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!

KCB’s Kenny Andola and Mwamba’s Brad Owako made the cut for Simba’s squad in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup Clash against Uganda. The match will also serve as the Elgon Cup return leg. The duo, who will start off the bench will come in place of Biko Adema who is unavailable due to work commitments and Kelvin Masai.  20 year old Steve “Security” Otieno is also in line for his Simba’s debut. Otieno replaces Martin Owila who is rested for this clash.

There will be two main changes to the side that started the 23-18 away win over Uganda in Elgon Cup action a fortnight ago with Joshua Chisanga and fly half Isaac Adimo handed starts.

The fixture is set for the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi.

Regular tickets for the game are available at Ksh 400 with a limited number of VIP tickets retailing at Ksh 1000. These can be sourced online on Tikiti

Game day tickets will still be available for Ksh 500 at the RFUEA grounds.

Simbas Full Squad

15.Tony Opondo, 14. Darwin Mukidza (captain), 13. David Ambunya, 12. Patrice Agunda, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Isaac Adimo, 9. Samson Onsomu, 1. Moses Amusala, 2. Peter Karia, 3. Dennis Karani, 4. Simon Muniafu, 5. Oliver Mang’eni, 6. Eric Kerre, 7. Davis Chenge, 8. Joshua Chisanga Replacements 16. Philip Ikambili, 17. James Kubasu, 18. Curtis Lilako , 19. George Nyambua, 20. Steve Otieno, 21. Kenny Andola, 22. Brad Owako, 23. Leo Seje

 

Upper Hill set up a Prescott Cup final duel with Rift Valley Academy after hammering Nairobi School 31-3  in the second semifinal result on Wednesday.

AFC Leopards SC has been thrown into panic  as the transfer window heads to a close following fears that their new signing may not arrive at the Club as intended.

Kenyanstar on Wednesday learnt that the Club management who took control of mid-season signings have been thrown into blame game and panic mode as some of their target signings declined joining the Club.

KS sources indicate that the club is in disarray over the manner in which they conducted the signings with a storm brewing that some officials put their own selfish interests ahead of the Club's.

MORE READ: UGANDAN SIGNING LANDS AT THE DEN

The first signs of discord appeared in the Dorian Marin case where players openly revolted against the coach as pressure mounted from the discordant Club management.

The Club on Thursday was contemplating flying an official to Burundi to fast track the deal to have Alexis Kitenge join the Club. The reasons for Alexis' delay are unclear since Ugandan signing Kizito arrived in Nairobi yesterday  to link up with the squad.

 ALSO READ: KITENGE SET TO JOIN AFC LEOPARDS

There is divided opinion on how the Club is re-signing players it had released due to indiscipline at the end of last season. notably Kepha Aswani who was singled out for incitement by the management as the case for his release by then coach Stewart Hall.

AFC Leopards who lie in the bottom half of the table are seeking a revival in the second half of the season.

 

Musa Mohamed is probably the most loyal member of the green army having joined the 15 time Kenyan Champions in 2008 while still a student at Lang'ata high school. Now the captain of Kenya's biggest football club, Musa appreciates the pressure that comes with the Job and likens it to leading an entire community. 

Kenyanstar caught up with Musa Muhamed for a quick Q & A after his Wednesday morning training session;

KS: Who is Musa Mohammed?

Musa Mohammed is just a simple guy, a football player, a defender and currently team captain for Gor Mahia. 

KS: How did Gor Mahia happen?

I was in the Lang'ata High School team that played a friendly match against Gor-Mahia at the City Stadium, back in 2008. I guess i impressed the coaches and i was invited to join the Gor-Mahia  team. 

KS: Talking of Lang'ata High School Musa, they have been missing in action since your days when you won the School Championships. Why do you think they aren't living up to the billing? 

The school has undergone a lot of transformation since we were there in 2008-2009. They have for instance turned it into a boy only school, they have as well turned it into a boarding school so i guess transformations like this can turn the focus a little bit off the sporting department to stabilize other areas. But also when I was there we had a lot good players that I played alongside and I'am really grateful to Lang'ata High School because they played a big role in my football career because from there is when I signed for Gor Mahia.

KS: ... and FISA Academy? 

FISA Academy are the ones who started my football career because there is a time I had lost hope in football due to a lot of things in my mind. When FISA came and took me in as their player while providing everything for me, I started playing football again.

KS: Was it always your plan to be a one Club Man? 

Not really. It wasn't a plan ...  I think every player's plan is to keep growing and get get greener pastures , move forward and get new challenges whenever an opportunity arises. But the reason why I am still at Gor  Mahia is because I still want to achieve more with this club.

KS: Musa, With Gor-Mahia, you have won every single local title on offer. What more are you looking to achieve? 

I really would like us a team to go to another level and perform better on the continental scene in the Champions League. But I'm patient  and awaiting for the opportunity to present itself because you can't force things to happen. When you force them, they cannot work out.

KS: Talking of your local performance as a team, you have been consistent over the past few seasons. Some bad patches here and there but overall you have remained at the top. What is the secret?  

The team work between players is  very important, that together with individual hard work.

KS: At an individual level how do you manage to stay at the top of your performance? ... and what exactly makes a good defender?

Only through hard work and prayers ... and staying focused. It's all about discipline and the way you carry yourself around other players.

KS: At one point, you attended trials at Pretoria University...

Yes, It had a lot of issues and that's why I came back to Gor Mahia. As I said, you can't force things to happen because when you force, they will not turn out how you expect so you have to be patient and wait for your time. So when I went to Pretoria there were a lot of issues and that's when I told them not to be in a rush. .... I asked them to call me when they are ready for me to play for them.

KS: What exactly is Gor Mahia doing to ensure success at continental level?

It's all about preparation. When you prepare well you get good results and if you don't prepare well you don't get results. The thing is when we go to play against these other clubs, we are coming straight from pre-season while most of them have a significant match fitness because their leagues have been ongoing. So this can be a factor but that is not an excuse. I don't want to give it as an excuse why we have not done well before.  

KS: How is it like being the captain of the biggest club in Kenya?

It's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of pressure but I thank God for giving me the strength and also giving us these fans who support me. I'm lucky to have around me these great players who listen to what I am saying when I talk to them. 

KS: What are the challenges that come with this position?

You know when you are a Gor Mahia captain, you are not only a captain of the players but of the whole community, so it comes with a lot of pressure but I thank God for the opportunity and i hope to make it count.

KS: What has been the greatest moment of your career?

It has to be when we won the league unbeaten and also winning the league three times in a row.

KS: Lowest moment?

The lowest moment is the year that I was not playing at all for six months. But I thank God for giving me the strength and getting back my position. 

KS: Which is the most memorable match you have ever played?

Internationally it's against South Africa when we were playing against big names such as Stephen Pienaar.

KS: Which defense partner have you enjoyed working with most?

I have enjoyed working with all players who have played alongside me. 

KS: Who is the striker that has tormented you a lot?

That has to be John Baraza. Baraza is one striker you cannot shift focus from because you don't know when and how he will score.

KS: Who are some of the best coaches you have worked with?

I have worked with a lot of coaches and all of them are great coaches.

KS: Let's talk about Zarika, She is going to defend her title against Ashley of Jamaica....What chances are you giving her in that fight?

She will win, she works very hard, I know she will win.

KS: What influence do you have on each other you and Zarika? 

She is the one who joined sports first. That time, I was just in school not thinking of playing any sport but she inspired me because she always works hard. It reached a time when we used to go to the gym together. I was actually trying to be a boxer but then I changed my mind back to football.

KS: What message do you send out to her ahead of the bout? 

I just wish her good luck and I know that she will make us proud with a win.

KS: Does Ze Maria leaving and then a loss to SOFAPAKA worry you and the lads? 

No. We have to be focused and achieve our targets. We should not lose focus on what we started on from January. So we have to finish what we started and stay focused till the end of the season. Like the coach said, we learnt crucial lessons from the SOFAPAKA defeat. 

KS: How does it feel being part of a Gor-Mahia side that has won against arch rivals AFC Leopards three times in a row? 

It's a motivation for the players all the time we win against Leopards because that is a derby, and when you win two or three derbies in a row you have a lot of confidence in you moving forward.

KS: Finally, what chances are you giving Harambee Stars in the AFCON 2019 qualifiers? 

We still have a chance to qualify because we still have more matches coming at home and away so I know we have a chance to qualify. We will work hard to get there.

Bernard Mang'oli exits the AFC Leopards SC scene eliciting mixed reactions from the fanbase and the technical unit as a whole leaving more questions than answers on his abilities.

Fatuma Zarika's brother and fan number one, Musa Mohamed, has told Kenyanstar that he has no doubt her sister will successfully defend her World Boxing Commission Super Bantamweight Title on the 30th of June in Dallas, Texas.  

"She will win, She Works very hard! she will win... I just wish her good luck and I know she will make us proud with a win." Said Musa Mohamed. 

"We encourage each other a lot and she is the one who led the way in joining sports. That time, I was just in school not thinking of playing any sport but she inspired me because she always works hard" 

"At some point we used to go to the gym together and I was actually trying to be a boxer then I changed my mind back to football." 

The Gor-Mahia Captain made the comments while speaking  to Kenyanstar in a yet to be published Interview. His sister, Fatuma Zarika, who is enjoying Sportpesa Sponsorship will seek to retain a title she has held over the last 8 months when she takes on Jamaican Alicia Ashley.  

AFC Leopards SC new midfielder arrived in the country on Wednesday ready to join his new side after the international break.

The Ugandan midfielder, Kizito who was signed by Leopards in May before the international break for an undisclosed fee and is expected to fill the void left by Bernard Mang'oli as well as partnering with compatriots Yakubu, Kateregga and Mudde in the side.

ALSO READ: AFC Leopards beat Tusker to Ugandan midfielder

Meanwhile, Burundian Alexis Kitenge is also expected to join the squad. Alexis comes with a goal scoring reputation with him is expected to bolster the attack and is likely to be the preferred striker ahead of Gilbert Fiamenyo with Vincent Oburu having shown glimpses of brilliance in his past five matches.

Read More: Kitenge joins Leopards

AFC Leopards failed to renew Paul Kiongera's contract and hence will only have services of Alfred Wekesa, Vincent Oburu, Marcelus Ingotsi , Gilbert Fiamenyo and Alexis Kitenge for the remaining part of the season.

Leopards 0-0 draw with Mathare United underlines their weakness in scoring.

The most conspicuous item in 2013 manifesto for Jubilee Coalition was five stadiums and one was to be built in Garisa. What a gem of an idea. Many people especially the young bought sunglasses in anticipation for a very bright future. The irony is now they have to look for spectacles with magnifying lenses when looking at the performance of the Jubilee Government through sports window. 

Sports was the flower in the manifesto of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto unfortunately it remained so when they got into government. I can guess that sports is also the flower at cabinet meetings and Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario as the flower boy designate. It is meant to spruce up our social and economic space but it ends up sprucing the imagination of our politicians. 

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is a fiasco sports enthusiasts in Kenya want to block from their memory. If Coke is the global mascot of CocaCola, then sports is to Kenya what Coke is to CocaCola. To date, no one knows the formula of ingredients used to make Coke because CocaCola has selfishly protected their prized product over time. Our athletes uniforms were stolen, allowances disappeared; tickets for coaches were missing while joy riders had access to Olympic Village and not some coaches. This is what we get even for an event that happens once in four years. Meanwhile the prosecution of NOCK officials is turning into a circus.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials are coming back in August to tell us that CHAN 2018, the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) version for players based in Africa will be moved to Morocco. CAF will not allow the world to watch their matches being played in substandard stadiums out of Nairobi. The two facilities being fronted are Machakos’ Kenyatta Stadium and Meru’sKinoru Stadium. It is a shame when Government officials and FKF President confidently walk CAF officials into these two facilities. Let it go, it is never that serious. 

Recently word leaked that Harambee Stars players get Ksh. 500 per day ($5) as allowance. The public was shocked that the national team players can be paid such an amount of money and still expected to win. The team went to Sierra-Leon for an AFCON qualifier and lost. The excuse by FKF is that is the amount stipulated by Ministry of Sports for all sportsmen across the board. They later organized a sponsorship through betting firm Sportpesa to pad up the amount. 

If I dint have to rush to look for ways of earning some money for the elusive maize flour, I would have delved into other sports as well. In Kenya, we never give sports a second thought because the first thought we give it at a glance is enough. This is the reason I silently pity many young passionate Kenyans who believe they can make it in sports; kindly have a plan B.

We have never realized the benefit of sports. Political leaders like Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero organize Governors Cup in the belief that they are promoting sports and the youth. Meanwhile the County Government owned City Stadium and Woodley Stadium are as dilapidated as Mogadishu Stadium before the Chinese renovated it.

If we are not ready to give sports the attention it deserves, let us not use it to spruce up our selfish ambitions. Sportsmen and women have suffered enough; rubbing salt into their injuries is not fair.

@stuttistician

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly growing in confidence that he can sign Kylian Mbappe in a world-record transfer deal this summer.

The France international is one of the most in-demand players in world football at the moment after a stunning breakthrough season for Monaco in 2016/17.

Real Madrid are also among the contenders for the 18-year-old’s signature, while reports today claimed Paris Saint-Germain had made a world-record £123million bid for him.

However, Arsenal believe they can pip Europe’s top clubs to Mbappe, with Wenger apparently gaining confidence over a deal in the last 48 hours.

The Gunners boss is now said to be preparing a rival bid to Monaco for the teenage forward, which would exceed the amount PSG have put on the table, according to football.london.

Arsenal need signings up front this summer due to fears over Alexis Sanchez’s contract situation and apparent desire to leave for rivals Manchester City.

 

Manchester United have been given the green light to make a move for Gareth Bale after Real Madrid admitted that they would be willing to sell the 27-year-old, according to reports in France.

L’Equipe claims that Zinedine Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez met with Kylian Mbappe last week in order to persuade the Monaco forward to move to the Spanish capital this summer.

During their conversation, Zidane and Perez reportedly told Mbappe that they would be willing to offload one of Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema in order to guarantee him more playing time next season.

L’Equipe claim that out of those three players, Bale’s transfer would be the most likely and United could now follow up with a bid, given their long-standing interest in the Wales international.

Earlier this month, reports claimed that Bale was open to the idea of joining United but Madrid would command a £100 million transfer fee.

United have held talks with over a deal for Bale, although Madrid’s hierarchy are reportedly split over their decision to sell the forward they signed from Tottenham for £86m four years ago.

 

New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday night that he has received calls in recent days from teams interested in trading for future star Kristaps Porzingis.

"We're getting calls. As much as we value Kristaps and what he's done for us, when a guy doesn't show up for an exit meeting, everybody starts speculating on the duration or movability from a club," Jackson said in an interview on MSG Network.

"So we've been getting calls and we're listening, but we're not intrigued yet at this level. But as much as we love this guy, we have to do what's good for our club."

Teams in touch with the Knicks indicated New York has not ruled out the possibility of trading Porzingis, though one opposing club said it came away with the impression that the price tag for the star forward was extremely high.

Jackson was asked why he would consider trading Porzingis, the Knicks' young star and a player regarded around the NBA as someone whom a franchise can be built around.

"The future, you know, what it brings," Jackson said. "Does it bring us two starters and a draft pick or something that's even beyond that? [That's] something we have to look at as far as going down the road. We know what he is. He's a unicorn and he's special.''

Porzingis skipped exit meetings with Jackson and general manager Steve Mills in April because of frustration over the dysfunction and drama surrounding the Knicks, who finished with a 31-51 record.

On Wednesday night, Jackson addressed Porzingis skipping the meeting.

"I don't think I've ever had a player over 25 years of coaching, maybe 30, not coming to an exit meeting, so it's not happened to me," Jackson said. "I know it happens to other people and other players. His brother and his agent have downplayed it, but still, it's a chance for a person to express themselves, and I had a real good relationship with Kristaps over the last two years. So it was kind of surprising.''

 

 

Lakers guard Nick Young will decline his $5.6 million player option for next season with Los Angeles to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Lakers announced Young's decision on Wednesday.

Young, 32, faced a deadline of June 21 to make a decision on his option. The 10-year veteran guard, who averaged 13.2 points in 60 games last season, will hit the open market July 1.

In four seasons with the Lakers, Young started 71 of the 220 games he appeared in, averaging 24.5 minutes and 13.1 points per game.

The Los Angeles native realized a childhood dream by joining the Lakers, but Young's tenure has coincided with the worst four-year stretch in the history of the 16-time NBA champions.

After struggling on the court during the 2015-16 season and enduring upheaval in his personal life due to an infamous video scandal with then-rookie D'Angelo Russell, Young enjoyed a career revival last season under new coach Luke Walton.

Young also has had stints with the Washington Wizards, LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers throughout his career.

 

Juventus could lose youngstar Moise Kean this summer but not because he’s seeking higher wages elsewhere but because his father hasn’t received the tractors the club promised him.

The 17-year-old, who broke into Juve’s first-team back in November, is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Turin and has been closely monitored by Arsenal for some time.

Kean was born in Vercelli, Italy to Ivorian parents and his dad claims the club owe him farming equipment to use back home as it was included in a deal which saw the youngster sign on the dotted line at the J Stadium.

Biorou Kean said: “They promised me agricultural equipment for my company in the Ivory Coast.”

“There, I own several hectares of land, which I’d like to start growing rice and corn on. I’m an agronomist, I’ve worked in rice paddies and I asked for agricultural equipment.”

“They told me that there was no problem but then Juve’s lawyer contacted me to tell me their contract offer had been revoked because my requests were out of their means.”

 

Luis Suarez has revealed how former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique helped him become more calm on the pitch.

The Uruguayan international was known for being a fiery character during his time in the Premier League with Liverpool, often running the risk of picking up needless yellow cards for arguing with officials over decisions that did not go his way.

However, the 30-year-old insists he’s improved his temperament since being under the guidance of Luis Enrique over the past three seasons. 

He said:

“He told me not to waste energy arguing with the officials because it damaged the team and it was beneficial for me to be aware to press and help my team-mates,” Suarez told Sport.

“[Luis Enrique] taught me a lot, even if that doesn’t seem to be the case. Obviously a lot in football terms, he was also a forward so he knew the movements to make to benefit the team.”

 “I was a player that lost the ball and gave up, waiting for the next play, but he taught me how to press after losing the ball.”

Suarez did pick up eight yellow cards in 35 La Liga appearances for the Catalan giants during the season just gone, although none were as a result of dissent – which maintains that particular record since he arrived at the club in the summer of 2014.

 

Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) were one of the more amusing real-life buddy cop comedies we’ve ever seen from NBA teammates.

On one hand you have Bryant, a cutthroat competitor on the court who couldn’t really turn it off when off the court until his final season. On the other was World Peace, who was like being defended by a grizzly bear with quicker hands on the court but more similar to a teddy bear off of it.

World Peace’s tendency to deliver quotes, anecdotes, stories and predictions with a smile was one of the things that quickly made him a fan favorite during his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, especially because he helped them knock off their hated rival, the Boston Celtics, in the NBA Finals.

In a recent feature on championship trophy presentations in Sports Illustrated, however, TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson shared a story of Bryant not wanting to let World Peace’s tendency for brash statements give the Celtics any further fuel going into that series:

In an interview last week he said that his favorite presentation was for the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers in 2010 following a Game 6 road win at Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. After the game, in which Ron Artest scored 25 points, Johnson wanted to ask the veteran small forward on the podium how he felt about playing in his first NBA Finals.

“I knew I would get Phil [Jackson] and Kobe and maybe another player, but I thought it would be cool to hear what Ron Artest had to say,” Johnson said. “So I’m standing with the Lakers outside their locker room during a commercial break, and I asked Ron if he wanted to answer some questions. But before Ron could answer, Kobe steps in and said, ‘No, you are not talking to Ron Artest.’ I said, ‘Why, Kobe?’ He said, ‘I am the leader of this team. You are talking to me.’ I looked at Phil, and he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Hey, he’s the captain.’ Kobe was not going to have Ron Artest as part of trophy presentation equation because, I guess, he didn’t want to give the Celtics any extra motivation.”

 

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has responded to the transfer speculation and tax fraud allegations surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The Portugal international capped off a stellar 12 months by winning the fourth Champions League title of his career this month, scoring twice in the final against Juventus.

Late last week, reports emerged claiming the superstar wants to leave the world’s biggest club, as he was frustrated by the Spanish authorities’ investigation on his tax records.

The days since have been dominated by transfer rumours featuring Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, LA Galaxy and more, while Perez has remained silent.

On Monday evening,Perez told Spanish radio station El Transistor:

 “All this is very strange. Cristiano is a good guy – I have to talk to him and see what happens.

“It has affected me how the media treated Cristiano; the presumption of innocence was not respected. Everyone must comply with their tax obligations and I know that Cristiano always wants to meet his.

“I am sure that Cristiano complies with his tax duties, it must be a confusion that will be cleared. Cristiano has the same corporate structure which he had in England, where spent many years without a problem.

“I will always defend Cristiano as a footballer and as a person. He is a good person, very supportive.

“The sheikh of PSG is friend of mine and has not called me, I have not spoken with him or with anyone. We’ve not received any offer for Cristiano.

“I have a good relationship and a good friendship with Cristiano Ronaldo and I want to talk to him.”

 

 

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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 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.

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”.

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.

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.

 

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.”

Wilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.