News has emerged that Netherlands and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie shares a common ancestry with France’s and Arsenal’s misfiring forward Olivier Giroud. There is another bit making the news as far as the story is concerned and that is the fact that there is a Kenyan connection to this ground-shaking discovery. So far Arsenal Football Club is the only link the two footballers share but news that they are actually distant cousins would not only give a whole new dimension to their personal lives but also their careers.
Robin van Persie joined Manchester United from Arsenal in August 2012 and to fill the gap left by the Dutchman, Olivier Giroud was signed from Montpelier by the London club. Perhaps unknown to the club is that the two players can trace their origin to a Railway builder who was once in charge of the Woolwich Arsenal Railway station. Though Arsenal is not a club started by railway workers, the prospect that they could have two players from two different countries who trace their ancestry to a person who worked at a railway station whose part of its name was once the name of the club, is a story that may force a rewriting of the history of the club.
So who is this man whom Giroud and van Persie trace their origin to? Well, the person is none other than Sir Edward Percy Cranwill Giroud and on the family tree he is the great great-grandfather to Robin van Persie and Olivier Giroud. Other than being a railway worker, Sir Edward also held a number of administrative positions in African nations that were under British colonial rule including Kenya. It is during his time in Africa, South Africa, to be precise that he is said to have given rise to the first of his descendants of whose lineage would produce a great footballer, Robin van Persie.
While working for the Central South Africa Railways as a commissioner, Sir Edward met a Dutch lady who stole his heart. The lady was known as Helena and having also fallen for the Canadian, she was bound to follow him wherever his work took him to. It was while staying in Kenya, where Sir Edward was serving as the governor of the East Africa Protectorate, that the couple welcomed to the world their first child, William van Persie. Apparently the child was to be named Willem van Giroud so as to follow with Sir Edward’s family name but Helena refused the baby to be given that name. She claimed that the name van Giroud had similar pronunciation with a Kenyan name given to girls: Wanjiru. There was no way she was going to allow her son to carry such a name.
The issue with pronunciation of the baby’s name did not end there as its name was written as William van Persie on the birth certificate. Whoever registered the baby name’s heard “William van Persie” instead of “Willem van Percy”. Talk of a heavy tongue meeting a fast ear and the result was a name that would be synonymous with football fans a century later.
The marriage did not last long however and the couple separated two years after the Willem’s birth. Following the separation, Helena decided to go back home in Netherlands. She had no more business in Africa and time was ripe for her to go back to Rotterdam and start life all over again. It was in the same city 81 years later that her great grandson, Bob, became a father and the child was called Robin van Persie, a name that decades later would overcome the confines of Rotterdam as its bearer became known practically all over the world.
Sir Edward on the other hand decided to go to England but after listening to the little boy inside him, he chose to pass by France first so as to check on some family friends who had settled in Lyon after moving out of Quebec in Canada. It is while in Lyon that he got to renew acquaintances with Sabrine de Laurent, a lady he envied during his youth but never had the courage to approach. He found her too proud and the thought of being rejected by her had him always postponing his move. At times the moment was right but somehow he bungled it all and even went as far as apologising for non-existent mistakes. So he kept his feelings to himself until that afternoon in the Lyon countryside. This time, helped by the homing instinct, Sir Edward was able to overcome his fears and even though he failed in convincing her to move with him to England and later Canada, he was glad he finally had that monkey off his back.
They still communicated through letters but lost contact when the First World War broke out and never got in touch again after that. It is Sabrine’s last letter to him that he cherished the most though. In the letter, Sabrine informed him of the birth of their son whom she named Edouard Giroud II who, sadly, he never got to see. 82 years after that letter, the family tree got another branch as Edouard’s grandson became a father to Arsenal’s number 12, Olivier Giroud.
With this revelation, there is no doubt that van Persie’s and Giroud’s family meetings will no longer be limited to Old Trafford and The Emirates. Once separated by rivalry, the two are now united by blood thanks to Sir Edward Percy Cranwill Giroud.
The Red Backpack recently had a chat with an official of a club that had just relieved a coach of his duties after just six months on the job. The revelations of the official, if they are anything to go by, are a testament to the crazy and hilarious world that is Kenyan football. Without further delay, here is the official’s account on why the club and the coach had to part ways.
“Coaches come and go you know! But this one!” he pauses before repeating the last three words twice as if for emphasis. “I will be very surprised if he got another job. In fact if he gets employed as a coach again I will gladly pay him double whatever amount he is earning at that club. Nebuchadnezzar Safari is a bigger fraud than the pyramid scheme and it is such a great pity that a club of our stature had been taken for a ride by a baby class drop-out for that long. That guy is not a coach! He was never a coach and he will never be a coach!
“He had really impressed us during the interview. He came with a laptop and a projector then did a PowerPoint presentation in such a way that you would think that he was the one who invented the software. He showed us mind-blowing diagrams of systems of play he intended to adapt at the club if he was selected. He was also able to explain everything so confidently and eloquently that we called off the search for a new coach the moment he was through with his presentation.
“How wrong we were. We took everything he said as gospel truth and even when we started noticing signs that something was not right, we were so brainwashed to challenge anything he did. We thought to ourselves that that was how geniuses go about their work. How foolish we were. It turned out that the nincompoop was drilled for the interview.
“The rogue said the silliest things during press conferences and post-match interviews. We were so shocked at how he became a linguistic genocidaire overnight. At one time, after a match, he said the team lost because the hot was too sun. We overlooked that on the excuse that the battering must have been so hard for him to take that he got his words mixed up. However we were lost for words when he said before a game that the team was not performing well because they were not conceding chances that they were creating. That was first warning we heeded and from then on we started investigating his conduct. What we found out had us shocked for days.
The guy used to create an impression that he is a very studious coach as he spent a lot of time during matches standing on the touchline. He claimed that he studied for his coaching badges while in India and that explained the Indian head wobbles he used to do each time the team made a good move or when he agreed with something. It later turned out that the closest he had been to India was when he was working as a gardener at an office that neighboured the Indian High Commission. That is beside the point though. We found out that guy was actually day-dreaming on the touchline when he was once hit by the ball on his face. For someone famed for his concentration and scholarly pose on the touchline, it was criminal for such to happen to him. In his shameful defence, he claimed that the sun rays hindered his view. How lame! Scallywag really thought that we would fall for that.
It was not the only thing that we discovered about his touchline stationing. Before games the team used, on his advice, to feed on ugali, quail eggs and beans that were spiced with chili. He claimed that such a meal would provide them with all their energy needs for the game. As it turned out, the meal made the players pass wind like sick mongooses. He therefore avoided sitting on the technical bench so as to escape the foul smell and on the rare occasions that he felt like taking a seat, he’d order all the substitutes to go warm-up including those he had taken off. Such action made us think of him as disciplinarian but as it turned out he just wanted some fresh air as he continued with his daydreams.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when we heard from some players that he was bribing some players not to play so that he could field other players that he liked. The foolish players thought that the coach was doing them a great favour by paying them to pass wind on the bench. On learning that, we decided that he just had to go. We could not continue paying a person whose only qualification was his foolishness. We admit it was stupid on our part for not doing a background check on him but having learned our lesson I assure you that our next coach will be vetted publicly like they do with candidates for key positions in government. We will not be taking chances this time round.”
He ended his story by emphasizing on those last few words. Going by his account, it seems that the vetting process for the club’s next coach will be an unmissable classic and The Red Backpack can not wait for it.
Nina uhakika una furaha sana sasa. Najua hatujawasiliana tangu nihamie Simba kwa hivyo sitashang’aa ukipata mshtuko punde upokeapo waraka hii kutoka kwangu.
Kabla sijaendelea zaidi, pokea hongera zangu. Ninapata habari kwamba jana ulikuwa pweza na uliweza kuokoa penalti nne. Mchezo wako ulishangaza sana hivi kwamba walinda lango wote huko bongo wamekuwa wakinipiga simu wakiniitisha nambari yako ya rununu ili wakupe hongera zao wao wenyewe. Wanajiuliza maswali mengi sana hapa. Kwani ulikula shamba mzima ya karoti? “Daktari” wako ni nani? Lazima huyo “daktari” amehitimu sana?
Hata Juma Kaseja inasemekana anataka kujiunga na Gor Mahia ili ajifunze zaidi kutoka kwako. Hivi tunavyo ongea Yanga SC wamedhibitisha kwamba wamepokea barua kutoka kwake ikiwaharifu kwamba angependa kujiuzulu kutoka kwa nafasi yake hapo Yanga SC. Kutokana na ujumbe wa Yanga SC, ni wazi kwamba Kaseja alificha nia yake halisi ya kutaka kujiuzulu. Ati bonzo hilo linataka kujiunga na chuo kikuu cha Nairobi ili aweze kuendeleza masomo yake. Kivipi Kaseja ameona sasa anaweza kupambana na mabuku ilhali kufikia sasa hata akipewa hesabu ya 1+1 anajibu 11?
Kusema ukweli sikutarajia kutumia sentensi na aya nyingi hivi kufikia lengo langu kwa hivyo utanisamehe kama nilikuwa na kupotezea wakati. Si kawaida yangu kutumia maneno mengi hivi lakini kwa sababu ulishangaza dunia kwa kuokoa penalti nne mbona pia mimi nisifanye mambo kinyume na desturi yangu?
Hizi siku zote nlikuwa ninafikiri taulo yangu ilipotea katika harakati za kuhama kutoka Nairobi lakini mchezo wako jana imebadilisha wazo hilo. Sisemi wewe mwizi ila hata wewe unajua mende ikiangusha kabati lazima kuwe na mkono ya binadamu. Nimekupa siku tatu uwe umerudisha taulo yangu la sivyo itanilazimu nikuandikie barua ingine na hautafurahia kuisoma hata kidogo.
Mimi wako nikikushuku sana,
Kaka Ivo Mapunda.
DUNCAN’S FLYING BOOT
In the wake of Duncan Ochieng’s jaw-dropping blunder that gifted AFC Leopards their first goal against Sofapaka in their GOTv Shield semi-final clash last Sunday at Kasarani, it has now emerged from a source close to the 35-year old custodian that he actually began his football career as a striker.
“Duncan’s howler is somehow reminiscent of a clumsy aspect of his play when he used to play as a striker in the 80s,” the source started giving a recollection of Duncan Ochieng’s early playing days.
“He could dribble, head and pass the ball better than most of us but his only problem was that he could not shoot at all and because of that he never scored a single goal for the entirety of his short career as a striker. Every time he attempted a shot, he would miss the ball completely and his boot would fly off his foot straight to the poor keeper’s face.
We had to find a permanent solution to that problem and one of them was having him play barefoot but it did not help matters because his long toenails either punctured leather balls or caused paper and sponge balls to stick to his foot. A tough decision had to be made when no one wanted to play in goal whenever Duncan was playing. It was either he plays alone or we play without him. Elastoplasts and bandages were becoming a scarce commodity and we were not willing to risk more bruises on our faces from his flying boot. It is then that we decided he should be the goalkeeper since he would rarely be required to shoot the ball. Duncan, sad and crying, agreed to the decision and that is how his career as a goalkeeper came to being.”
I MEANT 3 HOURS! NOT 3 MINUTES
Strange things happen in Mombasa and when it involves a football referee, the more the reason to sit on a couch with a bowl of popcorn and some soda then listen to the story as it unfolds. This time, a referee officiating a football between two village teams added 3 hours (not minutes) injury time claiming that the teams wasted a lot of time going for nature calls, simulating injury and taking too long to walk off the pitch when being substituted.
“Tulikuwa na hofu sana kwamba refa ataongoza dakika nyingi sana ya ziada kwa hivyo tulifurahi sana wakati refa wa ziada alipoinua kibao na kuonyesha mechi itarefushwa na dakika tatu pekee. Wakati mechi iliendelea bila firimbi kupigwa ilibidi tumeuliza refa wa ziada nia ya refa ni nini maanake hamalizi mechi. Hapo ndipo tulielezwa kuwa mechi itaendelea kwa masaa matatu na si dakika tatu kama tulivyo fikiria,” one of the team officials expressed his shock at the referee’s decision.
To justify his actions, the referee had this to say, “Hakuna mpira walicheza. Mimi sikutoka nyumbani kuja kuona sarakasi na uigizaji. Hapa nilkuja kazi.”
Not far away from where that match was played, some cheeky tournament organizers awarded the player of the tournament award to goalposts claiming that the goalposts had contributed to a great percentage of the goals scored at the tournament.
“Kama kamati andalizi, tumeamua kutunuku vyuma vya goli tuzo ya wachezaji bora katika kinyanganyiro hiki kwa sababu vyuma hizo hazikusaidia kuzuia mabao kuingia bali pia zilisaidia wachezaji kufunga mabao. Idadi kubwa sana ya mabao yalifungwa baada ya mpira kugonga vyuma na kuingia nyavuni ama mpira kugonga vyuma na kurejea mchezoni kisha mpira ukiingizwa nyavuni na mchezaji aliyekuwa anaotea. Hapo sasa hata kama ni wewe ni nani utatunuku hiyo tuzo?” a member of the organizing committee explained their decision to the dismay of players and coaches who had taken part in the tourney.
It is said that Dan Serunkuma was once denied a chance to play for AFC Leopards because one of the club officials did not think he was good enough and even labelled him an impostor but following the striker’s exploits since joining Gor Mahia, the club has convened a meeting to discuss the events that led to the pint-sized forward being chased away from the den. Rumours are rife that the club will demand that whoever it was that called the Ugandan an “impostor” offer a public apology to the striker after which the official, already labelled an enemy of development, will be sacked with immediate effect. It will be interesting to see how this goes.
I do not know how you will take this but the build up to Dan Serunkuma’s winning goal in Gor Mahia’s league match against Sofapaka yesterday is the laziest The Red Backpack has even seen. How Patrick Oboya chose to just flick the ball instead of bringing it down, bulldoze past markers and then thread a pass to Dan Serunkuma is beyond the understanding of The Red Backpack. The flick clearly summarizes the winger’s dislike for hard work and industry. Patrick is big like house and it is a shame that he chose to do the easy work and left the hard bit to Dan Serunkuma who had to run and power past defenders twice his size before jumping 200% of his height to loop the ball over the goalkeeper. Patrick should have lived up to what is expected of someone his size and powered past the opposition himself then laying the ball on a silver platter for Serunkuma to tap in. The goal is great but frankly speaking, the roles of the key protagonists in the build up were reversed.
By Zax Oguda – Follow on Twitter
With the recent happenings in the country’s football fields, it is clearly evident that Gor Mahia will be going all out for the TPL title. To achieve this goal they have to deal with the pressure of being the league leaders until the title is firmly in their grasp. The pressure can either make the Green Army be like diamonds or crush completely.
Entering the 2013 league season there was no question that winning the TPL tittle was high on Gor Mahia’s list of things to accomplish. If one would open Bobby Williamson’s skull, I am pretty certain one would see the words “WIN THE TPL” or something similar in meaning to those words. Williamson is looking to add to his achievements as coach of the Ugandan Cranes and winning the title in his debut season on the Kenyan touchlines will not only add to his growing credentials but he will bring the glory days back to this mighty club and write a new chapter in the club’s history.
These are not new dreams to any coach who has sat on the hot seat of the club’s most demanding job. That has always been the case and will always continue to be the case. The team has dealt with the crushing weight of expectations before but this time it is more different after the club failed to win the league last year as well as failed to defend the KPL Top 8 Trophy this year. The pressure is mounting after every game and Gor Mahia is expected to continue ticking like a fully functional clock. Everyone must be on their toes. Be it the management, technical bench, the players or the fans.
Gor Mahia’s next opponents are Muhoroni Youth and AFC Leopards respectively. The two teams are in good form at the moment and failure to win these two ties, especially the Derby, will unsettle the club in so many ways as reality hits home that they may be on the verge of failure once again. Science tells us that diamonds are formed when carbon bearing materials are exposed to a specific range of pressure and temperature. It is for this reason that the minerals are rare because there are only two places on earth where the necessary conditions for their creation are met. With this in mind, it is only time that will tell if Gor Mahia will produce diamonds or a figurative lump of coal.
Zax Oguda is an ardent Muhoroni Youth fan and TPL follower.
By Zax Oguda – Follow on Twitter
“I play football for the money because we (footballers) only play for ten years, and when I retire I will need money. If I stay at Tottenham, it is because it will be the best deal for me. You must not undersell yourself just because you like the club. I can stay only if there is money. True relationships don’t exist in football; it is not about friendship or camaraderie.”
Those are not my words but those of Tottenham and Cameroon left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto in an interview with The Daily Mail. In the recent weeks, movements of Kenyan players to the Arab countries in search of greener pastures have hit football newsrooms at every angle. Many fans, if not all, have accused them of making terrible moves in respect of their careers but referring to Assou-Ekotto’s words, the players seem to be attracted by the better financial deal offered by the Middle-East clubs. Truth be told, in the modern world only a fool would let pass an opportunity to make more money especially considering that most of our footballers come from pretty humble backgrounds and football’s short career span is an added incentive to players to make hay while the sun shines.
Much as we can all give arguments from the footballing perspective, it would be equally thoughtful to consider the reasons that drive clubs and players in to making this kind of moves because such deals have not been a recent happening in our country. In the recent past, we have seen the careers of some of our promising talents; George “Blackberry” Odhiambo easily comes to mind – blurred by such malicious moves after failing to stamp their authority in their new clubs.
Most of the moves are forced by agents whose inner workings are illogical, unfair and most of the times downright shady. They are self-serving people who make baffling decisions that end up hurting a player’s career. They wield far too much power and their main intent is sucking money out of the game and in to their own pockets.
As the big clubs make and spend millions attain success, the case is not the same lower down the league where clubs struggle to make ends meet and have to sell their best players to meet other operations needs of the club. It is hard to blame anybody for the current state of affairs as it has been an almost organic growth in the economic state of our game that is aptly backed up by the saying that the rich will get richer and the poor poorer.
Ask any player of the 70’s and 80’s and they will talk of how they played for fun and passion for the sport. There were turnstiles, tickets but there were no huge wage demands from players. Football was a serene place until money took importance and turned it in to the monster we love and loathe today. As always to go to the next level risks must be taken and with risks come higher rewards and even more dangers. One thing remains for sure; this kind of movements will continue to be common as the game progresses. It might be a financial blessing to a player but he risks jeopardizing his career as the football in the country continues to stagnate.
Zax Oguda is an ardent Muhoroni Youth fan and TPL follower.
A low scoring weekend in the TPL saw Gor Mahia’s lead at the top of the league table cut to 6 points. The 2012 TPL runners-up had the chance to go at least 10 points clear of their nearest opponents but successive 0-0 draws to Tusker and Nairobi City Stars have slowed their momentum. Gor Mahia’s match with Nairobi City Stars was not the only one to end goalless as Sony Sugar also held Western Stima to 0-0 draw on Sunday at Bukhungu Stadium. Elsewhere, AFC Leopards and Muhoroni Youth continued with their winning form following 1-0 wins over Ulinzi Stars and Sofapaka respectively. Thika United’s return to winning ways could not have come at a better time as a 1-0 win over Mathare United saw them maintain second spot. KCB, Tusker and Bandari were the other teams to register a win in Week 19 and that saw each of them moving 3 places in the league standings.
1. MUHORONI YOUTH
The club not only managed to win three consecutive league matches for the first time in their history after their 1-0 win at home to Sofapaka but they also made it the first time ever that they were avoiding defeat in four consecutive league matches. Once again new-signing Jeremiah Wanjala proved decisive with his 3rd goal in five league matches since joining the club. Muhoroni’s recent exploits are classic examples of resilience and courage in the face of adversity and Thursday will be another day for them to continue with that trend when they play Bandari in Mombasa.
2. AFC LEOPARDS
Luc Eyamel’s AFC Leopards won their fourth league match in a row following what has become a routine win over Ulinzi Stars. The 12-time league champions seem to be compensating for a slow start if their current form is anything to go by. In their last six league matches they have managed to pick 16 points, a tally which is two more than what they managed in their first 13 thirteen league matches – a situation that inspired their rivals to jibe them that they would finish the season with 30 points.
Last season AFC Leopards were affected after a long period without competitive football more so after having hit top form as the table below shows. Their next league match is against City Stars on August 18 which will be fifteen days after their last league assignment so Luc Eymael’s main challenge will be maintaining his team’s focus and concentration. The wins over Sofapaka (June 22) and Mathare United (July 21) however point to a change in that worrying trait as Eymael seems to have figured ways of keeping his boys on their toes while they are on a break from competitive football.
The crazy bankers survived a scare from Kakamega Homeboyz to register their 6th win of the season courtesy of goals from Edwin Oduor and Raymond Murugi. The club has not lost a match since May 25 when Thika United beat them 1-0 and they seem set on finishing in the top 8 this season – a target that has narrowly eluded them in the last two league seasons.
4. THIKA UNITED
The Milkmen were on the winning side for the first time since Week 13 when they won 1-0 away to KCB. Before defeating Mathare United 1-0 in Week 19, they had gone 6 matches without winning in the TPL and in the process ceded pole position to Gor Mahia as well as allowed AFC Leopards to catch up with them. They play Tusker in their next league match and an even more resolute performance will be required of them if they are to build on their win against Mathare United. Defeat to Tusker coupled by a KCB win over Sofapaka will see them drop to fourth on goal difference and therefore they can not afford another slip up at this stage.
Western Stima on April 21 2012 was the last team before Thika United to keep a cleansheet away to Mathare United in the TPL. Up until Week 19, Mathare United had scored in 17 consecutive home matches.
As highlighted above, the Brewers have shown some improvement in their performance having picked 7 points and conceded no goals in their last three league matches. Their win against Chemelil Sugar helped them climb from 8th to 5th in the standings making it the highest position they have occupied this season. A win in their next league match against Thika United will see them rise to 3rd or 4th in the league standings depending on if KCB win their home tie against Sofapaka.
The Dockers ended a 3-match losing streak with a 1-0 win over struggling Karuturi Sports. The win helped prevent a further drop for them in the league standings and puts them in a good position to climb to 4th if they win at home to Muhoroni Youth in their next league match.
The number of draws registered this season rose to 57 as Week 19 saw two fixtures end in a draw. Sony Sugar became the first away side this season to keep a cleansheet against Western Stima following their 0-0 draw against the Powermen on Sunday. Also on the same day, Gor Mahia failed to extend their lead at the top of the table to 8 points after a disappointing 0-0 draw with City Stars at Kasarani. The draw came four days after the 12-time league champions drew 0-0 with Tusker at the same venue and though they still enjoying a six-point lead at the top, there is no denying that the league leaders are feeling the pressure that is mounting on them.
Despite boasting a star-studded and experienced squad, Batoto Ba Mungu have disappointed more than dazzled this season. They have won only 6 of the 19 league matches they have played this season making it their worst ever performance after 19 league matches in their top flight history as the table below shows.
2. ULINZI STARS
The Soldiers’ had their bulldozing charge up the league standings halted by AFC Leopards in dramatic fashion as they had Hassan Mohammed sent off before conceding a late goal. Ulinzi Stars’ have been obstinate as they have been submissive this season. Twelve of their 18 league matches were won by the team that scored first and in all cases the winning team did not concede a goal. Five of the remaining 6 matches ended 0-0 and that goes to show that the Soldiers clearly do not have what it takes to win the league this season. Whereas they can be applauded for their resoluteness, their failure to provide an apt response when challenged clearly underlines an embarrassing lack of fighting spirit in a side that is composed of active personnel from the country’s defence forces.
CAGED: Three things are certain in life – death, taxes and Ulinzi Stars losing to AFC Leopards. The Soldiers have lost in their last 6 league ties against the Nairobi-based side.
3. KAKAMEGA HOMEBOYZ
For all their elaborate passes and innovative moves, Kakamega Homeboyz are very much like that student who gives the wrong answers in an exam with the best of handwritings. They are a good team to watch but their profligacy in front of goal keeps discouraging any hopes of seeing them play in the top flight next season. Life in the top flight can be so unforgiving if one is not clinical up front and frugal enough at the back and this is a lesson that Abana Abeingo learn every week with dire consequences.
4. KARUTURI SPORTS
In the last two seasons, the Flowermen performed very poorly in their last 10 league matches but avoided the drop by virtue of the solid displays they put in their first 20 league matches. The fact they are already in the relegation zone adds doubt to whether they can avoid the drop this season. Last season they won only one of their last 10 league fixtures and in 2011 they won none of their last 10 league fixtures. Add this to the fact that they are winless in their last 5 league matches and there is no doubt that they face an uphill task to avoid relegation.
5. MATHARE UNITED
Now used to mid-table depressions it is no longer a surprise if they fail to win. They play with so much casualness for a team with a good balance of talent and experience as well as a hardworking coaching staff. Watching them play, there is no denying that they possess the will to get a result but this only comes to the fore when they have been hit. They also have a habit of resting on their laurels when in the lead. Mathare need to maximize on their potential more if they are to get desired results.
6. CHEMELIL SUGAR
The Sugarmen’s poor home form against Tusker continued when they lost 1-0 to them on Sunday. Chemelil Sugar’s have failed to win in their last 8 home matches against Tusker and Sunday’s defeat dealt a blow to their progress. They will be hoping to bounce back from that disappointment when they travel to Naivasha to play Karuturi Sports in Week 20.
APRIL 9 2005 – Day Chemelil Sugar last won a home league match against Tusker. Since that 4-1 success, the Sugar Millers have lost thrice and drawn 5 times at home to the Brewers.
Another entertaining week in the Tusker Premier League saw 17 goals scored in the 8 matches played. The top two and bottom two positions remained unchanged as league leaders Gor Mahia stretched their lead at the top of the league by 7 points. Ulinzi Stars were the biggest movers as their 1-0 win over Nairobi City Stars propelled them from 7th to 4th. AFC Leopards, Chemelil Sugar, Tusker, Western Stima and Muhoroni Youth were the other teams to move up the standings after registering wins in their weekend assignments.
1. GOR MAHIA
K’Ogalo may have failed to secure a 6th consecutive cleansheet in the Tusker Premier League but all the same goals from Kevin Omondi and Ugandan Israel Emuge proved vital in driving the team to a 4th consecutive league win. Kevin Omondi’s goal was the 250th to be scored this season and following Thika United’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Western Stima on Sunday, Gor Mahia now enjoys a 7-point lead at the top of the table with a match in hand.
BREACHED: Before conceding to Karuturi Sports on Saturday, Gor Mahia had gone 500 minutes without conceding a league goal hence breaking the previous season record of 485 minutes that was set by Bandari between week 7 and 12. Funny enough, the two goals in between their cleansheet run were conceded against Karuturi Sports and both goals were scored or assisted by Hussein Zzinda.
2. ULINZI STARS
Late goals from Evans Amwoka and Kevin Amwayi in matches against Chemelil Sugar (July 24) and Nairobi City Stars (July 27) respectively helped the Soldiers to two 1-0 victories that saw their point tally increase from 21 to 27 and their league position improve from 10th to 4th.
3. AFC LEOPARDS
Ingwe continued their good run of form completing a double over a Sofapaka courtesy of a 1-0 win on Sunday at Kasarani. The lone goal was scored by Peter Opiyo and it meant that AFC Leopards became the first home team since Mathare United against Sony Sugar in Week 30 of last season to win at Kasarani. The win helped AFC Leopards to 3rd place in the league standings making it the highest position they have occupied this season.
4. MUHORONI YOUTH
Jeremiah Wanjala’s second goal of the season saw the club move 6 points clear of the relegation. The striker has been a revelation since joining the club having a hand in Muhoroni Youth’s last four league goals scoring twice and setting up two goals. The 25-year old striked in the dying minutes against Sony Sugar in Awendo on Saturday to give Muhoroni Youth their first ever league away win against a club based outside Nairobi. Their four previous away wins were registered in Nairobi. The win eases the club’s worries of being relegated at the end of season.
Jeremiah Wanjala has been a revelation at Muhoroni Youth having scored or assisted the club’s last 4 league goals.
5. WESTERN STIMA
The Powermen bounced back strongly from their 2-0 defeat to Gor Mahia in week 17 to register their 5th win of the season in a 4-0 win at home to Thika United. Along with Mathare United, Western Stima is the only team this season yet to lose at home and also the two are the only teams this season to score in every home match.
The defending champions ended a four-match winless streak with a 1-0 win over Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday. The win came just three days after they lifted the KPL Top 8 trophy for the first time ever and it puts them in a good position to move to 4th in the standings if they win their match at hand against Gor Mahia this coming Wednesday.
7. CHEMELIL SUGAR
Jared Obwoge made a return to the scoring charts scoring the first goal in his team’s 2-0 win at home to Bandari on Sunday. Samuel Ouma got the other goal as the Sugarmen avenged the 2-0 defeat they suffered against the Dockers in the reverse fixture.
TARGET: The Sugarmen stand a chance to move to second in the standings should they beat Tusker and the quartet of Thika United, AFC Leopards, Ulinzi Stars and Sofapaka fail to win in their next league matches.
The only draw in Week 18 league fixtures came in the KCB-Mathare United match which ended 2-2. The two teams had drawn 2-2 in their reverse fixture and the result did not come as a surprise as both teams have registered the most draws in the league this season. KCB have drawn 10 times whereas Mathare United have shared the points 11 times.
1. THIKA UNITED
The force of gravity must be acting 10 times more on the Milkmen than on any other falling object at the moment. The Milkmen are going down faster than Jimmy Bageya in the 6-yard box after a very promising run. The club went in to the mid-season break on top of the table with 24 points from 12 matches but has failed to win any of the 6 league matches that they have played after the break. The poor run of form has seen them surrender the pole position to Gor Mahia and with tough away matches against Mathare United and Tusker coming up; they may slide further down in the standings if drastic action is not taken.
Batoto Ba Mungu have been quite inconsistent this season and once again they failed to shine after having registered a win in their previous league match. The 2009 league champions have stagnated in the league standings and with a trip to a resurgent Muhoroni Youth beckoning, they better up their game or they may just find themselves out of the top 8 bracket when they kick a ball again in Week 20.
3. SONY SUGAR
Zedekiah Otieno’s return to the club has not set off in the expected direction as he is yet to win a match since taking over from Sammy Omollo three weeks ago. The recent home loss to Muhoroni Youth has piled more pressure on him and the club to get their act right or be drawn in to a relegation survival battle. It does not help matters that Sony Sugar’s next match is a trip to Bukhungu Stadium where they will play Western Stima who are yet to lose at home in the league this season.
Bandari’s return to the Chemelil Sports Complex may not have been as sad as their departure from that ground on November 26 2011 when their relegation from the top flight was confirmed following a 0-0 draw with the Sugarmen but the events of Sunday have definitely added more misery to their current woes. Defeat to Chemelil Sugar made it the first time this season that they are losing in three consecutive league matches and the dockers will hope they find their footing when they host struggling Karuturi Sports in Week 19.
5. KAKAMEGA HOMEBOYZ AND KARUTURI SPORTS
The two teams remain rooted at the bottom of the standings for the third consecutive week following defeats to Tusker and Gor Mahia respectively. Both have tough away matches coming up in Week 19 as they travel to KCB and Bandari respectively. Another fruitless weekend will dim their hopes of avoiding the drop.
6. NAIROBI CITY STARS
The Kawangware-based club was on the losing side for the first time since Labour Day when they lost 1-0 to Tusker at City Stadium. Defeat to Ulinzi Stars brought an end to a run of 8 league matches without a loss for them. They play away to high-flying Gor Mahia in their next league match and they will have to be at their very best if they are to stage an upset.
By Mike Njoroge – Follow on Twitter
For both teams, the 2013 KPL Top 8 Final represented more than just silverware, prize money and pride.
Both teams came into the Final on the back of a torrid run of results. In each of their last 5 games, only Tusker FC had managed to register a win with draws and losses filling both teams’ current run of form. It meant the final was a chance to change those austere fortunes. Here was the chance to bring some relative success to a season that had recently otherwise gone dour.
Once the game got underway, it was Thika United who looked the more up for it. Their passing was slick and their moves precise. Creating the chances was not a problem, and on the 16th minute, one of those well-crafted moves finished off with a wonder goal. Sammy Meja had the presence of mind to swing in a ball from the left hand side which Francis Kahata coolly cushioned down for David “Kenga” King’atua. The left foot strike that followed was of utmost technique, kept under the crossbar but still having the required brute strength to almost rip through the back of the net.
But if the young boys were showing their brilliance, they ultimately showed their naivety four minutes later as out of nowhere, they conceded a penalty through an unnecessary Vincent Omumbo handball. From being second favourites until then, Ismael Dunga was presented the opportunity to slot home the equaliser. That he calmly did and though undeserved, the Brewers were level.
From then on, the match swung with definite uncertainty. It was only 33 minutes into the second half when Tusker finally managed to split open the Thika defence through their Ugandan midfielder Aucho Khalid, and once more, Dunga was on hand to convert. As it looked to end in a Tusker win, Thika once more executed a move of sublime perfection, with King’atua once more on the end of it to swing a low left-foot shot which swayed into the back of the net with only four minutes of regular time remaining.
All square at the end, the match was subject to the nervy extra time which ended goalless and hence the more nervy lottery of a decider that is the penalty shootout ensued.
Thus came the defining moment of the game, and the final. In it, it was Ezekiel Odera who typified, and symbolised the season that Thika United were having. Partly having revived his career at the club from the other side of the super-highway, it was his tame effort that ultimately decided the fate of the final. His was the only missed penalty and it meant that Tusker would lift the trophy after having converted all of their mandatory five spot-kicks.
In doing so, Odera showed just what this young Thika side was missing. A winning mentality required to grind out the win was lacking, and it did not matter how well they played. By shrinking in front of the spotlight, Odera, and Thika left as runners up, and not Champions.
John Kamau will thus rue the opportunity that his side had for silverware. Indeed, all the good work at the start of the season seems undone by this defeat, but it is still commendable just how far he has managed to get. With the league slipping further into the distance, his quest for expanding the horizons seems to be ultimately undone by youthful exuberance lacking the required experience.
For Tusker on the other hand, it meant that the side that was first in last season’s League would finish first in the competition devised for the Top 8. Those victories however are far removed from their current fortunes, as they lie below the top 8 in the current standings.
Their Coach Robert Matano will sure feel the most pressure. The championship winning side of last season now looks starved of the drive to retain their title. Even though this trophy will slightly calm the storm, it will be how he performs in the coming League matches that will determine his standing.
If performances do not improve Tusker’s League standing, then he will go very soon. He may have already gone but this trophy has served as a postponement of the eventuality of his sacking. If that is the case, his imminent sacking, he will at least feel personally compensated by the fact that he has now won every trophy in Kenya’s top tier of football.
For both teams hence, this only proved a worthwhile distraction from the fortunes that really matter. For one day only, and in front of a buoyant City Stadium crowd, Thika and Tusker forgot their despairing misfortunes and put up a worthy final in the process.
The writer, Mike Njoroge, is a great football enthusiast with amazing and insightful knowledge on a wide range of subjects concerning the beautiful game. In between enjoying the beautiful game and studying law, Mike also edits FutbolTriangle , a football tactics and opinion blog where he publishes most of his works.
Week 17 saw the resumption of league action in full swing after a two-week break due to Harambee Stars’ involvement in the COSAFA Cup. Gor Mahia opened a four-point gap at the top of the league table following a 2-0 win over Western Stima whereas AFC Leopards and Sofapaka were the only teams to realize an upward movement in the rankings. Bandari and Chemelil Sugar were the only displaced teams as the rest maintained their positions.
1. GOR MAHIA
The league leaders became the first team this season to keep a cleansheet in 5 consecutive league matches. They last conceded a goal when they won 2-1 away to Karuturi Sports on June 23. First-half goals from Rama Salim and Paul Mungai helped them to a third consecutive league win and more of the same will be expected of them when they take on Karuturi Sports in their next league assignment.
2. AFC LEOPARDS
They were the biggest movers of the weekend as a 2-0 win over Mathare United in Mumias saw them climb from 8th to 5th in the standings. The victory made it the first time this season that they were winning in two consecutive league matches and a win at home to Sofapaka in their next league match coupled by a KCB draw or lose will see them break in to the top 3 for the first time this season.
50 – AFC Leopards’ win over Mathare United was the 50th home win registered in the league this season. The 133 matches played so far have seen 80 wins and 53 draws, 29 of which are goalless.
Batoto ba Mungu moved two places up in the rankings to third place after beating Bandari 3-2 at the Nyayo National Stadium with goals from Hillary Echesa, John Baraza and an own goal by David Tevelu. The hard-fought win saw the 2009 league champions put an end to a four-match winless streak but with question marks hanging over the ability to maintain a winning run, it will be impulsive to suggest that the victory over the dockers will have a lasting effect on their form and consistency in their coming matches.
4. MUHORONI YOUTH
Week 17 was not short of drama as it witnessed one of those rare occasions whereby a cupboard fell after a push from a cockroach. Minnows Muhoroni Youth produced a gallant effort to win 2-1 away to defending champions Tusker with goals from Kennedy Oduor and Ezekiel Otuoma. The win, which put them three points clear off the relegation zone, was their first away win of the season and their first on the road since defeating Rangers (now Posta Rangers) 1-0 on August 25 2012. As highlighted in the previous edition of this feature, Muhoroni Youth face a tough battle to avoid relegation at the end of the season seeing that they have more away games (8) than home games remaining (5) and with this win over Tusker, they have definitely sent out a strong message that they will not give up easily. Their victory was a clear testament to the saying by Mark Twain: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of fight in the dog.”
Week 17 saw three matches end in a draw. Kakamega Homeboyz, Karuturi Sports and Thika United were all held to scoreless draws by Nairobi City Stars, Sony Sugar and KCB respectively. Much as the results did not change their position in the league standings, each of them has in some lost some crucial ground in as far as the title race, top 8 finish and relegation survival battles are concerned.
The defending champions lost for the second time at home this season with both defeats coming against teams based in Muhoroni, Kisumu County: Chemelil Sugar and Muhoroni Youth. The loss left them 11 points in trail of league leaders Gor Mahia and with this coming after a 1-0 defeat against Mathare United in mid-week, it is becoming increasingly impossible for them to retain the title they dramatically won last season. Any further slip up will definitely rule them out of the contest for the league title.
2009 – Year Tusker last lost in successive matches twice in the same season. Four of their 5 defeats this season have come in successive matches (Thika United and Chemelil Sugar in Week 9 and 10 and the recent losses to Mathare United and Muhoroni Youth).
2. WESTERN STIMA
The Powermen will have to wait longer for their first away win of the season. They have won none of their last 12 away matches and this has affected their overall form in the league this season. Failure to rectify this anomaly will come to haunt them at the end of the season should they miss out on a top 8 finish.
14/3/2012 – Before losing to Gor Mahia, Western Stima’s last defeat in a league match they played at City Stadium was on March 14 2012 when the lost 2-1 to Ezekiel Akwana’s Rangers.
The dockers were left to rue missed chances after succumbing to a 3-2 defeat against Sofapaka. Their ability is not doubt and it is prudent for them to be putting away chances so as to make their efforts upfront count. Some of the chances they have failed to convert in their last three matches have contributed heavily to the slump they are experiencing at the moment.
4. MATHARE UNITED
The 2008 league champions have been hard to beat this season but they have also found it hard to win matches themselves. They did well to win 1-0 against Tusker in mid-week but a 2-0 win away to AFC Leopards has served them yet another reminder of how far from good they are. As with Sofapaka, they need to work on their consistency or else they will have nothing to toast to at the end of the season.