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Friday, August 30, 2013

Champions League Draw – Arsenal Land Tough Group, as Barca Face Milan for Third Time

The draw for the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League brought up some interesting clashes with Arsenal finding themselves in the group of death while Barcelona landed another group stage encounter against AC Milan for the third time in a row.

The Gunners who advanced to the group stages after crushing Fenerbahce in the play-offs have landed a tough group that includes last season’s losing finalists Borussia Dortmund, Serie A giants Napoli and 9-times French Ligue 1 champions Olympique Marseille.

Reigning champions Bayern Munich were pooled in Group D alongside Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City, Russian side CSKA Moscow, and Czech Republic outfit Viktoria Plzen while Manchester United got arguably a safe landing after being drawn against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, Bundesliga’s Bayer Leverkusen and La Liga side Real Sociedad in Group A.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are in Group E where they will face Schalke and two teams they conquered on their way to winning last season’s Europa League, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest. Scottish champions Celtic find themselves in a tough group that also has Barcelona, Ajax and AC Milan while an open Group G has Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Viena.

Last season’s losing semi-finalists and 9-time champion Real Madrid have been pooled against Serie A topdogs Juventus, Turkey’s Galatasaray and Danish side FC Copenhagen while Group C has spendthrifts Paris Saint Germain, Olympiakos and Anderlecht.

Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, FC Copenhagen
Group C: Benfica, Paris St Germain, Olympiakos, Anderlecht
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plzen
Group E: Chelsea, Schalke, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli
Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg, Austria Vienna
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Celtic

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Resurgent Gor Show True Mark of Champions

It was a match that lived up to its true billing. A typical derby match that had all the on-pitch drama as well as fun and banter from the fans on the stands.

And at the end of 90 minutes, it was hard to judge which team deserved victory more. Gor Mahia were the better team during the opening minutes of the half with the dangerous Dani Sserunkuma showing just why he’s had a devastating scoring run against his former employers.

Gor could have taken the lead at the quarter hour mark through Paul Kiongera but the lanky frontman saw his first two efforts draw fine saves from Leopards custodian Matasi before his third effort rebounded off the cross bar.

Leopards took control of the game from there and Allan Wanga could have put them ahead minutes later but Gor keeper Jerim Onyango was alert. It wasn’t long before the 13-time champions made their dominance count. A slick counterattack on the left channel saw Allan Wanga feed the soon-to-be man of the match Noah Wafula who finished exquisitely past Jerim to send the blue half of the crowd into a delirium.

Luc Eynamel’s charges took it from where they left in the second interval with the Wanga-Were partnership proving especially dangerous. Were put the Leopards 2-0 up in the 55th minute with a neat finish following another counterattack.

Table-topping Gor Mahia could be credited for not panicking by hoofing the ball high and up with hopes of finding Kiongera. At the hour mark, they drew a goal back, Sserunkuma tapping into an empty net after Leopards defenders failed to clear their lines following Innocent Mutiso’s corner which was met by Moses Odhiambo.

The goal gave Kogalo the belief they needed and they got the equalizer with five minutes before the final whistle, substitute Kevin Omondi feeding David Owino who riffled in to ensure the match ended in equal terms.

The win took Gor to 41 points, 8 ahead of second-placed Ulinzi Stars but who have a match in hand while Leopards are a point behind the soldiers on 32.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

JMJ Academy, Otto Benecker Emerge 2013 COPA Coca-Cola Champions

Stephen Ayoo of Kenya Sports Journalists in action against Wazee wa Kazi in an exhibition match before COPA finals
Nairobi-based JMJ Academy and Otto Benecker are the 2013 COPA Coca-Cola champions after beating Kisumu Lakers and Beijing Girls respectively in the boys’ and girls’ finals played today at City Stadium.

Mathare North’s Otto Benecker edged out their Nairobi rivals, Beijing Girls, 1-0 in the girls’ final match while JMJ scored 3 goals in the first half to beat Kisumu 3-1 and ensure the 2013 COPA titles remained in the capital this year.

Otto controlled the game from start to finish but had to wait until the 86th minute to score their and the match’s only goal courtesy of Flora Wanjiku. The Mathare outfit won the match in spite of being reduced to 10 players after Sheryl Angachi received her second booking in the 63rd minute. Beijing, who lost 4-2 to Otto in the group stages, failed to capitalize on their extra player advantage and were actually on the back foot for much of the game.

JMJ had Musa Masika to thank after his first half brace saw them cruise 3-1 against Kisumu Lakers. Lloyd Kim opened the scoring for JMJ in the 14th minute before Masika netted his brace. Kisumu scored their consolation in the 67th minute through Ibrahim Ochieng.

Otto and JMJ’s wins saw them walk home with Kshs. 500,000 each while Beijing and Kisumu pocketed Kshs. 200,000 each. Meanwhile Mercy Akinyi’s 63rd minute goal helped Murhanda to a 1-0 win over Kisumu Queens in the girls’ third-place playoff match. The boys’ 2nd runners-up slot went to Gunners FC after South Africa-bound Joseph Luchenga scored the second goal for the Rift Valley team in their 2-0 win over Malindi United Academy. Wesley Omaiyo netted the opener in the 27th minute with Luchenga putting the game beyond Malindi’s reach with a screamer just after the interval.

The Gunners and Murhanda took home Kshs. 100,000 for their efforts.

Meanwhile the All-Star boys team who will be travelling to South Africa for a two-week boot camp was also announced. The team included 5 members from champions JMJ; golden boot winner Musa Masika, John Ochieng, John Ronaldo, Llloyd Kim, and Edwin Okoth as well as Kisumu Lakers quartet Joseph Bwire, Patrick Ochieng, Ibrahim Ochieng and Ian Samuel. Others in the team include Gunners trio Zadock Ombewa, Joseph Luchenga and Richard Otuomo as well as Nathaniel Kadenge and Hassan Ali of Malindi United.

Murhanda’s danger man Hilton Isutsa and his compatriot Elphas Shiveka also made it to the 16-man list. The selected team will not travel back to their homes but will pitch camp in Nairobi before they depart for the South Africa boot camp in the second week of September.

At the camp, they will meet 14 other countries including new entrants from Central Asia Kazakhstan, North Africa’s Algeria and Egypt, hosts’ South Africa as well as East Africa’s Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. Defending champions Rwanda, Zimbabwe, DRC, and Congo will also grace the 2013 event where the players will receive first-class training from Chelsea FC coaches.

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's All Systems Go for 2013 COPA Coca-Cola National Finals

Inconsolable Kisumu Keeper Eveline Andisi gets comfort by coach Eunice Dollar
The stage is set for the finals of the 2013 COPA Coca-Cola U-15 tournament after the completion of preliminary and semi-final matches which have been ongoing at Hope Center in Kawangware.

The week-long tournament saw Nairobi teams, Otto Benecker, Beijing Girls and JMJ Academy show their might as they took 3 of the four finalists' positions, Kisumu Lakers grabbing the other spot for boys. Otto Benecker cruised past Western's Murhanda, JMJ Academy thumped Gunners FC while Kisumu dismissed Malindi United Academy in the semis.

Nairobi's Beijing Girls beat Kisumu Queens 3-2 on penalties. Kisumu have been one of the most outstanding teams in the COPA Coca-Cola tournament and a true revelation of girls’ football. 

The Lakeside team won all their group stage matches with relative ease and were expected to cruise past Beijing and set a date against Otto Benecker in the finals. They started their match against Beijing with vigor, penning them in their own half during the early minutes of the game.

It didn't take long for their dominance to pay dividends as they took the lead inside five minutes, Beverlyn Akinyi screamer finding the back of the net. Beijing regrouped and controlled the game for rest of the half, and indeed rest of the game, netting the equalizer in the 52nd minute through a Nancy Awuor penalty.

With the match even at 1-1, neither teams could breach their rearguard forcing the match into penalties. Beijing scored through Zipporah Adhiambo, Shelvin Atamba and Sheila Kivisi while Kisumu’s Mercy Momanyi and Celestine Achieng’ also scored. Nancy Awuor missed for Beijing with Kisumu duo Audia Beryl and dependable rightback Doris Amunya hitting straight at the keeper to see Beijing win 3-2.

Earlier in the day, Mathare North’s Otto Benecker cruised into the finals with a 3-0 humbling of Murhanda Girls. Otto went ahead at the half hour mark through Cynthia Atieno and added two more goals after the interval through Lydia Awuor in the 67th minute and Sharon Atieno in the 75th.

Meanwhile a devastating hat-trick from golden boot front runner Musa Masika saw JMJ Academy qualify for tomorrow’s finals with a 3-1 win over a hard-fighting Gunners FC side. The potent 13-year-old hit a sublime free kick to put his team in the lead and scored two more after the interval to put him on 9 goals. Kisumu also overwhelmed Malindi United to set up a rematch with JMJ.

Lakers won the group stage encounter against JMJ by a solitary goal to nil, but a cracker of a match is expected when the two big wigs clash tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s final will be attended by among others; Sports Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario, Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche, Football Kenya Federation President Sam Nyamweya and representatives from tournament sponsors Coca-Cola.

Winners of the 2013 title will go home with Kshs. 500,000. A select team of 16 top boys' players will also be announced. The selected players will travel to South Africa for a boot camp and receive training from top coaches from Chelsea FC.

Meanwhile fans attending the finals at City Stadium will be treated to high energy performances by crowd favorites Jua Cali and Mejja. The two who performed at the launch of the games earlier this year, will be back to take over the show at the finals. Also on ground to entertain fans will be comedian Eric Omondi alongside DNG.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Murhanda Girls to Face Otto Benecker as Beijing Take on Kisumu Queens in COPA Semis

Nairobi’s Mathare North side, Otto Benecker, will clash with Western side Murhanda Girls in the first girls’ semi-final match at Hope Center in Kawangware tomorrow.

Otto won all their Group ‘A’ matches to finish top of the standings ahead of their Nairobi counterparts Beijing Girls while Murhanda got the all important win they needed thrashing Maragua Queens 7-0 in their last match to pip Kapsowar to the runners-up position behind Kisumu Queens.

Queens were in a class of their own, winning all their Group ‘B’ matches and scoring 14 goals in the process while conceding only one in their 3 matches. The Lakeside team’s top scorer Mercy Akinyi has been a revelation in the tournament and the potent striker found the back of the net twice in Kisumu’s 3-0 triumph over Kapsowar. Audia Beryl’s 3rd minute screamer opened the account for Kisumu while Kapsowar’s Naomi Kemboi missed a chance to score a consolation from 12 yards by shooting straight at Queens’ keeper Evelyn Andisi.

It was heartbreak for Murhanda boys who fought valiantly but still crashed out after failing to collect the 3 points they desperately needed against Malindi United in Group ‘A’. Murhanda took the lead through Hilton Isutsa only for Hassan Ali to draw level with a tap-in from a free kick in the second half. The draw saw Malindi snatch second spot on 5 points, one ahead of Murhanda.

Rift Valley’s The Gunners finished top of the group after mauling Ruiru Neptunes 7-0. Joseph Luchenga netted a hat-trick while Eric Kipkurui got a brace. Richard Oduma and Zablon Kutela also found the back of the net.

The boys’ semi-final matches also slated for tomorrow will feature The Gunners, Malindi and Group ‘B’ duo JMJ Academy and Kisumu Lakers. Winners of the semi final matches will clash at City Stadium on Saturday.

The stakes at the finals will be higher than ever with Kshs. 500,000 up for grabs for both the winning boys’ and girls’ teams. The 1st runners up will go home with Kshs. 200,000 with 3rd placed teams leaving Kshs. 100,000 rich.

There will also be individual awards including the golden boot for top scorers, golden gloves for best goalkeeper and most valuable player award in both the boys’ and girls’ categories.

The ultimate prize, however, will be a trip to South Africa for 16 boys. Top scouts from Football Kenya Federation (FKF), have been scouting for talents during the week-long tournament and have drafted a list of 16 boys who will fly Kenya’s flag in a one-week boot camp in Pretoria. They will join 14 other teams from as far as Kazakhstan and North Africa where they will receive training from Chelsea FC coaches.

Meanwhile there will also be an exhibition match between former Harambee Stars players, christened ‘Wazee Wa Kazi’, and Kenya Sports journalists during the Nairobi finals. The two teams faced off during the launch of the tournament with Wazee winning 1-0 in a highly competitive match. Winners of the exhibition match will pocket Kshs. 20,000, a trophy and footballs courtesy of the tournament’s sponsors with losers getting the consolation price of Kshs. 15,000.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Four Teams Book COPA Coca-Cola Semi Finals Slot

Nairobi trio JMJ Academy, Otto Benecker and Beijing Girls as well as Nyanza’s Kisumu Queens have booked their slot in the COPA Coca-Cola U-15 semi finals slated for Friday at Hope Center Kawangware.

Kisumu Queens became the first team to book their semi-final slot after beating Murhanda Girls 2-1 in the girls’ version of “Mashemeji” derby.

The high tempo match saw the two Pool B top dogs display the kind of quality football that has seen them dismiss their opponents with relative ease. After strolling past Maragua Queens 9-0 in their first match, the Lakeside-based team were odds-on favorites to cruise past Murhanda who thrashed Kapsowar 4-0 yesterday.

But like a typical derby match, Murhanda held against their own and offered resistance at least until the 11th minute when Kisumu’s prolific forward Mercy Akinyi drilled in the opener for her team. The goal rattled the Western outfit but Kisumu offered them no reprieve as two minutes later, they doubled their lead, Audia Beryl slotting in after a lovely exchange with Mercy that left the Murhanda backline in sixes and sevens.

Murhanda reshuffled their rearguard with their coach changing to a more defensive system to try and avoid a drubbing akin to Maragua’s, a gamble that worked as Kisumu failed to find the back of the net for the rest of the game.

In fact, it was the Kakamega county side who found the back of the net with the last kick of the match, Laventine Lihemo tapping in from close range to ensure Kisumu conceded their first goal in the competition.

Hosts JMJ academy cruised into the semis with an 11-0 drubbing of Black Cats. After netting 4 goals in their opener against Young Muslims, the impressive golden boot-seeking Musa Masika added another quarter of goals while Lloyd Kim netted a hat-trick for the academy side. Vola Okinyi added a brace with Stephen Owino and Edwin Okoth also finding the back of the net.

Otto Benecker sent Kaloleni Queens packing with a 5-0 thrashing, Angachi Sherrill grabbing a brace, Lydia Awuor and Flora Wanjiku also registering their names on the score sheet to send the Mathare North side to semis with three wins out of three.

They will be joined by Beijing Girls from Group A who had Anney Makinde and Sharon Adhiambo to thank for their 2-0 win over Eastern side Mukuyuni Red Shooters.

Meanwhile Maragua Queens exited the competition in the worst way possible conceding 18 goals in two games. After losing 9-0 to Kisumu Queens in the opener, they suffered a similar score-line defeat to Kapsowar Girls.

Naomi Kemboi netted the opener for Kapsowar and went on to score four more goals in the second half in the one-sided encounter as Philane Kaino netted a hat-trick. An own goal from Maragua’s Nancy Wambui only compounded their misery as the Central provincial champions crashed out.

The last leg of the group stage matches will be played tomorrow at Hope Center. Kisumu Queens will clash against Kapsowar Girls as Murhanda Girls face already eliminated Maragua Queens in a match the former must win to guarantee their progress.

Malindi United versus Murhanda Boys and The Gunners versus Ruiru Neptunes will mark the end of an open Group A action where all the teams, bar Neptunes, stand a chance of advancing to the semis. Group B minnows in the boys’ category Young Muslims will take on Black Cats in a dead rubber match as Kisumu Lakers clash against JMJ Academy in what many tip as the dress rehearsal for the final.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Murhanda Dismiss Kapsowar as Kisumu Lakers Claw Black Cats

After their boys' team got a humbling yesterday, Western regions’ Murhanda Girls eased past Rift Valley outfit Kapsowar Girls 2-0 in a Group B clash as the COPA Coca-Cola U-15 youth football tournament entered its second day at the World Hope Center in Kawangware.

A goal each from Sylvia Munyasa and Lavender Lihemo either side of half time gave the Western provincial finals winners the win which saw them join Kisumu Queens at the top of the log albeit with inferior goal difference.

The duo proved to be the difference in a tight match that saw both teams trade punches in equal measure during the early minutes of the half until Munyasa stepped up to gave her team the lead. The goal spurred Murhanda on and while they were unable to extend their lead in the first half, they got the all important second goal via Lihemo early in the second half.

The second match of the day pitting Kisumu Lakers against Black Cats ended in a 4-0 drubbing of the latter. Lakers took the lead with barely two minutes on the clock through a stunning strike by Ian Samuel and doubled their lead via an Augustine Odhiambo penalty just before the interval.

A spectacular free kick from Steve Otieno and a second goal for Ian made it 4-0 before Eric Ochieng converted a penalty 5 minutes from time to ensure the Lakers started their Group A campaign with 3 points and 5 goals to boot.
Beijing Girls bounced back from their 4-2 defeat against Otto Benecker to dismiss Kaloleni Queens 4-0, Selvine Atamba and Anney Matinde both grabbing a brace.

The clash between Rift Valley’s Gunners FC and Malindi United Academy was dramatic as much as it was entertaining. Gunners took the lead via a 12th minute penalty which was drilled in low and hard by Wesley Omaiyo, only for Hassan Ali to draw level five minutes later.

Ali would then put Malindi ahead just after the interval but Eric Kipkurui’s thunderbolt from outside the area ensured the match ended in a 2-2 stalemate.

The third day will see the impressive Kisumu Queens return to the field to take on Murhanda Girls. Winners of the clash will be guaranteed entry into the semis as they both sit on top of their standings with maximum points. Two teams who are facing elimination, Kapsowar Girls and Maragua Queens will also face on in the other Group B match.

Other girls’ matches will pit Otto Benecker against Kaloleni Queens and Beijing Girls against Mukuyuni Red Shooters.

Kisumu Lakers will tackle Young Muslims and JMJ clash against Black Cats in Group B.

The matches continue at the Hope Center with the semis slated for Friday. Winners of the competition in both boys and girls matches will receive a cash price of Kshs. 500,000, while an All-Star team will be selected for a boot camp in South Africa in September.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kisumu Queens Hit Maragua for Nine as COPA Nationals Begin

Nyanza’s Kisumu Queens began their quest to winning the 2013 COPA Coca-Cola national finals title in emphatic fashion by thrashing a hapless Maragua Queens side 9-0 as the U-15 nationals began at Hope Center in Kawangware.

The Lakeside queens confined their opponents in their own half from start to finish and were 5-0 up at half time. Veronicah Aketch opened the floodgates with a 10th minute strike and doubled her team’s lead in the 13th minute with a vicious shot from outside the area. Mercy Akinyi, Pauline Atieno, and Beverline  Achieng’ also found the back of the net to put the one-sided encounter beyond Maragua’s reach even before the interval.

Maragua were very poor by their standards and found themselves 7 behind just 10 minutes into the second half following Melvin Awuor’s brace. The Lakeside team were not done yet and after the unplayable Mercy added her second, Audia Beryl completed the humbling with a fine strike five minutes before the final whistle.

“I am very happy not just with the win but the goals puts us in relatively stable state. I couldn’t have asked my girls for more, they gave it their all,” said Kisumu’s coach Leah Kigame.

Earlier in the day, Mathare North outfit Otto Benecker shocked Beijing Girls with a 4-2 humbling in a Nairobi derby match. Beijing who had not lost a match in the competition took the lead within 36 seconds via Nancy Awuor but Otto leveled in the 10th minute through Sheryl Angachi.

Lydia Awuor put Otto in the lead for the first time in the game with 22 minutes on the clock. Sheryl completed her hat-trick with two quick fire goals to give her team a 4-1 lead before Pauline Atieno’s 90th minute goal reduced the scoreline to 4-2.

Eastern’s Mukuyuni Red Shooters and Kaloleni Queens from Coast shared a 1-1 draw in another Group A fixture, Mkambe Rose drawing Kaloleni level after Faith Syuki had put Mukuyuni ahead.

Meanwhile in the boys’ matches, Rift Valley’s Gunners FC gunned down Murhanda Boys from Western 4-2 in an entertaining group A encounter. Luchenga Joseph opened the scoring for Gunners and Zadock Ombewa extended their lead only for Ignacious Likavo to draw one back for Murhanda immediately after the restart.

However, Luchenga netted his second and his strike partner Wesley Omayo also added to the score-line to give Gunners a win that puts them in command of Group A.

Nairobi's JMJ Academy thrashed Young Muslims from North Eastern 4-0, Musa Masika netting all the 4 goals and putting himself in the driving seat for the golden boot.

The matches continue tomorrow at the same venue with the semi finals slated for Friday and the finals on Saturday at City Stadium.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

All Set for COPA Coca-Cola National Finals after Draw is Conducted

The stage is all set for the COPA Coca-Cola national finals after the draw was conducted today at the Kenya High School.

The 16 boys and girls teams have been pooled into two groups where they will play round robin matches in their respective groups throughout the week. Hope Center in Kawangware will host the group stage matches, the quarters and the semi-finals which will be contested by the top two teams in each group.

Speaking during the draw, COPA Coca-Cola coordinator Gerald Chege said, “These 16 teams here emerged the best from their respective regions hence we expect top-quality competition from both the boys and girls teams.”

The girls Pool A team will see Nairobi duo Beijing Girls and Otto Benecker lock horns with Coast-based Kaloleni Queens and Mukuyuni Red Shooters from Eastern region. Pool B has Lakeside’s Kisumu Queens, Maragwa Queens from Central, Murhanda Girls from Western and Kapsowar Girls from Rift Valley.

The boys’ Pool A has Murhanda from Western, Rift Valley’s Gunners FC, Ruiru Neptunes and Malindi United Academy from Central and Coast respectively.

Pool B is tipped to be a tight affair with hosts JMJ Academy from the metropolitan facing off with Kisumu Lakers, Black Cats from Eastern and North Eastern outfit Young Muslims.

Mark Okwiri Beijing Girls’ coach expressed confidence about his teams chances saying,  “We are ready to face any opponent and am sure we will win this tournament. We have trained well, the playing grounds are in good condition and the weather is good enough to help players avoid fatigue.”

The draw was conducted with the help of three former COPA players, Haron Nyakha, Alfred Wekesa and Geoffrey Alwala who are currently participating in the KPL U19 tournament. The COPA national finals will be played at City Stadium on Saturday from 9.am.

“The final day programme will see the boys’ team play their 3rd place playoff match just before an exhibition match between the Media and Wazee Wa Kazi which will then give way for the boys’ and girls’ final,” said Chege.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Southampton's Record Signing, Wanyama, Ready for West Brom Test

Kenya will become the 100th nation to have an international player appear in the Premier League when Victor Wanyama makes his debut against West Brom as widely expected.

The 22-year-old former Celtic midfield anchorman signed for the Saints for £12.5million in July, a club record. The deal also made him the most expensive player to be sold by a Scottish club, eclipsing the £9.5 million that Russian side Spartak Moscow splashed for the services of Celtic’s Irish international Aiden McGeady in 2010.

The price tag puts a huge weight of expectations on the Kenyan international but the bully 6ft 2in is anything but afraid of any opposition if his impressive performance in Celtic’s 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Champions League was anything to go by. His and Southampton’s first 2013-14 Premier League assignment will be at The Hawthorns to face Steve Clark’s West Brom.

The Baggies did a double over Mauricio Pochettino’s side last season, a 2-0 win for West Brom at the Hawthorns was followed by a 3-0 thrashing at St. Mary’s, wantaway striker Peter Odemwingie netting a brace. West Brom have strengthened their squad this summer in their quest to finish in the top half of the table and the acquisition of veteran Nicolas Anelka will add much needed firepower to their front line.

Wanyama will be key in his side's quest to beat Albion for only the second time in 9 matches.

My Prediction: West Brom 2 1 Southampton 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

COPA Under-15 Players Arrive for Nationals, Draw Set for Sunday

Murhanda Boys teams from Western destined for COPA Nationals
After a 4-month long regional competition that saw giants fall, minnows rise up to the occasion and new stars come of out of the shadows, the COPA Coca-Cola Under-15 youth football spectacle enters the crucial stage; the national finals.

A total of 16 teams from all over the country are expected to arrive at the Kenya High School beginning tomorrow (Saturday) at noon where they will pitch camp as they gear themselves for a week-long national championships slated to begin on Monday at the Hope Center in Kawangware.

“We have had successful activations at regional levels where we witnessed topnotch competition from both the boys’ and girls’ teams,” noted Gerald Chege, the co-coordinator of the tournament. “Here we are now, ready to take this tournament to the next level as we provide these young players a national platform to showcase their undoubted talents,” he added.

Among the teams expected at the national championships include JMJ Academy, Otto Benecker and UEFA Babes from host county Nairobi, Black Cats and Mukuyuni Red Shooters from Eastern, Kisumu Lakers and Kisumu Queens from Nyanza and Ruiru Neptunes and Maragwa Queens from Central. Others are Murhanda Boys and Girls from Western, Gunners FC and Kapsowar Girls from Rift Valley and Malindi United Academy and Kaloleni Queens from Coast.

Meanwhile the draw for the finals will be conducted at the Kenya High School on Sunday morning, just a day before the preliminary matches begin on Monday at Hope Center. The fixtures will be picked at random and see teams compete in group stages with top teams advancing to the quarters, semis and finals respectively. The finals will be played at City Stadium on Saturday 24th from 9.am.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

COPA Coca-Cola Trio Find their Footing at Provincial Side, Green Commandoes

L-R: Alfred 'Kemboi' Wekesa, Edwin Mukolwe and Haron 'Gumwili' Nyakha
They competed under a tournament dubbed “The Journey to Stardom” and by the looks of it, their star seems to be shinning already.

Haroun Nyakha, Edwin Mukolwe and Alfred Wekesa are three teenagers who share many things in common. They are not only in the same school, same class and are of the same age but their career seems to be heading in the same direction, at least as far as football is concerned.

The trio are members of last year’s COPA Coca-Cola contingent who starred for Kenya in South Africa helping the team finish in a respectable 4th position, beating the likes of Uganda and Nigeria, and this they did having barely trained together.

Their exploits in the Rainbow Nation did not go unnoticed as immediately after traveling back, the trio were handed an opportunity to play for Kakamega High School based Green Commandoes who play in the Western Provincial Zone A league. The team currently lies 5th on the log with 15 points, 4 adrift of second-placed Museno FC but who have played 2 games more.

“COPA Coca-Cola was an eye opener. The exposure we got there and the experience has been vital and I can confidently say that participating in the tournament and travelling out was key in the coach’s decision to include us in the team,” says Edwin Mukolwe, the man who guards the post for Green Commandoes.

Mukolwe who looks up to Tusker FC’s keeper George Opiyo and Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas emerged the best goalkeeper from the COPA national championships in Mombasa last year and was selected for the South Africa boot camp alongside his understudy, Stephen Ogweno.

His academic and real life colleague Haron Nyakha is not a rookie in the world of youth football. The diminutive holding midfielder represented Kenya in the 2010 edition of Milo Cup in South Africa and was part of the Ambira team who won the 2011 COPA Coca-Cola edition in Kisumu.

Nyakha captained the Kenyan team in South Africa last year and blossomed to the extent that he made it in the All-Star team. “I am glad for the opportunities I have had to showcase my talent thus far. I have not yet reached the pinnacle yet but I’ll keep my head leveled on the ground until I play for my dream club AFC Leopards,” says the 16-year-old who likens his game to that of Cameroon’s Alexander Song.

Nyakha’s strengths come in many ways than one. Besides his proven leadership skills, the Form 2 student at Kakamega high has body stamina that bellies his light years, has unbelievable body strength and is comfortable on both feet. “I play the defensive midfield position at Green Commandos and it’s always a pleasure to wear that green jersey and long may it continue,” he says.

The last of the trio is Alfred Wekesa, a down-to-earth player who lets his football do the talking. Wekesa, nicknamed “Kemboi” by his colleagues thanks to his burst of pace made his maiden appearance in COPA Coca-Cola last year and like a player who knows what success is about, he took his opportunity.

The 15-year-old played in the 2010 edition of Orange Mabingwa but it was last year when his football prowess came to life as he led Western region to 2nd place in the COPA nationals. “Am glad I got a chance to play in the youth football tournament. The experience I got playing at the national championships plus the training we received in South Africa from the Chelsea coaches have made me a better all-rounded player,” says Wekesa who likens his game to Western Stima’s Justine Monda.

When we caught up with them, Wekesa, Nyakha and Mukolwe had just finished playing for their team in a match-up against visitors Museno FC. The match ended in barren draw with the three performing their duties to perfection. “We want to win this league and get promoted to Nationwide football then Kenya Premier League. Am sure through hard work, discipline and maximum dedication, we can achieve that, and more besides,” concludes Nyakha.

The three Green Commandoes players are just but a few of COPA graduates who are getting noticed and picked up by local clubs. Recently during the Nzoia regional secondary school games in Kapenguria, Thika United grabbed the services of enterprising defender Christopher Oruchum who they slotted directly to the club’s U-19 team. The form 3 student at Chavakali High School was among the 16 players who travelled to South Africa last year.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

KSJ Members Star in Supersport Media Fun Day Tournament

Kenya sports bloggers are the winners of the inaugural SuperSport media fun day that went down at the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Grounds on Friday. The bloggers comprising of Kenya Sports Journalists (KSJ) players Amos Abuga and Timothy Olobulu edged out Standard Media led by KSJ’s Enrique Ochieng and Becky Magoma on post-match penalties after the two teams could only share a barren draw in normal time.

The 5-aside tournament featured majority of KSJ players with Steve Steifmaster Ayoo helping his Media Select team to the plate trophy while Gregory Mulemi and Fred “Tegemeo” Arocho lost to Ochieng and Magoma’s Standard 2-0 in the main cup semi finals.

The tournament featured different media houses including Nation, Mediamax, KBC, The Standard, Radio Africa, Capital FM, organizers Supersport and Citizen which was led by Mike Okinyi and Hussein Mohammed.

The Bloggers beat Capital FM and Nation in the quarters and semis respectively to set a date with The Standard who grew stronger every passing game. Led by the diminutive no-nonsense frontman Eric Ochieng, The Standard group shocked favorites Citizen in the semis but saw their luck run out in the finals after going down 4-3 to the well-drilled Bloggers side on penalties.

The bloggers went home with a trophy and medals. The Standard’s Becky Magoma was named the Most Valuable Player while Ayoo claimed the golden boot accolade with 5 goals followed by Arocho and others with 4 each. A select KSJ team captained by Arocho and which included custodian Alex Isaboke and striking duo Steve Ayoo and Amos Abuga beat ex-Harambee Stars players 5-4 on penalties. Wazee wa Kazi took the lead via Josephat Murilla penalty early in the first half only for Ayoo to drill in the equalizer 5 minutes later sending the game into penalties where Isaboke was the hero saving a penalty from George Sunguti.

Meanwhile the KSJ team avenged the 6-2 humiliation they suffered at the hands of Bedjoes Veterans early last month with a disciplined 4-3 win at the Dr. Kraph Primary School in Ofafa Maringo on Sunday. Led by former internationals George Waweru, Manaseh Imbo and Samuel Ouma, the Veterans took the lead many a times only to be pegged back by the valiant KSJ team who were keen to claim a win.

The KSJ team comprised of dependable custodian Vivian Akinyi, Magero, Eric Ochieng’, Peter Shattaman Muchiri, Steifmaster Ayoo, Amos Abuga, Kevin, Emily Wang’ombe and new signing Steve. Rebecca Gichana, Greg Mulemi and TM Fred Maingi watched from the sidelines as the team claimed a morale boosting win.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Luis Suarez Conundrum: When the Betrayer Feels Betrayed

That there’s no loyalty in football is a fact that is well documented and every passing season, we see top players renege on their promises and push for a move from their clubs to those they feel give them better chances of realizing some apparent dreams.

But while some find the success they were looking for, others put up with frustration galore. Liverpool’s failure to qualify for Champions League football has seen the club suffer not just in terms of financial implications but also on players coming in and leaving. They have not only been missing some prime targets every transfer window but the club’s top players are always being linked with a move to other “bigger” clubs, Champions League being the yardstick of determining the bigness.

That Luis Suarez is one of the top players in the modern game is undisputed. That he deserves to play in the Champions League, any modern footballer’s ultimate dream, is equally undeniable. However, you get the feeling that the explosive Uruguayan played a part, a big part, in contributing to Liverpool’s failure to qualify for the world’s topmost club football tournament.

Be it serving a ban for racial abuse or serving even a longer one for biting an opponent, the man nicknamed El Pistolero should know better than to demand a move from a club that stuck by him time and again even when he dragged his name and the reputation of his employers through the rubble.

Granted, he has not signed a lifetime contract with the Merseyside club but one more season to help push the club to the top would do him, the club and its fanatic supporters a world of good because am sure Liverpool are currently not as far off as they were last season.

The 26-year-old’s main reason for wanting to leave once was to get away from the meddlesome English media  who have apparently been too naïve to separate his private life from the fame that burdens a man of his status’ back, never mind he has been keen to haul himself into controversy at the slightest of provocation.

Suddenly, that reason has changed into wanting to play Champions League football, something am sure has been driven by Real Madrid’s silent treatment of their interest in him. That the Uruguayan sees Arsenal, a Premier League rival, as an option is not only unprofessional and disrespectful to his employers but shows a player with wanting character and despicable personality.

But Liverpool have been in this situation before with Fernando Torres who forced a move to Chelsea sending the Reds into a panic buy which saw £35 million being splashed on Geordie Andy Caroll, a man who would prove to be a major flop given his price tag.

Suarez’ situation looks the same, only that the Fenway Sports Group-owned club look to have better control of the situation this time and won't be held at ransom. Two options are available; either keep the man quickly earning the tag “traitor”, or ship him out of Liverpool and OUT OF ENGLAND when and only when the club’s, not his, valuation is met.

Methinks the latter is more preferable. For all the talent the Salto-born lad has, the nutmegs and dribbles and fight he brings to the field, his weaknesses are many. When pressed about Wayne Rooney’s situation at Manchester United, the club’s manager David Moyes responded by saying “You don't need to convince anyone to play for Manchester United." The same rule should apply at Anfield.

Liverpool would then need to go into the market and convince a top striker in the shape of Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa to join the club. Option two would be to unleash a gem out of nowhere with the money received from his sale. Either way, a decision will have to be made as soon as possible.

Selling to Arsenal is not an option though.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

All Set for COPA Coca-Cola National Finals as Kisumu Duo Book the Remaining Slots

Preparations for the COPA Coca-Cola U15 national finals are in top gear after Kisumu Queens and their lakeside counterparts Kisumu Lakers took the two last remaining slots for national championships slated for Nairobi from the 17th of August.

Queens had an assured performance winning all their three matches as they took the girls’ honours to win the Nyanza Provincial finals played at Gussii Stadium. The far-travelling Queens won all their matches with a 1-0 scoreline, Mercy Akinyi on target against Mwangaza, Berveline Achieng against Nyamira and Melvin Owuor netting the solitary goal against Suba Lakers in the final match.

Kisumu Lakers on the other hand started on a wrong footing going down by a solitary Tonny Ismael goal for Migori Youth. However, they bounced back to upset Kiamabundo 2-1, Ronny Onyango and George Odhiambo both finding the back of the net after Clinton Musa had given Kiamabundo the lead. Lakers went on to win the final 2-0 against Nyamorako, Ronny netting his second goal on the day after Augustine Odhiambo had put his name on the scoresheet.

Lakers and Queens are the last teams to book their place in the national finals spectacle which is barely two weeks away. JMJ Academy (boys), Beijing Girls and Otto Benecker (girls) from Nairobi, Coast’s Malindi United Academy and Kaloleni Queens, Rift Valley’s Gunners FC and Kapsowar Girls, Black Cats and Maragwa Queens from Central and Murhanda boys and girls from Western are among the teams who will be lining up for the national championship trophy.

Winners of this year’s competition will not only receive a cash prize of Kshs. 600,000 but a boot camp in South Africa awaits where they will get trained by Chelsea FC coaches. They will join 15 other teams from North and sub-Saharan Africa where they will compete against each other and winners rewarded.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!