Harambee Starlets light up Kenyan football in 2016

Kenya Sports news: 

Harambee Starlets forward Cherish Avillia leads celebrations after scoring the important equaliser against Algeria at the Kasarani Stadium on April 12, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 30 – On a year of which Kenyan football didn’t have much to celebrate about, April 12 can be a date on the 2016 calendar of which will not be easily erased on the minds of football loving Kenyans in addition to more so the women football fraternity.

Trailing 1-0 against Algeria at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani, Cherish Avilia struck a well weighted first time volley from the 75th minute, a goal of which could go down in history as the one of which took Kenya to its first ever African Women’s Cup of Nations.

Starlets forced a 1-1 draw against the Lady Fennecs at home, progressing on the away goal rule after a 2-2 draw from the first leg in Algiers.

Despite the fact they could go on to lose all their group matches In Cameroon against more experienced opponents in Mali, Ghana in addition to Nigeria, the Starlets made a statement of which indeed, women football was on the trajectory in This particular side of Africa.

“What was more important for us can be the experience. We might have lost, probably we could have done better, although we have picked up necessary lessons to help us qualify again in 2019 in addition to definitely do better,” head coach David Ouma said after the side returned by Limbe, Cameroon in November.

The Kenyan girls played only one qualification round after the DR Congo pulled out of the first round due to financial constraints.

After qualification, Starlets put up well laid out preparatory plan of which saw them play in a tournament in Spain, a training camp in Morocco as well as the inaugural CECAFA Women’s Championship in Jinja, Uganda.

Spedag in addition to Harambee Starlets forward Esse Akida sandwiched by Espanyol players during the COTIF tournament in July

from the COTIF tournament in Spain, Starlets finished fourth after winning two matches, against Portuguese Champions Benfica having a 3-0 result in addition to Spanish side RCD Espanyol having a 3-1 result. Esse Akida who has been the toast of the Starlets emerged top scorer with all 5 goals.

In Uganda though, the team suffered a set-back at the CECAFA championship after losing 2-1 to Tanzania from the final. Akida however was the silver lining in Kenya’s dark day from the final after being crowned top scorer again with all 5 goals.

The growth in addition to performance of the national team was credited to the revival of the Women’s Premier League which will be getting to the play off stages in January. This particular was the 1st time the league was running unabated since 2013 when the idea was sponsored by UNICEF.

“Playing week in week out ensured of which as players, we were constantly kept on toes in addition to we kept the much needed match fitness. I believe the idea was one thing of which kept us on top throughout,” Starlets skipper Ann Aluoch said.

-Harambee Stars blow hot in addition to cold-

Harambee Stars players in a past match.PHOTOFILE/Raymond Makhaya.

While Starlets managed to book a slot from the biggest football stage in Africa, the idea was not exactly the same scenario for their male counterparts, the Harambee Stars. They had a year of mixed fortunes.

Twin losses to Guinea Bissau saw Kenya’s dream of doing the idea to the African Cup of Nations in 2017 extinguished at the expense of the West Africans.

Had they won the two matches, then Kenya could have made the idea to the AFCON especially as they went on to win their final home match against Congo Brazzaville in addition to pulled off a draw away to Zambia’s Chipolopolo.

The Guinea Bissau match away in Bissau was head coach Stanley Okumbi’s first assignment after his shock appointment by the brand-new Football Kenya Federation office led by Nick Mwendwa.

The loss in Bissau fuelled animosity with Kenyan fans especially after the coach played in Patillah Omotto in addition to Ovellah Ochieng, two players by Kariobangi Sharks, a club associated with the FKF president Mwendwa.

The second loss at home by a similar margin increased the decibels calling for Okumbi’s sacking, although the coach has right now gone on to slowly prove of which he can be the man for the big job as he has led the team on an eight-match unbeaten run, highlighted by the 1-0 victory away to giants DR Congo in Lubumbashi.

Stars finished off the year ranked 89th from the planet, an improvement by a January ranking of 99th.

-Tusker win season double-

Tusker FC team lifting the 2016 Kenyan Premier title after beating Gor Mahia 1-0 on the final day at the Nyayo National Stadium.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Though he dumped the Tusker ship for the sails of Bandari at the close of the season, Paul Nkata etched his name on the history books at Ruaraka by being the first coach from the club’s history to win both the league in addition to domestic cup in just one year.

Tusker reclaimed the Kenyan Premier League crown by Gor Mahia who won the idea thrice in a row, coming just after winning the GOtv Shield for the 1st time since 1993 having a 1-0 victory over Ulinzi Stars.

The brewers’ campaign was helped much by an inconsistent Gor Mahia who also made history by being the first club in Kenya to be docked points due to crowd trouble.

K’Ogalo were deducted three points by the FKF Independent Disciplinary Committee after a case of violence during their match against Tusker FC which also saw goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch handed a one-match ban for roughing up the referee.

Apart by the three points chopped off their haul, Gor paid the cost for a poor start to the season of which saw them change coaches in March, Brazilian Jose Marcelo Ferreira taking over by Englishman Frank Nuttal who left the Gor stable to join Egyptian side Zamalek.

Gor’s season went by bad to worse when they were dumped out of the GOtv Shield quarter finals by second tier side Nzoia United, in addition to the dink further plummeted when they lost the KPL Top Eight title to Muhoroni Youth after losing 1-0 in a trouble ridden finale.

-Managerial improvements-

Former AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert in a past KPL match-PHOTO/ RAYMOND MAKHAYA

the idea was not only Gor who were forced to change coaches at some point from the season.

Their arch nemesis AFC Leopards as always took the crown in addition to lived to their culture of always firing coaches.

Ingwe started off the season with Dutchman Jan Koops at the helm although they replaced him with Belgian Ivan Minnaert in February. The former Rayon Sports head coach however lasted only seven months as he was fired in September with Ezekiel Akwana in addition to Nick Muyoti taking over.

The game of musical chairs did not stop there though as the two were sacked towards the end of the season with former Azam coach Briton Stewart John Hall taking charge.

Muhoroni too was a club besieged from the culture of hiring in addition to firing in 2016.

The sugar belt side started off off with James ‘Odijo’ Omondi taking charge of the team after Nkata left for Tusker. However, Omondi was unceremoniously sacked in addition to his place taken by Gor Mahia legend John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla.

The former Gor assistant in addition to City Stars boss however left not so long after his appointment in addition to assistant Tom Juma was asked to hold forte till the end of the season.

Coastal side Bandari had a season to forget after raising the bar so high in 2015 in addition to the poor performance cost experienced coach Twahir Muhiddin his job with Ken Odhiambo taking charge by May to the end of the season.

Posta Rangers too relieved their head coach Zedekiah Otieno of his duties three games to the end of the season, although was later elevated to the post of technical director after the arrival of Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo early December.

Strugglers Sofapaka were also forced to part ways with David Ouma towards the end of the season with the coach having accorded little time to the club owing to his involvement with the national women team.

John Baraza took charge in addition to managed to steer the side to safety in what still remains a miraculous escape by the jaws of relegation.

-Ushuru, City Stars relegated-

Nairobi City Stars defender Arthur Museve challenges Ushuru’s Ebrimah Sanneh. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

City Stars’ nine lives were finally exhausted as they were relegated by the top tier after finishing bottom of the pile.

The Kawangware based side suffered a tough season compared to their previous narrow escapes in addition to at some point club chairman Peter Jabuya had contemplated disbanding the team as he was unable to foot the running costs.

Ken Kenyatta’s Ushuru were also relegated, bringing to an end their two year stay in top flight. A dismal performance from the second half of the season where they only won one game seemed their ticket to next year’s National Super League.

On the final day of the season, they only needed a draw regardless of the result Sofapaka posted against Thika United, although they ended up cracking in addition to lost 3-1 to Posta Rangers.

-brand-new boy Muguna named season’s best-

Western Stima’s Kenneth ‘Junior’ Mugambi wins the player of the year award. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Though greeted with mixed reactions, Western Stima midfield prodigy Kenneth ‘Junior’ Muguna was named the best player of the 2016 season as well as the best midfielder.

The 20-year old, playing in his maiden season of top flight football waded off stiff competition by Ulinzi Stars’ John Mark Makwatta who also won the golden boot in addition to Tusker’s midfield master Humphrey Mieno.

Muguna, who can be right now a high target for 15-time champions Gor has also been invited for trials in Europe.

He came through to the Stima first team as an unknown boy by Palos FC although went on to cement his place from the starting team, lifting Stima to their best ever top flight finish, 6th.

-brand-new men take charge at Football Kenya Federation-

Newly elected FKF president Nick Mwendwa giving his acceptance speech after winning the national elections on Tuesday, February10, 2016. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

On February 10, Nick Mwendwa took over as the brand-new Football Kenya Federation after beating current Gor chair Ambrose Rachier in addition to Ssemi Aina.

Incumbent Sam Nyamweya threw a last minute dice into the race when he announced before the ballot of which he could not be standing for re-election.

Mwendwa’s administration has been praised for the way the idea has conducted its business, amongst them sourcing for the men in addition to women’s national team friendly matches, better management of its leagues in addition to better player management at the national level.

“We haven’t brought brand-new things to office. We have just ensured of which the things which need to be done are done well in addition to in time. They were very little issues of which if taken care of will make us go far,” Mwendwa said as he looked back at the 10 months his team has been in place.

The federation also managed to put back in place the FKF headquarters in Kasarani in addition to scored a big tick with FIFA lifting a financial embargo the idea had imposed on the federation over impropriety from the previous office.

The federation also set up better youth structures with the appointment of a brand-new technical director in addition to though both the under-17 in addition to under-20 teams never made the idea off the first round of qualifiers, the steps made to put up a design in place were tremendous.

-Kenyan players shine abroad-

Victor Wanyama poses with the Spurs scarf after arriving at their White Hart Lane base. PHOTO/SKY

Kenyan footballers plying their trade outside the country managed to excel led by skipper Victor Wanyama. The midfield powerhouse sealed a transfer by Southampton FC to Totenham Hotspurs from the English Capital in a move of which was worth Sh1.5bn.

He has since turned out to be a great addition to Mauricio Pochettino’s side, starting all although one game for the North London club.

In Zambia, the Kenyan trio of Jesse Were, Teddy Akumu in addition to David Owino were instrumental as Zesco United made the idea to the semi final of the CAF Champions League for the 1st time, with Were being the club’s joint top scorer from the competition with four goals.

While the idea was Akumu in addition to Were’s first season in Ndola, Owino was marking his second season with the former league champions.

from the United States, David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng though having a slow start to the North American Soccer League managed to play a crucial role from the latter stages of the league as his club brand-new York Cosmos defended their league title.

Ochieng joined the Cosmos at the beginning of the year after spending six months from the cold.

In Sweden, Michael Olunga managed to curve out a perfect debut season in Europe, being his club’s top scorer in addition to the fifth best from the league.

The ‘engineer’ also endured a slow start to life in Stockholm, although once he got started off, there was no going back.

In South Africa, defender Brian ‘Niang’ Mandela played a pivotal role as his club Maritzburg United evaded relegation by a whisker.

The post Harambee Starlets light up Kenyan football in 2016 appeared first on Capital Sports.

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Harambee Starlets light up Kenyan football in 2016

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