Saturday, July 14, 2012

MBM City Stars

One of the things we enjoy is when a Kenyan journalist takes time to do something that is for the good of the Kenyan game. Charles Nyende of the Daily Nation last night had a minute-by-minute play of the action as Leopards took on Nairobi City Stars.

We reproduce the action here.


6:48: Welcome to Nyayo National Stadium and our live coverage. This is the 139th match of the 2012 Kenyan Premier League between title chasing AFC Leopards and mid-table Nairobi City Stars. City Stars head into the match on the back of a tremendous recent record where they have won four of their last five matches including a 3-0 humiliation of their opponents today. 

Even so, Leopards, you feel, are the favourites today after looking to have recovered from a worrying slump with two back to back victories. Leopards will be parading their lethal second leg acquisition Paul Were from Tusker, who has fitted into his new club like a black spot on a Leopard skin. 

Expect Leopards to come out all fangs bared as they look for revenge and a chance to go back to the top of the league table. City, you bet, will not just roll over and die. They will confidently want to maintain their winning ways while solidifying their position in better half of the league table. I cannot wait for the kick-off.

6:51: The line-up will be coming up shortly but interestingly AFC Leopard’s big second leg signing, international Pascal Ochieng is starting on the bench. Jan Koop, who early this week told me he always prefers keeping a winning team intact, has stuck to his tested central back pairing of Jonas Nahimana and Eric Masika.

Gideon Ochieng, the Nairobi City Stars, coach has made changes to the starting team that drew 0-0 with Western Stima last Sunday, bringing in ex-Gor Mahia pair of Duncan Owiti and Ibrahim Kitawi while relegating to the bench club loyalists, Justus Basweti and Francis Thairu. This looks interesting.

6:54: The crowd is slowly building up. Remember this is a working day and I will not even mention the chaotic traffic on the streets of Nairobi. Tickets are priced at VIP Sh400, terraces Sh200. It will not be a full house by any measure but a decent turn out all the same. Most on the stands are in blue and white, the official colours of Ingwe.

6:59: I did a quick check on the social media sites. This are some of the facts I came up with.

AFC Leopards Facebook Branch – 9.413 members
AFC Leopards FacebookGroup Page: 1,929 members
Nairobi City Stars Facebook page – 245 likes and no list of members

7:00: line-ups:
AFC Leopards
Barnabas Tiema, Edwin Wagula, Idrissa Rajab, Jonas Nahimana, Eric Masika, Martin Imbalambala (capt), Paul Were, Bernard Mangoli, Allan Wanga, Jimmy Bageya, Mike Barasa. Subs; Patrick Matasi, Abbas Kiwalabye, Amon Muchiri, Victor Ochieng, Augustine Etemesi, Laurent Tumba, Pascal Ochieng
City Stars
Ronny Kagunzi, Mark Ongwae,John Amboko (capt), Nicholas Ochieng, Arthur Museve, Boniface Onyango, Dennis Okumu, David Kingatua, Duncan Owiti, Ibrahim Kitawi, George Mwangi. Subs; Fredrick Majani, Simon Ogutu, Peter Ashango, Joel Sebuliba, Justus Basweti, Francis Thairu, Alex Achoki.

7:01: Both teams have walked into the stadium, Leopards in their traditional blue white, City Stars in a spanking new all yellow kit.

7:03: Great atmosphere that you only get when one of the two –AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia - real big clubs in the country are playing. Isikuti dancers are in full motion to some throbbing drum beat. The late Jack Luseno’s ageless hit Mukangala had the aroused crowd imbibed in acoustic nourishment. It got to me too I must admit.

Here are the match officials:
Referee – James Kagera
Assistant referees – Peter Kiereino, Oliver Ouma
Fourth official – Richard Obare
Match Commissioner – Aloice Odhiambo

7:05: KICK-OFF! Leopards on the Nairobi West side, City Stars on the Bunyala Road side.

7:06: AFC captain Imbalambala almost cuts off the feet of Onyango in an early indication of the midfield battle.

7:07: The second most expensive player in the league Masika sends a long punt to the speedy Were but City Stars are alert to the danger and clear.

7:09: Wanga combines well with Bagaye to release the Ugandan who tests City's keeper Kagunzi with a rasping shot.

7:10: Baraza collides with Amboko inside the City Stars box as both battle for the ball. Amboko comes out worst as play is briefly stopped.

7:12: Wanga detaches from some tight marking to unleash a screamer from just outside the area that is matches by screams from the partisan crowd but the shot sails wide.

7:13: Good opening spell from Leopards but City look unfazed with some confident passing. Not much between the two sides at the moment.

7:14: Leopards coach Koop is on his feet as a missed tackle by Masika almost gets Mwangi away but the men in blue and white recover.

7:16: Ten minutes gone and we have had just one shot on goal, the screamer from Wanga. Most play is concentrated in the middle but you feel things will open up, surely.

7:18: Leopards get to quick corners but they are poorly executed. Dead balls have been a problem area in Kenyan football and this two instances illustrate that.

7:20: Rajab and Imbabambala play some neat one two in the middle but the Kenya captain sends a long ball down the right wing to no one in particularly. If Leopards are thinking of regaining the lead of the league table they certainly must play better football.

7:22: Were is enjoying himself on the pitch with some sublime moves. It is good to see players showboat sometimes. The crowd are loving it but it a goal the want most. City Stars will care less.

7:23: City Stars finally get their first shot on goal, a long-range hopeful effort from Onyango well dealt by Tiema in the Leopards goals.

7:24: At the other end Mangoli almost sends the ball sailing to Nakummat Mega with a thunderous shot. Are we going to get any goals this evening?

7:26: Penalty for Leopards after Ochieng handles the ball in the box following great ran from Were

7:26: GOAL!

7:27: AFC LEOPARDS 1 CITY STARS 0. Goal poacher Mike Baraza calmly steps forward to send the penalty kick home. This is his fifth goal of the season.

7:30: It passed me earlier on but Okumu was shown the yellow card for protesting the penalty decision. You will feel for him though, television replays show Ochieng did not handle the ball. I case for video technology, I wonder what Fifa president Sepp Blatter would say about this?

7:32: The Isikuti beats throb on, City coach Ochieng remonstrates with the fourth official on the touch line. Things are getting hot down there.

7:34: Were is tormenting his markers with some trickery with the ball. He is a life wire for Leopards.

7:35: City Stars get a nice break but Kitawi rushes his shot with plenty of space and option for him and the chance goes begging.

7:37: Wanga fails to control the ball under the close attention of Museve following a good Leopards build up. It has been a rather quiet spell from him so far.

7:37: That man Were again. He leaves the City defence for dead but puts too much weight on his pass when he needed to just pick the unmarked Baraza in the box. What a chance.

7:39: Were is at it again but his free kick from about 25 metres wide is a poor effort. He shows his frustration with stare into space.

7:41: It is now all Leopards us they search for more insurance. Rajab floats a cross into the box but Wanga's jump is a few centimetres shot and City are let off the hook.

7:43: Masika is down injured and is receiving first aid. Gives me chance to give you the recent form of the two sides:

Leopards: LLDWW
City Stars: WWWWD

7:44: Masika returns and shows it with an emphatic headed clearance off a City Stars free kick.

7:47: City are gradually getting back into this game with Kitawi and Owiti driving forward to the back four of Leopards - Wafula, Nahimana, Masika and Rajab. This match is far from over.

7:48: Baraza wrestles down Kangatua, by far City's most impressive player this evening, to draw a foul as the game goes through a lull.

7:50: Nahimana gets his face full of Kitawi's studs. That was dangerous play from Kitawi but he escapes without a caution.

7:52: It is now all City as they search for the equaliser. Nahimana makes a wild clearance in his six yard box under pressure.


7:57: Leopards will be the happier side at the break. They were under increasing pressure from City who dominated the latter stages of the half but had nothing to show for it. Only a brave man can predict the outcome. Me? It can go either way. Yeah, right.

8:02: I must admit here at Nyayo Stadium the press facilities are rather rudimentary. 

Actually, they are non existent. I have squeezed into a booth used by the SuperSport broadcast team to carry out this reporting and, what do you know, thanks to them I can give you the following half time statistics

Shots on goal:
Leopards 5 City Stars 3
Leopards 4 City Stars 0
Leopards 53 City Stars 47
Leopards 7 City Stars 11

8:07: More stats for you at the break

Head to head. They have met six times since 2009. AFC Leopards winning three times, City Stars twice with one draw.

League record:
P W D L F A Pts
2. Leopards: 17 10 4 3 25 15 34
10. City Stars 17 5 6 6 13 16 21

Leading League scorers
Allan Wanga 6
Mike Baraza 5
Victor Ochieng 4
City Stars
Boniface Onyango 2
George Odari 2

The eleven goals that Leopards have scored at Nyayo
8:10: Nairobi mayor George Aladwa is in attendance. I wonder if he is here in his capacity as the father of the city or he is a Leopards fan. At least I know he is the chairman of ODM Nairobi County. Okay, let us not bring politics into football.

8:11: And we kick off the second half with City getting the first touch.

8:13: Were gets past a sliding Onwgae but a trailing leg brings him down. The Kenya winger, by this indication, still has plenty of gas to burn.

8:14: Imbalambala pushes up from midfield but his wild shot is way over the bar. It would make a super rugby union conversion.

8:18: Not much constructive football going on as both teams struggle to hold onto possession.

8:21: Bageya squares the ball to Imbalambala on the edge of the box but he flays the ball over the bar again. The crowd goes "ooooooh!" That will tell you the speed the ball was travelling at.

8:21: Boniface Onyango of City Stars gets a yellow card for rough play.

8:25: Wafula, Were combine to put Baraza through, who does a step over to hit the gain line but his cross goes begging with Wanga mistiming his run. This will encourage Leopards

8:26: On paper Leopards are the superior side but on the ground, City Stars are anything but cowed by their fancied opponents. It is still anybody's game out there.

8:29: Leopards have a good shout for a penalty after Ongwae looked to have clearly handled the ball in the box but referee Kagera waves play on.

8:31: Owiti gets a yellow card for trying to fool the referee with an injury. Kagera is gaining prominence in this match.

8:32: Owiti shows good pace to split open the Leopards back line but Tiemi is alert to the danger.

8:35: Tricky Bageya is bundled to the ground by Okumu and the ref calls for a foul. City coach Ochieng is incensed. They share harsh words and HE IS RED CARDED. Off to the stands he goes

8:38: City Stars are seeing more of the possession but not making good use of it. A sea of blue and red is making it difficult for them to progress to the final third of the pitch.

8:42: Tiemi is down injured. He went down like looks like he was pole axed . Play has been stopped as he receives medical attention. Koops looks worried but Tiemi is back on his feel and play resumes.

8:44: City Stars make first substitution, bringing in Basweti for Kingatua. Basweti is a former Leopards player. Could that make a difference? Let's see.

8:45: Baraza turns Onyango at the edge of the box but his shot whistles past the face of goal.

8:47: Baraza receives a yellow card for a deliberate hand ball. The cheek from Baraza. It was so obvious you cannot blame the referee.

8:48: Leopards make a double substitution. Out goes Were for Congolese Tumba and out goes B.araza for Ochieng. Ochieng is Leopards third highest league scorer with four goals and will be thinking of increasing the tally.

8:51: Masika gets a yellow card for rough play.

8:52: Kitawi tests Tiema with a good effort from 20 metres out. City can gain from this.

8:54: Wafula tries one from far. Out. Leopards have not really shown that thrust up front except when Were was making his direct runs and Wafula's effort from far shows their frustration.

8:56: The 90 minutes are up and the fourth official has added a staggering six minutes. This will be an anxious wait for Leopards fans.

8:58: Wanga is superbly stopped by Kagunza after Rajab picks him in the box with a pin point delivery. It could have been all over for City Stars.

8:58: City make another substitution. Owiti out for Achoki.

9:01: Ogwae refuses to throw the ball back to Leopards after Wange kicked it out to have the injured Bagaye attended but nothing comes of it.

9:02: And the final whistle goes. AFC LEOPARDS 1 NAIROBI CITY STARS 0.

9:10: Leopards stubbornly clung to their early first half win and there is huge relief on the stands because City fought hard in this one had chances come back in the game.

The win pushes Leopards to the top of the 16-team league table and even though it was not a convincing one it surely cements their credentials as legitimate title contenders.

City on the other hand will be disappointed they lost their five-match unbeaten run but they have shown they are certainly not relegation material. Their blight today was the red card to coach Ochieng who let his players down when they needed him most. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage and bye bye.