have one of the best teams in the league.

Arsenal, in spite of new signings, is depreciating. Tottenham’s flame is no longer that bright and doesn’t look like it will be any brighter this season, and Chelsea looks ever so beatable. The two Manchester clubs pose a bigger problem and might be Liverpool’s hardest nut to crack should the You’ll Never Walk Alone club want to win the league. But that’s only if they want to win the league.

But there’s general consensus that this might not be Liverpool’s season to win the league, and achieving that possible fete will be a very welcome bonus. For that to happen, Suarez and co will have to work for each other and ensure they get back to European Champions League. Winning the FA or League Cup will give everyone a good kick at the back.

Failure is not an option and should that happen, it won’t be surprising to see the Gunfighter aim his arsenal to THE team in La Liga.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Revealed: The Premier League’s Youngest and Oldest Squad

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has over the years been criticized by many for relying on a squad of young players who simply don’t have the mentality to win a title or mount a serious title charge especially towards season end. This was evident last season as Arsenal lost momentum and steam, eventually finishing fourth behind champions Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City.

The Premier League may be at its juvenile stage with only three matches played but Arsenal are just a point above the relegation zone and suffered an embarrassing 8-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United almost a fortnight ago. Wenger of course couldn’t rely on the ‘young squad’ excuse as United’s team was equally young (with an average age of 23) with Ashley Young, 26, being the oldest player on the pitch before Park Ji Sung or Ryan Giggs were introduced in the second half.

During the summer transfer window, Wenger lost some of his most experienced players in the squad in the form of Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy who both went to Man City, and Cesc Fabregas who fulfilled his boyhood dream of rejoining Catalan giants Barcelona.

Whatever the reason for his delayed recruitment (or was it replacements), Wenger found himself buying 26-year-old German centerback Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen, 31-year-old Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea Mikel Arteta, 29, from Everton, Andre Santos, 28, and Park Chu Young, 26, from Monaco.

These signings have certainly upped the average age of players at the Emirates, so much so that the Gunners have the third youngest squad in the Premier League, behind Manchester United and promoted side Norwich City.

The average age of the Arsenal squad this season is 25.33, United 25.31 while Norwich are at 25.08. At 25.42, Liverpool are placed fourth above fifth-placed Sunderland who have 25.5. Other teams in the top 10 include Newcastle (25.54), Manchester City (25.73), Swansea (25.75), Wolves (25.76) and Blackburn (25.79)

At 33, Andres Villas-Boas may be the youngest manager in the premier league but his squad made of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard, Paulo Ferreira and Henrique Hilario, all at the wrong side of 30 are the fourth oldest in the league. Stoke City are the oldest with an average age of 28.42, followed by Fulham and Queens Park Rangers at 28.04 and 27.85 respectively.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ezekiel Kemboi : Kenya’s Unsung Hero

Kemboi bolting to greatness
After nine days of grueling and riveting competition in South Korea’s coastal city of Daegu, curtains finally came down on the 13th edition of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Like most sporting events, it was not deficient of thrills, triumphs, disappointments, ecstasies, agonies, victories and side shows. From Yelena Isinbayeva failing to leap high enough in the pole vault to Usain Bolt’s disqualification for a false start in the 100m final to Kenyan women making history by becoming the first ever team to complete a podium sweep in the marathon to world steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi showing the world that he can run, and get jiggy.

Superpowers, the United States and Russia may have finished at the zenith in the medals standings but it was third-placed Kenya whose athletes provided the best performances in the biennial event. With a mere 46 athletes as compared to the US’s 155 or Russia’s 73, Kenya gave a good account of themselves winning 17medals with seven gold, six silver and four bronze, the US had 25 (15-8-5) while Russia finished with 19 (9-4-6)

From the moment the East Africans announced their intention to overpower the competition with a podium sweep in the marathon, the middle and long distance powerhouse never looked back. And by the time Janeth Jepkosgei took to the field to defend her women’s 800m title, which she successfully failed, her bronze medal nevertheless served to cap an impressive outing for Kenyans

Kenya has always been a thrust in athletics but their 17medal-coup in Daegu is the team’s best ever in a world championship.

So fine and refined was the team’s performance that it’s even hard to pick out the star performer among the contingent that traveled to South Korea. Already a Commonwealth champion, Vivian Cheruiyot is now not only a champion in the 5,000m but also in the 10,000m discipline. She’s only the second woman to have achieved that fete after Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba in 2005. After faltering to deceive for quite some time, Asbel Kiprop finally got his tactics right and won that elusive 1,500m gold. And so did David Rudisha who proved a class above the rest in winning the 800m men’s final.

But while Rudisha’s win, as expected as it was, was greeted with much fanfare, there’s one athlete who has been turning out apex performances time and again but still remains an unsung hero. His name is Ezekiel Kemboi Cheboi; the man who has become a hit on Youtube thanks to his dancing celebration he dedicated to Usain Bolt after winning the 3000m steeplechase.

Born in Matira, Marakwet District in Kenya’s expansive Rift Valley Province, the 29-year-old is one of the finest steeplechasers in recent memory. Unlike his countryman David Lekuta Rudisha, he may not have broken the world record but his impressive performances over the distance have been second to a few. His gold in Daegu makes him a double world champion having won gold in Berlin two years ago.

The former Kapsowar Boys secondary school student is also an Olympic champion thanks to the gold he won in the 2004 Athens Olympics, a one-time Commonwealth games champion and silver medalist in two occasions.

After bursting into the scene as a 19-year-old, Kemboi became the Africa Junior Champion in 2001 but ascended to prominence a year later when he won silver at the 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester. He finished fourth in the Africa Championships in Tunisia in the same year but didn’t have to wait for long as he won gold in the 2003 All-Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria. Further success followed the father to Manchester Kiprono in the subsequent years and after finishing second and third in the 2003 World Championships and World Athletics Finals respectively, he realized his dream by becoming an Olympic champion in Athens in 2004.

More success has followed the double world champion over the years and he has won everything there is to win in the distance.

Kemboi’s time of 7:55:76 he ran in July this year puts him sixth in the all time list of the fastest steeplechasers and he is the only man, alongside countrymates Brimin Kipruto and Reuben Kosgei to have won both Olympic and world golds in the event. His win in Daegu makes him the most decorated 3000m steeplechase athlete of all time having won two world gold medals, three silvers, two All African Games titles as well as an Olympic gold medal.

With plans to race for the next ten years, the man with a Mohawk haircut looks like he has his best years ahead of him, be it in the steeplechase discipline or in marathon he has intimated he would like to compete in.

Wherever he ends up, whatever he ends up doing, it is important we salute this great athlete called Ezekiel Kemboi. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!