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Friday, September 26, 2014

Premier League Predictions: Derby Clashes as Arsenal Clash with Tottenham in London and Liverpool Host Everton

Sixteen goals apiece were scored on Saturday and Sunday as the Barclays Premier League continued providing the shocks on what was only matchday five. The most striking result was the 5-3 battering, mauling and humiliation of Manchester United at the hands of promoted side Leicester City. The Red Devils, boasting a fiery front line of top marksmen were exposed at the back as they surrendered a 3-1 lead with barely 30 minutes before full time. This weekend, they host West Ham at Old Trafford with no less than 9 members out with injury. All but two matches will be played with two derbies spicing up a weekend which won’t be short of upsets, shocks and goals. Here’s my weekend predictions:

Liverpool 2 1 Everton (Saturday, 1445hours)
It has not been a good start for the two Merseyside clubs. Liverpool’s start to the season has been rocked by inconsistency which has seen them lose thrice in the opening five league games. After getting punished 3-1 at West Ham last weekend, the Reds struggled in their midweek Capital One Cup clash against championship side Middlesborough who pushed them past extra time and into a marathon of penalties which Rodgers’ men won 14-13. That game must have taken a toll on them especially young Raheem Sterling who played the whole 120 odd minutes and is likely to be involved again. Their city rivals Everton haven’t done any better and were knocked out of the League Cup after a 3-0 capitulation at Swansea. Even worse, the Toffees were beaten 2-3 by Crystal Palace at Goodison Park. This Merseyside derby at Anfield couldn’t have come at a better time for either of the clubs. Three points for either will be a fine kick up their backside especially for Liverpool who will have home advantage as they aim to extend their unbeaten run at Anfield against the visitors to 21 matches. Daniel Sturridge could play a bit part should he be declared fit to play. If he plays, the Reds will overpower their visitors.

West Ham 2 2 Manchester United (Saturday, 1700hrs)
Manchester United’s season took a turn for the worse last weekend after they threw away a 3-1 lead and ended up losing 5-3 at Leicester. The Red Devils were cruising with just half an hour to go but a debatable penalty decision not only allowed Leicester to get a goal back but shifted momentum in their favor. With Louis van Gaal hauling off Angel Di Maria, Nigel Pearson’s side got rejuvenated to the detriment of United defence which was exposed for the umpteenth time. Jonny Evans sustained an ankle injury in that match and with Tyler Blackett receiving a red card which means he’s suspended for the West Ham visit this weekend, Marcos Rojo is the only member of the Red Devils’ defence who is 100% fit. That could spell even more trouble for van Gaal’s men especially if the Hammers carry on with the same game plan that saw them beat Liverpool 3-1 where they had a real go at the Reds. With Blackett , Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all likely to miss, Van Gaal will probably raid the youth set up for backup with under-21 captain, 21-year-old Tom Thorpe, and 19-year-old Paddy McNair likely to be given the nod to make their senior team debut. It could be another high scoring game this which could go either way meaning I’ll settle for a draw.

Chelsea 3 1 Aston Villa (Saturday, 1700hrs)
Frank Lampard dominated the headlines last weekend at the back of his goal that helped Manchester City nick a point against Lampard’s former side Chelsea at the Eitihad in a 1-1 draw. It was a fine operetta for the former England international who returned to bite his former employers as the Blues’ 100% start to the season ended. Jose Mourinho’s men resume Premier League duties after their 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers in midweek when they host Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge. Villa were bullied to submission by Arsenal last weekend and their run of tough fixtures continues with a visit to Chelsea before they host Chelsea at Villa Park next weekend. The 1-1 draw at City was the first time this season that Diego Costa failed to find the back of the net for the Blues in the league and the Spaniard will be keen to get his boots back in action in a match I tip them to win. 

Hull City 1 2 Manchester City (Saturday 1700hrs)
Steve Bruce’s Hull City will be gunning for only their second ever victory over Manchester City when they host the Premier League champions at the KC Stadium. The two teams were both in League Cup action in midweek with City battering Sheffield Wednesday 7-0 while Hull were edged 2-3 by West Brom. So much separate The Tigers and their weekend visitors than the two-point difference there’s in the league. Hull haven’t had a bad start but expecting them to stifle City will be too much to ask though they will give it a good go. However, the class of the champions will prevail as they try to ensure the 5-point gap between them and the top doesn’t stretch any further.

Arsenal 2 2 Tottenham (Saturday 1930hrs)
The second derby on the weekend will see Arsenal welcome bitter rivals Tottenham for the North London derby on Saturday evening. Tempers are destined to flare as these two adversaries fight for points at the Emirates. Arsenal go into this fixture a wounded animal having been bundled out of the League Cup by Southampton while Tottehnam registered a comfortable win over Nottingham Forest to advance to the next round.  The Gunners have won the last three meetings in this encounter and haven’t lost against Spurs at the Emirates since November 2010. However, both clubs are still struggling to calm their ships which makes a draw all the more possible result.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Kshs. 10m Boost for ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon

ABC Bank Group MD Shamaz Savani presents the Sh. 10M to the marathon Patron Paul Tergat (l) and Baringo County Governor Benjamin Cheboi during the launch.

This year's edition of the ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon 2014 edition will take place on the 1st November and the title sponsors with the title sponsors injecting Kshs. 10 million.

The race, themed ‘Developing Athletic Talent’ seeks to nurture and promote young sporting talent and will for the first time feature a schools-only category in which participants will compete in the 6KM cross-country race.

Speaking at the launch event, Baringo County Governor, H.E. Benjamin Cheboi emphasized the importance of nurturing upcoming athletes through locally sponsored initiatives such as the ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon.

“My government is equally committed to supporting not only athletics but other sports as well, as a way of encouraging our youth to pursue sports as a viable career option.” Governor Cheboi said.

This initiative provides an opportunity for every athlete to perform at their best through continued practice and race opportunities through which they can gauge their performance levels. The organizers have this year involved and worked closely with the Baringo County Government and other local leaders to enhance community participation and ownership of the event.

The Paul Tergat Foundation Chairman and Patron of the Baringo Half Marathon, Mr. Paul Tergat called on both elite and budding athletes to register for the marathon to battle it out for the attractive prizes on offer. The upcoming athletes will have the opportunity to have their talent identified, and possibly picked for the athletes’ development program.

“A school is free to register as many teams as possible. This will give our young people in schools from across the country an opportunity to showcase their athletic talent as the cross country season kicks off,” he noted.

ABC Bank Group Managing Director, Mr. Shamaz Savani said the half marathon also seeks to boost the image of the sport to upcoming talent and the general public. 

“As the title sponsor, we have increased the sponsorship kitty to Ksh. 10 million from Ksh. 5 million last year. This kitty will be used to host the marathon as well as run the athletes’ development program following the marathon. Additionally, we have increased the total prize purse to Ksh. 3 million with the first prize being 300,000 shillings each for men and women in the 21 km category. We have introduced a Schools Category, which will be the key highlight of the marathon, with prizes for both schools and winning students,” he said. 

During last year’s ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon, the organizers identified a batch of 12 upcoming athletes to join the athletes’ development program sponsored by the bank. They have undergone intensive professional training in reputable training camps to prepare for not only the Baringo Half marathon but also for other local and international races. They have also received life skills training in key areas such as personal finance and investments, handling media and public speaking, anti-doping policies and managing sponsorship contracts. 

Alfred Barkach, one of the ABC Bank-sponsored athletes, won the 10,000 metres race at the recently concluded East African Secondary Schools Games held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His success is testament to the fact that nurturing talent will produce more champions for this country.

Some of the mentors who have offered a helping hand to the budding athletes through the athletes’ development program include: world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, former Olympic 800 meters champion Wilfred Bungei and US-based Kenyan distance runner Betsy Saina. 

International athletes from Ethiopia and other East African countries have also been invited to headline the event and to increase the participation bracket beyond the country’s national borders as a model of building and nurturing talent.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

European Leagues Review: United, Liverpool Hammered, Barca, Madrid Romp as Bayern Fail to Score in Germany

The Premier League continued to produce shock results this past weekend with Manchester United and Liverpool the biggest culprits. The duo had a weekend to forget in their travels out of North West England. Liverpool were hammered 3-1 by West Ham on Saturday through goals from Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho and substitute Morgan Amalfitano with Raheem Sterling grabbing the consolation for the Reds. Manchester United collapsed with less than half an hour to go as they surrendered a 3-1 lead in a shocking 5-3 loss to promoted side Leicester City. Robin Van Persie, Angel di Maria and Ander Herrera netted for Louis van Gaal’s men while Leicester had Leonardo Ulloa grabbing a brace including an 83rd minute penalty with Jamie Vardy, Esteban Cambiasso and David Nugent also scoring. Frank Lampard returned to haunt his former club Chelsea as he netted the equalizer for Manchester City who had fallen behind to an Andre Schurrle goal for the Blues. Everton were beaten 3-2 by visiting Crystal Palace while Arsenal handed Aston Villa their first defeat of the season in a 3-0 win. Kenyan international Victor Wanyama scored his first goal for Southampton who beat Swansea 1-0.

Barcelona and Real Madrid were both in fine goal-scoring form with the two sides scoring 13 goals between them. Cristiano Ronaldo netted his first hat-trick of the new La Liga season to help Real maul Deportivo la Coruna 8-2 in Riazor. Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez both hit a brace to add to James Rodriguez’s stunner for Carlo Ancelloti’s men. Madrid however failed to keep a clean sheet with the hosts scoring twice through Haris Medunjanin and Toche. Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a dominating 5-0 capitulation of Levante on Sunday. The Argentine assisted Neymar and Sandro Ramirez’s goals before scoring himself in the 77th minute. Ivan Rakitic scored the other goal. Defending champions Atletico Madrid were held to 2-2 draw by visiting Celta Vigo while Sevilla moved up to second with a 3-1 win at Cordoba.


Bundesliga top two, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both had a frustrating weekend with Bayern failing to score in a 0-0 stalemate at Hamburger. Two second half goals from Shinji Okazaki and German international Matthias Ginter condemned Dortmund to a 2-0 defeat against Mainz who moved to second on the log. Promoted side Paderborn kept their unbeaten start to their topflight life with a 2-0 win over Hannover SV to move top of the log locked on 8 points with four other sides including Hoffenheim who won with a similar scoreline at Stuttgart. Wolfsburg crushed Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 for their first win of the season while Augusburg made it two wins out of their last two matches after edging Werder Bremen 4-2 at the SGL Arena.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tusker Launches Twende Game to Celebrate Kenyan Sports

Tusker has launched a sport driven campaign called Twende Game that celebrates the Kenyan sports fan and drives support for football and rugby clubs.

Tusker has adopted a nostalgic approach by enlisting the star power of Harambee Stars legends Joe Kadenge, George Sunguti, Josephat Murila, Tobias Ocholla and rugby star Lavin Asego for the campaign that seeks to highlight the key milestones throughout the history of both sports.

"Tusker has played a major role in the development of football and rugby which have provided memorable moments for Kenyans. Our brand is synonymous with the good times these iconic players have given us and it's only appropriate that they are now the face of Twende Game," said Tusker Marketing Manager Antony Esyalai.

"Kenyans are passionate and emotional about sports. That is evident whenever Harambee Stars and Shujaa are on national duty. They are known to support their sides through good and lean times, however we would like to see them take up a more proactive role in the development of sports," said Mr. Esyalai.

To mark the launching of the campaign, Tusker organized a 6-aside football and 5-aside touch rugby competitions which attracted participation from media teams including Homeboyz, Kass Media, Nation and Kenya Sports Journalists among others. The games were played at the Impala Sports Club.

The Twende Game campaign is designed to expand and mobilise the current fan base of both football and rugby to offer more direct support to their respective clubs.

"Through increased participation, we hope to inspire fans of local clubs to contribute in word and deed for the sole purpose of improving the quality of play on the field," added Mr. Esyalai.

The campaign will appeal to grassroots support which forms the bedrock of the fan movement across the country.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bloggers Surrender Football Title but Win Relay while Citizen Lift Rugby Title in 2014 SuperSport Media Fun Day

The dreaded curse of defending champions befell Bloggers team who failed to defend the football title during this year’s SuperSport Media Fun Day held Impala grounds. The Online scribes failed to win or score in any of their four group matches ending with two defeats and two draws.

Led by captain Amos Abuga and boasting talents like the lethally left-footed Kevin Otieno and prolific Stephen Ayoo, Bloggers started their day with a barren draw against Media Max before registering the same result against Citizen. Two 1-0 defeats followed at the hands of Standard and Supersport.

Supersport would go on and lift the football title after shocking a fine Capital FM side 1-0, Anita Nderitu netting an own goal in the dying minutes.

However, the Bloggers didn’t leave the tournament empty handed as they won medals after dominating in the 4x100m sprint relay. With polished handovers, Bloggers destroyed the field finishing tops in both their semifinal and final races.

Citizen won the 5-aside rugby competition after edging out Media Select in sudden death.

The competition was held to celebrate sports journalism and attracted participation from 10 media teams.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Champions League Roundup: Chelsea, PSG Held, Roma Destroy CSKA as Barca and Bayern Pick Narrow Wins

Gervinho celebrates with Roma legend Francesco Totti
Serie A side, As Roma, were the biggest winners on the second matchday of the UEFA Champions League. The Romans hit five past visiting CSKA Moscow in a 5-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico.

Two goals from Gervinho and a goal each from Maicon and Juan Iturbe put the Italians on their way to a comfortable win with CSKA’s woes compounded by an own goal from their 35-year-old defender Sergey Ignashevich. Iturbe opened the floodgates inside 6 minutes before Gervinho netted a goal either side of Maicon’s 20th minute strike to give Rudi Garcia’s men a commanding 4-0 lead at the break.

Roma started the second half as they did in the first forcing Ingashevich to head into his own goal five minutes after the restart. With the scoreboard reading 5-0 to the Roma, the visiting Russians tried to rally back with Seydou Doumbia coming close with an effort that hit the crossbar. Garcia’s men however settled and reasserted themselves but CSKA wouldn’t be denied a consolation goal which came courtesy of Nigeria international Ahmed Mousa in the 82nd minute. The 5-1 win was Roma’s biggest in the competition. Jerome Boateng 90th minute strike helped Bayern Munich overcome Manchester City at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern were thwarted time and again by the form of City keeper Joe Hart who pulled off a string of fine saves before the German centerback hit a volley inside the penalty area to give the hosts the win in the other Group E clash. Roma and Bayern lead the group with the Italians ahead on goal difference.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar ensured Schalke left England with a point after he cancelled out Cesc Fabregas’ opener for the Blues in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Fabregas put Jose Mourinho’s men ahead in the 11th minute and it looked like they would continue with their winning run at home but Huntelaar and Schalke had other ideas as they stole a point from under noses of their hosts who wasted glorious chances. The story was the same in the other group clash in Slovenia where Maribor held Sporting Lisbon 1-1, Luka Zahovic cancelling out Luis Nani’s opener for Sporting.

Barcelona were unconvincing at the Nou Camp against lowly APOEL Nicosia with Gerard Pique’s header in the 28th minute the only goal of the night. Luis Enrique’s side however lead the group after Ajax and PSG could only muster a 1-1 draw, Edinson Cavani scoring for the French side with Lasse Schone netting for the Dutch.

Porto crushed BATE Borisov 6-0 with hot Yacine Brahimi grabbing the first hat-trick of this year’s Champions League. Jackson Martinez, Adrian and Vincent Aboubakar were also on target as Porto recorded their biggest win in their history in the competition. Shakhtar Donetsk held Athletic Bilbao to a barren draw in San Mames.

The second matchday of the European elite competition will be held on the days of 30th September and 1st October.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Champions League Results: Madrid Crush Basel, Dortmund Cruise Past Arsenal as Liverpool Made to Sweat against Bulgarians

Mario Balotelli nets his maiden goal in Liverpool colours
Five-time Champions League winners Liverpool made a winning return to the competition but were made to sweat by Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets in a dramatic match at Anfield. The Reds prodded the visitors from the onset but failed to get beyond their defence until the 82nd minute when Mario Balotelli found the back of the net after some powerful play saw him neatly guide the ball past Milan Borjan in Ludogorets’ goal. It was the Italian’s first goal since signing for the Merseysiders from AC Milan.

The goal relieved some pressure off the back of the majority fans at Anfield, but not for long. Ludogorets had been dangerous on the break all night troubling Liverpool on the break. With 90 minutes on the clock, the pressure cooker was back on after substitute Dani Albalo looked to have snatched a point for the Bulgarians. The Spaniard benefited from some suspect defending from Liverpool and with Simon Mignolet quick to rush off his line (quite needlessly), he rounded off the keeper before slotting home the equalizer.

With the match looking like it would end on a stalemate, Steven Gerrard dragged Liverpool right back in calmly poking the ball home with a last minute penalty after Borjan erred and fouled Javier Manquillo inside the penalty box.

In the other match in the group, Real Madrid had no problems brushing aside Swiss side Basel 5-1. The reigning champions were home and dry by half time. Basel’s Marek Suchy found the back of his own net at the quarter hour mark to put the hosts ahead before Real’s front three of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez put their names in the scoresheet. Derlis Gonzalez drew one back for Basel with a neat finish before the breather but Karim Benzema restored the four-goal difference late in the second half. Benzema’s strike made it 1,000 goals for Los Blancos in European competition, the first club to achieve that fete.

Borussia Dortmund turned on the style as they made light work of Arsenal in a 2-0 win. Jurgen Klopp’s men were imperious with summer signing Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang scoring either side of half time in a dominant display. Burak Yilmaz saved Galatasaray the blushes in front of the home fans after scoring in stoppage time to salvage a point against Anderlecht who had scored through Dennis Praet.

Monaco put aside their poor start to the Ligue 1 season with a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Portuguese international Joao Moutinho smashed home the all important goal at the hour mark to take the three points and join Zenit St. Petersburg at the summit of Group C. The Russian side secured a 2-0 away success at Benfica. Powerful forward Hulk lobbed in the opener for the visitors inside five minutes with Axel Witsel punishing his former employers with the second in the 22nd minute.

Carlos Tevez struck twice for Juventus in their 2-0 win over visiting Swedish side Malmo FF. The 30-year-old opened the scoring in the 59th minute with his second coming in the 90th minute via a free kick. Last year’s runners up, Atletico Madrid ended on the losing side of a 5-goal thriller at Olympicaos Piraeus. Diego Simeone’s men fell behind to an Arthur Masuaku goal in the 13th minute and Ibrahim Afellay made it 2-0 at the half hour mark. Mario Mandzukic headed in for the visitors to halve the deficit before half time. However, Konstantinos Mitroglou restored the two-goal lead in the 73rd minute but Antoine Griezman made it 3-2 four minutes before full time at the Karaisakis stadium.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Champions League Preview: Arsenal Face Dortmund, Madrid Host Basel as Liverpool Make Return against Ludogorets

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event
Die Meister
Die Besten

Les Grandes Équipes
The Champions

That is the sound the Anfield sound system will be blaring loud in front of the Koop for the first time in five years. Liverpool will be making their comeback to Champions League football 1,742 days after they were beaten by Fiorentina in their last appearance in the competition.

It has been a long wait for the five-time Champions League winners. A time they have had to regroup, one they have had to change managers in no more than three occasions, one they have seen a group of players come in and leave. It has been a painful wait hence do not be surprised should you see emotions run wild at Anfield.

The Reds will be among the 16 teams that will kick off this season’s UEFA Champions League when they host Bulgarian side Ludogorets, their 120th different European opponent. The two sides have never met at any level before but Liverpool will be odds on to take the three points. The other match in the group will see defending champions Real Madrid play host to Swiss side Basel with Carlo Ancelotti’s side wobbling with a shaky form that has seen them win only once in their last six matches in all competitions.

Last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid will begin their campaign with a trip to Greece to take on Olympiakos Piraeus as Juventus play host to Malmo FF in Turin.

In Group C, German Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen will travel to France to take on Monaco as Benfica host Zenit in Portugal. Turkish side Galatasaray will play Anderlecht as Borussia Dortmund welcome Arsenal at the Signal-Iduna Park.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Liverpool Find their New Vice Captain, and Future Captain in Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson has been named the new Liverpool vice-captain replacing Daniel Agger who joined his boyhood club Brondby during the summer transfer window.

Henderson who joined the Reds from Sunderland in June 2011 will deputize long term club captain Steven Gerrard after getting Brendan Rodgers’ nod to assume the role.

“Jordan is completely dedicated to the game and his leadership qualities come from the example he sets. It's another great story for Jordan in his journey as a Liverpool player and it shows the great progress he has made,” Rodgers said of the 24-year-old.

The man who Henderson will now be ever more so keen to learn from going forward, Steven Gerrard, took to instagram to show his approval. Gerrard posted a picture of him celebrating with Hendo in front of the Kop with the message, “Our new vice-captain. He has worked his socks off for this honour. Well done mate.”

Henderson’s appointment as Liverpool’s vice captain doesn’t come as a surprise given how much progress he has made since signing for the Reds for a fee reported to be worth between £16 and £20 million. The Sunderland academy product struggled to find his feet during his early days at Anfield with many questioning just how Kenny Dalglish forked out so much money for his signature.

As a matter of fact, his career at Liverpool seemed to have been hitting the dead end when Rodgers took over the club. Henderson was told he would be free to join Fulham by the Ulsterman, a move he declined to fight for his career at Melwood. Two years down the line, Liverpool must be feeling thankful for that decision.

The 2013-14 season proved to be Henderson’s breakout season as he became an integral part of the Liverpool side who came to within a hairs breadth of winning their maiden Premier League title. He made himself one of the first names on Rodgers’ teamsheet raking up 35 Premier League appearances for the Reds and scoring 4 goals. 

In Liverpool’s first four games of the new season, the new Liverpool workhorse has two assists to his name doing his standing as a vital figure in the Liverpool squad a world of good.

In him, Liverpool have not only found an able, capable, right and perhaps obvious vice captain but a shoe in future captain able to lead both club and country.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Football, Rugby, Sprint Relay to Spice up the 2nd Edition of SuperSport Media Fun Day


The second edition of the SuperSport media fun day will be held this Friday at the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) grounds.

A total of 10 teams will contest for this year’s honours including defending champions Bloggers who won the inaugural football tournament last year.

The online scribes have been pooled in the Group of Death which includes Standard Media who they beat for the trophy last year, Citizen who reached the semis, Media Max and SuperSport in a tough and tricky Pool ‘A’. Citizen and Standard Media are expected to give Bloggers a run for their money in the group with Media Max and SuperSport the dark horses.

An open Group B will see Nation Media Group take on national broadcaster, KBC, Capital FM, the dangerous Radio Africa and reigning plate champions Media Select. The one-day 5-aside tournament will be played on a round robin format with every match lasting only six minutes. The top two teams in every pool will qualify for the semifinals.

The organizers have expanded the competition beyond the football pitch as the six teams who wouldn’t have made it past the group stages will battle in a 5-aside touch rugby competition. The teams’ dexterity on the track will also be subjected to test with a 4x100 sprint relay also on the cards.

Trophies, medals and prize money will be awarded to the winners in a day that promises to be chock-full of fun, flair, sweat, comical kick-about and more besides.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Roundup: Nigeria Fall, Ghana Held by Stubborn Uganda

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, Nigeria, began their 2015 qualifying campaign on a sour note after suffering a shock 3-2 home defeat to Congo Brazzaville in Calabar.

Boasting an incredible 33-year run without defeat at home in a competitive match, the Super Eagles started in the best possible manner with Efe Ambrose headed them in front with 13 minutes on the clock.

However, the lead lasted for only two minutes as Congo’s Prince Oniangue pounced on some suspect defending from the 3-time Africa champions to net the equalizer.

The visitors grabbed their second goal five minutes before the breather, UD Almeria forward Thievy Bifouma beating Austin Ejide in Nigerian goal with a lovely freekick.

Bifouma made it 3-1 to Congo 8 minutes into the second half through a spotkick after he had been fouled inside the box by Ogenyi Onazi. Gbolahan Salami reduced the deficit to 3-2 as Stephen Keshi’s men launched a late onslaught led by Emmanuel Emeneki but the Red Devils survived to claim a famous and vital victory.

Ghana once again failed to convince as they were held to a 1-1 stalemate by visiting Uganda. Tony Mawejje put the East Africans in the lead in the first half but Andrew Ayew’s penalty after the interval ensured the points were shared in Khumasi.

Vincent Aboubakar and Clinton N’jie netted for a new-look Cameroon in their 2-0 win over DRC Congo as Algeria collected three points in Addis Ababa with a 2-1 win over Ethiopia. Gervinho netted the winner for Ivory Coast against Sierra Leone in Abidjan. Kei Kamara put Sierra Leone in the lead but Seydou Dumbia grabbed the equalizer before Gervinho secured the three points for the hosts. Tunisia came from behind to beat Botwsana 2-1 while Zambia and Mozambique battled to barren draw. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

All You Need to Know about New Gor Mahia Coach Frank Nuttall

The 46-year-old was born on May 4th 1968 in Hamilton, Scotland

He holds a UEFA Pro License, the final coaching qualification available, meaning he is qualified to manage in the UEFA Champions League or the Europa League

Nuttall loves books. He signed for Greseley Rovers in October 1991 from Welsh League side Bridgend Town at a time he was pursuing his Masters degree at Loughborough University as a 23-year-old. He also worked as a senior lecturer in sports science at the University of Glamorgan (currently called University of South Wales after merger in April last year) between 1995-1988.

He holds a BA Degree in Human Movement Studies and a Master Degree in Sports Science from Loghborough University

His present clients include the Football Association (FA), the Chinese FA, FA Wales, Saudi Arabia FF, Qatar FF, Kuwait and Palestine FA, The Football League, the Asian Football Federation where he works as a coach educator among others. He has also worked for the England u20, u19 and u17 national teams

Among an array of football related services he offers includes injury prevention, sports science, talent identification, youth development, coaching education, fitness, training technology among others.

He joined Middlesbrough in June 2008 as a fitness coach replacing Nick Allambly. Nuttall was brought in by Gareth Southgate as the head of Boro’s physical development department and one of his first jobs was to help ex Egypt international, Mido (notorious for weight gain during offseason), regain fitness. “I wake up every day at 6am and train with Frank at 9am. I have lost 10 kilos and I want to lose four more this month. I apologise to the fans for last season and I am working very hard for the new season,” said Mido.

The highly-rated sports scientist has worked as a fitness coach for West Brom, Rangers, Bristol City, St. Mirren, Middlesbrough, Hibernian FC, Rotherham United, Al Nasr SC (UAE), South China AA FC and also for the Korea Republic FA.

He has worked as an assistant coach in two previous clubs; Al-Nasr in 2006 and China League One division side Qingdao Hainiu who gained promotion from League two last year. Nuttall was at the club until he left to take over at Gor Mahia.

Playing as a left-sided defender/midfielder, he was at Glasgow giants Celtic FC for two years, between 1985 & 87, winning the Scottish League under manager David Hay. Nuttall however never played a competitive match at Parkhead having been signed after trials with Hamilton and Patrick Thistle mainly featuring in Celtic’s youth and reserve teams.

He takes over the reins at Gor Mahia from caretaker Manager Frank Ouna who has been in charge of the league leaders on temporary basis after Bobby Williamson was appointed head coach of national team, Harambee Stars.

The Scot finds Gor in a comfortable position as they currently top the table standings with 42 points, two ahead of Sofapaka and with two games in hand.

His first game will be a tricky away game against title challengers Tusker FC on the 14th of September.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grading Chelsea's, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Manchester United Summer Transfers

The just concluded summer transfer window has been one of the busiest in English football history. A record £835m has been spent by the 20 Premier League clubs with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea leading the pack. While the likes of Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, David Luiz, Thomas Vermaleen, to mention but a few have moved away allowing other world class talents like Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Radamel Falcao, Angel di Maria, Eliaquim Mangala, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno, Marcos Rojo, to mention but a few, to join what is regarded as the best league in the world.

Inevitably, Manchester United who finished 7th last season have been the busiest of all the Premier League clubs spending a whooping £149m on new arrivals. That is a record spend in a transfer window by an English club beating Manchester City's £148m outlay in 2009.

But just how good were these signings? Take a look as I grade the top 5 clubs summer signings below:

Chelsea A
Jose Mourinho was widely criticized for selling Juan Mata to Manchester United in January. The Portuguese manager was never Mata’s fan from the onset and looked glad to offload him for a whooping £37.1m to United. That now looks like a shrewd move after Mourinho secured the signature of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona for £7 million less than what he sold Mata for. The Spaniard has had a flying start to his Chelsea career perhaps justifying Mourinho’s move to sell Mata. Chelsea had problems scoring goals last season but the signing of Diego Costa seems to have shoved that to oblivion. The Spaniard has four goals in three starts to his name and looks like he will play a big part for the Blues this season. Didier Drogba rejoined the club and will act as backup striker with the Ivorian more likely to be given a coaching role at the club in the future. Mourinho also recalled Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid and made the young Belgian shot stopper the No. 1 keeper at the club in place of Petr Cech while Philipe Luis joined from Atletico Madrid. The likes of David Luiz, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and aging Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were all shown the door. A very successful transfer window indeed that makes Chelsea favorites to win the league.

Manchester City A
Title holders Manchester City have had a fairly quite transfer window by their standards. Only six signings have been made by the Citizens, not that they needed more anyway. Their biggest business of the summer has been the £32 million signing of big Eliaquim Mangala from Porto who is expected to partner captain Vincent Kompany at centerback. That has allowed the Eitihad club to part ways with Joleon Lescott. Mangala’s teammate at Porto, Fernando also arrived on a £12 million deal and is expected to slot alongside Yaya Toure and co in a solid midfield. Bacary Sagna arrived on a free from Arsenal with the Frenchman expected to fight for the rightback position with Pablo Zabaleta. Argentine international, Willy Cabalero was snapped up from Malaga to provide competition for Joe Hart in goal while Frank Lampard was loaned from New York City. The likes of Javi Garcia, Costel Pantilimon, Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell and Alvaro Negredo have all been removed from the wage list. Another pretty successful transfer window for Manuel Pellegrini.

Liverpool A- (minus)
Of all the clubs who lost players this transfer window, Liverpool took the biggest hit. The Reds came to within two points of winning their first Premier League title last season. Spurred by Uruguayan Luis Suarez who netted 31 goals last season, the Merseyside outfit still had a chance to win the league on the final day of the season. However, that never materialized leaving the 18-time winners to fight another day. That day was supposed to be this season. However, the news that Luis Suarez would eventually leave the club and sign for Barcelona left the Reds’ title ambitions hanging by a thread. Just how do you replace such a precocious talent, a man who netted three hat-tricks last season and swept all individual awards in his wake. Barcelona boosted Liverpool’s transfer war chest paying the Reds £75 million for the Uruguayan’s services. Brendan Rodgers embarked on a spending akin to a small kid on a candy store but instead of going for a marquee signing, the Ulsterman has gone for depth. And he had to given the fact that the Merseysiders are back in the Champions League. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren joined in a combined £47 million pay to Southampton, Alberto Moreno arrived for £12 million from Sevilla, Javier Manquillo joined on loan from Atletico Madrid while Lazar Markovic switched Portugal for England in a £20 million arrival from Benfica. However, it is the signing of Mario Balotelli for £16 million that grabbed more headlines, as you would expect. Pepe Reina and Daniel Agger were the only other high profile players to leave the club on a permanent as most players were shipped out across Europe to get first-team experience. The loss of Suarez might bite later but on the account of the 3-0 demolition of Tottenham Hotspurs at White Hart Lane, Rodgers seems to have done a good job as his side gives another go at the title although finishing in the top four won’t be frowned at much.

Arsenal C+
Arsenal started their summer transfer business on a high snapping up the signature of Chilean Alexis Sanchez who was one of hottest properties in the summer following his starring role in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Liverpool, Juventus and clubs of that ilk were all after Sanchez but Arsene Wenger’s charm offensive (and reportedly the desire of the Chilean’s wife to live in London) saw the 25-year-old sign from Barca man for £30 million. More signings followed with defender Calum Chambers joining from Southampton for £12 million and Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle for £10 million. Another World Cup star, David Ospina arrived from Nice at £3 million. The departure of Thomas Vermaleen to Barcelona had Arsenal fans thinking Wenger would sign another centerback but that never materialized and neither did he bring in a marquee striker before the transfer window slammed shut to the ire of the Gunners fans. But wait, Danny Welbeck joined from Man United for £16 million. That signing, predictably, haven’t inspired confidence on Arsenal fans who dreamed bigger and expected the likes of Balotelli, Falcao or Edinson Cavani to occupy the No. 9 position. Another transfer window that Wenger fails to convince and although they have a team good enough to finish among the top four or thereabouts, the decision not sign a commanding centerback and a proven striker might come to bite especially during the mid season when the Gunners are always on a freefall.

Manchester United C (plain)
It’s not often that a club spends £149m on player transfer, breaks the British transfer record by close to £10m and signs a man rightfully nicknamed El Tigre (Spanish for The Tiger) but still gets such a low grade. Well, Manchester United just did that! The record Premier League title winners have been one of the busiest clubs this transfer window. New manager, Louis van Gaal has splashed loads of cash on new players, Angel di Maria arrived for a British transfer record of £59.7m, Atletico Bilbao banked £29m for Ander Herrera while Sporting Lisbon received £16m for Marcos Rojo with Luis Nani sweetening the deal on a loan move. Luke Shaw somehow commanded £31.5m fee (Southampton must still be laughing all the way to the bank) while panic kicked in hours before the transfer window slummed shut if the costly 1 year £24m (fee+wages) signing of Radamel Falcao is anything to go by. United are now bloated with attacking talent but van Gaal failed to address the more obvious shortcomings in midfield and defence. A basic look at Manchester United team minus the front six and it is obvious that Van Gaal looks to have shot himself in the foot.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What will Radamel Falcao Add to Manchester United? Van Gaal’s Signings Leave Him Open to Ridicule

There's always that one deal that shocks the football world on the final day of a transfer window. Somehow, some Andy Caroll will command a £35million transfer fee, or some Fernando Torres will hand in a transfer request or just something quite unexpected will happen.

It's amazing but almost equally stupid how club managers and those who fund them wait until the final day to make things happen. Somehow, one set of fans are always left wondering what next as the other celebrate some unexpected marquee signing.

The just ending transfer window hasn't been any different in spite of most managers doing their deals early on. For sure, the signing of Radamel Falcao by Manchester United has to be the most shocking piece of business this summer.

The Colombian made an out of the blue switch from Monaco to Old Trafford in what was is the most astonishing deal on the always dramatic, unpredictable transfer deadline day. His departure from the French club was widely expected but no one had foreseen him wearing the Red of Manchester. Real Madrid seemed his preferred and more likely destination while although a move to the Premier was occasionally deliberated on, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal or even Chelsea seemed the more obvious choices especially after United snapped up Angel Di Maria.

But oops!

The addition of the 28-year-old Santa Marta-born 5ft 10in forward makes United’s front line look scary (in a good way). Robin van Persie is a player capable of scoring 20 odd goals in a season, fitness permitting. Wayne Rooney can and does get past double figures even without being the main man up front while Angel di Maria can average 10 goals or so from the attacking midfield position since he’s more of a creator than a finisher.

Falcao has scored 104 goals in 139 appearances in Portugal, Spain and French leagues, that’s an average of 0.74 goals per game, a deadly figure matched by very few forwards in the world. Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and to an extent Antonio Valencia are all forward-minded players which begs the question, how will van Gaal set his team up this season given the obvious lack of quality behind the front – five?

Will Manchester United’s plan this season be to score more goals than they concede? It’s hard to argue otherwise especially after the loan signing of the former Atletico Madrid and Porto man.

When van Gaal took over at Manchester United following his successful spell with the Dutch national team at the World Cup, much was said of how the record Premier League winners had gotten themselves a master tactician, a man who could tinker with his squad and still get results.

However, 4 games without victory having played lowly clubs like Burnley, MK Dons, Sunderland and Swansea City leaves his much hyped CV open to criticism and/or ridicule. Against Burnley last weekend, they looked toothless going forward in spite of fielding Di Maria, a £59.7m British record signing from Real Madrid.

They failed to break them down and looked ever so vulnerable when Burnley attacked. Although Di Maria and his attacking co failed to create anything meaningful (United only managed 2 shots on target), it was clear the backline needed the most work.

Of course the likes of left back Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Deley Blind are all yet to feature for the Red Devils but what if the latter two fail to adapt to the pace and tenacity that the Premier League demands week in week out?

There’s no doubt that the signing of Falcao will make United even more of an attacking threat but just how good will they be at the back?

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Spurs Hammering Shows Suarez-less Liverpool Will Cope

Luis Suarez’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona was inarguably the biggest loss the Premier League suffered during this summer’s transfer window.

The Uruguayan shifted to La Liga after Barcelona paid Liverpool £75million for his services, robbing the Reds and the Premier League a top top footballer who scored 31 goals and swept all the individual awards in English topflight football.

Replacing the fiery Salto-born forward was always going to be a tough job for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. So much so that when the Ulsterman started bringing in players, naysayers drew comparisons with how Tottenham dealt with the loss of Gareth Bale.

The Reds struggled in their season opening match but still beat visiting Southampton 2-1 but the 3-1 loss to Manchester City last Monday raised doubts on whether they will cope.

Against Spurs on Sunday evening though, Liverpool reminded all and sundry that they have lost neither their high pressing game nor their sharpness in front of goal. Here was a highflying Spurs side who had won 8 matches on the trot, had picked apart Queens Park Rangers 4-0 and  cruised 3-0 past AEL Limassol in the Europa League playoff.

But Liverpool, boasting a front three that had pacy duo Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge on the flanks sandwiching Mario Balotelli as the center forward showed the hosts no mercy. The Reds were on song and could have been 2-0, 3-0 by half time had Balotelli, making his debut for Liverpool, been a wee bit sharper in front of goal.

However, for all the Italian’s wastefulness, Liverpool went into the break looking pretty comfortable and with a 1-0 lead, Sterling having slotted home early on from a well-engineered move that saw Sturridge feed Jordan Henderson from outside of his boot before the latter found Sterling at far post.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side had the lion share of the possession but the Reds bossed them in all areas of the pitch. The hosts were caught early again in the second half when Eric Dier pulled down Joe Allen in the box and Steven Gerrard stepped up with the skipper not making a mistake from 12 yards.

Alberto Moreno then stormed from his own half after robbing Andros Townsend possession, the manner in which the Spaniard left the equally speedy Englishman reminding Spurs of the days of Gareth Bale, before he thumped in Liverpool’s third at the hour mark.

That wonder goal scaled the game beyond Tottenham’s reach with Moreno atoning for his lapse in concentration that led to City’s first goal last Monday. With the game put to bed, Rodgers allowed Balotelli to take a rest after a promising start to his Reds career.

The likes of Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Jose Enrique all played a role to see off the game. Philipe Coutinho and Rickie Lambert didn’t play a part and with Adam Lallana not match fit, John Flanagan recovering from injury, Liverpool’s squad depth looks strong enough to muster another strong title run as well as challenge for the UEFA Champions League.

So much was said about Liverpool going the Spurs way after Suarez’s departure but on the account of this display, they made a statement and brushed aside such fears.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!