Kenyanstar Of The Week - Richard Omwela

Born in Western Kenya, 60 year old Richard Omwela studied at Kakamega High School before pursuing a law degree at the University of Nairobi. While at the University he did not make the grade to  play Rugby   due to the School back ground. Omwela headed the Kenya Rugby Union for close to 8 years between 2003 and 2011, a period within which Kenyan Rugby grew to unprecedented heights.  For his contribution to the game, Richard Omwela is our Kenyanstar of the week ...   

KS: Who is Richard Omwela? 

I'm a 60 years old Kenyan, born in Western Kenya. I schooled at Kakamega High School and proceeded to study law at the University of Nairobi. I'm a lawyer by profession and for the last 37 years i have been practicing corporate law. I'm a partner at Hamilton Harrison and Mathews previously the Managing partner. I'm also the current Chairman of the Kenya Rugby Union. 

KS:  What is your story with Rugby? 

I followed Rugby from my University days and was at the University of Nairobi when the University team  Mean machine was formed. I came from a football background in High school, back in those days Kakamega High School was primarily a football giant and not so much ruby. When i got to the University of Nairobi I had to be content with watching from the side lines as there were better, more established players from Rugby playing schools such as Nairobi and Lenana  so i did not make the grade.  In terms of managing the sport, i joined Impala club as a member of the club when i finished my university studies but between 1991 and 1995 I served as the chairman of the club. That is how i joined Rugby administration because Impala was then as it still is a Rugby playing club among other sports. It is from this that i got into Rugby initially as a director in charge of Fund raising because of my corporate background. I moved on to become secretary of the union them moved on to become chairman of the Union. It was always felt that because of my corporate background i would help fund raise for the union.  

KS: And how did the fund raising go? Did your leadership help? 

 Pretty well i would say, initially our targets were very low, just about Ksh 10 million to run the sport every year as compared to now where we are looking at annual budgets of close to Ksh 500 Million. And yes i believe my leadership helped especially in corporate governance, introducing structures and generating an interest in the game.  Back in the day we would call for an AGM and only a handful of people would show up and we would divide the available roles but now we have actual competitive elections. I have always looked at how much i can give to the game in terms of my expertise and time resources as opposed to how much i can get from it and I believe my contribution to the sport has been immense especially by putting in place structures that would outlive us when we leave management of the sport to others. 

KS: That is interesting Mr. Omwela considering in the last election you campaigned on the platform of 'Coming back to clean the mess that had been created'.  Are the structures not strong enough?

The structures we have been continually putting in place are the reason our Rugby got a chance for another two years of good leadership and are the reason why there will always be a chance to make amends when things go wrong.  The unfortunate thing, and it applies to the country at large, is that while we have very many able Kenyans, most of them shy away from positions of leadership.  Some of those who offer themselves for leadership  could be coming in for other reasons other than leadership Good leaders also need to take the initiative and step other than live in their glorious days. I believe we have a lot of credible people able to offer leadership post Omwela or post anyone else.  

KS: What would you say is the current state of Rugby in Kenya? 

Rugby has grown in leaps and bounds. You will find that in all counties in Kenya, Rugby is being played not just at club level but all the way from school level to Universities and colleges. So, the game has grown rapidly.  The issue we have now is how to manage it because as the game expands we need competent officials, referees, coaches and even equipment and medical support. In those aspects we are lacking. Rugby is also playing a part in improving the Kenyan society values because of the discipline of the game. For instance we have an Under 10 program we run at the union in partnership with Shamas foundation. This program collects youth from Kibera and Kawangware and parents have observed that the youth who join this program have shown improved grades and personalities. This is mainly because of the discipline demanded of a rugby player and in the case of the youngsters also just being around successful individuals who play or manage rugby inspires them to do better in other spheres beyond the game. 

KS:  How would you say we rate against elite Rugby playing Nations like South Africa, England, Fiji and the likes? 

We are far much behind the elite Rugby playing nations and we need to do much more to come close to them. These are countries playing fully professional rugby back in their local leagues while we depend on players who have different day jobs  are in Colleges or have just left College.  

KS: How long Mr. Omwela before we go fully professional? 

There are deliberate efforts to fully professionalize our league. Clubs like Kabras, Impala, and Homeboyz are already moving towards that direction but a key set-back which the industry has been grappling with is the lack or insufficient corporate participation because a professional league is very expensive.     

KS: One would imagine that with rapid growth of the game corporate organizations will be literary struggling to be associated with it. What seems to be holding them back? 

There are two important factors we as administrators need to work on before we get full commitment from sponsors;

The first one is accountability and issues to do with corporate governance. Sponsors not only want to know how every single shilling they gave you was used, they also want to ascertain the monies they give are directed for the correct purpose and for the growth of the game.  So the way you run the game has a bearing on if sponsors will come on board and our efforts over the years has won the confidence of people like KQ, Safaricom, EABL, Bamburi  and most recently Sports Pesa. 

The second is each sponsor wants a return on Investment so if they are putting money into the game what value worth of their money will they get back in terms of visibility and or publicity. Our league for instance is played over just seven months every year. This could have a bearing on when or if sponsors come on board because it is probably a short time for them to get value out the sponsorship But going forward we want to have a structured league where the main league can be supplemented by two other competitions so that whichever sponsor comes on board gets value across the year. So as we continue to professionalize our game these are some of the issues we have to look at.    

KS:  Has KRU and the various clubs under it complied with the Sports Act

Not 100%, it is still  work in progress but the intention is that by 2018 all the clubs plus the union will have complied fully. The union will be having an AGM in the coming month [March] and one of the agenda items will be to review our progress so far in complying with the Act. Some clubs have complied in some of the aspects like changing their constitution to have a 4 year circle for leadership instead of a one year circle... 

KS: Why is that particular one Important? Having a four year term instead of a one year term? 

 It is important because it allows the organization in question more time to concentrate on the sport which is the most important thing. If you keep it at one year then for a half of the year the people in office are thinking about re-election and the sport suffers....

KS: Does the four year term then completely fixes this? 

Not entirely because you still lose considerable amount of time with people politicking. At rugby we are looking at a possibility of a succession plan where you have the Chairman and probably 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen with a clear structure of who will be chairman after the incumbent and so the union leadership definite and known even for the next several years.   This will allow more time to be invested into the sport itself. 

KS: Will you be defending your position in the upcoming elections? 

Yes! I will vie again to serve one last term as the chairman. But I'm not campaigning. I want clubs to look at the work we have done vote us in or out based on that. I think as a sport we are in a position where we can make decisions based on tangible evidence and not mere rhetoric. 

KS: What is the union’s plan for Infrastructure? 

Currently our best bet is having the government come good on its promise because the President  of the Republic of Kenya HE Uhuru Kenyatta promised us a rugby stadium on our return from Singapore but if they don't then we will have to explore other options. 

KS: Is it the government's responsibility to put up this infrastructure? What role does the union play in ensuring it happens? 

Look, the government did build Kasarani and Nyayo stadium for football, the county government further built City stadium but for football yet again so it is not so much to ask that they do one for Rugby and Cricket for that matter we also pay taxes as a sport so why should all the resources be channeled to one sport that has produced no known result over the years?  

KS: So if the government doesn't come good on this promise?

Of course it has always been on the table for us. We had plans in 2011 to acquire the Ligi Ndogo grounds and combined with the KRFU, our main grounds then we would put up a standard facility including some bed and parking capacity, we had even already set aside some Ksh. 45 Million for this project. We had entered into an Agreement for buying Ligi Ndogo grounds and paid a deposit. Unfortunately there was a change of leadership and consequently a change of thinking around this project so we lost the opportunity. If it is to come up again then we will probably look at a partnership with the County Government of Mombasa to put up a Rugby stadium.

KS: Why Mombasa? Have you already engaged them?    

No, Not yet! But it would be our best shot if we ever want to get on the  World Rugby 7s circuit.

KS: Wasn't Safari Sevens meant for inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit?  

Safari Sevens is a great competition by the idea to submit a bid for its inclusion on the World Rugby 7s circuit was not well thought out. It was never going to make it for various reasons; For starters the hosting city needs to have a five star bed capacity of at least 20,000. Nairobi doesn't have that so our best bet is probably Mombasa combined with Diani and Malindi and they will still be strained. Secondly, you need not only have a standard rugby pitch for the main competition but also a second one for the women and several others for training. We are not anywhere close to these requirements. Lastly, the current thinking around World Rugby is to host all the legs of the circuit in low altitude cities so there is no possible way our high altitude Nairobi will have a chance unless this thinking changes. So if it were me i would not even submit that bid. 

KS: Why do you think the number of fans attending the Safaricom Sevens has dwindled over the years?    

It is a combination of factors and especially for last year's event. First is competition with other sports specifically motor sport which was on the same weekend. Second is the location, Kasarani you would admit is on 'the other side of town' with respect to majority of Rugby fans in the city and creates some sort of an inconvenience and lastly is the reduced level of Safaricom sponsorship. Previously the sponsorship included marketing the event through their various platforms but that was not the case last year so the event publicity suffered. Obviously we should have done a lot more for publicity but it's a lesson we learnt and have already put in place a committee for this year's event. 

KS: Is this a pointer we will not be going back to Kasarani for Safari Sevens this year? 

 We cannot rule out Kasarani but we need to look at other ooptions. Nyayo Stadium is one of them. Part of the reason why we have been having it at Kasarani is the Safaricom was the main Sponsor of the Stadium  and it made no sense to take it elsewhere. We understand that has now changed.  

KS: Shall we see the return of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series? 

The super series was a competition for regional Franchise teams in Kenya and Uganda sponsored by Bamburi mainly because their business covered these countries. The super series can of course make a comeback albeit with a bit of modifications but first we are sourcing for a sponsor because it is expensive to manage these franchises. The potential sponsor candidates are corporate organization with countrywide product reach and with that respect we have considered and engaging people like Bidco and others. It was a very good competition because from it we got teams like Western Bulls which has come up very strongly. 

KS: What are the union's top three priorities over the next five years? 

The first is to put up a high performance center. A piece of infrastructure that can comfortably host an international tournament without the limitations i mentioned earlier like Bed Capacity, Training facilities and even parking space. 

The Second is to have a fully functional secretariat with regional branches all over the country and effectively institute some supporting structures to manage the game throughout the country so we won't have to always dispatch resources human and material to various parts of the country when needed.

The third is to develop further our national squads, both the Sevens and the Fifteens. We missed out narrowly in the last world cup but we are hoping to qualify for 2019 one.  So you will notice we are putting a lot of emphasis on the junior teams and giving them more game time because in the near future we shall require them to step up. 

KS: Tell us about the Kenya Rugby Limited.

The idea behind Kenya Rugby Limited was to have a company that is fully owned by the union to run the business aspect of the game, while allowing the union to deal with the game itself.  It did not and still does not feel prudent to have the union involve itself in the business matters of the sport. The union's core function is to run the sport, not the business associated with the sport. Things like jerseys would be sold by the company not the union. Back then I had Kenya Rugby Limited running the Safari Sevens as an independent entity.

KS: What steps has the union taken to make the game safer especially following the recent deaths of several Rugby players? 

That is a very unfortunate thing that has been happening. We have sent our condolences to the affected families and I did convene and chair a meeting with all club representatives to discuss the matter. We made some resolutions that every club must take the responsibility to know the health status of their players and recheck the same on a quarterly basis just to ensure we are not risking anyone's life. We have also instructed the match officials to be keen and ensure that for the case of injuries the match must be stopped for the affected players to get medical attention. If the player is concussed then he must not come go back to the field of play. Such a player must undergo treatment and take leave from the game for at least two weeks.  And finally we are also calling out to all players to be conscious of their personal health status and not risk their life. 

KS: Has the union outlined any sanctions or penalties for any parties that do not adhere to these recommendations. 

We have a team working on that but need a buy in from Clubs and players. 

KS: What challenges do you think Kenyan Rugby is facing? 

The three main challenges are poor infrastructure, insufficient resources to effectively manage the growth of the game and relatively low uptake by sponsors. We don't have enough match officials, coaches and even qualified medical personnel and I encourage more Kenyans not only to train for these functions but also to come forward when these positions are advertised. 

KS:  What do you make of the teams participation at the Rio Olympics? 

There were some failures on our part but this was also an epic failure on the part of NOCK. On our part I think we had a poor team selection. On NOCK's part they did not consult and were failing even on the very basics. For instance if they would have consulted us then the rugby teams would not have camped in Nandi which is a high altitude area while we were going to play in a low altitude Rio. So while Nandi is a good training ground with good facilities especially for athletes, it was not the best preparation for our Rugby team.  I also think our friends at NOCK are not giving attention to team sports especially when they look at the prospects of one man bringing back a medal vis-a-vis seven men bringing back the same medal. So i think we went to participate not to compete.  

KS:  What lessons do you think other sports federations in Kenya can learn from KRU?  

Mainly it's improvement of their corporate governance.  Some things that happen are very disheartening. The hitches with player visas and travel arrangement to a point where government has to fork out Ksh. 40 million to charter a plane like it happened in football the other day are all a reflection of poor corporate governance. 

KS: What role do you think sports play in national cohesion? 

Sports play a big part in National cohesion because when we go out there to play we win or lose as Kenya, not as a Mluhya or Luo or Kikuyu or any other tribe. It is always about Team Kenya. A good example to look at is South Africa and the 1995 Springboks  winning team. Had that team not won then it would have been more difficult to hold that country together. 

KS:  Finally what would you like to tell Rugby fans in particular and Kenyans in general as your parting shot? 

I want to assure all rugby fans and Kenyans in general that we will continue to do whatever we can to grow the game despite all the challenges.  We have received enormous support from the country and we thank every single Kenyan for that. My phone never stops ringing every time we lose a match, with Kenyans asking what went wrong and commenting on the team selection. This is an indication that they follow our progress and we do not take it for granted. 

We are still young and short in capacity but we have enormous talent.  We are the only small country playing with the big boys but we hope and believe that Singapore wasn't an accident. We will win more. 

Finally i want to call upon the Government of Kenya to support our efforts more because their support will go a long way in taking us several steps forward. 

The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has given Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr a firm warning following his latest actions that have been dimmed contrary to the league's rules.

Kerr, who secured a sixteenth title for his side on Saturday with four games to spare after edging Ulinzi Stars, was also ordered to pay Kshs. 2500 for a plastic chair that he allegedly vandalized  at the Thika Sub-County Stadium in their match against Mathare United.

“In the latter match, Mr. Kerr damaged a plastic chair belonging to the management of the Thika Sub-County Stadium and as a result has been fined KES 2,500, which is the value of the chair. The fine should be paid within 7 working days.

The former Simba SC tactician specifically received caution over his acts during Gor Mahia's fixtures against the Slum Boys (October 14) and Sofapaka (September 27).

“Mr. Kerr’s actions on both occasions are contrary to Rule 7.1 of the Rules Governing Kenyan Football which cautions against; “Committing any act or making any statement or being responsible for any conduct which the committee considers unsporting, insulting or improper and likely behaviour and likely to bring the game into disrepute,” KPL said in a press release statement on Monday morning.

Kerr who was a defender in his heydays has been advised to follow the right procedures while airing grievances or else he shall face the Independent Disciplinary & Complaints Committee (IDCC).

“He has been advised to display more mature temperament and follow laid down procedures while lodging complaints as future acts of misconduct will see him charged and summoned to appear before the IDCC,” it added.

 

The 2017 national sevens circuit came to a close on Sunday October 22, 2017 with the Dala Sevens being the last tournament where Homeboyz RFC retained the trophy with a 12-10 win over KCB.

After lifting the Christie and Sepetuka 7s titles capped off by a 19-7 third place playoff win over Blak Blad saw, Kabras won their maiden National Sevens Circuit overall title with 102 points. Trailing them closely at second place were Homeboyz who managed 100 points.

Impala came in third with 93 points while KCB, Nakuru RFC and Menengai Oilers finished fourth (86), fifth (73) and sixth (68) respectively. The biggest losers in this year's edition were SportPesa Quins, who experienced a massive drop in rankings from second (in 2016) to a low seventh place with only 57 points.

Final Standings after six rounds

1.Kabras 102

2.Homeboyz 100

3.Impala 93 

4.KCB 86 

5.Nakuru 73

6.Oilers 68 

7.Quins 57 

8.Strathmore 50 

9.Mwamba 43 

10.Blak Blad 41

11.Western Bulls 39 

12.Nondies 32

13.Machine 31 

14.Catholic 17 

15.Makueni 13

16.Daystar 11 

17.Kisii RFC 10 

18.Webuye 10 

19.UoE 5 

20.Kisumu 3

21.MKU Stingerz 2

22.Mombasa 2 

23.MMUST 1 

24.Egerton 1 

25.KCA 1

 

Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has been named the 2017 European Golden Boy.

Kenya's men and women's national hockey teams kicked off their campaign in the 2017 Hockey African Cup for Nations in undesirable fashion after losing 3-0 (Men) and 5-0 (women) to Ghana and South Africa respectively on Sunday October 22 in Egypt.

Men's

The men fell behind after just four minutes, with Ghana's Damalie his side the lead before Akaba made it two in the 33rd minute. Akuamoah-Boateng then scored twelve minutes later to wrap up a 3-0 victory for his side.

They now shift focus to Monday's match against Egypt which will be followed by duels against Nigeria and South Africa 

Ladies

In the women's category, South Africa continued their dominance over Kenya with a huge 5-0 that shot them to the top of the table, two points  ahead of second placed Egypt and third placed Nigeria who are second and third respectively with a point each.

Kenya will now search for their first win when they face Nigeria on October 23 against Ghana beofre summing up their group matches against Nigeria, Zambia and Egypt.

Day One results

Men

Ghana 3-0 Kenya

Egypt 13-1 Nigeria

Women

Nigeria 1-1 Egypt

Kenya 0-5 South Africa

 

The Kenya men's volleyball team got off to a bad start in the ongoing African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) Championship after losing their opening Pool B match to Ghana in three straight sets on Sunday October 22 at the Cairo Stadium Indoor Halls Complex, Cairo, Egypt.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s future at the club was put in major doubt as the Toffees slumped to an embarrassing 5-2 loss against Arsenal in the Premier League fixture at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Despite taking the lead via Wayne Rooney’s fine strike in the 12th minute, the hosts were unable to build on their excellent start and allowed Arsenal to come back into the match.

Gunners defender Nacho Monreal struck an deserved equaliser five minutes before half-time and the momentum was firmly with Arsene Wenger’s side at the interval.

Post the break, Arsenal always looked like the side more likely to score and took the lead via a rapid counter attack. Arsenal’s ‘big front-three’-Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez-started together for the first time and the trio combined beautifully to give the Gunners the lead early in the second-half.

Lacazette held up the ball well before releasing Sanchez on the left wing. The Chilean looked up and delivered a pin-point cross for Ozil to head home in the 54th minute. ??Everton tried to rally but their exuberance backfired as Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a late challenge on Granit Xhaka. The central midfielder had been cautioned in the first-half and was was rightly given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson.

Gueye’s sending-off proved to be the turning point in the game as Everton wilted under sustained pressure from Arsenal.

Lacazette finished off a flowing counter in the 74th minute to notch his first away goal of the season before Aaron Ramsey added a fourth in the 90th minute.

Everton substitute Oumar Niasse would pull one back for the hosts in the 93rd minute but then Sanchez would register his first and Arsenal’s fifth two minutes later to ensure the Gunners register their first away win of the Premier League season.

Arsenal are now level with defending champions Chelsea with 16 points, but are fifth due to their inferior goal difference. They still trail leaders Manchester City by nine points but will take heart from their win at Goodison Park and hope their flagging season can be given a sorely-needed jolt by Sunday’s triumph.

For Everton, it’s quite grim as the Toffees now drop to 18th place and are in the relegation zone. For a club that spent quite heavily in the summer, it’s not the ideal return their owners would have wanted and it remains to be seen whether the management keeps their faith in Koeman in the coming days.

Muhoroni Youth's path to relegation continued widening following a 3-0 pounding by a recovering Kakamega Homeboyz side on Sunday October 22 at the Muhoroni Grounds.

A long range effort in the 25th minute from Wycliffe Opondo proved too much for keeper Gradius Ochieng after it went into the net for Homeboyz opening goal.

Seven minutes later, the visitors were at it again, this time having their lead doubled by Jeremiah Wanjala who had been in exemplary form in the first half hour of the game.

Francis Ochola then put the match beyond Muhoroni's reach with a third goal for his side just three minutes later to take Homeboyz into the break leading 3-0.

The second half was a more settled affair with the visitors seeming contented with their huge lead while Muhorni were completely unable to break down their opponent's defense.

Nakumatt FC vs Bandari

At the Ruaraka Grounds in Nairobi, Bandari FC ended their five match losing streak with a slim 1-0 victory over hosts Nakumatt on the same day.

The lone goal was scored by Fell Mulumba who headed home acurled in a free kick by Wilberforce Lugogo from the edge of the box to give his side the lead in the fourth minute.

The Dockers were able to hold onto the lead till the final whistle which earned them their first three points in over a month. 

 

Sofapaka's quest of reclaiming the second position of the league table were shattered by a 3-1 loss in the hands of Western Stima, who went level on points with  15th placed Mathare United following the win on Sunday October 22 at the Narok Stadium.

Sofapaka had grabbed the lead early on through Kennedy Oduor's goal, but saw it restored just a  minute later courtesy of Brian Marita. Ugandan international Robert Achema then completed the marvelous comeback with two quick fire goals before the break to give Stima their seventh win of the season.

The Kisumu based side now move to 16th on the log with 31 points while Sofapaka remain third with 48 points to their name.

Thika United vs Mathare 

At the Thika-Sub County Stadium, relegation threatened pair of Thika United and Mathare  had to settle for a point each following a 1-1 draw.

Mathare went ahead after sixteen minutes of play through Cliff Nyakeya who made full use of Crispin Oduor's decisive pass to slot the ball past keeper Allan Owiny.

Their lead was however to last for just four minutes as Eugene Mukangula drew the hosts level with a powerful shot that left custodian Levis Opiyo stranded.

Despite a handful of chances in the second half, neither of the sides was able to notch a winner and thus had to contend with a point each. 

The result takes Mathare's point tally to 31 which puts them in 15th place while Thika are second from bottom with 29 points.

 

Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has been named the 2017 European Golden Boy.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s future at the club was put in major doubt as the Toffees slumped to an embarrassing 5-2 loss against Arsenal in the Premier League fixture at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Despite taking the lead via Wayne Rooney’s fine strike in the 12th minute, the hosts were unable to build on their excellent start and allowed Arsenal to come back into the match.

Gunners defender Nacho Monreal struck an deserved equaliser five minutes before half-time and the momentum was firmly with Arsene Wenger’s side at the interval.

Post the break, Arsenal always looked like the side more likely to score and took the lead via a rapid counter attack. Arsenal’s ‘big front-three’-Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez-started together for the first time and the trio combined beautifully to give the Gunners the lead early in the second-half.

Lacazette held up the ball well before releasing Sanchez on the left wing. The Chilean looked up and delivered a pin-point cross for Ozil to head home in the 54th minute. ??Everton tried to rally but their exuberance backfired as Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a late challenge on Granit Xhaka. The central midfielder had been cautioned in the first-half and was was rightly given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson.

Gueye’s sending-off proved to be the turning point in the game as Everton wilted under sustained pressure from Arsenal.

Lacazette finished off a flowing counter in the 74th minute to notch his first away goal of the season before Aaron Ramsey added a fourth in the 90th minute.

Everton substitute Oumar Niasse would pull one back for the hosts in the 93rd minute but then Sanchez would register his first and Arsenal’s fifth two minutes later to ensure the Gunners register their first away win of the Premier League season.

Arsenal are now level with defending champions Chelsea with 16 points, but are fifth due to their inferior goal difference. They still trail leaders Manchester City by nine points but will take heart from their win at Goodison Park and hope their flagging season can be given a sorely-needed jolt by Sunday’s triumph.

For Everton, it’s quite grim as the Toffees now drop to 18th place and are in the relegation zone. For a club that spent quite heavily in the summer, it’s not the ideal return their owners would have wanted and it remains to be seen whether the management keeps their faith in Koeman in the coming days.

Everton and Arsenal FC have announced their starting lineups that will face off in Round 9 of the Barclay Premier League on Sunday October 22 at the Goodison Park.

Everton look like they're lining up win a 3-4-3, with Williams, Keane and Jagielka all starting at centre-backs. Schneiderlin misses out with injury, while Calvert-Lewin gets the nod over Niasse up front.

or Arsenal, Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette start together for the first time, while Ramsey is back in central midfield alongside Xhaka, who remains in the team despite his dereliction of duty against Watford last week.  

Below is how the teams will line up for Sunday's clash.

Arsenal Starting XI: Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Reserves: Macey, Holding, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud.

Everton Starting XI: Pickford, Kenny, Baines, Williams, Jagielka (c), Keane, Gana, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin.

Reserves: Joel, Mirallas, Martina, Niasse, Klassen, Davies, Lookman

 

They gave everything to see it out. They were quick to the ball, strong in the challenge and absolutely determined not to let there to be a dramatic late twist. And, finally, Huddersfield Town could soak in the euphoria of a win against Manchester United, their first since March 1952, and one of those rare occasions when their supporters must have felt like the blood in their veins had been converted to red wine.

Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score twice as Chelsea fought back from behind to win a six-goal thriller against Watford.

Chelsea were on the back foot for much of this contest at Stamford Bridge but two goals from Batshuayi, either side of an 87th-minute header from Cesar Azpilicueta, snatched the champions a much-needed 4-2 victory.

For a while, Chelsea looked on course for a third straight Premier League loss when Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra's goals put Watford 2-1 up before Batshuayi and then Azpilicueta instigated the turnaround. Batshuayi added his second in stoppage time.

Chelsea also had the officials to thank after Pedro's opener, a superb long-range strike, came from a corner that should not have been given.

That will be of little significance to Antonio Conte, however, whose relief was palpable when he celebrated Azpilicueta's goal by diving in amongst the Chelsea fans. This was his team's first victory in four matches in all competitions.

They were certainly flattered by the scoreline as Watford dominated for large spells and Marco Silva will rue his side's wasteful finishing. Richarlison squandered two excellent chances, the second of which would have put his team two to the good.

Chelsea's victory means they leapfrog Watford in the table, who started the game above their opponents in fourth.

Any early Chelsea nerves were settled by an opening goal that began with a large slice of fortune and ended with a brilliant long-range strike.

Assistant referee Andrew Halliday awarded a corner when the ball clearly came off Hazard's foot last and Chelsea took it quickly, Hazard playing to the edge of the box where Pedro whipped his shot first time off the far post and into the corner.

The champions were temporarily buoyant and Cesc Fabregas should have doubled their advantage when played through one-on-one soon after but his chipped finish plopped into the grateful hands of Heurelho Gomes.

For large parts of the first period, however, Watford were the ones in control and it was no more than they deserved when Doucoure equalised just before the break.

Jose Holebas trundled over from the opposite side of the pitch to launch a long throw into the box and while David Luiz met the header, the ball dropped down for Doucoure to drill in his fourth league goal of the season.

Watford came out all guns blazing and could have scored three in the first 10 minutes. Richarlison missed two sitters, one at the back post, which he side-footed wide and then another with his head, skewing past the far post from five yards.

That should have made it 3-1 because in between Pereyra made no mistake as this time Richarlison turned provider, receiving from Deeney and squaring to his unmarked teammate to steer past Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea were on the ropes but Watford failed to land a knockout blow and later paid the price.

Batshuayi, on for the booked Alvaro Morata, made the difference as he darted across Miguel Britos and headed Pedro's cross into the far corner to pull his side level with 21 minutes left. Chelsea now looked the more likely to snatch a late winner and Batshuayi almost grabbed it, only to fire over on the turn after a quick free kick from Fabregas.

But it came moments later. Willian, also off the bench, crossed and Christian Kabasele flicked to the back post where Azpilicueta was waiting to nod in. There was still time for a fourth in stoppage time as Britos conceded possession and Batshuayi pounced to round off the victory.

 

Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has predicted that he will knock out his opponent Carlos Takam in their fight in 8 days from now on October 28 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

The Everton fan who appeared to try and strike a Lyon player could land his club a Uefa sanction, while Ashley Williams may face punishment too following the ugly scenes in Thursday’s Europa League tie.

Williams instigated a fracas in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End midway through the second half at Goodison Park when he barged into Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

A melee involving players from both sides ensued and moved to the advertising hoardings, where one Toffees fan, who was holding a child with one arm, pushed Lopes in the head before hitting out at him again.

While that was occurring, Williams seemed to raise his hand to Lucas Tousart’s face, yet the only initial outcome of the skirmish was a booking for Everton’s captain-for-the-night and Lyon’s match-winner Bertrand Traore.

Speaking after the Toffees’ 2-1 loss, Williams told BT Sport 2 of the scuffle: “It’s what happens, it’s football. It is what it is.

“It’s high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times.”

Yet retrospective action could be forthcoming from Uefa, for both Williams and the club, a possibility ex-Premier League referee Graham Poll deems likely.

“Ashley Williams and Everton will surely face further sanction from Uefa once video evidence is studied,” he said in the Daily Mail.

“Williams totally lost the plot.

“There were numerous players from both teams involved in the melee behind the Lyon goal and even a fan from the Everton section at the Gwladys Street End became involved — first pushing then appearing to aim a punch at a Lyon player.

“The fact that a couple of Everton backroom staff had to enter the field to calm Williams down showed how out of control the captain was and, while their intervention helped, they should not enter the field of play.

“The Uefa delegate and referee’s observer will have met with the official after the game and discussed their findings before submitting individual reports. Unless the referee ill-advisedly says he saw everything, sanctions really must follow.”

It was the referee, Bas Nijhuis, who under-fire Toffees manager Ronald Koeman blamed for his players losing their cool during a defeat which leaves them facing Europa League elimination having taken just one point from three games.

“I think the irritation grows in the game for our players and in my opinion that was the problem by the referee,” Koeman argued.

“The referee was Dutch but he didn’t do anything against the theatre of some of the Lyon players. (Nabil) Fekir in the first half dived 10 times.

“I understand with my players, that comes out of frustration.”

It compounded another miserable night for Everton and Koeman, who is under mounting pressure with his team having won just two of their previous dozen fixtures.

“I think the performance was under the level in the first half — a lot of mistakes, a lot of doubts, players without any confidence,” he said.

 

The UEFA Champions League continues on Wednesday October 18 with a total of eight matches from four groups set to be played in venues across Europe.

Below is a list of all fixtures (All times are in EAT)

GROUP A

Benfica 21:45 Manchester United

CSKA Moscow 21:45 FC Basel

GROUP B

Bayern Munich 21:45 Celtic

RSC Anderlecht 21:45 Paris Saint Germain

GROUP C

FK Qarabag 21:00 Atlético Madrid

Chelsea 21:45 Roma

GROUP D

Barcelona 21:45 Olympiakos

Juventus 21:45 Sporting Lisbon

 

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The gambling industry is growing rapidly in Kenya. We could be competing with the West African nations. Since last year, the country has witnessed over 10 bookmakers join the industry with each contesting for a piece of the pie.

Those who love him, love him with so much passion. Those who hate him, also do so with the same gusto. If a book on ‘The most hated footballers’ were ever to be written, several chapters would be dedicated to him.

Matatu culture is part of living in Nairobi City and the transport means used by all. Soccer fans use their own cars, buses and matatus for traveling to away matches.

Eric Ochieng' aka Cantona is one of most iconic soccer athletes to grace Kenya Premier League in the 1990s.

He is the Kenyan version of Portuguese super agent Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes. He is many things to many people, and recently added another feather to his cap by venturing into player and coaches representation. Starting off as a journalist, he grew through the ranks to become a Television producer, took the big risk and ventured into football administration, before jumping ship to start what has been a largely successful venture of talent management.

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has landed 0.75 billion shillings from FIFA in a grant that is aimed to make the federation set up and manage their inhouse media activities.

Kenyanstar has learnt from sources privy to the deal that the world governing body has agreed to hand the Federation a grant of USD 7.5M to set up their own media production for the league matches.

The news coming barely weeks after Supersport suspended their broadcast deal with Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and later on laying off staff earlier on this week, will be welcome to the soccer industry.

FKF president has been in the news saying how FKF and the KPL would be produced in-house and availed for free to air (FTA) TV channels.

To reduce pressure in starting up, our sources say, FKF will absorb the staff that were working for Supersport to do the production and there is likelihood they may buy the studio Supersport had set up in Nairobi.

A terrific dribbler with an eye for goal. His skills and potential on the pitch have always left fans ecstatic. His dazzling runs and fantastic crosses have raised his profile in the local scene. He slowly grew through the ranks both at club and national level. He recently added to the statistics of players who have made the bold move from AFC Leopards to bitter rivals Gor Mahia where he penned a long term contract. 

Besides the magic on the pitch, critics have continually accused him of laziness and being a party animal. Is he? Kenyanstar sat with John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu and here is his story.

Kenyanstar: Thank you for your time. Tell us about your football journey so far.

John Ndirangu: I started playing competitive football at Nakuru AllStars when I was in form 2, by then the club was in playing in Nationwide League. I was with them all along, even when they got promoted in 2014 to the Kenya Premier League.  As a footballer, I have faced both difficult and easy times.

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

JN: I rarely talk too much, and people say my face is soft. So, Softie.

KS: Please tell us about your time at Nakuru AllStars.

JN: It was a bit hard for me since there were the demands on the pitch and at the same time I was schooling. I had to carefully plan my time. However, sometimes it was difficult for me because I had to leave school for training and when I got back to class I was so tired and couldn't focus fully.  

KS: You made a name for yourself  while you were at Allstars. Tell us about your time playing there and your relationship with the players, coach, management etc.

JN: First, I would like to thank Robert Muthomi. He took me as his son, he took care of me,he used to advise me and  managed me well. I also thank everyone who coached me. During my time there, I learnt something from all coaches and this made me grow to who I am today. My teammates were also supportive, as football is a team sport and you support each other. 

KS: You would later join Bandari. However, you never stayed there for long...

JN: I would not wish to discuss about my time at Bandari. It was very difficult for me.

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

KS: Well, you at one point joined Kariobangi Sharks. What necessitated the move?  

JN: After Bandari I went back to Nakuru Allstars to get my form back. However, at the end of the season the team got relegated and so we agreed with Robert Muthomi, the CEO,  that since I had already made my name and was still young, it wasn't proper to play in the lower tier. Therefore I joined Kariobangi Sharks. We agreed with President Nick Mwendwa that if the team won't get promoted to the top league he releases me and that's what happened when I joined AFC Leopards.

KS: Leopards - You joined the club, lots of expectations, but left. Kindly tell us about your time at Leopards.

JN: I enjoyed my time at Leopards and would like to thank the management and coaches. They believed in me and I wish them all the the best. In December, I was asked by Leopards to look for a suitable club where I would go on loan and I felt it was not good for me. Therefore I  asked them to just release me instead. As a team last season we were unlucky not to do well and meet the expectations but I personally think that I played my part and was very surprised when they suggested a loan move for me in the transfer window. 

KS: You have some serious football skills. Very good running, very good dribbles. What's the tactical secret for you?

JN: Apart from talent in me I do watch skillful players like Neymar, Ronaldinho and Cristiano and try apply what I see on the pitch. Besides, I also work very hard.  

KS: Harambee Stars: You have grown from U-23 to the senior team. Tell us about your time and experience so far at Stars

JN: Each and every coach has his style of coaching and the kind of players he wants. I think during Bob Williamson's time I was called several times to the national team. He liked my dribbling skills and speed and he would tell me to just do that in the pitch, since that is what made him like me and give me a call up.  

KS: We haven't seen you at the national team in recent days. Why?

JN: As I have said each and every coach has his style of coaching and kind of players he wants. However, while at AFC Leopards I earned a call up.  

KS: You made what many call a 'daring move' by switching from Leopards to Gor. Do you feel it was a daring move or just any other normal transfer?

JN: I believe if you have talent and you work hard everything is possible. Talent can never be hidden. Kama unajua unajua. For me I see it as a normal move. My time will come and I'll shine.

KS: Gor Mahia - How is life there. What are your targets/goals?

JN: I am enjoying life at Gor. They do things professionally and think that's what differentiates Gor with other clubs. My target is to play as many games and help the team lift the title and in future I go to Europe. 

KS: You have been accused of the following: Missing training at times intentionally, partying a little too much and alcoholism. Your response?

JN: In life you must have friends and enemies and for you to make in life you must have enemies. All these stories came up when I was at Leopards. When Ivan Minnaert left a Luhya coach took over and he only wanted Luhya players. Therefore, Ian otieno and  I decided to stay at home because no matter how hard we worked in training, we weren't being considered.  On the issue of alcohol, I even cannot tell how it tastes. Yes, I used to go to clubs and watch football while drinking Delmonte juice.  

KS: Any closing words? 

JN: I just want to thank God for the gift of life and talent. I also want to tell my fans that they should  not lose hope in me. I know they believe in me and I won't fail them. 

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

READ: John 'Softie' Ndirangu: Major Transfer Or Forced Out? 

Rayon Sports Club have confirmed that former Sofapaka and Amavubi goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana is no more. Unconfirmed reports claim that a heart attack on Tuesday September 12 at his home was the cause of his death.

Mutuyimana started professional football with Rwandese side Kiyovu Sport before joining Police Kibungo in 2011.The 26-year old then moved to Kenyan side Sofapaka in June 2014 where he played for three seasons. He later moved to Rayon SC, where he was the reserve goalkeeper until his demise.

Mutuyimana has also featured for the Rwanda national team, his most notable appearance being in a 5-1 loss to Tunisia in an International Friendly back in May 2012.

“As Rayon Sports officials, we want convey our message of condolences to all the club fans and family following the death of goalkeeper Evariste Mutuyimana this Tuesday morning.” his club posted on social media.

 

Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

Tanzanian government have informed SportPesa Limited that they also want to see a Tanzanian team play against Everton on July 12 at the National Stadium. Gor Mahia are the ones with the opportunity after winning the SportPesa Super Cup finals.

Director of Sports Development in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Yusuph Singo confirmed that they have asked the betting firm to organize a friendly match between Everton and one of Tanzania's bigwigs.

``We have asked them (SportPesa) to organse a special friendly match between Yanga and Simba later this month,'' said Singo.

``If all goes well, the winner of the match will confront Everton at the National Stadium. I am sure many local soccer fans would like to see the English Premier League team face one of the top teams in the country,'' he added.

 

Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga has come out to praise the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for the key role he has paid in developing the career of his brother Victor Wanyama.  

The Kenyan International skipper has been a vital part of the Spurs midfield, prove of just how much Pochettino trusts Wanyama. Big Vic first played under the Argentine gaffer at Southampton and were later reunited at Tottenham last summer.

“He (Wanyama) said Pochettino is the coach who has made him. He’s the one who, when Victor came to Southampton, he taught him what to do and how to play, all the things. He’s the one who taught him everything and made even more qualities for Victor. He gave him exposure and confidence. If you don’t have confidence from the coach, you cannot perform well. He’s helped him a lot,” Mariga told ESPN.

Pochettino’s favorite 3-4-2-1 formation has suited Wanyama perfectly as he provides cover to the wing backs when they move forward to attack, something that has put Wanyama in favor with both the manager and the Spurs supporters.

The midfielder will be expected to take his spot back in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday evening after a minor injury.

As the title race stiffens and Spurs still on track for the cup glory, Wanyama may just be the rock Tottenham needs to win the first trophy in over years.

Everton are considering a pre-season friendly in Tanzania as part of their expected new sponsorship deal with SportPesa.

Former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor has described joining Crystal Palace as the “worst decision” of his career.

The 33-year-old Togolese striker is currently playing for Turkish side ?stanbul Ba?ak?ehir after being released by the Eagles in the summer of 2016.

Adebayor signed a six-month deal with Palace at the beginning of 2016 – a decision he says he would reverse if given the opportunity.

“I had some great experiences in England in clubs who are among the best in the country,” he told L’Équipe, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

“I was happy there, my family too. The only error that I made was to sign for Crystal Palace in January 2016.

“I did it just to please my entourage, who were saying to me: ‘Manu, you have to start playing again!’ It was the worst decision of my career.”

He would played 15 senior matches for Palace under then boss Alan Pardew scoring once in a losing effort to Watford.

It turned out to be his worst return for a single club since turning professional nearly 20 years ago with hometown side AC Merlan Lome.

Prior to relocating to Selhurst Park, the enigmatic centre-forward had already plied his trade with three different English clubs, most notably Arsenal from whom he joined Manchester City before returning to North London with Tottenham Hotspur.

In his first season with Ba?ak?ehir, the former Monaco man, has managed to register six goals across 11 league appearances including a hat-trick against Galatasaray.

 

Work has been completed on the first proposed venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - the Khalifa International Stadium. More than five years before the tournament kicks off, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed extensive renovations on the 40,000-seater venue are now finished.

The renovations include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar's successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26 degrees and the stands somewhere between 24 and 28 degrees.

SC secretary general H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: "The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of.

"As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I'm proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for."

The stadium, originally constructed in 1976, will first host the 2017 Emir Cup final on Friday and will also be the venue for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: "Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar's biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976.

"It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar's football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening."

Drogba had been without a club since leaving MLS outfit Montreal Impact in November, after rejecting a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in February.

However, the 39-year-old Ivorian striker has finally found a home in Phoenix, where he will also be part of their "MLS expansion franchise ownership group."

Phoenix are in their fourth season in the USL, 12th in the Western Conference with one win after three games.

"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," said Drogba.

"After seeing firsthand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch.

"I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."

Drogba - a two-time African Footballer of the Year – scored 23 goals in 41 competitive appearances for the Impact, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League among other trophies with Chelsea.

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising club governor Berke Bakay.

"Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans everywhere we play throughout North America."