George Bwana: The story of Kenya's top football agent

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.

His clients are big names in the football scene locally and in his own words, he is growing bigger by the day. A man must court a dose of controversy, and he too has, in several instances being accused of either embezzling club funds during his stint in football administration.

Kenyanstar sat down with former Gor Mahia Secretary General, George Bwana, for a no-holds barred interview, where he talks about his time at Gor Mahia, TV, player representation and personal life.

Kenyanstar: Who is George Bwana?

George Bwana: I am a 38 year-old Kenya citizen. Born and bred in Suba. Homabay County. I went to school in Mbita,a journalist by training and TV  producer. I started as a cameraman, rose to TV producer and ventured big into the TV world. I worked for various media organizations including The Nation Media Group for 9 years. In 2008 I quit Nation and went independent for about a year. I later joined Supersport for 2 years. In  2011 I quit Supersport. At Supersport  I  travelled the world and covered major sporting events, including the 2010 World Cup, the  2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and the Confederation Cup in South Africa. I also  organized sporting events like the Copa Coca-Cola. I later quit TV, and in 2011 threw my hand in football politics,. I ran for General Secretary at Gor Mahia  and was elected.  I later served as the club’s General Secretary from 2011 to 2013. The election aborted in 2013 and had to repeat the following year. I left Gor Mahia  in 2013. Upon expiry of my term, I took a new challenge, and ventured into talent management; I started off with managing  footballers, then slowly into coaches as well i.e identify talent, find clubs, place them in clubs, negotiating contracts and managing their affairs.

KS: You were elected to Gor Mahia as SG, when you were a young, vibrant journalist. What informed your decision to switch from journalism to football administration?

GB: At that time, I felt our football wasn't being managed well. Having  worked for Supersport, I travelled the world to major sporting events as I have mentioned earlier, and I saw how football clubs, football events  and sports organisations were managed, and it pained me how things were done at home. There was a huge contrast.  I asked myself; Can’t this be done in Kenya?  I believe Kenya has a huge chunk of  sports talent, and thought we weren't properly harnessing this talent. So I made a decision to try and improve the standards of our football. Change how things were done. Gor Mahia is a household name in African football, having won the prestigious Mandela Cup in 1987 and that is not a mean fete by all standards. I felt there was huge gap to be filled. Not that we didn't have talent,  but talent wasn't being managed properly. So I quit my job and decided to throw myself into this elections. Lots of my friends told me it was a suicidal move, which I later on somewhat regretted, but today I don't regret because I left a mark.

KS: You had a largely successful tenure while Secretary General. Tell us about your time at Gor Mahia

GB: A very turbulent time. Very interesting too. Very memorable events. When I got elected in November  2011, interestingly, that was about the same time a lot was happening at Gor Mahia. Gor Mahia was having issues with the then coach Zedekiah "Zico" Otieno who was also the Harambee Stars coach and a cross section of Gor fans had an issue with that. Gor had a torrid 2011 season and a huge fanbase felt that the bad results were due to Zico’s double roles at the national team and at Gor. At the same time, Gor had a contract with Zico which we had to respect. So I had lots of balancing to do - A newly elected SG of a big club and the tasks were here. First challenge was to deal with that disquiet. Then the transfer window was approaching. So we dealt with the Zico issue, the best way we thought; by asking him to step aside. Then did what hadn't been done before- asking coaches to apply for appointment.

We received volumes of applications from Kenya and beyond and eventually ended up picking Anaba Awono, who then was the assistant coach. When the season started we recruited heavily by signing a record 11 players and sent a few away. Then came the season. We won our first game in 2012.  From that point on, we lost games, drew games and at one point, Gor was  lying 13th on the log after about 8 matches or so. I remember Ambrose Rachier asking me- George will Gor be relegated under our watch? So it was a very shocking moment for me; I am new in office, a youthful leader, fans are screaming game after game, huge expectations…

You know the year before that, I had been involved in a huge campaign to bring back fans, and I believe largely that is why I got elected because we were beginning to get lots of young fans who wanted a young vibrant leadership at their club,. So here I was, elected by the fans  and we are losing. The same  fans are giving me pressure. I remember we made lots of trips to Nairobi- Nakuru Highway and lost to Oserian, Ulinzi and many other places.  Out of 3 matches on the Nairobi- Nakuru highway, we only got a point and got to a place where we had to make a decision. I remember fans screaming in my ears, telling me to act. They were very patient. I approached the chairman and told him it was time to make a decision.

Photo/ courtesy: Bwana poses with titles at a past KPL award ceremony

We dismissed the entire technical bench  after 8 rounds when we were lying 13th or so.We brought in Zdravko Logarusic. It was my initiative. The office was divided about that, but as SG, fans were looking at me. The dismissal of the bench was a big litmus test. Before Zdravko arrived, we made a decision to have someone handle the team. We decided to find someone to handle that one game before the new coach arrived. So we picked on one legend of the club to try pick the pieces. We made a call to Bobby Ogolla who then was retired and enjoying life in Muhoroni. I called him and he declined. I insisted to him that he was the best person to do the job. He said that having handled Gor before, he didn't want to come back. After rounds of persuasion, he agreed to come on condition that he would handle only one  match. We lost.

Logarusic  arrived the next day, and I took him straight to City stadium for training. Zdravko asked me what the issue was, and I told him I didn't know, since I wasn't the coach. He asked how many players we had and I told him 31. The number one thing Logarusic said was -you have a bloated squad. So he fired players and some fired themselves. I remember Collins Okoth just opting out after one training session with Loga. He just left the club and went. After few training sessions, Loga said we scale down to 25, and he identified players for axing.

We dealt with them in accordance to the law and trimmed the squad to 25, and we began training and picking points. The league title would soon be at reach. Recall, before then AFC Leopards was 13 or 14 points above us. We overtook them. Then came the shocker. On the last day of the season, 2 points adrift Tusker. We were playing Thika United at City Stadium. It was a very memorable moment. There was an air of optimism through the country. The nation was painted white and green. Then came the famous Giniwasekao. The match  at City Stadium was at 3PM. Tusker were playing City stars in Kawangware. We only needed to win our match and win the title regardless of what happened elsewhere.

We had a superior goal difference. Tusker win and we drew. I remember that Kennedy Otieno goal. Then Rama equalised, but it was too little too late. Gor fans cried, I cried and I believe Raila Odinga cried. We couldn't believe it. That was one of my most memorable moments for me in Gor. There are many challenges that came with managing the club. It is a job that doesn't pay. People think that it does. It is a voluntary work. It takes a lot of determination and time. Gor is like any other corporate with staff, challenges, but there are no set structures and you don't earn anything. It takes a lot of self determination and willpower to run the club.That goes for other community clubs too like AFC Leopards.

KS: During your time, the club did well and won titles. What was working for you?

GB: I think was successful because first in 2012, after we missed the league, in 2013 we said we would not repeat the mistakes we did. In 2013 we started the league well, recruited well and won the title with 5 matches to spare. Logarusic again along the way in 2013, did everything right, but when it was time to pop the champagne, he messed things up and quit the club halfway in June 2013 prompting us to bring in Bobby Williamson and we won the league easy. I call it successful because Gor hadn't won the league in 18 years. The most decorated club in Kenya and East Africa going 18 years without a tile? That was unacceptable. I pride myself as having won the title for the Mighty K’ogalo after 18 years. From that momentum, we won it in 3 straight years. In 2015, we went unbeaten because  of the momentum and structures I put in place. To date I believe it still there. People still remember my tenure.

KS: You won titles at your time. However, as many critics say to date, there is no much progress. The club is still reliant on Ambrose Rachier, and is still in debt. Do you think you helped the club long-term?

GB: That is true. In my opinion as a fan, I think that winning the league isn't enough. I don't celebrate winning the KPL title anymore. We have won it 3 straight times, what is there to win here? I believe Gor now need to go and make a mark at the continental scene. On structures, we have done quite something because if you remember where Gor was before Ambrose Rachier came on board, Gor was lying somewhere there. He has done quite a lot and that should not go unnoticed. I still think we still need to do more. One, we need to change the club’s constitution. The club doesn't need 11 elected officials, that to me is a major setback because you end up with too many squabbles, as everyone is trying to get a piece of the club.

Gor doesn't need elected officials. I am glad we have the sports act which I believe the current office is trying to comply with, and in complying with that the structures should come in place. Gor needs to establish itself as a corporate run by professionals, not elected officials. That way we can hold the management accountable. Today as things stand, if you ask the current Secretary General  why certain things aren't done in a certain way, he might ask you - What are you giving me in return?  It is a voluntary job and there is nothing binding the official with the club. I also want to appeal to our fans. The fans have been a hindrance to this process of change. There is a section of them who are hellbent on  maintaining  the status quo because that is how they survive. Some people are afraid that if we change structures of the club, they will lose control of the club.

I recall in 2005, the chairman then, Lesley Okudo tried registering Gor Mahia  as a company. He received massive resistance from a section of the fans, to a point that he quit. Okudo was fantastic chairman, but was hounded out of office as result of his efforts to professionalise the club. I wish to reiterate that a cross section of our fan-base are a major hindrance to the development of the club, not all of them. They need to understand that things need to be done the modern way. Gor was established in 1968 by the then Minister of Planning Tom Mboya, and it was fine to have 11 officials to take care of the various sub clans of the Luo Community. Today Gor isn't just a Luo club, the club has fans from all over Kenya.

Photo/couretsy: George Bwana and Danny Sserenkuma during his says as Gor Mahia SG

KS: During your tenure, in several occasions when the club faced hooliganism cases, you publicly defended the club and famously said, ‘Those were goons in Gor Mahia jerseys.’ Many feel you never wanted to deal with hooliganism head on. What’s your response to this?

GB: To date I still hold the same opinion. In 2012-2013 before the elections and you know politicians love where there are numbers, and Gor itself is loved and hated in equal measure in this country. A cross section of politicians, with the elections coming up and with Gor being associated with one section of the political divide, some politicians would hire goons, don them in Gor Mahia jerseys and send them to cause trouble. Second, a Gor Mahia fan is not someone who would want to see his club suffer. A fan is someone who will protect the club with his soul. When in 2012 in that evening game at Kasarani(one of my memorable moments), Danny and Rama had taken off for trials without permission. Before that match, I called Logarusic and found out that two of our players were missing from training. The players also had their phones going unanswered. So we drew against City Stars 0-0. As usual, I never shied away from addressing the fans after the game when they sought to know what the matter was. Why we lost. They asked where Rama and Danny were. I told them that they had sneaked out of camp for trials. So the fans were agitated by that, and as I tried to explain myself, leaning on my car, then some goons confronted me and started getting their hands into my pocket. So I had to take off. (Hearty laugh) I ran for my dear life. The next day I addressed the press and said that indeed the scenes witnessed at Kasarani were those in my opinion occasioned by goons, not Gor Mahia fans. Genuine Gor fans are very disciplined and understanding. Look at Gor last season: Gor should have won the league. But the club was docked points because of fan trouble. Do you think a Gor fan would want his club to lose points and the league in that way?

KS: Hooliganism has been a major issue in Kenyan football. What particular steps did you take at your time to deal with this matter?

GB: Hooliganism is a  major issue not to Gor alone but Kenyan  football. During our tenure, we empowered our fans and created awareness. No amount of police can stop hooligans if you don't involve fans. At Gor, we have branches and would call branch leadership and pass messages to them on stadia safety and anti-hooliganism measures. We also employed the youth, from the fans as club marshals. We paid them 2000 shillings  per home game. Their work was to to help in crowd control. We also worked with other teams to help in crowd control.

KS: Another famous  highlight during your tenure was the Zdravko Logarusic saga. How good was he, and why did you later bite the bullet and decline to work with him, despite his good run in the league?

GB: Logarusic is  good coach, and a great friend. We established a working relationship that was way beyond just work.  We became friends and brothers. But Loga is interesting. In 2013, half way through the season, he came up with fresh demands on remuneration. We had a sponsor who was giving us 11m a year and the club wage bill was way beyond that. So when Loga came up with fresh demands we said, ‘let's review his salary putting in mind what he had achieved.’ But we had to strike a balance. We had a chat with Loga and gave him our offer, but he couldn't accept it . I then explained to him that despite our friendship,we couldn't continue and hence we had to let him go.

KS: Was it a good decision to let him go?

GB: It was. First, we had to act in the best interest of the club and also Gor is bigger than the club.No one can hold the club at ransom.

KS: You served as Secretary General  for a single term. Surprisingly so. You said that you had achieved your objectives. What was your biggest achievement as Secretary General?

GB: My objective was to ensure Gor gets back to where it deserves to be in Kenyan football. Second, it was to put Gor on the right path to achieve success in continental football.
 
KS: Would you consider at one time returning to serve Gor Mahia?

GB: Gor remains my club forever. For now I am engaged in personal business.However ,in future when that opportunity comes I will be available to serve the club, but it has to be at the right time. I still believe I have something to offer Gor Mahia.

KS: Your toughest time at Gor, besides the infamous sprint?

GB: When we lost the league on final day. I couldn't bear that and suffered personal consequences. It took its toll on me, even my family suffered emotional distress. The sprint wasn't even a thing, it was some of those moments. I even realized that some of the guys chasing me were even unfit because they couldn't catch up with me.(Laughs). There were several others, where you would do things in the best interest of the club but people would think that you were making so much from the club. I recall at one time I was having a drink after a Gor Mahia match at Nyayo Stadium. I was having a drunk with this guy. Then he tells me: “This Gor Mahia officials are making so much money.”

 I asked him "What do you mean?"

Then he tells me, “There is this Gor Secretary General, he has built a massive house in South C, and has big car.”

 I asked him, "What is his name again?"

He replied, “George Bwana. He has  a lot of money.”

I  asked him - Do you know how he looks like? He said, “He is a young guy.”

I then told him, "What if I told you my name if George Bwana?"

He was really shocked and apologized and said he had just been told the story.(Hearty laugh)

KS: We have a new office at Gor Mahia. 100 and so days in. Lots of teething problems here and there. You take on the new administration?

GB: As you have put it, they are going through some teething problems and honeymoon. I however, hold that they have overstretched the honeymoon. Its expected that upon resuming office those challenges are there. But there is a limit. I am particularly disgusted by a couple of things I saw like how some like  publishing club matters on social media. You do not see clubs talk about their matters on social media anywhere in the world. It amounts to subjecting the club to public ridicule. Like an official would post minutes of a meeting on social media. That is unacceptable. To me that is immaturity and should stop. However, they still have time to recover but they got to do things differently. Sober up and do things differently. We had similar issues when we were elected but theirs looks a little too magnified. They have got to start working and forget about elections.

KS: You are a key member of the Kenyan football industry;Kenya’s top football agent. How did you get into this trade and what motivated you to get into it?

GB: I am a journalist by training. I quit my job and got into football politics which is a very thankless job. Not paying. I served for about 3 years and upon expiry of my term I had lost quite a bit in terms of personal growth. I decided not to count those 3 years as a wate. I decided to turn my experience into business. I believe in shifting and doesn't believe in complaining about misfortunes. I decided to read about talent management, I did a course at Strathmore University, while still at Gor Mahia, that was being offered in collaboration with KPL and that helped me set up  a business which I run today. One of managing talent. Started with footballers, then coaches and trying to get into other sports as well…

Photo: George Bwana(left) and George Owino during transfer to Zesco

KS:You have had majority of your transfers in Zambia. Why Zambia?

GB: The Zambian league is well organized and well structured. Zambian clubs respect player contracts. Zambian clubs are well sponsored, they pay players well, and take good care of players and coaches. Zambian clubs like to give back to communities where they do business. I made one first move with David Owino in 2013 and it worked well. I got feedback from the player, he was happy and followed on his progress and was impressed. For me, when the player is happy, I am glad., I work first for the player and coach. As  a result of Owino’s good show, he opened up doors for other Kenyan players.

KS: Any challenges in this business?

GB: First, the perception that we make so much money. There is no big money really. We work for the players first. We are coming from an amateur league -KPL and if I make a call to a club in Serbia or Croatia, after watching the player and doing research on the club and when they hear about Kenya, they turn us down. They say Kenya is a nation for runners.  Our football isn't doing really well, and we struggle to convince people that Kenya has talent.

I am glad we have Victor Wanyama out there because I use him a lot as a reference point when looking for clubs for my players. Some people ask me; Where is Kenya? Is it from Nigeria? I explain to them where Kenya is and tell them -Kenya is the country where Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama comes from. Do you know him? The reply -yeah yeah. I then say - The player I am proposing to you plays together with Victor Wanyama at the national team. So our ranking too is still low and does not help us. We need to do better.

KS: Your best business so far?

GB: (Laughs) That is a hard one. I think my best transfer businesses are two, to be very honest. The first one is that of David Owino because he was the first player I ever sold out of this country and the first to play in Zambia and he opened the doors for many players. The second is Jesse Were. He is scoring  lots of goals in Zambia and was the top scorer in the Champions League in Zambia and second highest scorer in the league. That lifted my profile because I got calls from North Africa, West Africa and Europe too showing interest in Jesse Were. Today I am largely known as an agent by people who would largely never have known me because of this players.

KS: What qualifies one to be a football agent?

GB: First it is interest. Secondly, the Football Federation has introduced laws that we have complied with, not fully, but we are in the process of complying and are in good books with them. So you need to be qualified. FIFA has also given mandate to individual federations who license you and once you meet the criteria and  they forward your name to FIFA.

KS: Majority of the Kenyan football agents, maybe middlemen, are not registered. This has been a concern. Does it concern you too?

GB: It is. A big concern. The Federation must have a list of agents. If anyone wants to be an agent, they must follow due process and be in the Federation records. I see a lot of my friends mostly in the media, purporting to be middlemen. Well, it is  a good thing, we need our players to be in clubs. It is a virgin industry but let them do the right thing and get registered.

KS: Agents have been accused of using players, taking them to ‘any willing club’ making money and dumping the players. Have you encountered this and is it concern to you?

GB: Personally I don't do that. First, none of my players has ever gone to a  country without me accompanying them. I usually accompany them to the clubs after having agreed preliminary terms. We physically travel with them to that respective country, review the contract myself together with  the player to ensure everything that was agreed is in the contract then the player appends his signature.

KS: Do you think most  players in Kenya have been abused by these middlemen?

GB:  It's true. Some middlemen, not all are unscrupulous and very dodgy. What I want to advise players; For a long time, players thought that an agent is someone who just wants to earn where they did not sow. That shouldn't be the case. A good middleman acts in the best interest of the player. That is what I do. There are guys who swindle players not only in Kenya but outside Kenya too. So yes, there are funny guys purporting to be player representatives, but with ill intentions and so players must also do due diligence on whoever they sign with this agreements.

KS: What makes you tick as an agent?

GB: (Laughs)  I don't know whether I tick. I am just a go-getter and a risk-taker. I believe nothing is impossible. I am a believer in Christ, and go out there to get things done.

KS: Kenyan football agents have been accused of ill-advising players. At times, making it difficult for Kenyan players to make moves across clubs in Kenya. Your response?

GB: Football agents don't make anything impossible. Clubs in Kenya must understand that football agents exist. Player representation is a new concept in Kenya. I think there is  a misunderstanding in Kenya  on who football representatives are. These guys have a job to do, and bills to pay. Kenyan clubs don't understand why they would sign a player for a certain amount. I am shocked and saddened in equal measure on the amounts we talks about when signing a player and clubs feels it's too much for them. It is really nothing. Yanga or Simba in Tanzania will buy  a player for Ksh.5  millions easily. Kenyan clubs will struggle to buy a player for Ksh. 600,000. How many Kenya clubs even pay each other money for transfers? Only Gor perhaps has bought a player. Like during my tenure we paid money for Baba Kizito. Clubs must begin to spend on players. It’s a business. Transfer monies, besides the salary is what players use to improve their lives. Clubs must know that football representation is not extortion but a business.

Photo credit, Soka: (From left) Jesse Were, Teddy Akumu and David with Bwana during a Harambee Stars assignment


KS: A concern raised by Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier is that Kenyan players and agents insist on signing short contracts hence destabilizing the clubs and players. Your response?

GB: That is wrong and I strongly agree with Rachier. First, there are certain parameters you look at when signing a player. First, it's the age of the player. There is no reason why I should bring a 19 year old and insist on signing a one year contract. I am reaping off this club and I also am not helping the player. There is no guarantee that a young player will hit form straight away. There are very many challenges and the pressure is too much. If the player is on a short contract, he will struggle to get form. And before he settles, his contract is out. Signing short contracts does not help players. Some players also love signing short contracts so that every often they are getting paid sign on fees every often. Players must also put in mind their personal growth and know that you need time to settle in a club. I know players also fear that if you sign along contract then a club from abroad comes and wants to sign you, then your club will decline to release you. I keep telling player to insert those clauses in the contract and that is what I do for my players - If a club wants t sign you, then they shall pay a certain amount to your club. A serious club that wants to sign you will pay you and your club the monies being asked for.

KS: How do you spot players? Do they approach you or you go out looking for them?

GB: Mostly I approach them. I watch lots of football myself, both the premier league and youth football. So I spot the players. Some call me and approach me for representation and I have to do some background checks to see if it's worth the business. Not every other player is worth the business.

KS: Does you talent management program include image rights management and has any of your clients made money out of it?

GB: In the contracts we insist on a percentage for image rights. We always insist on that. So far, we haven't had an instance where we have been approached.  We try go out there to do this. Zambia is our biggest zone so to speak and we are trying to set up a place there. It would be needless for a Zambian League player to endorse a Kenyan product. We have been thinking of partnering with certain people to work on this.

KS: We have seen a couple of players, some of them your clients not excelling in the PSL despite being good players. Why?

GB: I don't think its a question of Kenyan players. Musa Otieno, the most decorated Kenyan player played in the PSL for over a decade, and even won the chairman's trophy. I think it's a question of attitude. Secondly some clubs, to be fair to our players, mistreat some players. We have had incidences with several players, most recently Clifton Miheso. The same was the case with Khalid Aucho. It's true some PSL clubs don't treat foreigners well. Attitude is also important for the player. They should know that when playing outside Kenya, you are playing with  people who aren't from your native country. So they(Players) must have psychological preparedness for them to succeed.

KS: Rumours have it that you are coach Stewart Hall’s agent…

GB: No rumour. It is true. I am his representative and I brought him to Kenya.

KS: In recent days, you have been accused of destabilizing AFC Leopards by trying to move Hall to another club. How true is this?

GB: I am a football agent and as such, when I place a player or coach somewhere, I want them to succeed because when they do I make a name for myself and stand a chance of renewing a contract or getting him to another club. I don't think any business,and want his salt would want to antagonize himself. I brought Stewart Hall to AFC Leopards late last year and he is on a 2 year contract and want him to succeed at Leopards. While i was away in Zambia, I read the reports on the press that I was trying to destabilize Leopards .The truth is I got inquiries for Stewart Hall from a Tanzania club. That is very true. The contract that we have with AFC Leopards for Stewart Hall is such that, there is an exit clause. That goes for every contract. When that club made inquiries, I explained to them that they shouldn't talk to the coach because he has a contract and a job to do.  Having had a good start, I told Hall that we wouldn't wish to antagonize his stay at Leopards. The coach will stay because he has a contract with AFC Leopards. However, if whoever wants Hall can meet the release clauses that are agreeable to the AFC management, then we will deal. For now, Stewart Hall is an AFC Leopards coach. He has interests not just from Tanzanian clubs, but also outside Tanzania. There are several other inquiries. Stewart is a big coach.

KS: You have been at Supersport before. Your take on the current TV saga?

GB: Very unfortunate. It is sad that we should get into a situation like we have. Our football has made tremendous achievements over the past ten or so years. We still need to do more. I am disappointed that the people mandated with the affairs of our football have gotten us into this situation where broadcast right holders are withdrawing.Many countries would wish to have a broadcast partner. I am hugely disappointed that this has happened. I urge them to sober up as gentlemen, come to a table and talk about this, I am willing to bring them on board because I can. One of the major players in this stalemate is my former chairman who is the chair of KPL and the other is a good friend of mine and  a young guy who can understand my language and Supersport themselves. I am a TV  professional and Supersport are my former employers. I credit them for what I am today. So I believe this can be sorted out. Supersport has put in a huge investment in that facility at Ngong Road, I was part of it. I don't think it will be fair to have that go to waste. As  a football stakeholder, we need TV because that is how I can sell these players - From the clips. If Supersport pulls out, our games will be played minus coverage. We need to sober up. I know people are fighting over egos and small things but I am sure these things can be sorted out.

KS: Thanks so much George for your time!

The Barclays Premier League enters its second week with nine matches set to be played between Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the early kick off will see Manchester United face Swansea from 14:30. Manchester were 4-0 winners over West Ham in their opening fixture. Liverpool will be seeking their first win when they take on Crystal Palace at Anfield from 17:00. Stoke City will then host Arsenal in the last match for Saturday.

On Sunday, two matches will be played, with Huddersfield entertaining Newcastle while defending champions Chelsea clash with Tottenham. Chelsea lost their opening fixture to Burnley.

Saturday August 19th

14:30- Swansea vs Man Utd

17:00- AFC Bournemouth vs Watford

17:00- Burnley vs West Brom

17:00- Leicester vs Brighton

17:00- Liverpool vs Crystal  Palace

17:00- Southampton vs West Ham

19:30- Stoke City vs Arsenal

Sunday August 20th

15:30- Huddersfield vs Newcastle

18:00- Tottenham vs Chelsea

 

Nzoia Sugar will be without five first team players when they take on struggling side Thika United in a Premier League match on Saturday August 19, 2017. The match will be staged at the Thika Sub-County Stadium from 15:00.

Dependable striker Elvis Rupia, defender Ronack Otieno and midfielder Peter Gin Juma will be out through injuries for the important match. Dennis Ongeri and Geoffrey Kariuki are also unavailable owing to personal matters.

The Mwalala-coached side will be seeking a win that might propel them to the top five positions in the Kenyan Premier League.

 

Six AFC Leopards players have been ruled out of Sunday's Gotv Shield quarterfinal match against National Super League side Wazito FC. Leopards will be battling out for a semifinal spot with the NSL side at the Nyayo Stadium from 15:15.

Keziron Kizito has a fractured metatarsal while Marcus Abwao has an torn meniscus which requires surgery. Centre back Joshua Mawira has a knee injury he'll need an MRI scan as well as Abdallah Salim who's ankle is injured.

Alfred Wekesa is still out on rehabilitation after undergoing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery last year. Vincent Oburu is also out on rehabilitation after a groin injury kept him out of Ingwe's last KPL match against Bandari FC.

Robinson Kamura has however fully recovered after missing the last three matches and will be available for selection. Also available is midfielder Allan Kateregga.

 

 

Information on the ticketing details for Sofapaka's league match against Nakumatt FC on Saturday August 19th at the Narok Stadium has been released. The match will start at 15:00.

Tickets for the day will sell at Kshs. 200 as announced by ticketing firm Big Brother Events and will retail on Saturday outside the stadium.

Sofapaka are currently 4th on the league table with 31 points while Nakumatt are six points adrift of them at 10th. 

 

Kenyan Premier League leaders Gor Mahia will be travelling to Kisumu to face bottom-placed Muhoroni Youth on Saturday August 19 at the Moi Stadium. The match is set to kick off at 15:00.

For those willing to go and watch the match, VIP tickets will be retailed at Kshs. 500 while those for the terraces go for Kshs. 300. Tickets will be on sale outside the Moi Stadium on Saturday from morning.

 

The Kenya Rugby Union will conduct Match Official refresher courses during the National Sevens Series. KRU Training and Education Co-ordinator George Ndemi said, “The courses will target level 1 & 2 referees running games at every leg of the series on the eve of the series tournaments. We will then use the last of the series to assess and accredit them.”

“The key aim of these courses is to further impart knowledge and increase the pool of match officials, particularly with level 2 and 3 qualifications, “ he added.

A core group of five referees have been selected for this season’s National Sevens Series.

A 19-man squad made up of local players has been named by Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi ahead of a friendly match against Mozambique in Maputo on Friday September2, 2017.

The most notable returnee is Gor Mahia forward George 'Black Berry' Odhiambo who has been in fine form in recent times, netting two times in his last three appearances for Ko'galo. Other players making their way back into the team are Nakumatt striker Kepha Aswani and Ulinzi Stars defender Omar Mbongi. 

Gor have the highest number of players called into camp for the friendly, producing five players while Ulinzi come in second with four players. National Super League players Bernard Ochieng’ of Vihiga United and Wazito's Joe Waithera have also made the cut.

Full squad 

Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Patrick Matasi (Posta Rangers)

Defenders: Simon Mbugua (Posta Rangers), Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), Musa Mohammed (Gor Mahia), Harun Shakava (Gor Mahia), Bernard Ochieng’ (Vihiga United)

Midfielders: Ernest Wendo (Gor Mahia), Victor Majid (AFC Leopards), Jackson Macharia (Tusker), Boniface Muchiri (Tusker), Daniel Waweru (Ulinzi Stars)

Forwards: Kepha Aswani (Nakumatt), Stephen Waruru (Ulinzi Stars), Masud Juma (Kariobangi Sharks), Joe Waithera (Wazito), Chris Ochieng’ (Mathare United),George Odhiambo (Gor Mahia), Samuel Onyango (Ulinzi Stars)

 

The Barclays Premier League enters its second week with nine matches set to be played between Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the early kick off will see Manchester United face Swansea from 14:30. Manchester were 4-0 winners over West Ham in their opening fixture. Liverpool will be seeking their first win when they take on Crystal Palace at Anfield from 17:00. Stoke City will then host Arsenal in the last match for Saturday.

On Sunday, two matches will be played, with Huddersfield entertaining Newcastle while defending champions Chelsea clash with Tottenham. Chelsea lost their opening fixture to Burnley.

Saturday August 19th

14:30- Swansea vs Man Utd

17:00- AFC Bournemouth vs Watford

17:00- Burnley vs West Brom

17:00- Leicester vs Brighton

17:00- Liverpool vs Crystal  Palace

17:00- Southampton vs West Ham

19:30- Stoke City vs Arsenal

Sunday August 20th

15:30- Huddersfield vs Newcastle

18:00- Tottenham vs Chelsea

 

 Floyd Mayweather is already known as the "Money" man in boxing.

His reputation will be further enhanced after his battle with UFC star Conor McGregor.

The American expects to bank $350 million (£272 million) for the fight on August 26, taking his career earnings past $1 billion (£777 million).

Mayweather, 40, has been involved in all of the top three biggest-selling pay-per-view fights of all time.

His record-smashing victory over Manny Pacquiao in 2015 was sold to 4.6 million households in the United States, yet Mayweather believes his fight with McGregor will be an even bigger success.

The second leg of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) Kenya 2018 qualifiers are scheduled to take place this weekend from Friday 18th-Sunday 20th August in different parts of the continent.

All countries in the six distinct zones will be in action, with some looking to consolidate their first leg wins while others seek to overturn the losses they suffered in the first round.

Some of the teams that will be in action include Uganda who will be travelling to Kigali to face Rwanda on Saturday 19th August after a comfortable 3-0 win at home. Libya, who were 2-1 winners over Algeria, will be in the hunt for another victory when they host the North African nation on Saturday August 19th while South Africa travel to Ndola to battle it out with Zambia also on Saturday following a disappointing 2-2 draw at home a fortnight ago. 

Below are the full fixtures of this weekend's CHAN 2018 qualifiers:

Fixtures

Central Zone

19.08.2017 Kinshasa   DR Congo vs Congo (0-0)

19.08.2017 Yaounde   Cameroon vs Sao Tome (2-0)

 

Central-East Zone

19.08.2017 Kigali Rwanda vs Uganda (0-3)

19.08.2017 El Obeid      Sudan vs Ethiopia (1-1)

 

North Zone

18.08.2017 Sfax Libya vs Algeria (2-1)

18.08.2017 Rabat Morocco vs Egypt (1-1)

 

South Zone

19.08.2017 Ndola  Zambia vs South Africa (2-2)

19.08.2017 Luanda   Angola vs Madagascar (0-0)

20.08.2017 Windhoek    Namibia vs Comoros (1-2)

 

West A Zone

19.08.2017 Bamako     Mali vs Mauritania (2-2)

22.08.2017 Conakry      Guinea vs Senegal (1-3)

 

West B Zone

20.08.2017 Kumasi   Ghana vs Burkina Faso (2-2)

19.08.2017 Kano    Nigeria vs Benin (0-1)

19.08.2017 Abidjan     Cote d’Ivoire vs Niger (1-2)

 

The Champions League qualifying play-off matches continue on Wednesday August 16, with five matches expected to be played across Europe.

Some of the teams that will be in action include Celtic who host FC Astana while Napoli entertain Nice. Sevilla will be away to Istanbul Basaksehir as Olympiakos battle it out with HNK Rijeka. All matches kick off at 21:45 local time.

Wednesday August 16 Fixtures:

21:45- Celtic vs FC Astana

21:45- Hapoel Be'er Sheva vs NK Maribor

21:45- Istanbul Basaksehir vs Sevilla

21:45- Napoli vs Nice

21:45- Olympiakos vs HNK Rijeka

 

AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca has joined LaLiga side Villarreal on a season-long loan deal. This is Bacca's second stint in Spain after two successful season with Sevilla before signing for Milan in 2015. 

The Colombian international has been touted as a replacement for Roberto Soldado, who joined Fenerbahce last week. The 30-year-old has scored 165 goals in 336 games in his career, with 13 in 39 coming for Milan last season.

"The deal includes an option to buy the player once the campaign is finished," Villarreal said in a statement.

 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Jesse Rodriguez has completed his move to Stoke City on a season-long loan deal.

The former Real Madrid striker will now be with the Premier League club until July 2018 after finding playing time hard to come by at PSG, having featured in just nine matches for the Ligue 1 side and scored one goal.

"Jesse was a man in demand when PSG made it clear they would allow him to leave on loan and we’re delighted he has chosen to join us. He hasn’t had the happiest of periods in his career in Paris but he’s still only a young man and is hungry to make a big impression in the Premier League. His pedigree speaks for itself and he will most certainly add to the firepower at our disposal,” Stoke's Chief Executive  Tony Scholes told the club's official website.

Jesse becomes the sixth summer signing for the Potters subsequent to Darren Fletcher, Kurt Zouma, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bruno Martins Indi and Josh Tymon joining the club.

 

The Champions League play-off matches resume on Tuesday August 15, 2017 with five matches expected to be played.

The first match will see FK Karabakh face Copenhagen from 19:00 local time, with Apoel Nicosia and Slavia Prague clashing from 21:45. Hoffenheim will play hosts to Liverpool while Sporting Lisbon entertain Steaua Bucharest at home. Below are the full fixtures:

Tuesday August 15th 

19:00- FK Karabakh vs Copenhagen

21:45- Apoel Nicosia vs Slavia Prague

21:45- Sporting Lisbon vs  Steaua Bucharest

21:45-  Hoffenheim vs Liverpool

21:45- BSC Young Boys vs CSKA Moscow

 

Real Madrid have become the first brand and sporting institution in the world to eclipse 100 million followers on Facebook, 50 million on Instagram and 25 million on Twitter for their main accounts. The total number of followers for the Real Madrid brand has hit 182 million across these three social media platforms, a figure unmatched by any other brand or sports club at this time. This number rises to more than 280 million fans if the total of the Football, Basketball and La Fábrica accounts are included.

Popular Articles

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.

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.

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.

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? 

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.

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."

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."

Former Tottenham striker Souleymane Coulibaly has accused the Egyptian club of treating him “like a slave” and “traumatising” his family.

Coulibaly joined Spurs in 2011 from Siena for £1.5m but failed to make any senior appearances.

He has played for Grossto, Bari Fc, Pistoiese, Peterborough United, Newport County and later Kilmarnock where he left in January to agree a three-and-a-half year deal with Al Alhy. He later returned to England without the club’s permission, prompting the Egyptian Premier League champions to lodge a complaint with FIFA.

The 22-year-old Ivorian has now claimed his actions were because of mistreatment while in Egypt, saying his family has been left “traumatised” by the experience.
Coulibaly added that Al Ahly had confiscated his passport which prompted him and his family to “flee” back to England at the first possible opportunity, and that he is willing to accept a ban from FIFA for his actions.

He said in a statement: “I’m not crazy, I left for a reason. I’m very sorry but I could not stay in that team anymore. My passport was held hostage. I was forced to do what I was told, for example bow down and pray every time I scored. I did not feel comfortable in the team and environment. I have tried my hardest for five months but I have reached my limit.

The team wasn’t welcoming. They never passed the ball so I had to fight and struggle in order to score. The coach forced me to play how he wanted me to play. I can’t play being forced to follow orders. If I didn’t obey the orders I was taken to the office and yelled at. My wife and kids are traumatised. My family is Christian and didn’t feel comfortable practicing their religion in the country.

I’ve been playing and working hard since I started without the right to a break. I left without saying because I had to flee the first chance I had a hold of my passport. They treated me like a slave all because of money. If FIFA are going to ban me I am willing and ready to accept the ban. My peace of mind and safety are what are most important to me.”

Al Ahly president Mahmoud Taher has since denied Coulibaly’s statement. Taher believes that Coulibaly’s accusation comes in response to Al Ahly’s complaint to FIFA and insists the club will not back down.

The club president’s statement read: “We deny all of Coulibaly’s allegations. What he claims never happened and he was never mistreated or abused by the club’s coach or players. Logically, if he was being abused he should have immediately spoken about this as soon as he left us, not after we filed a complaint to FIFA.

Al Ahly will not be blackmailed and will not back down until Coulibaly pays for what he did. This is a false accusation and a lie. He thinks that by saying this we will withdraw our complaint and back down but Al Ahly will not be blackmailed.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have released fixtures for the 2018 African Nations Championships (CHAN) that is set to be held in Kenya in January.

CHAN is a football tournament which was first announced on 11 September 2007. It is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season. Expatriate players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, are not qualified to take part in the African Championship of Nations.

The first tournament was held in 2009. It was hosted by Ivory Coast and won by The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The competition was expanded to 16 teams for the second tournament, held in Sudan in 2011. The tournament was won by Tunisia, in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution. The tournament is held every two years, alternating with the Africa Cup of Nations.

The fixtures have been divided into four groups; West zone A, West Zone B, Central East Zone and Southern Zone. Teams in both West Zones will be playing in their second round of the qualifiers while those in Central East and Southern Zones will be competing in the first round.

In West Zone A, Sierra Leone face Senegal while Guinea clash with neighbours Guinea-Bissau on Saturday July 15, 2017 with the return matches expected to be played a fortnight later. 

In West Zone B, Togo will battle it out with Benin on Sunday July 16, 2017 with the return match a week later in Cotonou, Benin.

Four fixtures will be staged in Central East Zone with South Sudan lined up against Uganda, Tanzania with Rwanda and Djibouti with Ethiopia.

In Southern East Zone, Botswana host South Africa on Saturday 15 July while Zimbabwe visit Namibia a day later.

West Zone A

1.Sierra Leone vs Senegal -15.7.2017 (16:30,Freetown/Siaka Stevens Stadium)

  Senegal vs Sierra Leone-22.7.2017 (17:00,Dakar/Stade Demba Diop)

2.Guinea-Bissau vs Guinea-15.7.2017 (16:00,Bissau/Estadio 24 de Setembro)

  Guinea vs Guinea-Bissau-22.7.2017  (16:30,Conakry/Stade 28 Septembre)

3. Liberia vs Mauritania-16.7.2017 (16:00,Paynesville/Samuel Kayon Doe Sports Complex)

  Mauritania vs Liberia-23.7.2017 (17:00)

4.Gambia vs Mali-15.7.2017 (16:30,Bakau/Independence Stadium)

  Mali vs Gambia-22.7.2017 (17:00,Bamako/Stade Modibo Keita)

West Zone B

1.Togo vs Benin-16.7.2017 (15:00,Lomé/Stade de Kégué de Lomé)

  Benin vs Togo-23.7.2017 (16:00,Cotonou/Stade de l'Amitié de Kouhounou)

*Exempted  Burkina Faso, Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria

Central East Zone

1.South Sudan vs Uganda-14.7.2017 (16:30,/Juba stadum)

  Uganda vs South Sudan-22.7.2017 (16:00,Kampala/Phillip Omondi Stadium)

2.Tanzania vs Rwanda-15.7.2017 (16:00,Mwanza/CCM KIRUMBA Stadium)

  Rwanda vs Tanzania-22.7.2017 (15:30,Kigali/STADE REGIONAL DE NYAMIRAMBO)

3.Djibouti vs Ethiopia-15.7.2017 (15:00,Djibouti Ville/Stade Gouled)

   Ethiopia vs Djibouti-23.7.2017 (19:00,hawass/Hawass International Stadium)

4.Burundi vs Sudan-15.7.2017 (15:00,Bujumbura/Stade Prince Louis Rwagasore)

  Sudan vs Burundi-21.7.2017 (20:00,Khartoum/Khartoum Stadium)

Southern Zone

1.Madagascar vs Mozambique-16.7.2017 (14:30,Antananarivo/Stade Municipal de Mahamasina)

  Mozambique vs Madagascar-23.7.2017 (15:00,Maputo/Estadio Nacional do Zimpeto)

2.Maurice vs Angola-16.7.2017 (15:30,Belle Vue/Anjalay Stadium)

  Angola vs Maurice-23.7.2017 (16:30,Luanda/Estadio 11 de Novembro)

3.Comoros vs Lesotho-15.7.2017 (15:00,Moroni/Stade de Moroni)

  Lesotho vs Comoros-23.7.2017 (15:00,Maseru/Setsoto Stadium)

4.Namibia vs Zimbabwe-16.7.2017 (15:00,Windhoek/Sam Nujoma Stadium)

  Zimbabwe vs Namibia-23.7.2017 (15:00,Harare/National Sports Stadium)

5.Botswana vs South Africa-15.7.2017 (15:30,City of Francistown/Francistown Sports Complex Stadium)

  South Africa vs Botswana-22.7.2017 (15:00,Moruleng/Moruleng Stadium)

6.Swaziland vs Zambia-16.7.2017 (15:00,Lobamba/Somhlolo National Stadium)

  Zambia vs Swaziland-22.7.2017 (15:00,Lusaka/Heroes National Stadium)