Tag Archives: KENYAN FOOTBALL

EPIC FOOTBALL NIGHTS-MAY 2019

There are some nights that live with you forever!

I’ve had three of those nights back to back. What makes these nights even more special is that I just turned 28 at the beginning of last week.

It’s been a beautiful week thanks to amazing football comebacks and feats that nearly everyone couldn’t imagine possible.

Liverpool vs Barcelona

Going into this match, we all thought that it would be a walkover for Barcelona. I mean the first leg of this draw was an absolute disaster for Liverpool, losing 3-0 to perhaps the greatest team of all time.

There was no coming back for Liverpool on this one. They had to know the situation was utterly hopeless as the game drew nearer. They just had to.

But, these, ladies and gentlemen, are mad men. They don’t understand the meaning of impossible.

And, there’s a saying about mad men getting to do the impossible.

This entire team is full of mad men. They dared to dream, they dared to fight, they dared to stare down this monumental obstacle that was on their path to Champions League glory, and overcome it.

You have to understand the gravity of the situation they found themselves in on the night of 7th May 2019.

I’ve already told you that they went into the match with a 3-0 disadvantage.

Barcelona had all of their star players fit and ready to slaughter the Reds. Messi, one of the main contenders of the GOAT title, showed up, ready to blow us away with his outer worldly skills.

Remember, he scored two of the three Barcelona goals in the first leg of this semi final draw. He was coming to finish the job, no doubt about that!

Coutinho and Suarez, two former Liverpool greats, were also in the Barca line-up.

Things weren’t looking so optimistic on the Liverpool side. Roberto Firminio, the man with the amazing teeth wasn’t going to play.

To make everything worse, neither was Salah! Salah, the man who almost singlehandedly brought life into a fading Liverpool team last season.

The man who almost led them to Champions League glory last year, but bad boy Sergio Ramos had other nefarious intentions.

Yes. That man, the Liverpool talisman, the gods’ gift to Premier League football would not be there to try and undo the damage done to his team in the first leg.

To make this entire situation absolutely soul crushing for Liverpool, they were and still are neck to neck with Manchester City for the Premier League title.

That means they’ve been working overtime just to stay on top.

Meanwhile, Barcelona had already won their domestic title, and had the weekend to relax.

No one was giving Liverpool time off to relax.

But, despite all of these seemingly insurmountable odds, Liverpool did it.

They won the chance to go to the final by defeating THE Barcelona, 4-3 on aggregate score.

They destroyed Barcelona in a way we haven’t seen it done before. It was truly orgasmic to watch.

My men of the match: Trent Alexander Arnold, Divock Origi, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and my namesake, Georginio Wijnaldum.

If there has ever been a real live football super sub in recent history, it has to be that man, Georginio (my namesake ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜).

And that corner kick from Trent Alexander the Arnold is an absolute masterclass from such a young player. And, let’s not forget all of the times that he stole possession from Barca players including and especially Jodi Alba.

Van Dijk is on this list because a) he gave his all in the night of question, the same way he does every night, and

b) he is soooooooooo hot. If my boyfriend and I don’t work out, I might just give Virgil a call, and see where this thing can go.

Becker made some incredible saves and kept Liverpool’s hopes alive.

And, of course Origi! Those two goals were simply sublime. And, he has Kenyan blood, so there is that.

I can’t wait to see them topple Tottenham in the final on June 1st. That is going to be another epic night.

And, I can’t wait to see Liverpool take the Premier League as well. They deserve it!

On to the next amazing night…

Tottenham vs Ajax

After that exhilarating performance by Liverpool on 7th, I was content with the level of football action I had received. I couldn’t ask for more. That would have just been selfish of me.

But, alas, the football gods must have been feeling pretty benevolent this particular week.

Tottenham managed to make a second half comeback that transformed them from underdogs to Champions League finalists.

One man Lucas Moura truly stood out in that game. He scored a hatrick within the last 41 minutes of the game to take his team to the final.

Guess you can say he’s a 41-minute type of man (a bit too long for me but I could work with it ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰).

I know, I’m nasty. Moving along swiftly…

Imagine that!

They were already three goals down by the start of the second half. There was nowhere but down for them.

And then, here comes Moura scoring a brace in less than four minutes, and adding to his night tally right at stoppage time.

Wow! If that isn’t exhilaratingly orgasmic, I don’t know what is!

Thank you Spurs for making my Wednesday night one to remember for ages to come.

I’m so proud of Moura, so so so so proud!

And now to a team that is truly close to my heart… Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Valencia

I won’t sugarcoat it. Arsenal have been sucking balls these last few weeks. We had every opportunity to stamp our dominance in the top 4 this season, but we squandered them away, like we usually do.

But, there is hope.

We are through to the Europa finals thanks to Aubameyang’s life saving hat trick, and Lacazette’s solitary goal.

I feel like it’s been so long since we had such an amazing performance from my team. I am glad that we still got it.

And, this means we still get to go to Champions League next season, despite finishing number five on the table. Yaaaaaaaay for us!

Yeah…so I’m a pretty happy girl now! I turned 28, and the gods decided to gift me with 3 incredible football performances that absolutely blew my mind.

Cheers to many more great football nights this year, and for the rest of our lives.

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KENYAN FOOTBALLERS NEED TO INTROSPECT: LESSONS LEARNT FROM GEORGE ‘JOJO’ WAWERU (AND OTHERS)

It was the 2019 AFCON qualifiers games last week, and we were up against Ethiopia. We desperately needed to beat them in order to have a shot at qualifying for the tournament.

The first leg of the fixture was in Ethiopia, with both teams unable to score. The game ended in a barren draw, and I for one could feel my heart sink.

What if the Wallas managed to beat us in our home turf? The Stars have not always been particularly consistent in terms of performance; what if they had chosen this second leg as the perfect opportunity to drop the ball? (figuratively and otherwise).

Please don’t forget about all of the financial hardships our national team has had to endure this year. Delayed allowances and delayed staff remuneration were bound to have a detrimental effect on the morale of the team.

However, these were apparently cleared up before the second leg of the tie (thank you Jesus! But it is seriously shameful to see how poorly funds are managed within our sports fraternity)

I would have been mortified if we lost at home.

But we did not lose.

If you watched the second leg of the Ethiopia-Kenya tie, like I did, that performance must be etched in the upper echelons of your limbic system.

You, just like me, must be thoroughly impressed with our boys’ performance. We won 3-0 in a must win fixture and it was my best football experience this month, of course after our (Arsenal’s) 5-1 thrashing of Fulham earlier this month.

There has been some debate in some quarters on the financial benefits that teams accrue for reaching different levels of this and other CAF competitions, but this post is not about that.

(although a 166%increase in prize money for the winner is quite an impressive financial incentive. Maybe if we at least manage to reach the quarter finals, we can stop relying on handouts to support the Stars).

This post is about how we treat, train, and guide these sports men and women who make us so proud as a nation. These individuals who invoke in us a sense of nationhood. Individuals who make us proud to be called Kenyans, albeit for one game or one race. They are doing something worth celebrating; but most importantly, worth protecting.

Being a Kenyan is one of the most difficult roles under the sun- there is constant disappointment literally everyday and everywhere you look- but the way these individuals use their talents to put us on the world map- that is indeed something we need to hold dear, guard and guide.

But we have failed to do so… miserably!

The last time Kenya qualified for the AFCON tournament was in 2004 in Tunisia under the able leadership of Jacob Ghost Mulee.

In the lineup was a young, brilliant defender who played a crucial role in helping us qualify for the tournament. His name is George ‘Jojo’ Waweru. He is among the last generation of Kenyan players to have played in the AFCON competition.

He has won several accolades throughout his football career, which included winning the KPL title as a Tusker FC player.

Sadly, his career took a nosedive after suffering a neck injury while training for the AFCON game against Mali. He was literally abandoned and left to his own devices by the league, by his club, by his government, and by his country men.

News reports indicate that he has been battling with alcoholism for years after being abandoned, and this has had a tremendous impact on his health.

He is currently admitted in hospital owing to alcohol-related complications where his condition is reported as being grievously ill.

Unfortunately, he is not the only legendary footballer who is ailing, living in squalor, and addicted to alcohol amongst other drugs.

I’ve heard numerous stories of Kenyan football legends who have been forced to eke out a living from menial jobs such as sweeping the streets.

They are so many and it’s a situation that has been repeated year after year, squad after squad. Worse still, we don’t seem to want to fix the problem.

Remember the Kadenge story I wrote earlier this year? As I was doing the research for that article, it dawned on me that this man-this hero has been suffering financially and health-wise for several decades after hanging his football boots despite being the biggest legend in Kenyan football history.

Watching the match between the Wallas and the Stars on Sunday, I couldn’t help but feel anxious about these men’s futures.

Will they end up on the same path as JoJo and the others?

Do they know that there is life after football? Do they understand how short a football career can be especially one occasioned by injury?

Do they have basic money management skills? Have they started saving for retirement?

Are they getting paid their worth? (Doubtful especially when you consider delayed payments both at the national or club level)

Are they investing the little money they do get in order to multiply their sources of income?

Or are they drinking it away- living for today with absolutely no consideration for tomorrow; chasing a celebrity lifestyle that they cannot afford to maintain- not with their pay and not in this economy.

Do they know that their so-called friends will desert them immediately their hard earned money runs out?

What about their minds? Are they taking care of their minds? Are they furthering their education? Are they investing their time in acquiring skills that can make them an asset even after hanging their football cleats?

Do they have the mental strength and resilience to avoid the alcoholism and drug abuse trap- a scourge that has permeated to the very fabric of our nation- destroying each of us including children everywhere you look?

We live in a nation where alcohol advertisements form the bulk of adverts on TV, and on billboards, in newspapers and on social media. We’ve made consumption of alcohol so cool and so alluring that it has become a national culture. We entice people to enter into alcohol and drug abuse, but we abandon them when they are overcome with addiction, and cannot get out.

Can they withstand the pressure and not follow their peers into this death trap?

Do they understand the gravity of the fact that the Kenyan Government, their clubs, FKF, and the country they play for will not give a hoot about them when they leave the game? If it takes months for them to receive their dues now when they are active, how much worse will they be treated once they retire?

Twenty years from now, where will each of these Stars be?

If I’ll be there, will I be penning another sad story of a fallen football hero, addicted to drugs and alcohol and unable to pay his own medical bills?

I don’t want that. I don’t want to see people who once gave me so much joy, who had a chance to be bigger than we have ever imagined, and who consistently put their bodies on the line for national pride end up poor, deserted, sick, dejected, and plagued by alcohol and substance abuse.

I don’t want that.

So, I’m calling on all Kenyan footballers, regardless of club, league, or whether they play for the national team or not- to learn from the mistakes of the legends who have gone before them, and purpose to be better;

To learn how to manage their income with tomorrow in mind;

To discern that this is a short term career and they need to develop alternative sources of income now before they retire;

To shun bad company (slay queen’s are not your friends; neither are your boys if all they want to do is drink your money or invest in shady deals);

and to know that in this country, heroes are treated badly, literally abandoned, after their service to the nation.

Anyway, back to the present. Let’s wait to see if we have to play Sierra Leone or not.

Good luck Stars; AFCON here we come!!

Learning To Love and Appreciate Harambee Stars and African Football as A Whole

We are inching closer to the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup, and the competition is getting juicier. This is definitely one for the memory books considering how many great teams have fallen along the way (wink wink Portugal; wink wink Argentina; sad wink wink Germany).

Count yourself lucky if your favorite team has at least made it into the quarters of the World Cup. Mine didn’t; they did not even make it past the group stages. For a minute, okay, let’s be honest, for some time now, I have been suffering from an internal paralysis. Don’t be alarmed! My organs are not failing. But, I feel a deep sense of loss, a deep sense of mourning, and an even deeper sense of stunned motionlessness. ‘Where did they go wrong?’ is a question that keeps ringing in my head. It actually feels like a small part of my heart is broken. These changes in the world order are too monumental, you cannot ignore them.

That is how much emotion I had invested in the German national team going all the way to the finals of this tournament. Their football, their passion, their lust for glory has beguiled me for years, and it was like a kick in the stomach when they could not meet my expectations this time around. I probably should have seen the signs when they lost to Brazil in that international friendly match three months ago. I ignored those warnings!!

I craved and yearned to see them play at their best. My body and mind needed that fix I get whenever they play. I was looking forward to that excitement, to the numerous goals, to the un-ending action. But it all came to a sudden stop, and now my drug of choice isn’t flowing anymore.

For some time after they were knocked out, by South Korea no less (you can check out my short commentary on how devastating this loss was here), the World Cup for me felt empty. At least until I caught the Belgian bug.

I’m better now, thanks for asking. I am beginning to enjoy the WCย  a little bit more, so that’s a ray of sunshine.

I am still very disappointed though, but my disappointment is not only directed towardsย Die Nationalmannschaft. They sucked, and that is on them, butย I also feel a bit disappointed in myself.

Why?

I just came to the sad realization that I am putting too much effort into deifying another country’s football team whereas I can barely remember eight names from the Harambee Stars’ starting line up. That is so sad!

Sure, the love of football should transcend all borders, but how comes I do not feel the same commitment, and loyalty to our national team?

Why don’t I get thoroughly depressed when they lose? Why do I dismiss them so easily, and only take the time to watch just a few of their matches annually?

Why is it that I do not feel connected to Harambee Stars as I do another country’s national football team?

Fifa currently ranks our national football team at position 112, which is a bit embarrassing I have to say. I also think we have the worst football management in the history of football management. There are so many reasons to not pay attention to Kenyan football, to Kenyan sports for that matter.

But, I feel like a traitor. Whether they suck or not, there are tens of men and women all over this country who are playing football at a professional or semi-professional capacity for many months every year. We see the sacrifice our brothers and sisters are putting into playing in this toxic, depressing environment that is Kenyan football, and they do not stop. That’s their love for the game. There’s a resilience about being a Kenyan football player; about being a Kenyan sportsperson that you just cannot find anywhere else.

We, scratch that, I need to honor this sacrifice (you have to do it as an individual before we can achieve the desired collective action).

Our standards, techniques, coaching, or management may not be anywhere close to professional standards, but the sacrifice these players are making has to count for something.

And, I am all about embracing everything that is Kenyan, including that which is inherently wrong with us, football included.

Maybe if we paid more attention to it, like serious attention to it, and own this process of understanding the intricacies (problems and all) of Kenyan football, we can start revitalizing it; correcting the mistakes one by one.

Maybe that’s how I (and hopefully you) will learn to feel more connected to it.

It’s ours; love it or hate it, it’s always going to be ours, and we might as well find the gems hidden in the cow dung that is our sports fraternity.

We have a national football team. It is not the best but it is ours. We have to give it a little more love.

Enjoy the rest of the WC!