AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – KPL’s Main Highlight this weekend

Kenya’s Premier League’s started in earnest and this weekend the biggest derby in the country’s history unfolds on Sunday at 1500hours.

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia in a past gameimage courtesy of www.futaa.com

This season though, AFC Leopards are currently the fastest kids off the blocks, having won 4 out of their first 5 matches. They had some signings in the off-season which have seen them scalping every team in their wake.
Allan Wanga‘s been their starry-eyed player for the moment for AFC. He’s scored  in all except one match including a delightful free-kick against Ulinzi FC in February which saw him voted by sports journalist as the Kandanda Player of the Month ( taking home trophy & 10,000 to boot). He has ably taken off the load of scoring which had been left to Mike Barasa for the better part of last season. Along with other new signings, the team seems to be gelling faster than the rest. The good tidings for Jan ‘Wephukulu’ Koops also seem to be pouring onto the team’s fortunes as they did for the latter part of last season. Modest financial backing from sponsors as well as favourable ticket sales from match-days have seen the financials fortunes of the club stabilise in the short-term.
Gor Mahia on the other hand have not been able to secure good results which has resulted in the sacking of its entire technical bench. The team’s currently placed 14th, two places from the bottom of the table standings. With the team being bundled out of continental championship and the ‘colossal’ expectations of its huge fan-base, the players will have pride to fight for in this fixture. Their off-season signings have taken long to cobble up a formidable team but if they have the patience, they will be rewarded in good time.
Last season’s similar fixture saw Gor Mahia beat AFC by 3-1 only for the latter to reverse the results by 3-0 margin. As always the stakes are high for both teams { who’s fans affectionately call each other shemeji – (cousins) thanks to the political alignments and geographical proximity of majority of the fans }.

For you the discerning Kenyan football fan, this is surely not to be missed and if in the unlikely event you can’t make it to the Nyayo National Stadium, catch the action on SuperSport 9 East Africa !

Check out this blog which aggregates news about AFC Leopards team activities and games, pre-match and post-match analysis. As for Gor Mahia, this link might help too!

After 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, can Kenya find its place in 2013 ?

As the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations reaches its penultimate stages this weekend, Kenya will be once again ruing its chances of having not qualified for the continent’s biggest football showpiece. While much aplomb came towards the end of the qualifiers as the country faced off with its fierce neighbour Uganda, the die had already been cast and not much of a miracle was going to happen anyway.

Football Kenyaimage courtesy of  Football Kenya Limited

Well, the first Africa Cup of Nations in an odd year will be back next year hopefully landing at South Africa in less than 20 years. What gives?

a) First the top football body in Kenya finally held elections and new officials have fresh mandate and endorsement from majority of the game’s stakeholders. This goodwill ought to be exploited and trickled down to the national team.

b) With the Football Kenya Federation, indicating its willingness to work with the Harambee Stars Management Board, structures ought to be in place to ensure the team has maximum corporate support and technical support to see the team through the qualifiers.

c) Address branding and sponsorship issues as early as possible. In December 2011, a new uniform kit was launched to reflect the country’s colours and though not all of us like it, it ought to be more stable than we’ve had in the past. Full disclosure too ought to be made to avoid situations of missing kits and mismatching uniforms for international fixtures.

d) Technical bench – One major flaw that was made in the last 1 year was having a technical bench which was led by a coach who also managed a top club. Given the demands of both jobs, we could even say he gave it a good shot but well we won’t remember missed opportunities. Give the bench their contracts and ensure their pay’s on time to avoid Antoine Hey’s scenarios and such shenanigans.

e) Stadium facilities – With the biggest stadium in the country coming to completion from repairs, it’s about time the national team got used to this venue as the hunting ground for valuable home points. This venue has been a good motivator to the boys maybe its the softer ground or maybe its the 60,000 + fans that would flock it at its maximum…

f)  Club versus country – this problem cropped up during the 2011 season where some clubs felt aggrieved that the national team kept requesting for their players and some usually came back with serious injuries. Case in point is Arnold Origi – one of Kenya’s best goal-keepers who’s called it quits on the national team due such incidences. The calendar should indicate ample time for players to adjust from club to national team engagements.

g) Government engagement – Its about time the Government became a little more proactive in rallying support for national teams representing the country in any sport. Football a sport for the larger majority is the greatest unifier in this respect. We all saw the vibe it created when Kenya played its last qualification game against Uganda in Kampala last year. We can muster the same support albeit on a continuous basis. Kenyan people, its about time you elected a sports-crazed head of state….

 29th of February is a little over 2 weeks, FKF and all you who ought to make Kenyan football happen, the journey to 2013 Africa Cup of Nations starts NOW!

‘Richest’ Football Clubs– Top 5 in Kenya Premier League (UPDATED)


Midway through the season we take another look at the Kenyan football clubs and what we could say is their modest worth. This is because most of the clubs have held their books so tightly and secretively and there is such fluidity in the financial situation that the only way we have sourced this information is through media reports and respective club websites (albeit where they provide minimal details) {NB: TV revenues and advertising revenues from SuperSport NOT accounted for, along with bonuses} 1. AFC LEOPARDS – this is unexpected but this is helped in large by the club’s recent media deal with Smart TV which will ensure the club has dedicated media coverage from games to behind the scenes, to archived material through Ingwe TV. This makes it the first club in Kenya to have a dedicated channel comparable to European clubsLink. It has also launched a magazine hoping to attract advertising revenue and engage readers. There is the KShs.15 million deal with Mumias Sugar signed in February as well as the AAR health insurance deal worth KShs.1.5 million. { There is the 60 million 3-year TV deal match-day ticketing and merchandising worth about KShs.2 million} Estimated Worth: KShs.98.5 million 2. GOR MAHIA FC – this is Kenya’s most successful and talked about club. It is also has quite some history though much of the aura around it is both mythical and too hyped. Landing a huge sponsorship worth KShs. 38 million just before the start of the season, the club also has the fastest selling jerseys as well as healthy match-day attendance. On average there are between 5000-10,000 fans attending each game whichever day of the week. {From 2-year sponsorship deal; average attendance of 7500 each paying KShs.100 for 30 games; along with merchandising} Estimated Worth: KShs. 60 million 3. MATHARE UNITEDthis club has been a darling of many corporate firms and had topped our earlier List. This is in sponsorship deals worth about KShs.30 million that the club has attracted from corporate such as Kenya Data Networks (KDN), Real Insurance among others. It also has benefactors through its chairperson Bob Munro who influences not just the club but KPL as well. Estimated Worth: KShs. 52.5 million 4. SOFAPAKA FCthe season had started with much promise and the club looked headed for continental glory and the bounty that comes along with it but this ended last weekend. Having secured sponsorship from Portland Cement, the club has firmly rooted itself atop of the league and also has some following of sorts from its many fans. Estimated Worth: KShs. 36.75 million 5. THIKA UNITEDit is the largest club coming from Central Kenya and has the support of milk processing firm Brookside Milk worth around KShs. 15 million. Couple this with the merchandising and other minor sponsorship deals, the club is surely among the top earners in the country. Estimated Worth: KShs. 30.5 million We shall be reviewing this at the end of the season and see what changes shall be made. By then too the relevant financial bodies and sports marketing and business agencies will have been consulted and more conclusive figures released. The future of the Kenyan football game surely has some positive developments amidst the difficulties in administration.

Breaking News – Gor Mahia Finally lands Sponsorship

Thanks to the social media platforms and my able brother @philipogola for this. Gor Mahia has finally broken the duck since the revamped KPL and secured sponsorship for the next two seasons. Reports coming through indicate the team has secured Tuzo ( manufactured by SpinKnit Dairy -which was bought out by Brookside a few years ago). Figures reported are KShs. 38 million but we shall give you the full details as and when confirmed.  Shirt sponsorship. This is the biggest of its kind in the game and promises an interesting season.



NOTE:
SpinKnit Dairy merged Brookside Milk and completed the merger last year. Brookside sponsors another KPL side Thika United and now with this sponsorship makes them the biggest corporate investor in the sport. Analysts say the Gor sponsorship is meant to build the brand Tuzo which has been on the decline in the last few months with the glut of milk processing firms in the country.
Whatever is said, the sponsorship is hoped to build the club which has long been a sponsor’s dilemma with the largest following in the country but also some of the most passionate fans & sometimes indisciplined fans.

Brazilian EA Expo – Samba comes to town…

In March 2011, the Brazilian EA Expo comes to Nairobi with a flurry of activities mainly on the sports arena. The finals of the Kenya Youth Football League which started in January 2011 comes to an end ; there shall be coaching clinics held by 4-6 Brazilian tacticians ; a Brazilian football club shall play a Kenyan counter-part with a Samba troupe expected to grace either or two of these occasions.

Brazilian Samba Dancers – image courtesy of www.flirkr.com 

Along with this, there shall be a Brazilian art display at the KICC. This shall take place from the 26th of March 2011. Organisers of this event include BrazGroup (which has an interesting name featured, one Maina Kariuki – wonder whether it’s the former KFF Chair?), Sadili Oval – a local youth talent development centre; along with EA Brazil Limited ; the Brazilian Embassy in Kenya and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. For more details, you can check the details here.

Sofapaka qualifies for next round of Confed Cup, but should we celebrate?

Over the weekend, the Kenyan football scene was keenly following one of country’s representatives in continental challenge, Sofapaka ( of course there was the bungled AFC Leopards elections). Having played to a barren draw in the Angolan capital to Aviacao, the team had the home advantage to play with. But it took more than the regular 90 regular play for the team to be able to break the country’s jinxed continental challenge.

Sofapaka Logo – courtesy of www.sofapaka.com

But once the next opponent was confirmed, I think there will be little to celebrate. Ismaily from the Egyptian city of Ismailia. Coincidentally this is the same team they played last year in the CAF Champions League and came undone in the 2nd round losing 2-0 after holding the team to a barren draw in Nairobi.
Our local clubs performance against the North African teams has been dismal to say the least and our current representatives in the CAF Champions League Ulinzi are evidence to the gap we have to close to have any chance of playing in the next round(s) of continental Cups.
If ‘batoto ba Mungu‘ are going to sharpen their attack and hopefully make good their home advantage winning by 2-3 goals without conceding, chances are that they might get close to beating their perennial rivals. That’s when we shall celebrate their win…


In Other News:
What happened to Francis Kimanzi’s appointment as coach of the team? He may be the factor waiting to beat the North Africans. His technical abilities and past experience would come in handy for the team’s continental engagements ( no offence to fashionable Ezekiel Akwana) 

Football Fanaticism…let’s not take it too far

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Over the weekend during a local Kenya Premier League game between Gor-KCB ( one which I thought of attending but some family issues made it otherwise) a local fan lost his life . Our heartfelt condolences go to the family and the friends as well as football fans of the famed club.

This not withstanding, the same club has a game tomorrow pitting it with last year’s winners Sofapaka . The week-day games have become great crowd pullers and as such it would be a great way for the city football fans to make their way to the stadium. The game is expected to be a thriller though some fans are throwing their protestations too loud for the others.

Now I win the $10,000 bet – Football fan runs onto Nemanja Vidic 

But a worrying trend is emerging especially with some of the clubs and their fans taking their antics both on and off the field too far. Early this year, some fans harassed others from rival clubs if they had any vuvuzelas saying that they held the ‘rights for these new additions to football fan’. While it serves the club well to have their 12th man to help them win  their games, it does not serve any good to the game taking the passions to other levels.
It doesn’t make one a bigger fan by shouting and harassing the opposing team even before the ball is kicked. So what happens if the teams can’t make it to the pitch thanks to the clashes that fans may have? We all know how harsh the penalties become with teams asked to play without their fans. We can all avoid this if we conducted ourselves with just a bit of decorum even on the stands.
It will also serve the stadia management well, if the necessary security is in place to ensure that the fans do not get a chance to throw whatever burbs they have at each other. It is about time we matured in our fanaticism and not jeopardise
Interestingly how come rugby fans do not end up clashing even with all the alcohol and ‘other incentives’ involved?

Harambee Stars Woes, are we surprised?

It baffles the way Kenyan football fans are quick to put blame on one or the other for the team’s poor performance in recent times. Are we surprised by that? Not from our brief here.
It is always going to be tricky affair translating good league fixture games to national team performances. That FKL has always been joking when it comes to the national team is something that needs to end. How can a team train for 4 days and then leave on the actual day to play a fixture which is more than 6 hours away? And you expected to win?
You must also have read The Daily Nation’s- Macharia Gaitho’s story about our team draping in all sorts of colours thus no consistency there too!

Harambee Stars A.Makacha  in a Weird colour – (Courtesy of www.kenyafootball.com

Not even the presence of famed duo of MacDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech could save the blushes the team suffered. What is amusing is that the technical bench found it fair to play Oliech as the captain for the day ( though Robert Mambo remains the captain) even though he hadn’t trained with the team. If players decided to have a go-slow on the pitch and thus lose the game, well they did just that and now complicate their qualification chances in a group featuring Angola, Uganda and Guinea-Bissau (who were labelled the under-dogs). The next fixture has Kenya facing Uganda in a month’s time (Oct 8th at Kasarani)…should be an interesting fixture…
But if we are to make a difference in the qualifications, the rot starts from the top and needs to be pruned soonest possible. No need to blame the Twahirs, Oliechs, or other excuses that we’ve sought. Or else we shall remain non-starters on the continental-stage!

Football Kenya Elections in October …..Lord redeem us from the Circus !

An announcement coming from the Kenyan football authorities notes that we have an active month in September with branch elections and the culmination being elections of ‘new’ officials in October. From behind the scenes, there is bound to be some interesting times on the game which is slowly making it back on our main menu of sports offering if the KPL games are anything to go by.

Our prayer is that we shall see some fresh faces and ‘clean hands’ if we hope for the game to move to the next level. Given the shenanigans associated with the game, no suprises if all sorts of vested interests start sprouting out of the woodwork. We all remember the 1990s when one Maina Kariuki – he of the Coca-Cola Africa fame who gave one of the best presentations of a contesting official in the Kenyan sports scene only to sink into the mire of Kenyan football.
His reign characterised some of the lows that the game would have and we all know what the story has been with the current officials. The positives have been cultivated by SuperSport who invested in developing the game and we hope they shall insist on some better management coming through especially if our national team is to hope to feature in continental and the 2014 World Cup.
We also hope FIFA’s ‘briefcase officials’ shall not show their hand in these elections. They have been part of the problem insisting on non-interference even when the game seems headed for the dogs from the Government. They have not helped much even when their own FIFA Goal Project seems to be a non-starter locally.
Remember we have a new Minister for Youth & Sports in one Paul Otuoma and surely hope he gives us one memorable thing if he is to make his mark in this under-rated but full of potential Ministry. Let’s hope to get some semblance of order and may the best win! More info on this announcement here.

Another Sponsorship Deal in the Works …

Word has it that a Kenyan football club – City Stars is about to secure sponsorship of some few millions from a local telco company. The world of football is surely getting interest in this side of the world. Hope this goodwill’s going to uplift the game’s standards and move the clubs to better positions locally and regionally. More details as they unfold.