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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Northwest Rift Duo, Kitale Young and Starlets Win Rift Valley COPA Provincial Title

Kitale Young Stars and the corresponding ladies’ team, Kitale Young Starlets are the new Rift Valley provincial champions after they emerged winners in the region’s COPA Under-15 provincial finals played at Uasin Gishu Primary.

The duo wrestled the men’s and ladies’ titles from Gunners FC and Kapsoware girls who never made it beyond the group stages, in the process earning themselves a ticket to the national finals set for Nairobi in less than a month.

Kitale Youth were simply imperious on the day scoring 12 goals and conceding only two as cruised to the region’s title. The far-travelling Northwest Rift outfit won their knockout match 2-1 against South Rift’s Ujuzi Stars before an Eric Wafula brace and a third goal from Issa Rashid saw them ease past Boca Juniors 3-1 in the semis.

The team led by coach John ‘Ingwe’ Baraza clashed with Bomet in the final, the latter having secured their qualification after a 2-1 win over Cherangany Boys in the semis.

Two freekick goals from Kibet Maxwell and one from Charles Chege within the first five minutes all but ended Bomet’s hopes of winning the fixture and their miseries were compounded further by David Mwite and Elly Saenyi who both netted to give Kitale an unassailable 5-0 lead at the breather.

Chege grabbed his second immediately after the restart, the lanky frontman leaping head and shoulders above the rest to head home Kitale’s 6th. Kennedy Mwenda and Joseph Thuo also found the back of the net before full time to ensure Kitale whitewashed a hapless Bomet 8-0 and book their slot in the national finals.

Kitale Starlets were not quite as ruthless but they did a similar job as their boys’ counterparts. They won 2-0 against Nakuru Starlets in their knockout match before edging Naivasha Site 4-2 in post match penalties. Sinathe Baraza netted the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Cherangany in the final, a result that booked them a date in the national spectacle.

The two Kitale teams join Nairobi’s JMJ Academy, Beijing Girls and Kibra League Queens as well as Eastern’s Black Cats and Maragwa Queens who already qualified from their provincial finals. Others who have advanced to the nationals are Kisumu Lakers and Nyamira Girls from Nyanza as well as Murhanda and Shinyalu Girls from Western.

The last leg of the provincial finals will be played in Coast before teams assemble for the nationals slated to begin on the 9th of August.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JMJ Academy Successfully Defend COPA Nairobi Title, Qualify for Nationals alongside Western's Murhanda Boys

Reigning COPA Coca-Cola national champions, JMJ Academy, will have a chance to defend their title after they successfully retained the Nairobi provincial title at Nairobi Technical this past weekend.

JMJ won all but one of their matches to pip Makadara Juniors to the provincial title and ensure they qualify for the nationals for the second year in a row.

The mountain-view based side beat Victoria Sports 2-0 in their first match before claiming a tough 1-0 win over Nairobi East’s Kariobangi Sports to set up a tense finale against Makadara Juniors. Little could separate the two teams in both halves with the match ending in a 1-1 stalemate, a result that favored JMJ.

Last year’s losing finalists, Beijing Girls, grabbed the ladies title after winning all their three matches. Beijing won 2-0 against Kibra Queens and were even more generous in their next two matches dishing out a 6-0 and 4-0 thrashing to Golden Angels and Tia Hope Girls respectively. Kibra took the other slot reserved for Nairobi after mauling Golden Angels 5-0 and ending Tiah Hope’s campaign with a 4-1 dismissal.

Meanwhile a sublime hat-trick from Elvis Stambasi helped Murhanda Boys to a 3-1 victory over Webuye as they successfully defended the Western region title but more importantly, qualified for the national finals set for Nairobi mid next month. Murhanda who just about squeezed through to the finals after surviving late onslaught from Teso in their win 1-0 win in the semis were head and shoulders above Webuye. The new entrants struggled to get a grip of the game from the off and only scored a consolation goal in stoppage time through a Collins Lusaka penalty.

Shinyalu Girls took the ladies’ honors after expertly dismissing a hapless Ebusiloli Girls 4-0 in the final. Mildred Alusa and Sylvia Munyasia both netted a brace to earn Shinyalu their ticket to the nationals showpiece.

Young Muslim edged out Berlin FC 5-3 in post match penalties to lift the North Eastern title. The five qualifiers from this weekend will meet 11 other teams in the national finals slated for August. Rift Valley and Coast regions will host their provincial finals over the next two weeks.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gotze Strike Wins Germany the 2014 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup trophy will remain in Europe for at least four more years after Germany edged out Argentina 1-0 in the finals played at a full Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho (Maracana) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Substitute Mario Gotze’s goal in extra time proved decisive as Die Manschafft won their first title in 24 years. Joachim Loew’s side were always the favorites going into the game more so after their 7-1 demolition job of hosts Brazil in the semis while Argentina piped the Netherlands on post match penalties.

The cagey game saw the South Americans carve out the first chance in the game, Gonzalo Higuain wasting a perfect chance to put his team in the lead when Toni Kroos’ attempted header back to his keeper fortuitously fell into the path of the Napoli front man. Known for his clinical finishing, the 26-year-old fluffed his lines directing his half volley off the target much to the relief of the now 4-time champions.

Higuian was at it again at the half hour mark benefitting from some good work down the right channel by Ezequiel Lavezzi but although he found the back of the net this time, the flag was up for offside.

Germany’s first real chance to leap ahead in the fixture came before the interval when an unmarked Benedikt Howedes saw his header crash against the post as the half ended barren.

Alejandro Sabella’s men started the second half as they did in the first, Lionel Messi, spurning his chance wide after beating the offside trap with only Manuel Neuer to beat. With the game quickly heading to extra time, both teams created half chances but none could genuinely find the back of the net in normal time.

Substitutes Andre Schurrle for Germany and Rodrigo Palacaios for Argentina both forced crucial saves from the keepers before Gotze’s telepathic combination with Schurrle produced the winning goal 7 minutes before full time.

The win gave Germany its first title since the unification of East and West Germany but denied the Argies their first in 28years. Die Manschafft also became the first European team to triumph in the Americas soil.

There was however a consolation for captain Lionel Messi who won the golden ball given for the best player in the tournament. Thomas Muller of Germany and Netherland’s Arjen Robben finished second and third respectively. Colombian forward, James Rodriguez, collected the golden boot having scored 6 goals in the tournament while Frenchman Paul Pogba took home the young player of the tournament gong. Manuel Neuer was the golden glove winner.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

COPA Defending Champions JMJ Face Acid Test in Nairobi Provincial Finals

COPA Coca-Cola defending champions, JMJ Academy will be among the teams fighting for the last remaining national finals slots this weekend. 

JMJ who trounced Kisumu Lakers 3-1 to lift the title last year will be in action in the Nairobi Provincial finals playoffs set for Nairobi Technical grounds this Saturday. 

The Shaban Baraza-led outfit will first take on their Nairobi West branch rivals, Victoria Sports with the two teams having already clashed in the group stages in a match that ended in a stalemate. Kariobangi Combined will clash with Makadara Juniors in the second match of the day. 

The teams will play in round robin format with the top team at the end of the day qualifying for the national finals set for Nairobi mid next month. In the ladies’ matches, last year’s beaten finalists, Beijing Stars will be gunning for their second successive national finals appearance. 

Beijing who won all their group stage matches will face Kibra League Queens who they already beat in the Nairobi West league before they square off against Nairobi East duo Golden Angels and Tia Hope Girls. 

Nairobi will parade two girls’ teams in the national finals spectacle since the North Eastern region won’t present a ladies’ team. 

Meanwhile the Western provincial finals will also be played this weekend where bigwigs and defending champions, Murhanda Young Talent will be among the participants. Murhanda and their eternal rivals Bulimbo Academy qualified from the Western Branch and will square it off against Northwestern duo ofWebuye Primary and Teso United at the Bukhungu Stadium. 

Murhanda who lifted the Western title last year will play Teso United with Bulimbo taking on Webuye. In the ladies’ category, Kapsokwony Ladies will have their work cut out when they clash against Shinyalu Young Sports with Nangwe Girls facing Ebusiloli Girls in the other match. 

In North Eastern, Young Muslims will clash against hosts Garissa Primary in the first of the two semi finals, the other one being Berlin FC versus Wamu FC. Winners of the two semis will battle in the final for the single national finals ticket reserved for the region. The games will be played at Garissa Primary on Sunday.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kisumu Lakers Triumph, Queens Dethroned in COPA Nyanza Provincials

Kisumu Lakers will for the second consecutive time be making an appearance in the COPA Coca-Cola national finals after they successfully defended the Nyanza provincial finals title.

Lakers who finished runners-up to JMJ Academy in last year’s national finals survived solid competition in the Nyanza playoffs played at Gusii Stadium, their experience proving the difference.

The Lakeside outfit cruised past Gucha Star Boys 2-0 in their knockout match courtesy of goals from Collins Omondi and Basil Ochieng. The win set them up for a clash against their Nyanza North counterparts Bondo United with the two teams having already met at the group stages. The match lived up to its billing with neither teams able to break the deadlock, thanks in part to Joseph Bwire’s heroics between the posts for Lakers.

With the match ending barren, the two teams squared off on penalties where Bwire was for the umpteenth time the hero saving two penalties to help Lakers overcome Bondo 2-1. With Aspire Youth claiming a 5-4 penalty shoot out victory over Rachuonyo Boys in the other semi final, the duo clashed under rainy conditions to decide who will represent Nyanza in this year’s national finals battle slated for mid August in Nairobi.

It was Lakers who took the lead after exerting persistent pressure on Aspire’s back four, Erick Ochieng at the end of a well-worked team move. The goal sprung Aspire to life but all their threats on goal ended on Bwire smothering every attack aimed at him.

Lakers started the second half on a wrong footing, goal scorer Ochieng receiving his marching orders after a second bookable offence. However, Aspire failed to capitalize on their one man advantage and it was the defending champions who doubled their lead, Frankline Otieno’s sublime freekick skidding to the back of the net. 

Two soon became three after Benson Ochieng added his name to the scoresheet just before the final whistle as Lakers won 3-0 and earned themselves a return ticket to the nationals.

There was no joy however for Lakers’ sister team, Kisumu Queens, who were locked out of contention by eventual champions Nyamira Ladies. The two teams looked to have been heading for a penalty shoot out until Nyamira were awarded a controversial last minute penalty which they expertly converted to claim a 1-0 win and bundle the defending champions out. 

Cyprian Magadhi netted the only goal in a 1-0 win over Gucha Ladies in the semis and she went even one better in the finals match scoring a brace as Nyamira claimed a 2-0 win over Onjiko Girls Talent that saw them claim the Nyanza provincials title and a slot in the national finals.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

COPA Provincial Finals Showdown Set for Nyanza, Eastern Regions

After taking a fortnight break, the under-14 COPA Coca-Cola grassroots youth football tournament resumes this weekend with provincial finals set for Nyanza and Eastern regions.

With the national finals edging ever closer, July will be a busy month for the teams who will fight for the 8 slots available for the national finals spectacle in both the boys and girls categories.

This weekend will see last year’s losing finalists, Kisumu Lakers engage in an blockbuster battle alongside six other teams drawn from Nyanza North, South and West with only one slot available for the region in the nationals showpiece slated for early next month.

Lakers who finished unbeaten to top the Nyanza North standings have been pitted to play against Gucha Star Boys in the knockout phase. Gucha finished runners-up to Rachuonyo Boys in Nyanza South branch league but will be the underdogs against Lakers who will be aiming to go one better this year by winning the nationals title after losing 3-1 to JMJ Academy in last year’s final.

Their Nyanza North counterparts, Bondo Combined, will contest against Aspire Youth in a match that could go either way. Aspire beat Mbita Little Stars to the top of the Nyanza West league with the latter landing a tie against Rachuonyo. 

The winner of the Aspire versus Bondo Combined match will clash with the winner of Rachuonyo versus Mbita match in the semis while Lakers or Gucha Stars will clash with the best loser in all the three quarterfinal matches.

In the ladies’ matches, last year’s national finalists, Kisumu Queens will be odds on favorites to lift the crown but will first have to work their way past Nyamira Ladies. Gucha Girls will clash against Orwa Ojode Girls as Kuria Ladies and Onjiko Girls measure up in the other match. The matches will be played at Gusii Stadium.

Eastern province will also host its provincial finals leg where Black Cats will be going for their second successive national finals appearance. Cats will take on Isiolo United from Upper Eastern at Moi Stadium in Embu. Taqwa Academy will face Machakos Talent Center as Tharaka Young Stars clash with Migwini All Stars in the other two boys’ matches.

In the girls’ category, Muminji Starlets will take to the field first with a battle against Kirindira Girls before favorites for the girls’ title in the region, Kyanika Girls, entertain Fun Starlets. Makueni Red Shooters versus Tharaka Starlets will put an end to the fixtures before they proceed for the crucial semi finals stage.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It’s Raining Goals This 2014 FIFA World Cup!!

Heading into this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, football pundits, and fans, were a worried lot given the number of stars who were dropping out early mainly due to injuries.

From German’s midfield whiz kid Marco Reus to Colombia’s talisman Radamel Falcao to French winger Franck Ribery to Belgium target man Christian Benteke, injury had robbed the world some of its most precocious players. 

As if that wasn’t enough, there was also the case of players who would miss out because their countries failed to qualify, likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Garth Bale, Arda Turan, Daniel Agger, Robert Lewandowski and Henrik Mkhitaryan, to mention but a few. 

However, with teams the tournament almost at its penultimate stage, all those injuries, the missing stars look like things gone past. Forgotten.

You know why? Well, there’s been entertainment, top quality football, upsets, but most of all, goals. Goals. Goals. And more goals. 

In what started with an own goal from Brazil fullback Marcelo in the opening match between the hosts and Croatia, the 2014 FIFA World Cup has rained goals and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. That opening match the Seleceao won 3-1 with the four goals in match being the highest number of goals in an opening match in the last 12 World Cup opening matches. 

With 54 matches having been played when you are reading this article, 150 goals (average of 2.78 per game) have been scored with all the 32 participating teams finding the back of the net at least once. That has already surpassed the total amount scored in the 2010 South Africa World Cup which stood at 145. 

At an average of 2.78 goals per game, this year’s World Cup will likely produce a record number of goals in a 32-team tournament. The current record is 171 (average of 2.67) set in the 1998 France leg, the first time the World Cup involved 32 teams. 

Group B winners Netherlands have been the most generous of the teams netting 12 goals in their four matches. Germany have scored the most number of goals in the two previous World Cup editions, 14 goals in 2006 and 16 in 2010. Loius van Gal's men will do themselves a world of good should they continue banging in the goals if the fact that on 8 previous occasions, the top scoring nation at the World Cup have gone on to win it, the last one being France in 1998. 

Colombia forward James Rodriguez leads the scoring chats with 5 goals having scored in all of his nation’s four world cup matches. Thomas Muller’s haul of the same number of goals was enough to see him grab the golden boot in South Africa in 2010, and so did Miroslav Klose in 2006 with the same number of goals. 

Brazil’s prodigy, Neymar, German Thomas Muller and Argentine captain Lionel Messi all have four with 5 players tied on three goals each for their nations.

Muller was the first player to net a hat-trick in the Die Mannschaft’s 4-0 crushing of Portugal. Xherdan Shaqiri is the only other player to have found the back of the net three times in one game, the Bayern winger netting all the goals for Switzerland in their 3-0 win over Honduras. 

While the likes of Muller, Messi and Neymar are guaranteed a slot in the starting lineup, substitutes are having a huge say in the tournament as they have scored 27 goals so far, a World Cup recordTop of Form.

Of all these goals scored, the iconic ones have been Neymar’s who scored the 100th goal of the tournament and Mirosalv Klose’s whose goal against Ghana saw him equal Brazil’s Ronaldo for most World Cup goals at 15. Just one more and the veteran forward will become World Cup’s all time leading goalscorer.

So why have there been so many goals at this World Cup? It could be some goalkeeping gaffes (enter Iker Casillas), or attack, attack and attack mentality (enter Chile) but more so likely, top class finishers paraded at this year’s spectacle (enter Van Persie’s impossible header et all).

Long may this continue. Next please…?

And That's thesteifmastertake!!