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Friday, February 28, 2014

KPL Week 3 Preview: Bandari Host Winless Mathare United, Sony Aim for Perfect Record against Chemelil

A total of 6 matches are on the cards this weekend as the Kenya Premier League action enters week three. Only two clubs have a 100% win record with two matchdays played, Sony Sugar’s superior goal difference seeing them sitting on top ahead of defending champions Gor Mahia.

With Gor not having a KPL match this weekend due to their continental assignment against Tunisia side Esperance, sugar millers Sony Sugar have a chance to open a 3-point gap between them and the chasing park when they host Chemelil in Awendo on Sunday. Sony who just about beat the drop last season have had an encouraging start to their season nicking two wins out of two and keeping two clean sheets in the process. Their weekend opponents, Chemelil, are also unbeaten in their first two assignments as they look to improve on their 9th finish last season. 

Three games will be played on Saturday, the highlight being the clash between Thika United and Western Stima at the Mumias Sports Complex. Stima dismissed their coach, Francis Baraza, last weekend in spite of starting their 2014 season on a positive note. Club Chairman Laban Jobita was quick to clarify that the tactician was sacked on disciplinary grounds and not based on the results on the pitch, never mind the dismissal came immediately after Stima’s 3-1 loss to Tusker FC.

Slum Boys Mathare United are yet to register a point under their name this season and they travel to Mbaraki in Coast to tackle Bandari who beat KRA 2-0 last weekend. Sofapaka started their season with a 5-1 hammering of Muhoroni Youth but were stopped on their tracks last weekend when they went down 1-0 against Sony in their first home game of the season at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. The Batoto ba Mungu have a chance to redeem themselves as they chase their first title since 2009 when they welcome promoted side and second from bottom Nakuru All Stars in Machakos. 

Two other matches will be played on Sunday with Nairobi City Stars who beat Bandari 1-0 last weekend welcoming KCB while Ulinzi’s home turf in Afraha will see them welcome KRA.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Top 5 Things We’ve Learnt from the Kenya Premier League So Far

AFC Leopards Will Struggle after All
Given how they finished their 2013 campaign and the way they flattened Ethiopian side Defence in the preliminary round of the ongoing CAF Confederations Cup, one would have been tempted to think that AFC Leopards would be a shoo-in for the 2014 KPL title. But no. James Nandwa’s side have been laid flat on their backs in the first two games of their 2014 KPL campaign. Two straight stalemates, one ending in a 1-1 scoreline and the other on barren terms not only point to a side who have stumbled under the starter’s gun but lays bare the fact that they can hardly breach opposition defences. And this is in spite of having within their ranks a potent attacking line that includes 2013 Golden Boot winner Jacob Kelli and Allan Wanga, one of the best forwards in the league. Granted, KCB and Ulinzi are not teams you would expect to roll over at will but a side of AFC’s stature must be able to show uncanny ability to grind out results in extremis especially during the early days of the season. Had they scored just one extra goal in either or both of those games, that would have given them 6 points which would have lifted the fans’ spirits but especially put a firm belief in the players in their quest to deliver the local giants their first league trophy in 16 years. But that never happened. It may be too early to judge but Ingwe already looks like an ordinary club with extraordinary targets. Donge?

Gor Mahia Fans Will, Well, Be Gor Mahia Fans
So the first match of the season and the often drama-perched Gor Mahia fans (or should I say a cross-section of) already got themselves caught up in controversy enough to ensure they got the first taste of stadium teargas. Apparently the tickets had run out and with the fans evidently eager to get a glimpse of their stars who conquered US Britam in Gabon days earlier, they forced their way in. That the people in charge of ticketing decided to print less tickets was not only shocking but an insult to the club’s coffers. Given their participation in the ongoing CAF Champions League (a costly affair indeed) the club needs avenues to maximize their wherewithal and selling tickets is just one of the surest ways of securing some sort of financial stability. In my opinion, you surely can’t blame the fans. Then came the trip to Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos where the defending champions traveled to face Mathare United. The club’s fans never disappointed as they traveled in their numbers and were handsomely rewarded with a 1-0 win against the Slum Boys, Ugandan Danny Sserunkuma grabbing the game’s solitary goal in the 4t7th minute. Hooliganism has been part of some Kogalo fans’ part time meal over the years but kudos also goes to them who abandon the comfort (or otherwise) of their sofa sets to rally behind their beloved team.

Sofapaka Team to Watch
After whizzing past Gor Mahia in the semi finals and outwitting Mathare United in the finals of the Charity Cup in early February, Sofapaka lay down the Kenya Premier League title marker with a swashbuckling destruction of Muhoroni Youth in their first KPL assignment of the season. The Batoto ba Mungu were ruthless against the sugar men and after taking the lead at the quarter hour mark through Enock Agwanda, they never stopped until the scoreboard indicated 5-1 in their favor, new signing Antony Ndolo joining Agwanda in netting a brace. Veteran marksman John Baraza also added his name to the Sofapaka scoresheet while Muhoroni’s consolation came from Enos Ochieng’. They may have been stopped in their tracks by a decent looking Sony Sugar outfit in their second game but the hammering of Muhoroni and easy defence of their Charity Cup title against top sides should be a warning shot to the rest of the KPL teams that the 2009 champions are back in business, serious business.

KPL has Goals this Season
If there’s something that the Kenya Premier League has been lacking over the years, then goals, goals and goals has to be number one. How many games have you watched finish 1-1, 0-0 1-0? Several. Of course there are those rare occasions when you see a team do a Sofapaka on Muhoroni but such moments are as rare as finding a 20-goal poacher in the league. The last three years have seen a decline in the number of goals scored. A total of 487 goals were scored in the 2011 season when Tusker won the league but it was Sofapaka who found the back of the net most with a paltry 42 goals in 30 matches. Congo United soaked in the most conceding 52 goals in a season that averaged 2.03 goals per match in the 240 match KPL season. The goals reduced by 29 in 2012 with only 458 scored in a season that averaged 1.91 goals per match, Sofapaka’s John Baraza holding firm the golden boot with only 18 goals to his name. Last season, the goals reduced further to 423 (1.8 per match), AFC Leopards new recruit from KCB Jacob Kelli topping the goalscorers list with 17 goals, only, as the topflight continues to look for a front man who will hit double figures. Well, this could just be the year going by the fact that the new season which started a fortnight ago has witnessed 32 goals in 16 games, an average of 2.0 goals per game. Goals make football interesting and entertaining to watch so hopefully we will see more offensive football this season with more 3-0, 5-2, 4-3 games rather than the often boring 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1s.

Managerial Merry-Go-Round to Continue

Just two games into the season, Western Stima are in search of a new tactician after Francis Baraza was relieved of his duties by the Bukhungu Stadium-based club. With one win and a loss in his first two games, you would think that would not lead to a club firing the man who took reign of the club in December 2012 and helped them finish 12th on the table last season. Apparently, the coach was fired not based on results on the pitch but on disciplinary grounds. “We cannot sack a coach so early in the season due to performance. The reasons are disciplinary and we do not want to make anything public because he still has a long future,” Stima Chairman Laban Jobita is quoted to have said. Well, whether on disciplinary grounds or not, the dismissal of Baraza is a warning shot to the rest of the KPL managers: you just can’t feel so safe! Who’s next? Table-topping Sony Sugar coach Zedekiah Otieno? Never say never.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

UEFA Champions League Last-16: Real Madrid Hit Schalke for Six, Chelsea Nick an Away Goal at Galatasaray

Real Madrid got the rest of European clubs worried with a hammering display against Schalke 04 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash.

The Los Blancos’ forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema proved a mouthful to handle for the Schalke defence who soaked in 6 goals with all the aforementioned three grabbing a brace each.

The Germans clean sheet lasted only until the 13th  minute when Karim Benzema slotted home to put Madrid in the lead before record signing Gareth Bale made it 2-0 with a trademark goal in the 21st minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined the cast 7 minutes after the interval, the Ballon d’Or winner leaving Joel Matip in sixes and sevens before unleashing a left-footed shot past Schalke custodian Ralf Farhmann.

The hosts were finding it hard to contain Carlo Ancelotti’s attacking trio who made it four just five minutes later, Benzema finishing off a back heel from Ronaldo before Bale rejoined the scoring swansong with a left footed finish off Sergio Ramos’ defence piercing pass. Ronaldo finished off the embarrassment for the hosts with his second and 11th in Champions League this season in the 89th minute.

For all the goals scored by the visitors, it was however the hosts who netted the goal of the night (and goal of the season contender), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pummeling in a lovely volley from outside the area to give Jens Keller’s men a consolation goal and the fans something to cheer about. At 6-1 (Schalke's worst ever home defeat in Europe) Real Madrid are guaranteed progress into the quarterfinals with the return leg clash at the Bernabeu on March 18 just a formality.

Chelsea’s tie against Galatasaray is tipped in the balance heading into the second leg after the two sides shared a 1-1 draw in Istanbul. Fernando Torres scored the crucial away goal for Jose Mourinho’s Blues with just minutes on the clock but were unable to grab another goal against the Turkish side who equalized in the 65th minute to ensure the spoils were shared.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Manchester United Hit a New Low with Olympiakos Loss

Manchester United’s season took a turn for the worse when they suffered an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at the hands of Olympiakos Piraeus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last  16 tie.

David Moyes’ side must have left their playing boots in Manchester as they never got going against the Greek powerhouse. United failed to muster any shot on target until late on as they slumped to their first defeat against the runaway Super League leaders who scored a goal either side of half time to put themselves in the driving seat ahead of the second leg in three weeks time.

Argentine Alejandro Dominguez put Michel’s men ahead in the 38th minute by diverting Giannis Maniatis’ shot past David de Gea in United’s goal as they half ended 1-0 in favor of the Thrylos.

On-loan Arsenal forward Joel Campbell doubled the hosts’ lead 9 minutes after the breather, the Costa Rican curling in beautifully from outside the penalty area.

The Greeks saw off the rest of the match pretty comfortably in the process taking a clean 2-0 lead into the second leg clash. Their biggest job of the night though was ensuring Moyes’ side take no away goal to Old Trafford. With a defence looking as porous as it has been in the league, United will need to score at least 3 goals to guarantee them progress into the quarters. Any goal by Olympiakos will make their job even the more tougher.

In another clash on the night, Borussia Dortmund benefitted from Zenit Saint Petersburg’s lack of competitive football since December by thumping the Russians 4-2 in St. Petersburg. Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the floodgates for the Bundesliga side with a 3rd minute opener and Marco Reus made it 2-0 barely a minute later with a sweet volley. Oleg Shatov pulled one back for the Russian league leaders in the 57th minute but hopes of a comeback were extinguished by Robert Lewandowski just after the hour mark.

A controversial penalty decision from Scottish referee Willie Collum saw Hulk draw another one back for the hosts but Lewandowski had the last say in the game slotting in his second and BVB’s fourth in the 71st minute. The 4-2 away win left Jurgen Klopp’s men who lost in the final last season on the verge of qualifying for the quarters ahead of the replay in Dortmund in three weeks time.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

UEFA Champions League Last-16: Manchester United Face Greek Test as Dortmund Seek for Redemption in Russia

Bundled out of all domestic cup competitions and needing something more than a miracle to defend their Premier League title, Manchester United travel to Greece to tackle Greek giants Olympiakos Piraeus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout tie.

Trailing 11 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool in the race for next season’s Champions League football, the Red Devils travel to Southern Europe well aware that winning the prestigious tournament may be their only chance of participating in it next season.

They however will need to go past the Greek champions elect who haven’t lost a match since going down 2-1 to Paris Saint Germain in November last year. Jose ‘Michel’ Miguel’s outfit currently lead the Super League with 74 points, 20 ahead of second placed PAOK and haven’t lost a league match for a year.

Their opponents in contrast are struggling to get a grip in the Premier League but collected a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend. Their form in Europe however has been almost outstanding as they topped their group and are unbeaten so far in the competition.

The Greeks have met the English side four times before losing all the four matches. Their last meeting was in October 2002 where the Old Trafford side collected a 3-2 second leg win after cruising 4-0 in the first leg.

In the other match on the night, fast-fading Borussia Dortmund make the long trip to Russia to face Zenit Saint Petersburg. Jurgen Klopp’s men hit a new low in the Bundesliga this past weekend going down 3-0 to relegation candidates Hamburg, a defeat that saw them fall 20 points behind Bayern Munich in the race for the German domestic title.

They clash against Luciano Spalletti’s Zenit who haven’t played a competitive match since December last year but will nevertheless fancy their chances in front of the home crowd.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Kenya Open Golf Receives Sh2.3m Boost from Hemingways Collection

The Kenya Open Golf Championship has received a Kshs 2.3 million sponsorship from Hemingways Collection, Nairobi, ahead of the tee off early next month.

The annual championship which has grown in stature since its inception 46 years ago has attracted household names who are expected to compete for at least Kshs. 23 million which will be up for grabs during the 4-day tournament at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi.

“Hemingways Collection is proud to be associated with the Kenya Open Golf Championship and our sponsorship is intended to assist the organizers in continuing to develop this outstanding tournament become the best Golf Tournament on the European Challenge Tour circuit,” said Alastair Addison, Hemingways Collection CEO during the announcement at Hemingways Nairobi.

The sponsorship will cater for the accommodation of all the championship officials at the facility including two referees, tournament administrator, Director of the Challenge Tour, an agronomist and two press officers among others.

“This tournament is one of the greatest we have in the African soil and we recognize the role that tournament officials play in making it a success,” said Alastair. “Hemingways Nairobi is conveniently located next to the golf course and this will work in favour of the organizers,” he added.

Speaking at the same function, Chairman of Kenya Open Golf Tournament Limited, Mr. Peter Kanyago said, “We are grateful for this great boost from Hemingways and other companies who have come out to support this championship. The golf course is in great shape and we are looking forward to a very competitive championship and we urge supporters to come in their numbers and rally behind their favourite players especially our very own.”

A total of 156 players from Africa, South America, Europe, United States, Korea among others have confirmed participation in the championship with Kenya registering over 20 players. No Kenyan player has ever won the championship since its inception, the hosts’ best finish coming in 1998 when Jacob Okello finished second.

Spaniard, Jordi Garcia Pinto, won last year’s championship and is expected to defend his title. Greg Snow was Kenya’s best placed local in the previous edition finishing 34th overall with a par of 284.

“We will offer a free weekend here at Hemingways Nairobi for any Kenyan player who wins the championship,” noted the facility CEO Alastair.

The prestigious tournament is expected to tee off on the 6th of March with the final round slated for three days later on the 9th.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

European Leagues Review: Bayern Cruising in Bundesliga, Real Madrid Move to La Liga Summit as EPL Race Heats up with Wins for Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool

Chelsea and Manchester City both left it late in their solitary goal wins over Stoke City and Everton on Saturday. Yaya Toure popped in a 70th minute winner for the Citizens in a frustrating evening at the Eitihad while John Terry’s goal in stoppage time settled the nerves at Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who continue to lead the log, one point above Arsenal who thumped Sunderland 4-1. Liverpool edged out Swansea 4-3 in a 7-goal thriller at Anfield to keep up to pace with the top three. The Reds commanded a 2-0 lead within the first 20 minutes of the game courtesy of Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson only for Jonjo Shelvey and Wifried Bony to draw level within six minutes.  Sturridge put the Reds ahead again before half time but Bony drew level just after the restart from a spot tick.  Liverpool however would have the last laugh when Henderson pounced for their fourth which proved to be the winning goal as the Merseysiders netted their 70th goal of the Premier League season and moved to within 4 points off leaders Chelsea. Robert Snodgrass’ 47th minute goal saw Norwich City beat Tottenham 1-0 while Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney netted in Manchester United’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, a victory that saw the Red Devils finally move up the table to 6th at the expense of Everton who have a game in hand.

Real Madrid moved to the top of the La Liga standings after beating Elche 3-0 while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both lost. The Los Blancos had a comfortable win with Asier Illarramendi, Gareth Bale and Isco all finding the back of the net in the Saturday match. After the victory, the onus was now with Barca and Atletico who traveled to Real Sociedad and Osasuna respectively but they both lost, the former 3-1 and the latter 3-0. The defeat to Gerardo Martino and Diego Simeone’s men left them three points adrift of Real Madrid.

Bayern Munich extended their lead in Bundesliga to 19 points after they beat Hannover 96 4-0 while the chasing pack of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund both lost. The Bavarians found the back of the net twice in both halves, Thomas Muller netting a goal either side of Thiago Alcantara and Mario Mandzukic’s second and fourth for the champions elect. Dortmund’s fall from grace continued after they went down 3-0 at Hamburg SV while Leverkusen suffered their second defeat in a row in a 3-1 loss away at Wolfsburg. Schalke squandered a chance to move into second place after they could only muster a barren draw against Mainz as Nurnberg’s fight against relegation took a sweet turn when they beat bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 to go 4 points clear of the drop.

Carlos Tevez’ strike at the half hour mark was enough for Juventus to ward off the challenge of Torino as they cemented top spot in Serie A. The Argentine struck from a Kwadwo Asamoah assist to ensure the Old Lady’s 9-point advantage over Roma remained intact. Roma did their slim title hopes favor with an away win at Bologna to open a 7-point gap between them and Napoli who play Genoa on Monday. AC Milan recorded a second victory in a row as Adel Taarabt and Adil Rami netted either side of the interval. There was frustration however for Inter Milan who had Rolando to thank for their equalizer against Cagilari with the match ending in a 1-1 stalemate. Lazio held their nerves to beat bottom side Sassuolo 3-2 while Chievo were the only team in the bottom 10 to collect three points in their 2-0 win over Catania.


With Monaco dismissing Reims 3-2 two days earlier, the pressure was on Carlo Ancelloti’s PSG to deliver the three points in their assignment at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse. And it was down to top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic who delivered the goodies with a virtuoso performance that saw him grab a hat-trick in a cagey 4-2 win. Highly rated 23-year-old Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice for the hosts but Ibra and co were just too good as they collected the win which kept the gap at the top to 5 points. Saint Etienne beat Bastia 2-0 to move to within a point of Champions League chasing Lille who were held 0-0 by Olympique Lyonnais. Ajjacio remained rock bottom after going down 2-0 at Montpellier.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

KPL Week Two Preview: Sofapaka Host Sony Sugar in Top of the Table Clash as AFC Leopards Seek for Ulinzi Scalp

The Kenya Premier League action enters its second week this weekend with 8 matches lined up. Early pace setters, Sofapaka and Sony Sugar clash in the former’s new grounds in Machakos. Sofapaka mauled Muhoroni Youth 5-1 in their first game of the season while Sony were 3-0 winners away to promoted side Nakuru AllStars. The top of the table clash between the Sugar millers and Batoto ba Mungu will take place on Sunday. 

Four matches will be on the cards on Saturday with the early kickoff seeing KRA seek for their first point of the season when they host Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) who held AFC Leopards 1-1 in their first match on Wednesday. Muhoroni will look to bounce back from their humiliating defeat at the hands of Sofapaka when they travel to Awasi to face Chemelil Sugar who battled to a 1-1 stalemate against Ulinzi in Nakuru.

Promoted side, Nakuru AllStars started their campaign in the Premier League with a 3-0 humbling at the hands of established side Sony Sugar but they will have a chance to put things rights when they play host to Thika United in Afraha. 

The late kickoff on Saturday will feature Tusker against Western Stima. Francis Kimanzi’s Tusker drew their first match 1-1 against Thika United, Brian Osumba riffling in to cancel out Dennis Odhiambo’s opener for Thika while Stima had a solitary goal success over Mathare United.

Four more matches will be played on Sunday with defending Champions Gor Mahia play against Mathare United. Kogalo blanked Nairobi City Stars 2-0 in their season opener and will go into the Mathare clash oozing with confidence having won their past three competitive fixtures. AFC Leopards, who were held to a 1-1 draw by KCB will host Ulinzi Stars with both clubs looking for their first three points of the season. Third-placed Bandari will seek to continue their perfect start to the season when they face 3rd from bottom Nairobi City Stars.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Manuel Neuer Inspires Bayern to Victory over Arsenal

German No.1 keeper, Manuel Neuer saved Mesut Ozil’s first half penalty and was peerless between the posts for Bayern Munich who crushed Arsenal’s hope of progressing from the Champions league knockout stages.

The former Schalke man showed just why he’s considered the best goalkeeper in the world when he thwarted Arsenal’s incessant attacks during the first quarter of the game. The Gunners were the quickest off the blocks troubling the Bavarians backline early on but they failed to beat Neuer who made stunning saves from Yaya Sanogo and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain but it was the save from Ozil’s spot kick that was the toast of his stunning display against Arsenal.

The turning point of the game, however, came in the 37th minute when Wojciech Szczesny brought down Arjen Robben in the box and Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli not only awarded Bayern a penalty but sent the Poland custodian to the dressing room. Up stepped David Alaba who sent substitute keeper Lukasz Fabianski the wrong way but his effort hit the far post and went out wide.

The Bundesliga leaders controlled proceedings henceforth but could not breach the Gunners defence as the teams went for the breather deadlocked at 0-0.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola’s first move at the interval was to withdraw Jerome Boateng for Rafinha as he pumped attacking vigor into the front line. It took barely 10 minutes after the interval for the defending champions to take the lead, Toni Kroos curling in beautifully from outside the penalty area to give his team a priceless away goal.

It was evident the English side were suffering from their one-man disadvantage as they barely got off their own half, Bayern zipping passes from left to right leaving the Gunners chasing shadows. Fabianski was forced into pulling top drawer saves from Robben and Kroos before substitute Thomas Muller connected with a cross from Philip Lahm to give the Germans their second goal on the night.

Two could have been three had Kroos’ rattling shot not hit the post but Arsene Wenger and his men would only concede the two which sees their hopes of qualifying to the last 8 hanging by a thread.

Bayern won a treble last year and based on this result against Arsenal, they look well on course to achieve a similar feat. They are 16 points ahead of the chasing park for the Bundesliga title and will face FC Kaiserslautern in the semi finals of the German Cup.

Meanwhile in Milan, Diego Costa struck in the 83rd minute to give Atletico Madrid a vital 1-0 win and away goal against AC Milan. Milan created the best chances of the game but failed to beat an inspired Thibaut Courtois between the posts for the Spaniards who will feel confident to progress to the quarters when they welcome Milan at the Vicente Calderon in the return leg in three weeks time.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Barcelona Hit Man City as PSG Rout Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League Last 16

La Liga heavyweights Barcelona and their Ligue 1 counterparts, Paris Saint Germain, put themselves in the driving seat in their Champions League knockout stage ties against Manchester City and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

A Lionel Messi converted penalty and a goal from Daniel Alves in the 90th minute helped Barcelona to a 2-0 over City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash at the Eitihad Stadium in Manchester.

With the game locked at 0-0 in the 54th minute, Martin Demichelis brought down his Argie teammate Messi, in the box and the little messiah stepped up and sent Joe Hart the wrong way to give Barca the lead and a vital away goal. The goal was not the only punishment for the hosts as Demichelis was given his marching orders leaving City to play with a man less for the rest of the game.

The hosts gave a good account of themselves given the circumstances and created more chances with David Silva and Edin Dzeko both forcing fine saves from Victor Valdes. However, it was the Catalans who would score the next goal in a game which had limited chances given the attacking caliber of both sides. Daniel Alves burst forward from the right flank before slotting between the legs of Hart to score a goal that might just prove to be the last nail on the Citizens’ Champions League quarterfinal hopes.

There was a red card also in Germany where Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s golazo was the toast of PSG’s rout of Bayer Leverkusen. The beastly Swede netted a brace to steer the Parisians to a 4-0 mauling of Leverkusen who will need something sort of a miracle to advance to the quarter finals.

Blaise Matuidi gave the French side the lead with barely three minutes on the clock before Ibrahimovic converted a penalty in the 39th minute after Emir Spahic brought down Ezequiel Lavezzi in the box. The big Swede then rifled in a thunderbolt off a Matuidi layoff to score PSG’s third just three minutes before the interval to all but end the tie as a contest. There was even time for a fourth when Yohan Cabaye netted his first for the PSG in the 88th minute leaving Sami Hyypia’s men with a four-goal deficit going into the return leg in Paris.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Champions League Knockout Stage: Can Arsenal Beat the Bayern Voodoo?

Three times before, Arsenal have met Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League and in all those occasions, they have been bundled out of the competition by the Bundesliga giants.

The two meet again in the knockout stage of this year’s competition with the first leg set for the Emirates on Wednesday night. The Gunners and Bayern met during the same stage of the competition last year and it was the Bavarians who were raising the champagne high in spite of losing the return leg 2-0 having all but secured entry into the quarters with a 3-1 win at the Emirates.

Bayern have been in imperious form especially in the domestic front where they are on course to defending the Bundesliga title where they lead the chasing pack of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund with 16 and 17 points respectively. Arsenal are chasing three titles as they try to end their 8-year trophy drought and a result against the Bavarians will not only make the second leg entertaining but will give Wenger’s men the self confidence they need.

A 2-1 defeat of Liverpool in the FA Cup was sort of sweet revenge for them having fell 5-1 to the Reds a fortnight ago. Bayern will be weary of Arsenal’s home form, they haven’t’ lost at home in their last 13 games, but even in the absence of Franck Ribery, they have verve and attacking potent that might make the absence of the Frenchman almost unnoticeable. The Gunners will be without suspended Mikel Arteta while Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaleen and Abou Diaby will sit out with injury.

Bayern have won all their last 9 competitive fixtures since losing 3-2 to Manchester City in their Champions League match group stage match. Pep Guardiola will be happy to welcome midfielder Bastian Schweinstieger to his ranks, the German having featured twice as the continues to recover from his injury while Wenger will try to rely on the speed of Alex Oxlade Chamberlin to hurt the Bayern defence who conceded only 5 times during the group stages.

The other round of 16 fixture on Wednesday night will see Atletico Madrid travel to Italy to face fast-fading AC Milan. Milan have had an indifferent season which sees them lie 9th in Serie A and winning the Champions League may be their only chance of participating in the competition next year. Their visiting Spanish outfit, however, have been in imperious form and are currently showing they can mix it up with the untouchables of Spanish football, Barca and Real Madrid. The Vicente Calderon side are locked in a three-horse race for the La Liga title and are currently placed third on the log albeit only on goal difference as they are all on 60 points.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Champions League Round of 16: Barcelona Seek Man City Scalp as Zlatan's PSG Travel to Leverkusen

The UEFA Champions League resumes this Tuesday with fascinating matches lined up in the first leg of the knockout stages across Europe.

The first matches of the Round of 16 will see La Liga Champions and 4-time winners Barcelona travel to England to face Manchester City. The two clubs have never met in a competitive fixture and their only meeting was in a friendly at the Camp Nou in 2009, a match the Citizens won 1-0 courtesy of a Martin Petrov goal in the 27th minute.

City and the Catalans go into the match at the back of victories in their respective domestic assignments, City beating rivals Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup while Barcelona triumphed 6-0 against Rayo Vallecano. Manuel Pellegrini’s City finished runners-up to reigning champions Bayern Munich in Group D while Barcelona beat Milan to the top of Group H to set up the clash that will see Yaya Toure face his former employers. Both clubs finished their group assignments with only one defeat.

The Eitihad outfit have won 18 of their 20 home games this season scoring for fun even against established opponents like Arsenal and Tottenham. However, they will be without their top scorer Sergio Aguero who notched 6 goals during the group stages but Gerardo Martino has a full squad to choose from as they try to keep up with their record of having reached at least the semi finals in their last six campaigns.

Meanwhile Paris Saint Germain travel to Germany to face Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen at the Bay Arena. The French Ligue 1 table topping side will be without Edison Cavani going into the match but in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the tournament's second top scorer, they will nevertheless pose serious threat to the hosts who will have some key stars out with injuries. Leverkusen finished runners-up to Manchester United in their group while behemoths PSG topped Group C ahead of Olympiacos.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2014 Kenya Premier League Set for Kickoff this Weekend

The 11th season of the Kenya Premier League begins this weekend with 6 matches on the cards. Defending champions Gor Mahia and their rivals AFC Leopards will however be out of action until Wednesday as they are due to travel for their continental assignments in Gabon and Ethiopia respectively.  

Promoted sides, Top Fry AllStars and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will get their first taste of the top division away at Sony Sugar and Bandari respectively.  KRA earned promotion into the top flight after edging out former league side Posta Rangers 5-4 in post-match penalties while Nakuru-based Top Fry AllStars piped Oserian 1-0 to earn their return after 40 years of waiting. Top Fry will play in Awendo on Saturday as KRA travel to Mbaraki on Sunday for the Bandari clash.

Other matches on Saturday will see Charity Cup losing finalists, Mathare United travel to Western Kenya to battle Western Stima in Mumias. The two clubs just about avoided dropping to the lower tier last season as they both finished on 32 points, just 3 above relegated Kakamega Homeboyz.

Charity Cup champions and 2009 winners, Sofapaka, will start their campaign away to Muhoroni Youth as 2010 champions Ulinzi Stars host Chemelil Sugar at Afraha, both on Saturday.

Thika United and Tusker FC both finished locked on 42 points last season but the latter’s superior goal difference saw them finish 5th, two spots above United. They will be gunning for a quick start when they clash in Thika on Sunday.

Top two teams in the league, Gor and AFC will play their matches against  Nairobi City Stars and KCB on Wednesday next week. Gor travel to Libreville for their return leg African Champions League clash against Gabonese side US Britam holding a 1-0 lead while Leopards have two goals to the good against Ethiopia’s Defence in the CAF Confederations Cup.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tusker FC Unveil New Faces ahead of Kenya Premier League Kickoff

Tusker FC’s bid to regain the Tusker Premier League title got a shot in the arm during the off season with the signing of several new players.

The 2012 Champions who surrendered their title to Gor Mahia last season were active during the long break capturing the signatures of 2012 KPL player of the year Kevin Kimani, last year’s defender of the year Brian Osumba and his now former KCB teammate Clifford Alwanga. Congolese-born Kenyan Bob Mugalia ended his 3-year stint with Sofapaka to try reinvent himself under coach Francis Kimanzi.

“I can’t complain of the quality of our new players. We are very lucky that we have one of the best squad selections in the league. This year, I believe that the quality players we have integrated into our team will put up a strong challenge in the Tusker Premier League.” said head coach, Francis Kimanzi during the unveiling of the new signings at their training grounds in Ruaraka.

Other players who joined the Tusker camp are Duncan Wafula from Busia United, Rodgers Omondi and Farouk Shikalo from Nationwide side Talanta.

Besides his new signings, Tusker will be relying on the predatory Jesse Were to continue his impressive form that saw him just miss out on the golden boot having found the back of the net 14 times last season.

“We always expect the best from Jesse. It’s a new season that has new coaches and new teammates around him. He also has a stronger midfield who have been working toprovide him better service,” added Kimanzi.

The ten time champions open their 2014 campaign with a trip to Thika United on Sunday before clashing with Western Stima and reigning champions Gor Mahia. 

Tusker Brand Manager Antony Esyalai believes the team can make a mark this season by producing a credible performance in the league and qualifying for continental football.

“The brand’s support of Tusker FC fits very well within our strategy to develop talent and improve the standards of football in the region,” said Mr. Esyalai.

“We congratulate the club on their achievements and also encourage the players to continue flying the Tusker FC and Kenya flags high as they prepare for the new season. We urge all our fans to rally behind the team to reach new heights,” he added.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

David Moyes and the Unwanted Records He’s Broken at Man United

In Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, Manchester United have one of the most potent attacking forces in British football. However, that was barely seen on Saturday evening against Stoke City who edged them out 2-1 in the process becoming the 8th club this season to rake in maximum points out of the reigning Premier League champions. It was always going to be a hard match against the Trotters but you would have thought United would nevertheless give a performance with the brilliance that outweighed their opponent’s combative approach. But it wasn’t to be.

Stoke City’s win was their first against the Old Trafford side since Boxing Day 1984. That was 30 years ago. It is the latest setback for United under the tutelage of David Moyes who has ‘broken’ all manner of records since taking the reins at the Greater Manchester club. The resultant effect is that United are running the risk of missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 19 years as they currently trail 4th placed Liverpool by 7 points.

Here are some of the club records that the Scotsman has helped United annihilate:

  • Their 2-1 defeat against West Brom in September last year was the first time they lost to the Baggies since 1978. Back then, Ron Atkinson’s West Brom trailed 2-3 at half time but three second half goals ensured they bagged three points in what is considered as one of their greatest games in their history. Morgan Amalfitano and Saido Berahino who netted for West Brom as well as Wayne Rooney who scored United’s only goal had not been born.

  • After the loss to West Brom came the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Moyes’ former club Everton in December 12th 2013. That was the Toffees’ first win at Old Trafford since their 3-0 success in 1992. Romelo Lukaku, who assisted Bryan Oviedo for the solitary goal win was not ever born then. David Moyes failed to win at Old Trafford in 11 years in charge of the Merseyside outfit. Roberto Martinez did it in one game.

  • The 1-0 home loss to Newcastle was the first since 1972 when Toons cruised 2-0 in a game that had the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kid in United’s starting IX. 

  • Their defeat in the third round of the FA Cup at the hands of Swansea was their first ever home loss against the Welsh outfit in all competitions. It was also the first time the Red Devils got eliminated at that stage of the competition, something that happened only once in Sir Alex Fergusson's 27 years in charge of the club.

  • Their current home league form of four defeats is their worst in over 10 years.

  • The three loses in January to Tottenham, Sunderland and Chelsea were their first in the month for 40 years. With those matches all played in one week, the Glazers’-owned club lost three matches in a week for the first time in 22 seasons. 

  • The defeat to Sunderland in the league cup was United’s maiden, the Stadium of Lights side having failed to nick victory in the fixture in 20 previous attempts dating back to 2000. 

  • United dropped only 25 points throughout their title winning campaign last season. They have dropped 32 points from their 24 premier league matches this season.

  • Their current league position, 7th, is their lowest at this point of the season since 1988/89.

  • And there’s more to come!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!