Four Seconds

Yesterday as I was travelling back to Nairobi, just before we got to Gilgil, a fuel tanker collided with another vehicle which in turn shifted lanes and in the process hit a guy on a nduthi head-on. He died on the spot. In less than four seconds he had “crossed” over from life to death.  His wife will be called to hospital. She’ll leave work and rush to a hospital whose doctors are on strike. They’ll tell her he is no more.

She’ll weep because she’s just lost the love of his life. She’ll weep because their bed, even if it was a 4 by 6, will now be bigger. She’ll weep because she’ll not know how to break the news to their children. Often we are told we need to prepare for everything. How does one prepare for the death of a loved one? How does one prepare to break such news to their children?  She’ll weep because her children, who probably have a penchant for running into daddy’s arms after he gets home from work, will no longer do so. Feeling daddy’s cold jacket yet warm hug will have to be more reduced to a mere memory, etched at the back of their… Their two year old will most definitely not get why the rest are crying; the conundrum of life’s innocence failure to perceive death.

They will erect a tent outside their house and begin funeral arrangements. Friends and relatives will stream in offering their condolences most of which will lighten the burden but not heal them completely. They’ll organise a harambee and in a week or so, burry dad. They’ll get back home and begin learning to adjust to living without daddy. His wife will ponder on whether or not to delete his number on her phone. “Let me keep it until I fully heal,” she’ll say. She’ll then realise that it’s pointless since she had already crammed it; a realisation which will cause her to inevitably tear up. She’ll however cut out the section of the obituaries and hope to live long enough to explain it to her two year old.

Let’s not think about how they’ll put food on the table henceforth. Let’s not talk about the children being asked by their English teacher to write a composition about ‘My Father’. Let’s not talk about them having to write N/A in Father’s name field in countless forms they’ll fill for the better part of their lives. Let’s stop it at where they’ll be asked to bring a copy of their dad’s death certificate to prove that he died.

A whole family, maybe even a generation, affected. And it only took four seconds.

Driving is about making decisions within a short period of time, seconds to be more precise. The decision making process is significantly reduced to elemental time (read milliseconds) when we drive faster. Take care.

 

 

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Jeri Lost to Kayole. What went wrong?

On Sunday, Jericho All Stars took to the field against Kayole Asubuhi in the overly dilapidated City Stadium grounds in what was the highlight of the successfully publicized Super 8’s Super Sunday. Owing to the blackout, KPLC made it easy for us to choose between our loyalty to the national Harambee Stars, who were playing Zambia, and our home-based team, All Stars. There were simply no excuses to miss the match.14183779_10210907176854846_8761398498500191172_n

Led by the legend Spark mwenyewe, Jeri needed a win to stand a chance to secure the coveted title. The Mashemeji derby and KSSSA football finals, it was arguably the biggest game Kenya has seen in a while courtesy of operation Fagia Base. Yes the games in Extreme Sports attract large crowds enviable by Nick and all KPL teams but this was definitely the climax of it all.

As you already know by now, Jeri lost the game by a solitary goal scored in the first half. Both teams had chances but couldn’t take them notably Pompee who would have at least bagged two goals. Apart from good performances from Makbul and Messi, there weren’t anything exciting about the game. But could Jeri have done better? What were the reasons behind their dismal performance?

Tola Starts

As soon as the teams took to the pitch, everyone who’s followed Jeri this season was shocked to see Tola in the starting line-up. Last I saw him play a league game was against Shauri in the first leg and if my memory serves me well he played as a six. I’ve never seen him play for Jeri again at least not in the league. He features mostly in friendlies. I don’t necessarily doubt his quality (for this level) but I think it was unfair to play him in such a hugely significant game especially with other options available. Apart from a few interceptions he had a really bad day. (It can only be compared to Calum Chambers’ performances against Liverpool last season at the Emirates only that he, Chambers, improved in the second half.) So much that Okong’o decided to sub him; Ninety replacing him and Oreso moving over to right back. The game and mostly the substitution has definitely taken Tola’s confidence to a new low.

Poor team selection

Save from obvious questions over Tola starting one would wonder why he decided to play O’Neal. Yes he scored in the previous games against Masa and Kiambiu Youth but his performances have been below par. I think Ndiwa would have been a better more convincing option. O’Neal is not by any means a natural winger. After his short stint at KCB, he returned to the team to find Pompee as the undisputed number one striker so he has since been reverted to a winger. While I have no problem with that, I just don’t think that he’s a good winger. For obvious reasons, I tend to favor wingers who aren’t afraid of taking on defenders. O’Neal, with all due respect doesn’t do this and this weakness was greatly exposed. It is important that coaches play to the strengths of a player and not impose a specific style of play that doesn’t suit a player.

In defence, seeing that Omosh was ineligible to play in this game owing to a suspension after picking up red card, why Okong’o didn’t choose the young Chale at right back with Eddy and Ninety playing and CB. In my view Chale has had a great deal of mentorship when playing alongside Ninety. BTW what happened to Koki?

Subs that couldn’t make a difference

Brayo who came in for O’Neal tried by all means to make a difference by trying to take on his defender but all the criticism will be leveled on Bruce aka Look-man. As he waited to get into the fray, he was greeted with great applause which got to him so much that he waved back to the fans acknowledging their acknowledgement. (What the hell? Kwani was it his testimonial? No one does that? The thing with such showmanship is that it can be really embarrassing if, as was in his case, if you don’t back it up with performance.) He then entered in classic Barezi fashion but couldn’t live up to the hype. He is definitely good in spreading the ball wide but one of his major letdowns is that he “thinks” too much when he’s in possession, which was evident in a pass that could have put Messi through on goal but was intercepted because he was a second late in delivering it. He had a chance to make a difference with a free kick but could only see it hit the wall.

I think these reasons counted. All in all those in close contact with the club definitely know better. I only speak as a mere spectator. I now that Tola will rise for the dust. I know that Jeri will learn a lot from this game but they have definitely made it worse for themselves. They would have won the league by now but a series of losses and draw denied them this chance. They now trail leaders Kayole Asubuhi by two points and T.U.K by a point. All they can hope for is that the two drop points.

Update

It was sad to hear that Jeri lost their player, Mackie later on that Saturday. My condolences to his family and to the entire Jericho All Stars fraternity. There will be a match on Sunday 11th to raise funds to grant him a decent send-off. Kindly plan to attend.

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Photos courtesy of Antony Ndung’u

 

SIMBA SUPER SOCCER 21/07 highlights

The talking points of yesterday’s show

Harambee Starlets Sex Scandal

Just when you thought there was something to smile about in Kenyan football, allegations of a sex scandal surface in the starlets’ camp. According to Mike’s investigations, and this is Mike Okinyi we are talking about, the Owaah of sports, some of the players have sexual relations with some coaches. While npot illegal in any way, it just goes against the unspoken rules of sports just as Arnold put it. It just brings about unnecessary conflict as interest; a coach would favour their partner even she isn’t performing. Lawrence Webo, the goal-keeping coach has been named in the scandal and has since been sidelined but FKF states that he is still part of the technical team. We’ll just have to wait for the findings of the investigations. Who knows, #thisiskenya, more relations may just be unearthed. @AlexNgare suggested that we the whole technical team should be made up of women. While it is a good idea, it isn’t practical as not many are qualified.

U-17 team

Nick Mwendwa’s aspiration as FKF chairman was to build Kenyan football from the ground-up; in terms of both youth and grass-root football. It is great to see that for once everything, with regards to the trials, selection and even age verification, has been done as should be ahead of their trip to for the COSAFA tournament. They are in group B together with Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar. People will just want to see their performance under newly appointed technical director Andreas Spier. Wins and all hail FKF. Losses and Kenyans will criticize all their efforts of getting to the 2022 world cup.

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image from sportpesnews.com

AFC Leopards

Finally, Diallo has pulled a Situmbeko on AFC Leopards. The Interim Secretary General Asava Kadima did everything but explain the logic of “their” player playing for Rayon after his contract was over yet he had preliminary registration with FKF. If clubs can’t get away with such crimes against football, then players shouldn’t. It’s good to know that they will take action. Hope the new management team, to be elected on Sunday, will take up the case. Kadima clearly stated that the new team should change the new constitution and manage the club as a business and not a social gathering.

Soccer Africa had their first episode of the new season aired yester night. You can watch the repeat later on in the day. That’s all for today, have a great Friday.

Portugal win it, read, CR7 wins the Ballon D’Or

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Portugal won only one match inside 90 minutes in their journey to the final, their 2-0 semi-final win over Wales. They got into the last 16 as one of the best losers. Won against Croatia in extra time and had to go to penalties to win against Poland. Eder ,the match-winner, had only scored 3 goals in his last 28 caps. Such is the cruelty of football or its beauty depending on the how you look at your glass.

Purists vs Pragmatists
So I kinda get the purists point of view when they say they would have loved France t win the tournament. But I would also disagree because they, the purists would have been more excited if Germany were in the final and eventual winners of the tournament. In the final, Portugal did exactly what France did in their semi against Germany; they defended well and as a unit even with Umtiti earning only his second cap at the heart of defense. To me, this is a pragmatic approach. To realize that your opponent is “stronger” and accept that you might not necessarily beat them but you will win the match. It is more practical. So away with purity and let’s just win matches. That’s the ultimate goal of playing football.

Shockingly, they also did not go down without a fight. They toiled to the last sweat,probing when they had the chance to. Despite they defensive discipline they have Griezmann (who missed chances he normally would have slotted in calmly), the post, which saw off Gignac’s effort and Rui Patricio, who kept them in the games after a series of fine saves.

The players appreciated the pep talk given to them by their leader CR7 at halftime and well beyond it. He practically acted as an assistant coach. He most definitely would have loved to contribute more but his injury in the first 5 minutes into the game denied him a chance to make a direct impact in the game.

As Deschamps admitted later on, France will have themselves to blame. They were facing a side that didn’t have their mercurial captian for 80+ minutes. They had chances they couldn’t take and home support that easily acted as the 12th man. In Griezmann, Payet, Koscieny, Giroud and co. , were a squad which played well both individually and as a team. Where individual frailties were exposed, team-ethic prevailed. Heck they even had a player valued at 100 million pounds on the pitch. Yet they failed when it mattered most.

Congrats to Portugal for the win. We now await the crowning of Roro, as we call him here in Kenya, as this year’s Ballon D’ Or winner.

Kenya vs. Congo Preview + Stats vs. Bissau

We are technically out of Afcon. It will take more than a miracle, and strange things happen in football, to see us go through. We face a tough opponent in Congo. How we managed to get a draw away from home still baffles me as much as how we lost to Guinea Bissau over two legs.

Possible line-up

I expect to see Bonny in goal. Origi’s performance for the national team has been questioned time and again. We can’t really compare the two objectively since none of us can claim to be watching the Norwegian league. So we inevitably compare Bonny’s performance for Gor Mahia to Origi’s performance in the National Team. It’s not a fair comparison but it’s all we have for now and Bonny’s winning even though the latter isn’t with the team currently.

Only Wanyama and Akumu are assured of a place in the starting eleven. The rest of the positions are basically dependent on the manager’s game plan. We saw Mieno joining them in the middle last week, a trivote’. I may like to see Eric Johana in the number ten role but he has been playing on the flanks in a few games. But we have three pacey players there too in Paul Were, Ayumb Timbe and Miheso. People have criticized Jesse Were’s performances for the national team saying that he doesn’t score as much as he does for club level. Will he be preferred over Olunga? Don’t think so but I see the possibility of Okumbi playing both of the upfront where both

In defense, I would prefer playing with Mandela and Atudo in the middle with Calabar and Aboud Omar flanking them. Though Eric Ouma has shown that he isn’t shaken by the big stage, he is still a rookie and I think we should go for the more experienced Aboud. But again it will depend on how the manager wants to play. Bringing on Eric means that we have two attackers on the left flank. He’s so good going forward.

So my final line-up will be with a four-four two formation: Bonny, David Owino, Mandela, Atudo, Aboud Omar, Timbe, Wanyama, Akumu, Olunga, Jesse Were.

Stats from our previous games

Let’s take a look at how we played against Guinea Bissau over the two legs.

Kenya vs Guinea Bissau (Away)

1st half                                                                                  2nd Half

Crosses (3) 9   33%                                                           3) 9    33%

Long Pass (13) 32    41%                                                  (6) 14   43%

Short Pass (108) 112   96%                                              (93) 98   95%

Passes in the Final 3rd (17) 22       77%                           (20) 27   74%

Long Ball attacks (9) 26       35%                                       (6) 14     43%

Shots On-3                                                                             On- 2

Off-none                                                                       Off – 1

Through Ball (1) 2 in the whole game.

The bracketed figures show the successful attempts of the stat while those outside it shows the total number of attempts. For example, In the first half 17 of 22 passes in the final third were successful.The percentages simply show the success rate of the give stat.

 Kenya vs. Guinea Bissau (Home)

 1st Half

 Long Pass (8) 26       31%

Short Pass (182) 188     97%

Passes in the Final 3rd (34) 41   83%

Shots On – 1

Off – 2

Through balls – 2

Build-up   Long- 16

Short – 13

Crosses – (3) 9

The build up stats shows the number of times we played long balls vs. short ones in our build up. ie. when we played the ball long vs. when we passed our way from the back, through the midfield and into the final third. And thus the passes in the final third stats, which, well, show how efficient we were in the final third.

Lack of technical ability to play long balls

From the above we can see that the number of long passes significantly increased. But key to note is that even the success rate reduced. In the away game, although the success rate of the long balls increased in the second half, it is important to note that we attempted fewer passes 14 against 32 in the first half. Overall, we simply see that the number of successful long balls played was low which definitely points out to the fact that we don’t have the technical ability to play long balls. For all the talk from your football analysts and renowned journalists of how we have technical players, the data simply doesn’t support it. So Kenyan players have to work on this.

What is more worrying is that in the three matches (including our qualifier against Zambia at home), Origi only played on successful long ball in both free and goal kicks.

 A Long ball Nation

We have often been criticized that we are a nation that builds up play by playing long balls to our forwards as opposed to playing it through the three thirds of the pitch. While we can’t conclusively say this from one half of one game, we can at least see that the stats agree with this notion. I have no problems with building up play by playing long balls, Egypt does this so well but unlike us, their players have the technical ability to play the ball long.

Passes in the final third

What encourages me is that despite the lower success rate in the passes played in the final third in the second half of the away game 74% against 77%, we not only attempted more passes 27 vs. 22, but more were successful 20.

Even more encouraging is that in the home game we increased our attempted passes to 41. It’s the reason we enjoyed watching that game. Heck, when was the last time we saw Kenya play that well?

Red Flags

The obvious one is that we need to improve in passing our long balls. Secondly, how pathetic our crosses are. If we only found our target men with our crosses, we would be posing a serious threat to the opposition. Third, make use of our creative players, the Eric Johanas and kina Tosh. That we had only 2 through balls with such creative players is really worrying. Finally, take more shots on goal.

We should approach it as a means to improving our FIFA rankings seeing that we have dropped 13 places after the last two games we played. Seeing that we are 4th with only a point, we are logically out of the tournament unless we beat both Congo and Zambia (away). It is a huge task and we face a very good side today as seen Ottamax told us.

All the best to #teamkenya

 

11 Time Champs and Awkward Penalties

Real are the new Champions League holders. It wasn’t a spectacular match largely due to the fact that Madrid decided to sit back after Ramos’ goal. (Ronaldo looked like he had had a threesome before the game. Their forward three didn’t play well both individually and collectively.) Up until then, it promised to be an exciting match with Madrid playing with a lot of energy as experienced with their well-coordinated pressing. They then seemed to want to win it with that solitary goal. Athletico then pushed and pushed and after Griezmann missed a penalty they equalized through a wonderful move initiated by Gabi and slotted in beautifully by Carrasco. And celebrate he did in some style. I thought to myself that we had a game in our hands but both teams put their feet off the gas.

Zizou then made an awkward substitution bringing on Isco for Kroos. I thought it was a big blunder; leaving only Modric as the only man with a little bit of experience, for that stage, in the midfield. Benzema was then taken off for Vasquez. Looking at the number of chances they created, Madrid looked more likely to win it.

Awkward Penalties

In the end the tie was to be decided by penalties. They were awkward as Madrid penalty shots were aimed to the right while Athletico’s to the left. All went in but Juanfran’s. It was sad for Athletico who have now lost three finals. I thought Oblak could have at least tried to dive.

Zizou becomes the 7th manger to win it as player and coach, Ronaldo wins his third champions league and Madrid are now 11 time winners. What a great achievement.

KOGALO OUTSHINE MATHARE

Kogalo had never failed to score in this fixture since 2012. Mathare on the other hand last beat the green army in 2009. Both seem to love having the ball. Some even called it Dutch mastery versus Brazilian flair, sighting the two coaches “backgrounds”. Last season, they almost ended our unbeaten run.

The first half was plain. We had two attempts on goal while they had only one. Mathare’s tactic was basically to sit back, soak in the pressure and hit us on the counter. Such an antithesis to Kimanzi’s and even Mathare’s philosophy. Remember when he, a few weeks ago, bashed Western Stima for “Not coming to play football”? It worked.

Our best chance in the half was wasted by the later would be goal scorer, Walusimbi, when he missed a chance due to a poor first touch after a beautifully lofted pass from Nzigiyimana. (That move, resulting from Mathare’s corner, reminded me of taking corners in FIFA. It’s almost like creating a chance for your opponent. It’s even worse if you’re playing against Madrid.) We seemed to be playing through the flanks, with Walusimbi, Karim and Wafula fashioning 4 in the first 45. With Wise at center back, it was always going to be a problem for our target man, Jausenge. Wafula had moments when he could have created something special but was let down by his first touch. I think he is a wonderful dribbler by Kenyan (or Ugandan) standards but really has to work on getting the end product.

Mathare couldn’t pass the ball, something they have been doing well in every game bar this. Nzigiyimana effectively kept Eric Johana, their danger man, out of the game. Their only threat came with Abich’s free kick. They kept us at arms-length and were happy to do so if it could help them get something from the game.

Bonnie held our hearts in his hands by dribbling past our opponents. When it works, everyone’s happy with his composure under pressure. Should it fail, and it will one day, it eventually does, it stops being funny to the fans, his teammates and in particular the coach.

In the second half, Gor came out with more intensity. Mathare sat even deeper with Johana looking to play through balls which were easily dealt with by Shakava. It seemed to be heading for a draw. And Mathare would have been happy with that. We looked more threatening than Mathare who continued to sit back. Walusimbi took a good free kick, which didn’t really trouble Odhiambo in goal.

Ze Maria brought on Kahata for Wafula who switched wings with Walusimbi. It worked a few minutes later with Walusimbi curling the ball into the far post past an overstretched Peter Odhiambo. It was a great goal that should probably have been defended better as Kimanzi later stated. It meant that Mathare had to come out and try and get an equalizer. Meaning they ran the risk of conceding another. But with twenty minutes to play, they had to put in a shift. It ended up costing them after Kahata found Eric Ouma aka Marcelo with the finest of passes who then brought in a good cross for Tuyisenge to head in a second. He really was never going to miss from six yards. The game was basically over at that point.

Nothing much happened thereafter with only one threat on goal by Mathare, Johana’s free kick direct to the keeper.

A hard fought victory. Sends us up the log to position 2. Who would have thought of such resurgence after poor performance in the first few games? Marcelo really developing well both defensively and offensively, showing that he should earn a call up to the national team. Walusimbi with a goal that will most definitely be contender for play of the week on playback this evening, if not winning it.