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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kogalo Returns to Continental Glory

Kogalo dancing all the way to continental championships
Edwin Lavatsa returned from an epoch of oblivion and scored the only goal as Gor Mahia marked a return to continental soccer with a 1-0 win over defending champions Sofapaka in the FKL Cup.

The 1987 African Cup Winners Cup champions scored the all important goal just after the half hour mark when Sofapaka defender John Njoroge failed to clear a Kevin Ochieng’ pass which fell to teenage sensation Lavatsa who made no mistake slicing the ball past ‘Batoto Ba Mungu’ custodian Duncan Ochieng.

Lavatsa was a constant pain in the Sofapaka defence and could have doubled the lead in the 37th minute when he found himself on a one on one with Paka keeper but he hit the side netting as the first half ended 1-0 to the 12-time Kenya Premier League winners.

The second half saw the two teams throw punches at each other but the highlight was only Humphrey Mieno’s 74th minute shot which hit the crossbar as Gor resorted to a defensive win. The final whistle was marked by jubilation from the fans who cheered all the way to the city center and surely into their bedrooms.

K’Ogalo has been posting a string of poor results of late, a scenario which has frustrated the ardent fans who have made a silent protest by not attending some of the club’s matches as was the case when they were pushing for the title.

The win gives Gor Mahia the right to represent the country in the next edition of CAF Confederation Cup. They will however need to do a little better than collapse in the first round of matches like they did in 2009 suffering a 6-0 humiliation at the hands of APR FC from Rwanda.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

6-1 Drubbing – Why it’s all Been Coming for Man U

The 6-1 merciless thrashing of Manchester United at the hands of their ‘noisy neighbours’, Manchester City, will for a long time be the talk at the City of Manchester and beyond.

It’s almost impossible to think that a team of United’s repute, add the fact that they are the defending Premier League Champions, would receive such a humbling irrespective of how much Manchester City have spent in trying to eclipse their Northwest England rivals.

The defeat has been described by Sir Alex Ferguson as ‘horrible’ and ‘suicidal’, and he summed it up as his "worst ever day" at the club before promising that "There will be a response." Whether that response, and its magnitude, will come against Everton on Saturday or against Romanian outfit Otelul Galati in the UEFA Champions league next week, or better yet, at Etihad Stadium on April 28 2012 is a case of wait and see.

But was this humiliation utterly ill-timed? If you look at the Red Devils’ most recent results, it’s hard to answer ‘yes’ to that.

After beating Chelsea 3-1 away, United have recorded some unconvincing results, by their standards, in their last four premier league encounters. A 1-1 stalemate away to Stoke was followed by an uninspiring 2-0 win over promoted side Norwich at the beginning of November. However, it was the Champions League home game against Basel which ended 3-3 and the lucky 1-1 draw with Liverpool a fortnight ago that exposed United.

At Liverpool, Man United had to rely on the gloves of their custodian David De Gea who pulled off one stunning save after another to keep the scoreline at 1-1. But Liverpool have been profligate in front of the opposition backline since the beginning of the season. King Kenny’s men have many a times completely bamboozled their opponents but ended up either drawing, losing or escaping with a one-goal difference win.

Manchester City, however, have been nothing short of prolific in front of goal and this justifies why they lead the scoring chart with a massive 33 goals in only nine matches. David Silva’s creativity and flair from midfield to attack is second to none in the league right now. The Spaniard is the lifeblood of the Citizens and is always almost at the center of every goal that they score.

Against United, he was the spark once again and at the center of three of City’s six goals, scoring the fifth one before setting up Edin Dzeko with an enjoyable pass to make it 6-1.

City exposed the United defence which has of late been shipping in goals keeping a clean sheet only in one of their last five premier league outings. The 6-1 drubbing may have come when the team looked on form but it wasn’t a surprise as such.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Liverpool’s New Signings Prove their Point

Forget about all the hoo-ha and hogwash going round that Luis Suarez uttered racist remarks towards Patrice Evra during the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United over the weekend. It seems this incident, which is yet to be ascertained or otherwise, has shifted all attention from an otherwise controversy-laden encounter that failed just short of living up to its billing.

The game will never be remembered as a classic (many 1-1 draws barely are) but the performances of a few individuals during the clash deserved a little more praise than they have amassed.

Stevie Gerard, being the inspirational and fantastic captain that he is, put the Anfield red-men ahead in the 68th minute through a well-taken but controversially-earned freekick. Javier Chicharito Hernandez leveled for the visitors nine minutes before the final whistle to ensure two of England’s most successful clubs shared the spoils.

Gerard might have gotten all the plaudits and the nod as Liverpool’s man of the match but this was barely a unanimous decision as new signings Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam and when introduced, Jordan Henderson, all sparkled in front of the KOP.

How good a player is is normally gauged by their ability to raise up their game when a tricky opponent of Man United’s stature comes knocking on your door. For 90 minutes plus, Jose Enrique manned his leftback position with such assuredness that makes you wonder when Luis Felipe Scolari will give the former Geordie a call to the Spanish national squad. His marauding runs down the left and crosses provided a key attacking outlet for Liverpool. He completely nullified the threat of United’s wingers led by Ashley Young who was hauled off in the 69th minute without making any telling contribution as has been the case since his move from Aston Villa.

El Toro (The Bull) has been bullish to say the least and already looks like Liverpool’s best bit of business from the summer transfer window.

Did Charlie Adam go to the ground too easily under the challenge of Rio Ferdinand? ‘Inconclusive’ is the word here and your answer to this will depend on who of the two adversaries you support. But that incidence apart, Adam provided arguably one of his tidiest performances on the Red shirt. The No. 26 did not only win the freekick which was expertly dispatched by the captain but his left foot was always menacing when he had the ball.

His first half contribution wasn’t as sparkling but once he shrugged off the jittery, he grew more and more into the game.

Jordan Henderson has already received enough stick from everyone already in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been at the club even for half a season. The £16-20million signing came off the bench and had two chances which could have won the game for the Redmen. First, he headed just over the bar from a perfect Downing cross but it he was his cheeky lob that was tipped away by De Gea that must have won him a few more support.

If there was one game that was ever going to be used to measure how good the new signings could be, this was one such game. And I think they proved their point. Onwards and upwards as Norwich comes visiting at Anfield.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Will the Red Devils Prevail, or Will Liverpool Find a New Weapon of Manc Destruction?

Will Sir be at the shadow of the King
King Kenny and Sir Alex will be managing, Gerard and Nemanja Vidic (if fit) will lead their respective 10men, Le Bron James will be watching, you’ll be watching, heck! I’ll be watching and so will be the millions… and millions... of supporters of the most competitive, most riveting, most tackling and speedy and feisty and thrilling derby in the world; the North West Derby. Pitting England’s most successful clubs; Liverpool and Manchester United.

Call it Sir versus King, Scouse versus Manc, Suarez versus Rooney, or better yet, Reds versus Red Devils, the buzz is on, the players are fit, and the stage is set for one of the finest derbies in world football as Liverpool welcome sworn adversaries Manchester United to the fabled Anfield stadium.

The last time these two teams locked horns at Anfield, the Scousers rose head and shoulders above the Mancunians, destroying them 3-1 with one Dutch workhorse, Dirk Kuyt, scoring a hat trick. Exactly six-and-a-half months later, they renew the battle where the winner takes the three points, and most importantly (since the season is still young), the bragging rights. 

United will arrive at Anfield with an unbeaten run that has seen them rake in six victories and only one draw, scoring 24goals in the process and conceding only five. Liverpool on the other hand have lost twice, 1-0 away to Stoke and a crushing 4-0 at White Hart Lane. A 2-0 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby a fortnight ago must have upped the confidence in the team though.

Of course these statistics won’t matter when match referee Andre Marriner blows the whistle for kickoff at 14:45. A draw doesn’t look likely given that the no stalemates have been recorded in the past 13-meetings between the teams in all competitions.

Should Liverpool win (I bet they will) they’ll become the first team to inflict a defeat to Man United this season and also earn three vital points that will move them only three points behind their nemesis. Liverpool welcome promoted side Norwich the weekend after, while Man United welcome city rivals Manchester City.

Top Six Things to Expect

Crunching Tackles – true definition of a derby in English football

Diving – Err… Did Nani read this?

Red Card/sthere have been five red cards shown in the last seven meetings between the two sides at Anfield. Reason? Refer to one above – Vidic, Lucas, Rooney, Suarez. In that order

A new Weapon of Manc Destruction (if they get destroyed) – Dirk Kuyt last season. But once there was one Danny Murphy, and the ‘god’, Robbie Fowler

Post-match banter – The referee might get some of this thrown at him

Penalty – Four penalties have been awarded in the past five Premier League games between these rivals. Enough said.

Prediction - Liverpool 2-1 Man United (Suarez, Kuyt, Nani)

Players to Watch
Luis Suarez, Steven Gerard, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney

And That's thesteifmastertake!!