Talent, Discipline and Hard work: An Interview With Arnold Origi

He is from one of Kenya’s greatest football families. His massive talent has catapulted him to the top of the country’s goalkeeper charts. The Lillestrom netminder continues to scale greater heights and he says, he just got started.

His name is common music to Kenyan ears, thanks to his unmatched talent and skill. He takes honours for being one of the nation’s most disciplined footballers, both on and off the pitch. While he continues to rise, he has not escaped controversy. On several occasions, he has been criticized for declining to play for his country. The last time he was in goal for Kenya, Harambee Stars conceded a late controversial goal, that led to chaos at the Nyayo National stadium.

While he is not pulling stunning save on the pitch, he is watching another of his family members, fast-rising cousin, Divock Origi whose name continues to hit headlines in England. Kenyanstar had an exclusive sit down with Arnold Origi and here is his story.

KS: Kindly tell us about your football journey from Kenya to Norway…

Well my journey started coincidentally in 1995 in Dandora while playing for Young Mighties in the Dandora MYSA Championships. I say coincidentally because I had been playing as a striker for our team then. We were waiting for our game to start and I decided to play in goal in a game called ‘royal rumble’. I guess that my agemates who were born in Eastlands know this game. I played well in goal and it happened to be the day that our goalkeeper wouldn't show up for the game because he was grounded by his parents due to poor results during his end of term exams. My teammates seeing how well I did in goal in the royal rumble game forced me to play again in goal during our MYSA championship game.

I played well in the game and it happened that MYSA scouts looking out for players for the selection of the Mathare United U-12 Norway Cup team were there watching. I was later invited for the trials. All went well and I made the trip to Norway and that's how it all started. Later on I played for Ngara youth Pelico in what was then called Division 1. I later joined Pumwani Sportive in the then Super 2 League. It was there that I was spotted  by the then Mathare United coach Gabriel "kingi" Njoroge who was also my coach at the Norway cup team. He asked me to go and train with them. I obliged and again all went well and I signed my first professional contract in 2001. 

However, competition was stiff as the goalkeepers ahead of me were Duncan Ochieng, Enos Karani and Alex Mwangi. There was little chance for me to play and so in 2002 I was sent to play for the Mathare Youth side in the second division. I played there for a season and did very well and my performances earned me a call up to the national U-23 side and also got me back to the mathare senior team this time with Francis Kimanzi as the head coach in 2003. 

I became the second choice keeper, an understudy to Duncan Ochieng. I would make my debut against Gor Mahia at the City Stadium. Everything went well and from there on I became the first choice keeper.

The good run continued and this earned me my first senior national team call up under Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee. Unfortunately, I would later be dropped after Ghost was fired and Twahir Muhidin hired. Muhiddin didn't do so well and after a poor result in Morocco, he got fired too and Mohammed Kheri was appointed the new coach. Kheri recalled me and went on to give me my first international cap in a friendly at Kasarani in 2005, against Ghana.

The Ghana match went well and it was from there that my run as the number one goalie for the national team, something which has given me so much, started. My good run in the national team and Mathare United earned me a 2-month stint in Sweden with Bodens Bk, in the Swedish Nationwide League, before coming back to Kenya where I  played for Tusker for a year in the 2006 season. I later joined Moss FK  in the Norwegian nationwide league in 2007 and I played there for 5 years before moving to another Nationwide league Ull Kisa. I stayed in Kisa for a year before joining Lillestrom in 2013 where I am playing to date.

KS: You are probably the number 1 goalkeeper in Kenya. What is it that has kept you there for this long?

(Laughs) I  am not the number one at the moment because in the past few games I haven't been called up. But I thank God that I had quite a long and consistent run as the number one. What kept me there was plain and simple hard work. I knew and was aware of the responsibility that one has as a national team player and I also had an ambition that I was going to set a standard or rather the bar if you like as high as possible. The only way I could do that is through hard work. Sometimes the goalkeeping coaches who were there when I was there thought that I was crazy. At times it was difficult for them to keep up because almost at all times especially when we had our camps at Kasarani or somewhere where transport wasn't an issue, we were the first to go to the pitch and the last to leave.

I however, have to say that Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Kheri - the coach who gave me my debut- inspired me as well. Mahmoud Abbas achieved a lot with the national team and he rightfully got the title ‘Kenya One.’ I wanted the same title and this kept me going and working. I would have loved to play with the national team at major tournaments - The Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup-  not once, not twice but consistently and  win at least one Continental Cup. As it stands today, Mahmoud Abbas remains the one and only Kenya one. As for Mohammed Kheri,  after the Ghana game I remember him speaking to the press and when he was asked what he thought of me and my performance in that game, he said, “Kenya has found a goalkeeper for the next 20 years.  This really inspired me and I can also say his(Kheri) words are  what kept me going with the national team. I wanted to see this prediction come true

KS: Tactically, what does it take to be a great goalkeeper?

To be a top goalkeeper you need to understand the game. You need to think as an outfield player. Top keepers do not stay in goal but they play in goal and the only way you can play in goal is by understanding the game. This will help you read the game better which will eventually help you make good decisions in positioning yourself; knowing for example when to come out of goal in case of a long ball behind the defense or a cross. In return, this will minimize your mistakes. A top goalkeeper is the one who commits the least mistakes in the course of the season.  

KS: You suffered a nasty injury in 2008 against Zimbabwe. Dennis Oliech -Kenya’s top striker then- came in to replace you. Kindly take us through this moment.

Yeah,  the injury in 2008. This injury has a huge impact in my career. It somewhat halted my progress because I was at my peak for both the national team and my club Moss. Besides that though, the injury also made me stronger as person and an athlete.

I was just on the back of a very good season in 2007 with my club Moss and was looking forward to building on it in 2008, and top clubs in Norway were already showing interest. My performances with the national especially in the build up towards that match were also putting in a good case for me in my quest to make a step to another level in my career. The injury did not happen in that game but it's something that had been building up for a long period.

It all started in the winter while training with Moss in the preseason. I developed a stress fracture on my knee cap something which at the time I suffered the injury wasn't serious and 3 weeks with easy alternative training in the gym would have been okay. I was however, young some would say and stupid, but I rather choose to say ambitious. I wanted to go to the top and nothing would stop me, not even the small pain on the knee. The fracture developed and I remember the day before the game in training the pain was almost unbearable and I was limping heavily. The assistant coach then Yusuf Chippo saw that I was limping and came to me and asked if I was fine because I looked like I was in a lot of pain. 

I confirmed to him that  I had some pain in my knee but it was nothing to worry about. I promised to play. We had beaten Guinea two weeks before and a win against Zimbabwe at home would send us top of the table with 6 points. I remember the vibe was good both in camp and outside the camp. The whole country was buzzing and there was an air of expectation. I wanted to be part of this great moment that was about to happen so I wasn't throwing in the towel. 

The game itself was amazing. We were good and I remember Mariga opening the score and Nyayo almost collapsed. The atmosphere was electric with ‘spider man’ up in the floodlights doing his thing. I also remember Dennis Oliech running rings around the Zimbabwe defense and we had a good connection in that game. We had worked on counter attacks the day before the game where he made runs behind the defense and I tried to find him with a deep drop kick behind the defense. It was working very well especially in the second half and he was having the game of his life. He scored the second goal half way into the second half and  the atmosphere at Nyayo stadium was out of this world. The crowd started chanting his name together with that of Raila Odinga and Barack Obama. ‘Oliech Odinga Obama’ were the chants.  Zimbabwe started pushing for an equalizer and started to press us really hard and it is during this period that I produced three good saves and all over sudden I was in the chant. ‘Oliech Odinga, Origi, Obama.’

I was feeling good and unstoppable. I wanted Zimbabwe to shoot because  I felt I could stop anything they threw my way even if we played the whole day. Then came the moment. I think we had 3 to 5 minutes remaining. A simple corner kick was floated and I thought I would calmly go out for it and lie down to run the the clock down a bit. 

Unfortunately my studs got stuck in the grass and I slightly twisted my knee and there it was- a career and life changing injury happened. I remember looking at my knee and not liking what I saw. I immediately knew something was wrong. I remember Dennis Oliech asking for my gloves. I was worried because I couldn't imagine Dennis playing in goal.  We had already made all our substitutions  which meant we were to play with ten men. Things didn't look good, but luckily the only thing he (Dennis Oliech)  had to do on his debut as the goalkeeper for the national team was take a goal kick. (Laughs heartily) 

On a couple of occasions you have sent into Kenya different sporting gear to mostly young goalkeepers. Why do you do this, and why is it important for a footballer to give back?

KS: On a couple of occasions you have sent into Kenya different sporting gear to mostly young goalkeepers. Why do you do this, and why is it important for a footballer to give back?

Yeah I do this because first  of all my dream is that Kenya becomes one of the top if not the top goalkeeper producing country in Africa. My dream also is  to have a generation of goalkeepers in the national team where all of them are plying their trade in Europe. I believe if I get the time to train with a few kids this can be achieved. As a result of the time I have spent playing in Europe, I am convinced that I know what it takes for a goalkeeper to play in Europe. However, this needs time  and at the moment I do not have that apart from a few weeks or days when I am on holiday back at home or with the national team which is not enough. 

So the only thing I can do for now is to encourage them and this is what's my intention with these equipment.  Besides that,  for a  long time goalkeepers haven't had someone who they could look to and come to whenever they needed playing equipment. Outfield players have had so many outfield players; Mariga, Oliech, Robert Mambo, Victor Wanyama, Ayub Masika, Johanna Omolo and many others.  For goalkeepers I feel it is my responsibility to take care of them. I might not be able to help all of them but the two or three I can help, I will do so wholly because I know how much it means to them and the boost it can give to their young growing careers. It's Important for a footballer to give back whenever they can because these young kids really look up to us. We are their role models and giving them something is a symbol that you have recognized their talent and you think they are good enough, otherwise you wouldn't have given them the football shoes or gloves. The kids know this as well and I am 100% sure that this acts as a massive encouragement to them.

KS: You have had several run-ins with the previous administration, including Sam Nyamweya and Robert Asembo. They accused you of sabotage. How do you describe your relationship with Sam’s regime?

I wouldn't really want to start any confrontation with Mr. Nyamweya in the press. His tenure as the president of the Kenya FA is over and I know he is a proud father and grandfather. I think I saw somewhere in the social media that he was enjoying  life and especially as a grandfather. I saw his picture with his grandchild and he looked really happy. So I choose to respect that and not start any confrontation with him in the media.

KS:There is a new regime. In your opinion - Have things changed?

I honestly really don't know how things are or how they are doing because  I haven't been in Kenyan football long enough after they took office to make any sober judgement on what they have done. I was there early when they took office during the Guinea-Bissau game and I can honestly say that there was a huge change then as far as the organization around the national team was concerned. I don't know if that standard is still the same today because I haven't been in the team after that. If it is still as good,  then well done but as I said before I haven't been around long enough in their tenure to make any sober judgment.

KS: You previously have declined to come play for Harambee Stars due to a couple of reasons. Why was it so?

(Laughs) I think it's quite funny and interesting that it has always been stated that I declined or dishonored the call ups. Well, just to make it clear there is no single time I have ever declined or dishonored a callup to come play for the national team. The number of times that I never showed up for games was simply because  the release letters asking for me to be released came very late. I have been a very important member of the teams that I played for here and the clubs that I played for or even play for now weren't so keen on letting me go because of fear that I might come back injured. I also have to say that the respect the clubs over here have for our country as a football nation isn't that big. So anything that would give or would have given them any reason to deny me legally a chance  over and play for the national team they would have used it and used it brutally. I could have created problems and forced my way to come and play for the national team, but as footballer player you also have to be professional and respect your employer. The number of times that the letters came on time there wasn't any problem and I always came and did my duty to the best of my ability.

KS: In 2016, after Guinea-Bissau scored a controversial goal late into the match at Nyayo, you confronted the match officials in a not-so friendly manner, in protestation of the goal. Violence erupted. Robert Asembo later said that you should bear the blame for the violence.What do you say about your actions in that match. Do you feel guilty?

No, I  do not feel guilty even for a second. Football is a game full of emotions and allover the world we always see referees decisions being aggressively protested by players when they think it's a wrong decision and they do not agree with it. You don't see supporters creating havoc and disrupting the match. They (players) contest decisions, get booked like I did if the referee thinks that the protests are too much and unwarranted and the match goes on. You do not see what happened in Nyayo happening. It was an important match for us and up to date I am still convinced that the ball didn't cross the line. I protested and  got booked but to be honest I don't think that was the reason for the violence.

KS: We haven't seen you part of the national team recently? Have you quit international football? 

The sole reason why I haven't been in the national team is because I haven't been selected. However, I don't complain or mind because I see the man manning the posts at the moment is a very good goalie. I am a huge fan and good friend of Boniface Oluoch.  I think he is a top goalie and has been doing well in the games that he has been playing for the national team and fully deserves his position as the number one goalie for Kenya. I would have been disappointed if the person playing in goal currently wasn't good enough.

KS: Last year, you had a training ground bust up with Basel Zakari and you were suspended. How was it so yet you are known to be quote disciplined?

Whatever happened between Basel and I is something that happens in almost every training pitch in the whole world. In my opinion i think it's only positive. As long as the players don't end up hurting each other and they can leave whatever happened on the training pitch, shake hands and move on then as a coach I would be happy because  it just shows that I have players that care and that I can easily trust them to do the job that I want them to do. Basel is a winner and I am a winner. We had a different opinion on how things should be done or need to be done. We shook hands after training and up to now even though he has left Lillestrom we respect each other and are friends.

KS: A number of former Harambee Stars players have accused ‘Kenyan internationals’ of ‘not reporting and speaking out’ when bad things like alcoholism and sex were occurring in the national team camps. Do you feel you are a victim of these claims?

I personally have never seen any issues of alcoholism or sex while in camp in a way that was abnormal. I have seen players enjoying themselves after we have played games mostly away but why should I get involved or why should anybody get involved in a person's business when he came and did his job. I don't think anyone has the right to get involved or meddle in a grown man's business after he's done his job. I have never seen these cases before the game. I heard about the same before the game against Zambia which I must admit was very unfortunate and disappointing but I never saw it.

KS: You have reportedly had offers from Monaco. Is this true? Also have you received an offers from elsewhere?

(Laughs) Do not believe everything you read in the press. 

I however, still believe that I have 7 or 8 years left in my career. I see Buffon playing at the very highest level at the age of 39 and he is still going strong and doesn't look like stopping anytime soon. Mark Schwarzer played in  Champions League for Chelsea and the Premier League for Leicester at the age of 39. El Hadary the legendary Egyptian goalie just recently played the Africa Cup of Nations past his 40s. So I still believe I have a number of years. It's just a matter of taking good care of yourself and your body and living a disciplined life.

KS: Liverpool Echo quoted you saying, “Divock has everything you need to be a top striker. He can be the best. The only hindrance to him becoming the best is in himself..” What is your opinion so far on Divock playing at the top level?

I said that about Divock and not because he is from my family but because I really mean it and he has shown that  quite a number of times. For instance  at the World Cup. He went and showed quality at the very highest level in football. Then he went to Liverpool and before his ankle injury in the game against Everton, he was really putting in some top performances game after game. You cannot fluke top performances at that level game after game. You really must be quality to perform at that level. He had a dip in form recently but this is normal with a player of his age. It comes a point where you need or have to find yourself and identity yourself as to what kind of player you want to be or are. It's part of development process that a young player has to go through. He is giving Liverpool a different kind of dimension in their play, which I think will help them solve the problem that they have when facing the so called "smaller teams". He is the kind of striker who  will make tireless runs behind defenders, something which is a nightmare to many defenders and even though he might not get the ball he creates room in dangerous positions for the creative Liverpool midfielders like Coutinho, Mane and  Lallana. This is what this players need and have been lacking whenever playing against the smaller teams who look to stay compact and deny these the players the space. Plus he's had 3 assists in the last three games that he's played. He is working hard, he is humble and it's only a matter of time before he starts finding the back of the net again.

KS: How does it feel being part of a great football family? Any pressure?

(Laughs heartily) No. No pressure at all. If anything it helps you stay focused and grounded. If you have a father that has captained both his club and the national team, and has the title as the only captain to ever lift a continental trophy in the country and then an uncle that was the first Kenyan to play professional football in Europe and the first Kenyan to play Continental football in Europe, you have no choice but to be humble. What else can you bring to the table as achievements on the football pitch that these guys haven't achieved? No you just have to stay humble and keep on working and hope that you can be able to achieve something that's worth mentioning at the family dinner table. So no I have no pressure. Just thanking God that He has blessed me with people who have laid a difficult challenging path that I have to follow and try and maintain.

KS: Thanks for your time Arnold. All the best ahead!

Arnold Origi was previously Interviewed on Kenyanstar in 2011 as a Kenyanstar of the week. 

A first half penalty converted by midfielder Daniel Waweru enabled Ulinzi Stars to a 1-0 win over Chemelil Sugar on Tuesday August 22, 2017 at the Afraha Stadium.

Waweru converted the penalty midway throught the first half following Yusuf Juma's handball inside the box to take the Soldiers ahead. The Millers almost found themselves further behind minutes later but custodian Jairus Adira came to their rescue by blocking Cliff Kasuti's effort.

In the second half, Ulinzi coach Benjamin Nyangweso opted to bring in league top scorer Stephen Waruru who had been benched in search of another goal but the latter could not manage a goal for himself in his team's 21st game of the season.

The match ended 1-0 in favour of Ulinzi Stars and the result is a huge boost to the Soldiers in their quest for the title especially after a three-match losing streak. On Chemelil's end, the loss is painful as an opposite result would have seen them rise to the top ten places in the league table.

Ulinzi Stars Starting XI: James Saruni, Oliver Ruto, Geofrey Kokoyo, Omar Mbongi, Boniface Onyango, Cliff Kasuti, Churchil Muloma, Enosh Ochieng, Daniel Waweru, Samwel Onyango,

Subs: Jacktone Ochieng, Michael Otieno, Abdalla Hamisi, Onwonga Justine, Stephen Waruru.

Chemelil Sugar Starting XI: Jarius Adira, Smith Ouko, Juma Yussuf, Omino James, Oketch Benjamin, Omondi Clifford, Arita Moses, Otieno Apollo, Muchuma Philip, Odenyi Faraj, Neto Collins.

Subs: Aimo Richard, Odhiambo Kennedy, Wawu John, Siwa Saphan , Erastus Mwaniki, Adebayo Mustapha, Moses Osure

 

Round of 21 of the Kenyan Premier League is scheduled to be played from 22nd-24th August, with all teams being involved in venues across the country.

On Tuesday, there will be only one match as Chemelil Sugar travel to the Afraha Stadium to face 6th placed Ulinzi Stars.

Wednesday will then see seven matches played, with an early kick off pitting 2nd placed Sofapaka against Nzoia Sugar from 14:00 at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani. The match will then pave way for another clash at the same venue between league leaders Gor Mahia and Posta Rangers. 

The last match of week 21 will be on Thursday 24th August at the Nyayo Stadium where AFC Leopards will entertain defending champions Tusker FC from 16:00.

Wednesday 23rd August

Sofapaka vs Nzoia United (Kasarani)

Gor Mahia vs Posta Rangers (Kasarani)

Kakamega Homeboyz vs Bandari FC (Mumias Sports Complex)

Kariobangi Sharks vs Western Stima (Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos)

Mathare United vs Nakumatt FC (Ruaraka Grounds)

Muhoroni Youth vs Thika United (Muhoroni Grounds)

SoNy Sugar vs Zoo Kericho (Awendo Green Stadium)

 

Thursday 24th August

AFC Leopards vs Tusker FC (Nyayo Stadium)

 

 

Ticketing Information for the match pitting AFC Leopards against defending champions Tusker FC on Thursday 24th August at the Nyayo Stadium has been revealed.

Tickets for the match will retail at an all-round price of Kshs. 200 and will be on sale on matchday outside the stadium.

Tusker FC bagged maximum points in their first leg encounter thanks to a 1-0 win back in May 2017.

 

 

The match pitting AFC Leoprds and defending champions Tusker FC has been moved from the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani to the Nyayo Stadium. The match will be played on Thursday 24 August from 16:00.

The change in venue has been caused by the unavailability of Kasarani Stadium as revealed by the home team, which is AFC Leopards.

Tusker FC bagged maximum points in their first leg encounter thanks to a 1-0 win back in May 2017.

 

The Total 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is set to be held in Kenya in January 2017 has started taking shape, with 15 countries already having beaten competition to qualify for next year's tournament. The tournament will commence on 11th of January and will be concluded on the 2nd of February, 2018.

There is only one spot remaining and will be decided on Tuesday 22 August when Senegal takes on Guinea in Conakry. Senegal already boasts of a 3-1 lead from the first leg that was played in Dakar.

Below is a list of all qualified countries.

The qualified teams. 

1.Kenya : They qualified as the tournament hosts.

2. Burkina Faso :

They edged Ghana 4-3 on aggregate after drawing 2-2 in Ouagadougou and beating them in Kumasi 2-1.

3. Uganda: 

They qualified after overcoming Rwanda 3-2 on aggregate, the first leg in Kampala ended 3-0 and Rwanda winning the return leg 2-0 in Kigali. This will be Uganda’s fourth successive tournament after missing out on only the inaugural edition that was hosted in the Ivory Coast.

4. Namibia: 

They beat Comoros 2-0 at the Sam Nijuoma stadium to edge the tie 3-2 on aggregate after falling to a 2-1 defeat in Moroni.

5. Mauritania :

They shocked last editions’ finalists Mali 3-2 on aggregate.

6. Sudan: 

The falcons of Jedaine qualified after defeating Ethiopia 2-1 on aggregate with a close 1-0 victory in Obaid following a 1-1 stale in Addis Ababa.

7. Ivory Coast :

They overcame Niger on away goals rule following a 1-0 win in Abidjan. Niger had won the 1st leg 2-1 in Niemy. Aggregate score 2-2.

8. Angola :

The Palancas Negras saw off Madagascar with a 1-0 aggregate following a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg of the tie.

9. Nigeria :

The Super eagles edged Benin 2-1 on aggregate after falling to a 1-0 loss in Benin. They fought back to win the tie 2-0 at the Sani Abaca Stadium.

10. Congo :

The most successful nation of the competition were ousted by their close neighbors Congo Brazaville. They were undone by the failure to score away as the closely contested tie at the Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecote in Kinshasa ended 1-1. The first leg in Brazaville had ended 0-0.

11. Cameroon :

The AFCON Champions booked their spot following a 2-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe, they had earlier beaten them 2-0 away, thus going through 4-0 on aggregate.

12. Zambia :

They edged South Africa 4-2 aggregate following a 2-0 win in Ndola at the Levi Mwanawasa Stadium. The first leg tie had earlier ended 2-2 in East London.

13. Morocco: 

They booked their ticket to the championships following a 4-2 aggregate over Egypt in the North zone. The 1st leg ended in a 1-1 all stalemate but Morocco edged their rivals 3-1 in the second leg.

14. Libya :

Libya progressed following a 3-2 aggregate win over Algeria. A 1-1 draw in Sfax combined with a 2-1 win in the first leg in Constantine to see Libya qualify at the expense of their North African rivals.

15. Equatorial Guinea

They were the first nation to qualify for the 2018 edition after their opponents for the final qualifying tie Gabon withdrew from the competition on February 13th 2018.

16. Senegal/ Guinea 

The lions of Terranga will play against Guinea on Tuesday 22 August in Conakry to see out who takes the final spot. Senegal comes into the return leg with 3-1 lead having edged Guinea in Dakar.

 

Four Ulinzi Stars players who were among local-based players summoned by Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi for the upcoming friendlies have withdrawn from the squad. This is due to the upcoming 11th edition of the East Africa Military games which are set to be held in Bujumbura, Burundi from 24 August to 6 September, 2017. The four are Stephen Waruru, Samuel Onyango, Mohammed Hassan and Omar Mbongi.

In a letter to the  Football Kenya Federation (FKF), Ulinzi Officer in Charge G. B Wanjala excused the said players so that they can be available for the Millitary Games. 

“Please note that we had earlier indicated that Ulinzi will represent Kenya in the 11th edition of the East Africa Military Games and Cultural events to be held in Bujumbura, Burundi. Ulinzi will be departing to Bujumbura, Burundi on 24 Aug 17,'' part of the letter read.

“Cognizant to the above, Ulinzi Stars FC players selected for the national team will not be able to report to camp for they will be preparing for the above mentioned duties. Kindly note that, Ulinzi Stars FC is at the forefront in supporting the national team when available and when not engaged in any other national duty tasks,” the letter further read.

Re-inforcement

Okumbi has however called up eleven more players as he seeks to beef up the squad. Among those summoned are unsettled Gor Mahia midfielder Kenneth Muguna and AFC Leopards duo of  Marcelus Ingotsi and Gabriel Andika.

Added Players:

Goalkeepers: Peter Odhiambo (Gor Mahia),  Farouk Shikhalo (Posta Rangers), Gabriel Andika (AFC Leopards)

Defenders: Robinson Kamura, Wesley Onguso (Sofapaka), Pascal Ogweno (Kariobangi Sharks), Joackins Atudo (Posta Rangers), Dennis Shikayi ( AFC Leopards)

Midfielders:  Kenneth Muguna (Gor Mahia),  Peter Nganga (Nakuru AllStars), Patillah Omoto (Kariobangi Sharks),  Marcelus Ingotsi ( AFC Leopards)

Read Also: Marcelo Missing As Okumbi Names Foreign-Based Players For Friendlies

 

Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi has named 15 foreign-based players that will be joining Stars' camp ion readiness for the upcoming friendly games.

Missing in the list is former Gor Mahia left-back Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma who currently plies his trade in Georgia. Okumbi has however recalled Lillestroem goalkeeper Arnold Origi whose last match for the national team was in March 2016 against Guinea Bissau in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.

Also making the cut is  Zesco United trio of  Anthony Akumu, Jesse Were and David Owino together with Cliff Miheso and John Makwatta who play for Buildcon FC in Zambia.

The team will be led by captain Victor Wanyama.

 SQUAD

David Ochieng’ (New York Cosmos, USA), Abud Omar (Slavia Sofia, Bulgaria), Anthony Akumu, Jesse Were and David Owino (Zesco United, Zambia), Cliff Miheso and John Makwatta (Buildcon FC, Zambia), Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium), Michael Olunga (Guizhou Zhicheng, China), Eric Johanna (Vasalund IF, Sweden), Jonah Ayunga (Galway United, Ireland), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Victor Wanyama (Tottenham HotSpur, England) and Arnold Origi (Lillestroem SK, Norway).

Read Also: Black berry, Mbongi Back As Okumbi Calls 19 Players For Mozambique Friendly

 

The Kenya Rugby Referee Society will host a High Performance course in Mombasa ahead of next month’s Driftwood Sevens. This course, which runs from 31st August to 1st September will be facilitated by South African match official and World Rugby High Performance consultant Rasta Rasivhenge.

Referee Rasta Rasivhenge speaks to Jaques Potgieter of the Blue Bulls during the Absa Currie Cup match between Blue Bulls and Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on 22 September 2012©/BackpagePix

This course will be attended by 14 High Performance match officials and 10 match official coaches.

KRRS Secretary Alfred Okwemba said, “The purpose of the course is to instill consistency in officiating calls.  We will then use the Driftwood Sevens as a platform to see the match officials in action.“

 

The Total 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is set to be held in Kenya in January 2017 has started taking shape, with 15 countries already having beaten competition to qualify for next year's tournament. The tournament will commence on 11th of January and will be concluded on the 2nd of February, 2018.

There is only one spot remaining and will be decided on Tuesday 22 August when Senegal takes on Guinea in Conakry. Senegal already boasts of a 3-1 lead from the first leg that was played in Dakar.

Below is a list of all qualified countries.

The qualified teams. 

1.Kenya : They qualified as the tournament hosts.

2. Burkina Faso :

They edged Ghana 4-3 on aggregate after drawing 2-2 in Ouagadougou and beating them in Kumasi 2-1.

3. Uganda: 

They qualified after overcoming Rwanda 3-2 on aggregate, the first leg in Kampala ended 3-0 and Rwanda winning the return leg 2-0 in Kigali. This will be Uganda’s fourth successive tournament after missing out on only the inaugural edition that was hosted in the Ivory Coast.

4. Namibia: 

They beat Comoros 2-0 at the Sam Nijuoma stadium to edge the tie 3-2 on aggregate after falling to a 2-1 defeat in Moroni.

5. Mauritania :

They shocked last editions’ finalists Mali 3-2 on aggregate.

6. Sudan: 

The falcons of Jedaine qualified after defeating Ethiopia 2-1 on aggregate with a close 1-0 victory in Obaid following a 1-1 stale in Addis Ababa.

7. Ivory Coast :

They overcame Niger on away goals rule following a 1-0 win in Abidjan. Niger had won the 1st leg 2-1 in Niemy. Aggregate score 2-2.

8. Angola :

The Palancas Negras saw off Madagascar with a 1-0 aggregate following a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg of the tie.

9. Nigeria :

The Super eagles edged Benin 2-1 on aggregate after falling to a 1-0 loss in Benin. They fought back to win the tie 2-0 at the Sani Abaca Stadium.

10. Congo :

The most successful nation of the competition were ousted by their close neighbors Congo Brazaville. They were undone by the failure to score away as the closely contested tie at the Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecote in Kinshasa ended 1-1. The first leg in Brazaville had ended 0-0.

11. Cameroon :

The AFCON Champions booked their spot following a 2-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe, they had earlier beaten them 2-0 away, thus going through 4-0 on aggregate.

12. Zambia :

They edged South Africa 4-2 aggregate following a 2-0 win in Ndola at the Levi Mwanawasa Stadium. The first leg tie had earlier ended 2-2 in East London.

13. Morocco: 

They booked their ticket to the championships following a 4-2 aggregate over Egypt in the North zone. The 1st leg ended in a 1-1 all stalemate but Morocco edged their rivals 3-1 in the second leg.

14. Libya :

Libya progressed following a 3-2 aggregate win over Algeria. A 1-1 draw in Sfax combined with a 2-1 win in the first leg in Constantine to see Libya qualify at the expense of their North African rivals.

15. Equatorial Guinea

They were the first nation to qualify for the 2018 edition after their opponents for the final qualifying tie Gabon withdrew from the competition on February 13th 2018.

16. Senegal/ Guinea 

The lions of Terranga will play against Guinea on Tuesday 22 August in Conakry to see out who takes the final spot. Senegal comes into the return leg with 3-1 lead having edged Guinea in Dakar.

 

Arsenal have offered Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a new four-year deal worth £125,000-a-week to fend off interest from Chelsea. He is understood to be tempted by the prospect of a move to Stamford Bridge and was unimpressed with Arsenal’s initial offer of less than £100,000 a week. But the Gunners are believed to be optimistic the 24-year-old will now accept the improved terms and sign up.

Diego Costa has turned down a lucrative loan move to China, according to the Sun. Shanghai SIPG offered Costa a £3 million fee to agree to sign for them until November – and a £10m bonus if they won the Chinese Super League. They also would have paid the wages he received from Chelsea, along with a £100,000-a-week top-up – which would have taken his wages to £285k-a-week. However, Costa was adamant that he did not want to play in China with the Spain international having his heart set on a return to Atletico Madrid.

Neymar comments on his Barcelona exit: “When I arrived, everything started well but then... at Barcelona, there are directors that shouldn’t be there. I’m very sad with them. I had four very happy years there, but Barca deserve much better. I have a lot of friends there, I hope things get better for Barca and that they go back to being a team that can compete.”

The truth is that with 10 minutes left on the clock, Swansea City were still in this game and then Jose Mourinho’s team went in for the kill in a way that Manchester United sides seemed to have forgotten how to do in the era that has followed Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

 

They ransacked the home team with three goals in the space of four minutes, three perfect raids, that were built from direct football or rapid turnovers of possession and which were led by the big figures in this team, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, who have five goals between them already this season. Two games in, two wins and United have scored eight without reply.

Pogba played on the edge for much of the game after a first-half booking, but as we have come to see with this player, he never hides from the action and eventually his reward came. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s second assist of the afternoon opened the way for Pogba who, for all his rampaging, applied a delicate finish to beat Lukasz Fabianski for his second goal of the new season, United’s third, before substitute Anthony Martial added a fourth.

For Swansea, in their first game without Gylfi Sigurdsson, this was a chastening finale although there were times when it looked like they might have been able to put some pressure on United after Eric Bailly scored with a late first-half goal. 

The United defender had already put one clearance on the roof of the main stand before he was the one who reacted the quickest in the area when Fabianski made a fabulous save and Bailly stamped the ball over the line.

The home team had been warned, with more than one chance for United to turn their domination of possession into a goal. Phil Jones had headed against the bar from a corner and Marcus Rashford had torn through the Swansea defence, only to poke a lame shot straight at Fabianski. 

Just when it looked like Clement’s team would make it to half-time, the breakthrough arrived.

Pogba’s power and physique, not to mention an occasionally twinkling touch on the ball, allow him to get involved in just about everything in the middle of the pitch. Nevertheless, he did mistime a tackle on Tom Carroll in the first half and the booking was on everyone’s mind when he was late into a challenge on Martin Olsson. Jon Moss let that one slide and it was Pogba’s header that, saved by Fabianski, was put in by Bailly.

 

It had been his cross that won the original corner taken by Juan Mata, and it felt like the Frenchman was everywhere in this game. Even so, Carroll got on the ball when he could and there were a couple of moments for Swansea. Jordan Ayew got a ricochet off a Bailly clearance that set him free down the left channel where his imaginative shot with the outside of his right foot caught out David de Gea and grazed the bar.

Tammy Abraham was up against Bailly and Jones and that took some getting used to at first, but when his touch settled down the Chelsea striker, on loan at Swansea, had a couple of decent moments. He is four weeks older than Rashford whose career has progressed further and he demonstrated in the first half his slickness of touch. if not his finishing.

 

Rashford faded after the break and when Mourinho came to make his changes with 15 minutes to go, United had at times been on the back foot. Clement had earlier switched from a three-man defence to a 4-3-3 formation and tried to put some pressure on Daley Blind at left-back, United’s weakest link in the back four. Mourinho responded by bringing Marouane Fellani into the midfield at the expense of Mata and his team took their chances when they arrived; Lukaku, Pogba and then Martial turning a victory into a rout.

 

Manchester United and Swansea have released their starting lineups for their clash on Saturday August 19th at the Liberty Stadium from 14:30.

United are seeking their second win in two games after recording a 4-0 victory over West Ham in their opening fixture. Swansea on their side are eyeing their first win after settling for a 0-0 draw with Southampton a fortnight ago.

Below are the full team lineups:

Manchester United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku.

Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial.

Swansea XI: Fabianski; Naughton, Federico Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Fer, Bartley, Carroll, Mesa, Ayew, Abraham.

Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

 

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.

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."

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)

 

 

 

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.”

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