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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Champions League Last 16 Draw: Barca to Meet with Man City, Chelsea Draw PSG

Premier League Champions Manchester City have for the second time in a row been drawn to face La Liga giants Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League knockout round. The two sides met at the same stage last season with the Catalans advancing after emerging 4-1 winners over two legs.

City’s English counterparts, Chelsea, have been drawn to face Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain with the first leg set for Parc de Princes on the 17th of February next year. The two sides clashed in the quarter finals last season with PSG beating Chelsea 3-1 in Paris only for the Blues to win 2-0 in the return leg in London and advance on the away goals rule.

Holders Real Madrid have an easy tie on paper after being drawn against Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04 while Bayern Munich will take on Ukraine side Shakhtar Donetsk.

Last year’s losing finalists, Atletico Madrid will face Bayer Leverkusen as Serie A champions Juventus brawl with Borussia Dortmund. FC Basel who beat Liverpool to second spot in Group B behind Real Madrid will host FC Porto in the first leg.

Arsene Wenger will return to his ex club Monaco after his side were drawn against the French outfit.

The first leg matches will be played on the 17/18 and 24/25 of February with the return legs set for 10/11 and 17/18 of March 2015.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Letter from #TeamNyati to Opponents ahead of KPL Fans Fun Day

First I want to admit that am very pleased to break all the hogwash of the English language which would have dictated that I kowtow to some traditional format that would have breathed conventional air into how to write a letter. The feeling of breaking that rule is such a relief.

Having said that, I also want to refute any suspicions the headline might have raised as to whether this is the official mouthpiece of one #TeamNyati; the best thing there will be on KPL Fans Fun Day set for this Saturday.

As you fight a personal war over that claim and award yourself a pyrrhic victory, I suggest you be cleaning your newly acquired boots which might melt under the sweltering heat of the artificial black rubber-crumb surface that awaits you at City Stadium this Saturday.

Meanwhile, #TeamNyati have been under residential training since they became among the very first teams to confirm participation by paying the registration token which was channeled to the organizers’ coffers via the captain Gregory Mulemi. Although he has been absent from the camp due to reasons better kept secret in the #TeamNyati’s cabinet safe, the glass-kneed Mulemi has done the team a world of good by ensuring they will participate in the inaugural KPL Fans Fun Day.

Mulemi will be a vital cog for #TeamNyati provided he steers clear of trying to force a nutmeg on a heavily built bowlegged opponent. To address that, #TeamNyati are discussing the possibility of allowing him to nutmeg a handful of teammates during the pre-match warm up – hope he doesn’t read this part.

Were it up to #TeamNyati, this Fun day would have been held on a Sunday. Reason being, one Japh ‘De Jong’ Mutinda, a specialist in Sunday League Football (SLF) would have singlehandedly handed the trophy to #TeamNyati. Nevertheless, the fact that the game is played a day before Sunday is a motivation enough. As a brotherly warning, opponents marking him should feel just a wee bit safe if they ‘dress up’ like a National Football League (NFL) player.

One of #TeamNyati’s secrets will be one Amos Abuga who has, for lack of a better expression, worked his ass off during the week. The non-scoring goalscorer (oh boy am in trouble) has been doing extra work in the gym, so much so that he might as well stand in the defence alone on Saturday in a 1-1-5 formation.

And then there’s the far-travelled, jet-lagged, Kaka Tim Iqbal Mustafa Bharath. He declined a multi-million offer from the gulf to return back home and his presence in the team sheet itself should have rest of the teams hitting the panic button.

#TeamNyati’s major weakness is the fact that they are awash with skills. Yes, deft touches, delicate flicks, rabona and rainbow kicks, ‘kuipaka’, name it. Ever heard of the expression being ‘left for dead’, or hitting the ‘groundie’? There will be a lot of that level of embarrassment #TeamNyati will dish out when they put the opposition under ‘sieke’. One Steve Ayoo will take the lead on that so the least said the better.

As I conclude this apparent letter, I will tell you for free that there won’t be any better ladies on the pitch than #TeamNyati’s Shinyatinyatis led by the red-hot red-dressed red-carpeting Myra Redele and the Tore Bobe maestro Rebecca Magoma.

Iko sida.

Hopefully after all has been said, the participants will live up to the name of the day, Fun Day, because it’s the experience that matters rather than the competition. Donge?

Good luck and let us have fun on Saturday.


And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Did Liverpool Overachieve in 2013-14 Season?

Liverpool were the most entertaining football team last season. Their brand of football, their movement going forward, the telepathic understanding among their front three and some quickfire scoring  that caught teams off guard time and again was a joy to watch for the Koop.

They were the most envied team in England and to a larger extent, Europe. Captain Steven Gerrard hit the heights he’s been known for over the years, Raheem Sterling came of age, Daniel Sturridge was finally living up to his billing and Luis Suarez was well, being Luis Suarez: bully, skillful, unpredictable, hard working and scoring goals for fun. The feel good factor was there and it was – to those born in the last 24years or so – the most beautiful time to be a Liverpool fan.

That that run ended in a second place finish behind champions Manchester City was disappointing. However, it had supposedly set the stage for Brendan Rodgers and his men to mount an even more serious title charge this season.

No one foresaw the struggles that the Mersyeside club is experiencing right now. The departure of Luis Suarez, the confinement of Daniel Sturridge to the treatment table coupled with the inability of summer arrivals to get their feet playing to the tune of high expectations within the club has made Liverpool this season’s Premier League laughing stock.

They have collected only 6 wins in the Premier League this season and lost have already lost six times in only 15 games, a far cry from last season where they lost the same number of matches the whole season. Goals have been hard to come by while the Reds have carried on their unwanted form of last season where they conceded one too many goals.

Their campaign in the Champions League came to a crashing conclusion in front of their home fans after they failed to collect the win they needed against Basel which would have sent them into the last 16. They toiled under the challenge of the Swiss side who took the lead and looked like they would leave Anfield with the three points until Steven Gerrard hit a brilliant free kick that leveled the match with 10 minutes to play. However, not even the captain's heroics could save the Reds this time as Basel held on for the draw to proceed at their hosts' expense.

Liverpool’s relegation to Europa League is merited given that they only claimed one victory in six matches which was against lowly Bulgarians Ludogorets Razgrad. They were beaten over two legs by Real Madrid and lost to Basel away which sealed their fate.

A league fixture awaits them this Saturday with an away game at Manchester United who have won their last four matches and look way better than Liverpool in spite of making several changes within their squad including changing the manager.

Going by their current form, a victory against their biggest enemy in English football will be hoped for rather than expected, a far cry from last season when the Reds rolled over United and won home and away scoring six goals and conceding only one. The clash against Louis van Gaal’s men will perhaps make it bare the fact that the Merseysiders might have overachieved last season.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Giants to Clash in 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after Draw is Released

The stage is set for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations showdown, the 30th edition in the competition’s history, after the draw was conducted in Malabo, the capital of host country Equatorial Guinea.

The prolonged ceremony in Malabo served up some potentially blockbuster fixtures especially in Group C which has three former winners and a finalist. South Africa who topped Group A and locked defending champions Nigeria will headline the group as they hunt for their first title since the 1996 triumph. Four-time winners Ghana were seeded first in the group and they will be joined by 1990 winners Algeria as well as the star-studded Teranga Lions of Senegal who are still searching for their maiden title.

Group D looks equally tricky with Cote d’Ivoire set to battle it out with a rejuvenated Cameroon side as well as Mali who have reached the semis on the last two occasions. Guinea, beaten by Morroco in the 1976 final are the group’s dark horses.

Hosts Equatorial Guinea headline Group A and will play the opening match against Congo in Bata. Last year’s beaten finalists Burkina Faso are also in the group alongside Gabon.

Zambia who won the 2012 edition are drawn in Group B alongside 2004 winners Tunisia, two-time champions DR Congo and Cape Verde. Honoum Janza’s Zambia already clashed with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde during the qualifiers with the Chipolopolo losing the first leg 2-1 before exacting revenge on Rui Aguas’ men with a 1-0 home win, Ronald Kampamba with the solitary goal.

The 2015 edition will start on 17th January with the finals set for 8th February. All the Group A matches will be held Bata, Group B in Ebebiyin while Group C and D matches will take place in Mongomo and Malabo respectively. Nigeria are the defending champions but they failed to qualify after finishing third in Group A, four points adrift of South Africa who topped the group.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No Sserunkuma, No Problem: Gor Mahia's Ready Replacement for Mzee

Danny Sserunkuma is officially a Simba player. The pint-sized Uganda international has signed a two-year contract with the 18-time Tanzanian Premier League champions ending his hugely rewarding stint with Gor Mahia.

His departure to the Ligi Kuu Bara will potentially leave a big hole in the Gor Mahia set up, something that the club’s hierarchy needs to address before they start their continental campaign in mid January.

Be it a transfer driven by the player’s quest to add more bucks on top of what Gor Mahia has been offering (the more likely reason) or a plain desire to test his resolve in a different league, Sserunkuma’s departure might harm the club’s ambitions.

And here is why.

Since joining the record champions midway into the 2012 season, the former Nairobi City Stars forward has been a vital cog in the club’s year on year title charge. In his first full season with Gor, the Ugandan found the back of the net on 17 occasions, just one short of the 18 Sofapaka’s John Baraza netted to claim the golden boot. His goals pushed Gor to within a whisker of claiming their first League title since 1995 only to be beaten to it on the final day by Tusker FC. However, he took home the Premier League Player of the Year gong.

His goals dried up a bit last year but his contribution was still immense in Gor’s title winning season. He scaled up to top the goalscoring chats this season, his 16 goals helping K’Ogallo become the first team in the last decade to defend the KPL crown.

You may be wondering why the article thus far has concentrated on his goalscoring exploits but that’s what he is paid to do. Since signing for the 1987 CAF Cup Winners Cup champions, Sserunkuma has finished as their topscorer in the last three seasons with 41 goals in total. His nearest challenger during that period is Rama Salim with 17 goals, almost two and half times less.

With such statistics, the Gor Mahia topbrass should be panicking, and if they are not, they must be feeling they have someone within the club who could fill up his boots, or that they can acquire the services of someone who  could do even a better job.

A few names have been thrown in the air but there has been no official communication from the Chris Omondis of the K’Ogalo world. That notwithstanding, the Green Army should look no further than a player within their rank.

George Blackberry Odhiambo has always been a darling of the Gor faithful and his performances towards the tail end of this season showed just why. Playing alongside the Ugandan, Blackberry was a joy to watch sometimes with his dribbling and willingness to take on defenders setting him apart as from many of his peers. Before leaving Gor in 2010 for Danish Superliga side Randers, the Thur Gem born player had already cemented his place in the Gor Mahia folklore and it wasn't a surprise that he re-signed for his boyhood club in January.

Odhiambo’s one-year contract expires at the end of this year and Gor could do far worse than adding more years to it because in the absence of Sserunkuma, the 22-year-old has the ability to make ‘Mzee’s’ absence feel insignificant. His biggest asset is versatility. He is comfortable on both the left and right channels, could play in the hole behind the striker but also do the job as the main man upfront.

So while the Yin may have already jumped ship for more mullah, the Yang is still very much a piece of the K'Ogalo cake and it might not be rocket science finding his support cast.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shabana Launches New Kit as their Preparation for Topflight Football Continues

Shabana FC Chairman Jared Niverton, centre, pose with models during the Club branding ahead of next KPL season at Hotel SixEighty Nairobi on Monday, December 1st, 2015.

As the embers of discussion on whether or not they deserved to be promoted to topflight Kenyan football dies its natural death, Shabana FC are already rolling their sleeves in preparation for the coming season.

The Kisii-based team today Monday launched their official kits ahead of their return to the Kenya Premier League after an 8-year absence. Going for a retail price of Kshs. 1500, the home kit (dominantly white) and away kit (dominantly red) will be available in leading stores countrywide.

The designers of the kit went the extra mile of exemplifying the Abagussi culture in the kit by adding a banana touch to the multi-coloured club logo. The club’s rallying cry, ‘Tore Bobe’ was also made apparent in the new kit.

The club’s chairman, Jared Niverton rallied the fans to continue supporting the club by purchasing the official kits in a bid to improving the club’s warchest ahead of the new season.

Niverton further confirmed the club is doing its final touches in trying to land key players for the coming season. “Kisii and Nyamira counties have come on board with sponsorships. This is indeed a big thing for our club as we look forward to facing some of the top clubs in the local league,” he said.

Meanwhile the club has made defender Andrew Ongwae among its first major acquisitions. Ongwae, a former Gor Mahia and Congo United defender but who was hitherto plying his trade with relegated Nairobi City Stars joins Shabana on a two-year contract.

Shabana were promoted to the topflight after finishing at the zenith of the National Super League Zone B alongside Poster Rangers who topped Zone A division.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!