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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Unlucky KSJ Team Finish Runners-up to KBC in Guinness Football Media Challenge

KSJ Team From L-R (Amos Abuga, Steve Ayoo, Fred Maingi, Joseph Shegu and Elvince Joshua - Photo:       michezoafrika)

Kenya Sports Journalists (KSJ) football team narrowly missed out on the 2013 Guinness Football Media Contest title after finishing runners-up to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.

The team that included Team Manager Fred Maingi, Gregory Mulemi, Stephen Ayoo, Joseph Shegu, and Amos Abuga were beaten to the title by a mere 6 points after amassing 80 points to KBC’s 86.

KSJ started on a wrong footing posting only 4 points out of a possible 10 in the first round testing on general football knowledge before the six-man team improved gradually in the subsequent rounds.

With Kshs 50,000 and a big-eared trophy up for grabs for the winners, the 8 teams that registered for the competition including Nation Media, The Standard, Mediamax, Radio Africa, GBS TV, Royal Media, KBC and KSJ gave their best shots and early indications were that The Standard, led by Robin Toskin, were in the lead.

KSJ however turned the tables in the ultimate round on football skills when Stephen “Steifmaster” Ayoo stepped up and overwhelmed the rest of the field by converting two out of three penalties and juggling 79 times, over 20 more than his nearest challenger Alex Isaboke of KBC.

The judges gave KSJ and Nation Media Group, led by TV journalist Seth Olale, the same number of points (80). The two teams were separated on penalty shoot-outs where Ayoo converted two of his three penalties compared to one from the Nation Media Group player.

The event which was being used to launch the Guinness Football Challenge (GFC) Season 3 which will start airing from Wednesday 20th March culminated with the winners being rewarded.

KBC went home with the winners’ trophy and a Kshs 50,000 bounty, KSJ were awarded Kshs 35,000 and a 1st runners-up trophy while third-placed Nation Media Group grabbed Kshs 20,000 and a 2nd runners-up trophy.

Keeping in tune with their “Everyone’s a Winner” adage, losing teams didn’t leave empty handed after the organizers awarded them with a ball and jersey.

KSJ Team Manager had this to say about the team; “It has been a wonderful year for our KSJ team considering we have won several friendly matches including the Road to Anfield soccer tournament held last month where two of our team’s did wonders.”

“We owe our great success to team effort and especially to one Steve Ayoo who has been a source of encouragement and a pillar in our team,” he added while revealing Ayoo will have the trophy for keeps following his superb performances and commitment to the team.

With the Guinness Football Media Contest out of the way, KSJ will now embark on training for upcoming games and has set up friendly matches against teams including Goodnews Broadcasting Corporation (GBS) and Kenya Premier League referees team.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Michael ‘Wonder Boy’ Owen to Hang His Boots

Michael G-Owen

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle, and Manchester United forward Michael Owen has announced he will retire from football at the end of the season. The 33-year-old Stoke City No. 10 announced through his personal website http://www.michaelowen.com/ that he will bring an end to his professional football career that started at Liverpool in 1996.

The Chester-born father of four came through Liverpool FC youth ranks before signing his professional contract in 1996 with club. He went on to notch up 158 goals in 297 appearances for the Merseyside club, an average of 0.5 goals per game. During that period, he won 6 trophies with the Anfield club including an FA Cup, 2 League Cups, a UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and a Community Shield Cup.

Owen also won the 2001 Ballon d’Or Award beating Raul and Oliver Khan to football’s most coveted individual award. He was Liverpool’s top goal scorer every season since 1998 and the 1.73 meter tall frontman maintained that status quo until his £8 million move to Real Madrid in August 2004.

Owen was part of the world-famous and expensively assembled “Galacticos” squad that included Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Luis Figo, David Beckam and Roberto Carlos. He had a slow start at the Bernabue club where he featured mainly as a substitute but ended up with 13 La Liga goals at season end but with season's highest ratio of goals scored to number of minutes played. In total, he scored 16goals in 45 appearances for the capital club.

Owen’s career with the Los Blancos came to an end only a year later when he signed for Newcastle in August 2005 for a club record fee of £16.8 million. However, his career with the Magpies was blighted by injuries that restricted him to only 79 appearances and a return of 30 goals in four years.

The former England international made a controversial move following Newcastle United’s relegation at the end of the 2008-09 season by signing a pay-as-you-play deal with Manchester United, a move that drew ire and fire from supporters of his former club Liverpool.

Wearing United’s No. 7 shirt that had been vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo, Owen scored on his debut in a pre-season friendly against Malaysian XI. However, injuries continued to haunt him at Old Trafford where he featured only 52 times and found the back of the net in 17 occasions.

His 3-year spell with the Premier League-Champions elect came to an end in May last year. He signed a one-year contract with Stoke City where he has made 7 appearances and scored only 1 goal, his 150th in the Premier League as injuries continue plaguing him.

He played for the England U15, U16, U20, U21 and England B teams before making his senior international debut in 1998. He has 89 caps for the Three Lions and has scored 40 goals which puts him fourth in England’s all-time goalscorers behind Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Lineker  (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44).

And That's thesteifmastake!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

English Premier League Run-In – Who Can Win the Title, Finish in Top Four and the Relegation Dogfight

Manchester United look on course to win the Barclays Premier League for a record 20th time. The Red Devil’s capitalized on rivals Manchester City’s 2-0 loss away at Everton with a narrow 1-0 victory over Reading at the weekend to stretch their lead at the top to 15 points with only 9 games left.

United thus need only four wins out of the remaining 9 matches to wrestle the title back from their city rivals who nicked the championship in the last minute of the last game last season.

Man City’s loss also blew open the race for second place as Chelsea won 2-0 against West Ham to move within four points of the defending champions with Tottenham a further point behind.

Meanwhile Arsenal sashayed themselves into the top four mix with a resounding 2-0 win over Swansea as Tottenham slipped for the second game in a row. Spaniard Nacho Monreal and Ivorian Gervinho were both on target for the Gunners as they moved to within 4 points of Spurs and with a game in hand. Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Fulham with former Spurs frontman Dimitar Berbatov scoring the goal

Liverpool’s hopes of getting back to Champions League however suffered a major setback after they lost 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium to Southampton. The Reds were clearly outclassed by the team fighting off relegation as Morgan Schneiderlin and Ricky Lambert handed them a 2-0 lead before Philipe Coutinho drew one back. But Jay Rodriguez restored Southampton’s 2-goal cushion in the 80th minute to give them a vital win.

Meanwhile Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is setting the Latics for yet another dramatic relegation dogfight. Arouna Kone scored a crucial 90th minute winner for the FA Cup semi-finalists as they beat Newcastle United 2-1 to move them within 3 points of safety.

Aston Villa also claimed a vital 3-2 win over bottom side Queens Park Rangers while Reading’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United further dented their chances of survival.

The Premier League takes a two-week break to give way for international matches.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Champions League Q/F Draw: Drogba Faces Former Boss as Ibrahimovic Makes Barca Return

Didier Drogba will face his former boss Jose Mourinho after Galatasaray were drawn against Real Madrid for their UEFA Champions League quarterfinals tie.

The Turkish side who knocked out German side Schalke 04 will travel to the Estadio Bernabeu for the first leg clash on April 3 before hosting the return leg a week later on the 9th.

Drogba is on a mission to claim his second Champions League medal for a second successive season after he scored the winning goal that gave Chelsea the title against Bayern Munich last season. Mourinho will face two other players he's coached before, Wesley Sneijder and Hamit Altintop.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will come face to face with his former employers in Barcelona after Paris Saint-Germain were paired against the Catalan giants who did a mission impossible by overturning a 2-0 deficit and overcoming AC Milan in the knockout stages. Ibrahimovic will miss the first leg in Paris but will be available for the Camp Nou return leg a week later.

Last season’s losing finalists Bayern Munich face a stern test against Serie A leaders Juventus. The Bavarians were lucky to escape an unlikely comeback from Arsenal in the last 16 while the Old Lady comfortably dismissed Scottish side Celtic.

The last of the four quarterfinal matches will see Borussia Dortmund travel to Spain for a first leg matchup against Malaga.

Bayern Munich v Juventus
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
Malaga v Borussia Dortmund

Europa League Draw: 
Chelsea v Rubin Kazan
 Tottenham Hotspur v FC Basel
Fenerbache v Lazio
Benfica v Newcastle

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

CAF Confederations Cup - All You Need to Know about Gor Mahia’s Egyptian Opponents ENPPI

ENPPI's Mohamed Shabaan, right, in action

ENPPI is an abbreviation for Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries, an oil and gas company formed in 1978 and one of the largest engineering companies in Egypt, Middle East and North Africa for petroleum, gas, petrochemicals, power and other related industries

The football team, ENPPI club was formed in 1980 and played in the lower leagues of Egyptian football before they were promoted to the Egyptian Premier League in the 2002-2003 season.

The club is sponsored by its parent company ENPPI as well as Adidas and McDonald’s. 

They currently lead the Group 1 standings in the Egyptian league tied on 12 points with Al Ahly who beat them 2-1 in their most recent match last Sunday. ENPPI however have played 7 matches, one more than Al-Ahly. Zamalek lead Group 2 on 18 points, 3 ahead of second-placed Ismaily. The top two teams in each group will be involved in a championship playoff.

They are managed by 48-year-old Tarek El Ashry, a retired Egypt international who is widely credited as the man who introduced the 4-4-2 style of football in Egyptian football. He was appointed in May last year and his contract expires on June 30th 2013.

The Cairo-based club play their home matches at the Petro Sport Stadium in New Cairo and average an attendance of 3,000 fans despite the stadium having an all-seated capacity of 25,000.

They have won two titles in their history. They won the 2005 Egyptian Cup after beating Al Ittihad El-lskandary by a solitary goal from Magdy Abdel Aate in extra time. They repeated the same feat in 2011 after a stunning 2-1 win over Zamalek at Cairo International Stadium.

Their best performance in the Egyptian Premier League was in the 2004-05 season when they finished runners-up to 36-time champions Al-Alhly. They trailed the champions by a massive 31 points!

They played in the 2006 CAF Champions League but were eliminated at the preliminary round by Saint George SA of Ethiopia.

This is their third appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup having featured in 2007 where they were eliminated in the first round and in 2009 where they were bundled out at the semifinals by Malian club and eventual champions Stade Malien.

The club is mostly made of local based players with the only outcasts being Mozambican defender Mano and Ivorian Vincent Die Foneye.

Some of the notable Egyptian footballers who have played for the club include current Hull City loanee Ahmed Elmohamady, Samir Sabry and 2-time Africa Nations Cup winner Amr Zaki who is still with the club and one man Gor Mahia would better keep an eye on.

And That's thesteifmastertake!! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Arsenal Come Short, AGAIN, in Champions League Last 16

Will Arsenal be in the UEFA Champions League next season? That is the question most Arsenal followers were and are asking themselves after the Gunners were ousted from the competition on Wednesday night in spite of a 2-0 win over Bavarians Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

With their domestic form wanting and the Gunners involved in a top four scrap with Tottenham, Chelsea and to some extent Merseyside duo Liverpool and Everton, Arsene Wenger’s team are facing the prospect of missing out on Europe’s premier club football competition for the first time in 13 years.

For the second year in a row, Arsenal were asleep for 90 minutes of football and awake for 90 minutes, perhaps oblivious that Champions League matches are won in 180 minutes. The Gunners lost 3-1 at the Emirates and overturning that loss, let alone a 3-gap away goal deficit was always going to be a herculean task.

Arsenal needed an early goal to set the tone for an unlikely (but possible if Barca’s against Milan is anything to go by) comeback. And an early goal they got inside two minutes when Olivier Giroud tapped in Theo Walcott’s cross-cum shot past Manuel Neuer in Bayern’s goal.  

The goal stunned the capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena and a cloud of silence coated the stadium at least until Bayern started starving the traveling team of possession. Thomas Muller, Luis Gustavo and Javi Martinez both came close to restoring parity but while they failed to, at least the intention served to get the crowd singing again.

The rest of the half was evenly played out. Arsenal continued to go at Jupp Heynckes’ side who looked quite cagey and lacking the spark of Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger’s grit. Robben troubled from the flanks but nothing materialized. Girourd had chances to extend the lead but he fluffed his lines at the nick of time. Bayern capitalized on the holes left by an attacking Arsenal but Fabianski kept them at bay.

Substitute Gervinho had a clear-cut chance to make it 2-0 after he was allowed to turn in the box but saw his weak effort agonizingly crawl across the post. Fabianski was again called into action and saved brilliantly from Thomas Muller.

Bayern looked nervous and they must have been shaking on their boots when Frenchman Laurent Koscielny headed in in the 86th minute but the Bavarians held on to progress 3-3 on aggregate but with superior away goals.

And so just like last season when Wenger’s charges lost 4-0 to AC Milan in the first leg before mustering a 3-0 win in the return leg, the Gunners fell short yet again. They simply can’t pull off a miracle but they make you get close to believing they can. But then again Arsenal are neither Barcelona nor the Arsenal of past. Come end of the season, it will be 8 years since the Emirates club lifted a trophy, any trophy.

However, Arsenal’s failure to qualify was not only their own but a loss to English Premier League as well. For the first time in 17 years, England have no representative in the last 8. Chelsea and Manchester City were bundled out at the group stages while Manchester United couldn’t go past Real Madrid in the knockout stages. Indeed, a food for thought indeed for the Football Association and ardent followers of the “best club league in the world.”

England's loss was Spain's gain after Malaga outsmarted Porto to qualify for the quarters making it three La Liga clubs after Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Champions League debutants scored either side of the half through Isco and Roque Santa Cruz to send Porto crushing out on a 2-1 aggregate. The quarterfinals draw will be done on Friday.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!