Kenya: Sports – Ouma regains place in Stars’ Afcon squad

By (Gilbert Wandera)

A few months into his stay at Gor Mahia in 2016, Eric Ouma was already being equated to the Brazillian great Marcelo.

And it is not difficult to see why. Just like the Real Madrid defender, Ouma has all the qualities of a complete full back that saw him burst into the national team while still a teenager.

Former Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi describes him as the best player in the country when it comes to taking crosses and picking out his team-mates in the box.

“There is no one like him in that area and I don t fear being contradicted. There is simply no player in Kenya who can take those pin-point crosses as he does. He is my number one in that position,” said Okumbi.

Okumbi says the defender also shows great courage in moving forward and always gives a coach something extra in attack.

“He is very dangerous when moving forward and provides something extra offensively. Furthermore, he also defends perfectly and is a player who gives any coach his all.

“Perhaps should not have gone to Georgia after leaving Gor Mahia. It didn’t give him that competitive edge but playing in Sweden is helping him get back.

“He should be at his top form by the time the Africa Cup of Nations finals kick off and we will see the best of him. I am confident he can take on Kenya’s opponents well.”

Over the last few years, Kenya has struggled for consistency on the wings but with Ouma’s presence, fears of opponents getting a loop-hole here are dramatically reduced.

Despite his great form, Ouma did not win the league title with Gor Mahia in 2016 as the team finished in the runners-up position to Tusker.

Many believe he would have won more titles at home had he stayed for at least two more years in the KPL and at Gor Mahia specifically.

However, his decision to sign only a six-month contract with Gor Mahia was perhaps an indication of his desire not to stay at the club for a long period.

After leaving Gor Mahia in 2016, Ouma moved to Georgia where he joined Kolkheti Poti and made 19 appearances. But he looked unsettled in Georgia as he immediately moved to Albania in 2018 joining KS Kastrioti. He never played for the Albanian club and his lack of match fitness also kept him out of the Harambee Stars.

He only started playing after joining Vasalund in the Swedish third division. With age on his side, he is likely to attract a bigger club after the Africa Cup of Nations finals conclude in Egypt if he rises to the occasion.


Sports: FIFA U-20 World Cup: Nigeria beat Qatar


Nigeria delivered a bold statement of intent with a 4-0 thumping of Qatar in their Group D curtain-raiser at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019,. The Flying Eagles, runners-up to a Joao Pinto-propelled Portugal in 1989 and a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in 2005, soared 2-0 up inside 25 minutes – and both goals were indebted to their left-back, reports FIFA.

Ikouwem Utin duped his marker and unleashed a swerving shot, which Shehab Mamdouh could only push into the path of Maxwell Effiom, whose first-time volley broke the deadlock. The Nigeria No3 then somehow sprung four challenges down the left and cut the ball back to present Okechukwa Offia with a comfortable finish from close range. Qatar did have their chances. Zulkifilu Rabiu catapulted himself across the Tychy turf to make an outstanding block from Yusuf Abdurisag, and Nigeria goalkeeper Olawale Oremade was alert to break up a three-on-one break from which the underdogs should have made more.

They were further punished, esteemed Manchester City midfielder Tom Dele-Bashiru making it 3-0 before Aliu Salawudeen’s swivel and shot completed the rout. The teams return to action on Monday, when Qatar face Ukraine and Nigeria encounter USA.

Kenya: African e-sports landscape | Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP)

By (Robert Njane)

Robert Njane of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group reports on the rapidly growing e-sports market across the African continent, epitomised in the currently unfolding African E-Sports Championship 2019.

I had the chance to attend the launch of the premier edition of African E-Sports Championship in Kenya, representing the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group (CYSDP), on 30 March 2019. This was the first time the tournament happened in Kenya, being a little behind the other 24 countries that have already launched the tournament. The tournament runs in a league format lasting about 7 weeks, with a winner in each of the two categories being crowned from each of the countries. 52 winners from all countries will then participate in an African Competition, hosted in Kenya, to crown the eventual African Champion in August 2019. The competitors have a choice of two games, FIFA19 or Tekken 7, with a single winner in each representing their respective countries. The league is point based with the winner being the one with the most points.

Speaking to Nathan, a leading official of the main organiser Ludique Works, he says this is the first cross country competition ever and will eventually present the title of Africa’s Top E-Sports Player. The host of organisers involved in the tournament are Proseries Gaming, NRG Radio, Whats Good Networks and K1 Klub House. Nathan is adamant that e-sports is the future, and the future is now. Ludique Works is involved in making games and animated content with an African theme. With the support of partners such as Liquid Telecom, providing high speed internet, the e-sports market in East Africa is booming.

The most facilitative aspect of e-sports is how accessible it is. Anyone can participate, all it requires is a gaming console or PC and access to high speed internet, and money starts flowing in. Running gaming cafes are quickly becoming the booming business venture for many entrepreneurs. Packed with noisy and competitive youths, it is easy to see how these cafes might soon become both a business and an employer.

A tonne of employment opportunities arise from the gaming industry; programmers, events companies, video production companies, internet providers, e-sports editors – the list is endless. As Nathan quipped, “get with the times”.

Challenges exist. It is very difficult to sell the idea of how gaming can bring money to corporates. The necessary infrastructure is lacking as it is expensive. Government involvement is close to zero and this means private businesses and companies are paying high taxes for equipment. Especially when compared to tax rebates in European countries, and American and Asian businesses in the same field.

A closing note from Nathan was, if you are passionate about a dream, anything is possible. I can see how this is true. The market is there. The audience is there. The content is there. The passion is there. Bringing all these together will shake the African e-sports market.

Mali: Frederic Kanoute tells African youngsters ‘Talent is not enough’

By (Kennedy Gondwe)

Mali football legend Frederic Kanoute has told African football hopefuls that talent alone is not enough for a successful career and the key is hard work.

The 42-year-old was the 2007 African Footballer of the Year and is now working on developing a new generation of talent trough his 12 Management Consultancy firm.

The former Lyon, Sevilla and Tottenham striker was recently in Zambia to offer his tips for the latest hopefuls.

“Keep working, talent is not enough. You need to work hard – have an ethic of working hard and discipline,” Kanoute told BBC Sport.

“You have to be very strong mentally as well. We shouldn’t forget, football is not only about playing around with a ball.

“There is a technical aspect. There is a tactical aspect. There is a physical aspect. There is a mental aspect,” he added.

Kanoute’s work in Zambia has already proved successful with two youngsters from local side Kafue Celtics given the chance to play in Europe.

The 2017 African Young Player of the Year, Patson Daka, and his Enock Mwepu were signed by Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg of Austria.

They have gone onto win the Austrian league played in the Europa League.

It is not the big money moves that Kanoute chooses to focus on but is more about providing African talent with an opportunity.

Kanoute says he has been encouraged by the apparent wealth of talent in Zambia especially at Kafue Celtics where he works with club owner Lee Kawanu.

“In 2015 I met Kalusha [Bwalya], I have known since childhood. He introduced me to Lee (Kawanu) here in Zambia,” he explained.

“It resonated inside me quickly because I know Zambia has great talent. Since I came here the first time, I was not disappointed because there is a will, strong motivation to develop football.”

Build for the future

Kanoute says whilst there is pressure on African teams to deliver instant results, it is important to build for the future.

“Development of players has to be managed bottom up, we have to believe in the youth, and obviously it takes time,” he says.

“Ideally we need to tackle the present because we need results now and it will boost the youth and will also boost everything for the development but we need to think long term.”

The joint topscorer at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations says young people need an opportunity to develop their talent through established youth structures.

“I believe in a strong youth system, we need to give them all the opportunities so that they can have success,” he says.

“Development will not just happen but needs to be within a structured way. It won’t just come without investing in the youth.”

Kanoute says Zambia’s failure to qualify for the last two Nations Cup tournaments should be seen as an opportunity to invest in the future.

“The fact that they have not qualified does not mean they are no longer a power house. It is an opportunity to invest in youth structures,” he says.

“If one thinks that you can just get world class players hoping for a quick fix, it will not work. We need to think long term by working with the youths.’

Mali’s chances

Kanoute believes that his native Mali have a perfect blend of youth and experience to do well at the tournament.

Mali, who have never won the Nations Cup, are in a group alongside Angola, Tunisia and debutants Mauritania.

“I hope at least they are going to go through the group stage without wasting too much energy on the road,” he said.

“I think it is an exciting team that has been renewed, a little bit younger.

Kanoute was in two minds about the benefits of an expanded 24-nation tournament.

“On one hand it is good for other nations to take part and to have a chance to show their skills to other Africans and the world. So more participants is more positive,” he says.

“On the other hand, the level of the competition could drop a little bit…I do not know we have to see how it goes.”

The 2006 and 2007 Europa League winner with Sevilla is happy that the Confederation of African Football has moved the tournament from January.

“We have to think as a whole nation of football – not just as Caf, Uefa and Fifa – to make it easier for national teams. It is better to have it when there is no league,” he says.

“When they (the players) leave for Afcon they lose their spot, I have gone through that myself. When you come back you have lost your spot.”

Curbing the sports betting menace in Nigerian youths

By (Jerome-Mario Utomi)

Talking about young people, human development experts have described the stage as a moment of the storm, a stage in the developmental growth where young adults would want to explore and express self, as well as want to know more about the world.

This uncensored urge naturally comes with inherent challenge which adversely affects the youth’s education and promotes social vices such as premarital sexual escapades, instant gratification, the proliferation of fake news, and erosion of societal values.

But looking at recent commentaries, it’s no more an overstatement that our effort to create a more humane nation has recently witnessed a setback with the advent of sports betting on our shores.

This should however not be construed as a prediction of doom.

To explain; sports betting as a form of lottery or game of chance is neither restricted to a particular age nor sex but fueled by the grinding poverty and starvation with which our country is currently afflicted.

In this context, there is nothing essentially wrong with sports betting if well regulated, but looking at the number of minds so far corrupted, and ‘destinies’ destroyed by this game, it becomes unfortunately true that like a turbulent ocean beating great cliffs into fragments of rocks, so has sport betting submerged our countrysides – bringing social, moral, cultural, and economic devastation upon our youths with their future now hanging on the balance.

Given this preceding awareness, nothing becomes more self-contradictory than the realization that its operation is backed by an enabling act. Interestingly as it appears, the act among other things provide for the establishment of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission charged with responsibility for the regulation of the business of national lottery in Nigeria as well as the establishment of a National Lottery Trust Fund.

Similarly, while some pro-sports bet advocates have argued that it cannot be called a gamble as it has a regulatory agency; others at different times and places expressed similar sentiment saying that; since the winnings of sports bet are usually predicted on outcome of legitimate games of soccer, addressing sports bet as a gamble cannot square up with logic as no good means can give birth to a bad end.

Arguably a well-chiselled position particularly when one remembers that sports betting provides a means of livelihood for the teaming operators. But before celebrating the vision and wisdom behind the above, it becomes more important that Nigerians first look at the crowd of young adults that daily fraternizes with sports betting centres, review some ‘exiting progress’ recorded in this direction, and instincts coming from the larger society.

Going by reports, the cold truth is that beyond this advantage, its negative psychological effects such as; loss of fortune, loss of businesses, depression, death through suicide, assassination or heart attack, loss of sleep (insomnia), insanity, marital problems between the gambler and the young spouse as the gambler is always temperamental and agitated – on our youths, outweighs the usefulness.

But, even more, some well-meaning Nigerians had recently begun to question its usefulness to national development in the face of sterling beliefs that sports betting acts as a gateway to and possesses the capacity for luring addicted players into criminal acts such as internet crimes (yahoo-yahoo in the local palace) and armed robbery.

The questions that now confront us as a nation are; how did parents suddenly lose control over their children to yield obedience to the power of sports betting? How many of the youths in Nigeria would overcome the temptation currently posed by sports betting? Who will stop those that cannot apply the virtue of moderation? Shall we entrust the future of our youths to the present regulators? Or must we as a nation allow the useful and the useless like good and evil go on together allowing our nation to reap whatever fruit that comes in the nearest future?

For one thing, if an attempt is made to provide answers to these questions, it will definitely establish a link between the proliferation of sports betting centres and the high unemployment challenge in the country.

My reason is not far-fetched.

The unruly behaviours of some youths notwithstanding, the lack of political will on the part of the government to tackle the unemployment challenge in the country from its roots, or see the urgent necessity to cease politics and turn outwards to look for constructive and creative channels to fight the enemy called unemployment in the country contributes to the ever-increasing number of youths that throng different sports betting centres in all the major cities of the federation.

But this may not be the whole explanation.

Nigerians have learned through painful experience that greed, peer pressure, and laziness among some of these youths have conjoined to give a boost to this newly adopted culture by our youths.

In my views, this is a clear socioeconomic problem that we collectively as a nation will have to determine how to solve- as the future strength of our nation depends on these young people.

To get started, apart from coming up with more efficient regulatory framework, government at all levels – federal, state, and local government areas must take politics out of our education and concentrate on empowering the youths through creation of jobs that will keep these youths gainfully engaged as well as prepare them for jobs of the future – the leadership of our nation.

In addition to the above, skills acquisition for these youths and financial empowerment to those trained and actively regulating the business activities of this lottery outfits will be another step taken in the right direction by the government.

On their part, faith-based organizations and the civil society groups as change-agents should develop the people’s capacity to welcome new ideas, reject unwholesome behaviours that can endanger individual lives and that of the entire society.

Finally, let every youth in the words of Mahatma Gandhi develop a habit of accounting for everything that comes into, and goes out of his/her pocket and be sure he is the gainer at the end.

Sports: Planning Ahead, Bucs & City To Tussle For Ex-SA Youth International

It is understood that there is Interest in a former South African youth international player, Pule Maraisane.

Maraisane, who is plying his trade in Turkey with Cerkezköy 1911, could be set for a return to Mzansi, as reported in edition 1117 of Soccer Laduma.

The 24-year-old winger, who is a product of the renowned Stars of Africa Football Academy and has previously turned out for teams in Portugal and Sweden in his career, is on the radar of overseas clubs although a possibility of a PSL move is not being ruled out.

“There’s interest in the player from different clubs in South Africa and overseas. There’s a possibility that he may even go to Portugal in his next move,” a source told the Siya crew.

Contacted for comment, Maraisane confirmed interest in him from the Buccaneers and the Citizens.

“I can’t rule out a possibility of a return to South Africa, as I previously had offers from Cape Town City and Pirates. That was last year,” said Maraisane.

“But, at the time, I had already signed a contract in Turkey. The two clubs had been in contact with my agent,” he added.

“Sometimes being away from your family can be difficult. I may consider coming back home in the future,” confirmed the former SA U20 star.

“Before coming here, I had an injury, which kept me out for about a year – recovering at home in South Africa. After I recovered, I came here and I was with the team for about a month-and-a-half on trial. I later signed with the team. I was on the bench for a few games initially, after signing with the team, but now I am one of the regulars in the team,” he said.

“But it was not easy, and coming from a foreign country, I found things different at the club. There were times I was playing and not playing, and I was asking myself, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ But the coach was encouraging me to say, ‘It’s part of the process, you can’t just come and expect to play regularly.’ I am now one of the starting players for the team,” concluded Maraisane.

As reported, City recently signed 19-year-old defender Keith Groeneveld, who returned to his country of birth after a spell with Belgian Pro League outfit Standard Liege, while Bucs are expected to begin with the process of reshuffling their squad at the end of the season.

Source Soccer Laduma