Friday, 21 September 2012

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia - Kenya's Biggest Football Derby '12 Second Edition

KPL and football pundits are rubbing their hands with glee as the biggest football derby in the country comes to fruition this weekend at the newly refurbished Kasarani grounds ( MISC if you like). A couple of weeks ago, it looked like AFC Leopards had all but sealed the top spot going into the 2nd and final leg of the 2012 season of Kenya's premier football league. But the last couple of games have ended in draws and a more recent loss to Western Stima in Nakuru reduced the gap between the top 3 teams by 2-points ( NB: reigning champions Tusker FC lead by virtue of a better goal advantage but are equal in points with AFC at 45 points).
On the other hand, Gor Mahia have been on the rise after brushing aside on their worst starts to the league earlier this year. They had to change the management and are currently under Croat Zdravko Logarusic who has steered the ship back into title contention with an unbeaten run 19-games, they look every bit as champions already. Marshalling one of the biggest fan base (and most emotive too), the club shall hope to maintain this streak come Saturday.
It must be the gods blessings that the current season sees both teams in contention for the title and as such making it a mouth-watering game whichever way you look at it. And with 8 games left, the title race is still any club's taking. This should be the motivation for both teams who's touch on the top prize in the last 3 years has been close yet so far.

Interesting Facts:

  • Both AFC Leopards & Gor Mahia have won the Premiership title 12 times each;
  • Both teams are currently coached by foreigners Dutchman Jan Koops (AFC Leopards) and Croat-born Z. Logarusic;
  • Gor Mahia finished 4th and AFC Leopards 5th respectively in the 2011 season;
  • Both clubs have the largest corporate sponsorships with Gor Mahia's Brookside shirt sponsorship tipping AFC's Mumias Sugar deal;
  • Both teams were recently incorporated into a fan-base drive by one of Kenya's leading media group dubbed Toklezea na Jalee meant to encourage both clubs' fans to buy merchandise that will help build their respective kitties. 
  • Both clubs have the biggest fan-base between them, fondly referring to each other as Shemeji, thanks to the politics of the day...which are very fluid in this part of the world.
  • The 1st leg was Gor Mahia hosting AFC Leopards with the game briefly abandoned before ending in a draw - though with officials from both sides blaming each other for fan trouble. This 2nd leg is AFC's though Safari 7s necessitated the move to MISC and also change of date from Sunday to Saturday.
Saturday 1600hours is the kick-off at the Kasarani stadium ( with SuperSport 9 East screening the game live for those not brave enough to venture into the hallowed grounds) !

Safari 7s at 17 ... 3rd time over with Safaricom

For many of us the number 17 marks quite a sobering moment in one's life. Be it that you're just under an year from the age of the majority ( with a superfluous definition of youth to boot...), have cleared high school and waiting to join university or college or depending on which country you come from, have attained your driving license ( and for some your legal drinking Kenya it still is 18 years as Mututho would remind us).
Well for Kenya Rugby Union's prized possession in Safari Sevens or better #Safari7s, this will be the 17th edition of the biggest 3-day rugby tournament in East Africa. For those not particularly familiar with the shorter version of the game, it happened on the scene a little into the 1990s and Kenya was quick to adopt it and has borne fruits albeit with mixed results. Not to underestimate Kenya's contribution to the game but our very own Humphrey Kayange was part of the team that rooted for the inclusion of the 7s version to the Olympic Games sports. This shall debut in 2016 in Rio, Brazil.
Back to #Safari7s, this year the tournament will be used once again to gauge the national team's players preparedness for the 2012/13 season. It shall also mark the national team's head coach Mike Friday's first ever outing with his charges and what better way than right here at home in front of the Kenyan crowds.
And right from the selection, there is a distinction that this is not your usual style of play and every player will have to fight for his place in the national team when the IRB 7s circuit starts in October in Australia's Gold Coast.
There will be 2 other national sides from Portugal and Spain that will also be using the tournament to prepare their teams for the IRB 7s circuit. There is also the Samurais who have a number of New Zealand's All Blacks' players. This year's IRB series is slightly different in the sense that emerging countries' teams that drop from their previous ranking , there will be a relegation/promotion system. This means that every tournament and point counts. No more poor finishes, no more dropping the ball and no more excuses waiting for the future.
Against this backdrop and the fact that the national KRU 7s circuit has just come to an end and emerging talent being ingrained into the team, we should not expect anything less than the main prize. It may not be too much to ask as the team was eliminated last year in the semi-finals. These are by-gones and the new management team should get the win to get the team into its stride of an expected better performance in the 2012/13.

Mobile provider Safaricom once again are the title sponsors for the 3rd year running and its 2nd year at a stadium setting ( at Nyayo National stadium). The tournament has become one of the biggest sporting event for Kenyan sports fans and once again, the crowds are expected to mill the ground. Though security concerns have been expressed in recent spates in the country, over 500 security officers from both public and private firms have been contracted to ensure the tournament sails on well.
It shall be no less for us and shall be on the sidelines to watch and cheer our Kenyan team(s) along. We hope you do make time too in this 3rd weekend of September ( teachers' strike, lecturers' boycotts and doctors' downing their stethoscopes notwithstanding...)

For more detailed information, go to or follow their Twitter handle @safaricom7s or check the hash-tags #Safaricom7s or #Safari7s

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Conjestina Achieng - Part of the Tragedy of Kenyan Sports Heroes

A section of mainstream media yesterday showed us the deplorable state that one of Kenya's better known female boxers Conjestina Achieng is living in. Last year she was checked into a mental facility after her sister managed to get the media to highlight her plight and was released though it has been claimed she's still on the verge of ruin from substance abuse and depression.
We share our concerns and hope that Conjestina's condition improves. But of greater concern is what happens to many other former sports personalities. From former footballers to former athletes and boxers we have seen the sorry state that most of them have ended up in. Abuse of alcohol, cases of depression as well as abandonment from their handlers are some of the issues they suffer from.
In a country where social services are still very deficient especially for the middle-aged and the ageing, the Government has not helped matters too by having not much in structures to look into such issues. It's even worse for sports personalities who have to look at their respective sports federations and organisations most of which still struggle to manage daily affairs let alone the very sports people they ought to think of.
Anyone remember Kennedy Ochieng ? He was one of Kenya's best sprinters, he died of suicide after suffering from depression; Peter Dawo - top scorer in the Mandela Cup in 1987 who now ekes a living from Kenya Railways yards ( the last time we checked); Philip Waruinge - Kenya's first boxing medalist in the Olympic Games in 1968 as well as winner of the Val Baker Trophy who apparently lives with the mother in Nakuru having lost his eyesight and barely eking out anything out of life.
These are but some of the names that we can remember. There are many more who we haven't mentioned in worse states. As we pride ourselves as a sporting nation, we should remember those who brought this country the fame and glory of years gone by. We should not let history judge us harshly in that respect while we can make a better place for all.

Bwana Waziri in related news, we still await word on the proposed Sports Bill along with the tabling of reports from the All Africa Games in Maputo last year as well as Olympic Games in London. There ought to be 'spilling of blood' to make our sporting officials toe the line in future Games.