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Isiolo Starlets, Chuka University book Chapa Dimba final berths

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VICTOR OTIENO             

By VICTOR OTIENO            
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Isiolo Starlets and Chuka University will face-off in the girls’ final of the Eastern region Chapa Dimba na Safaricom Youth tournament at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday.

The two teams will be fighting to be crowned the region’s new champions after last year’s winners St Mary’s Ndovea from Makueni were eliminated in the group stages.

In the semi-finals held Saturday, newcomers Isiolo humiliated Mabuu Queens 8-0 in a lop-sided encounter, to reach the final.

Guyatu Halakhe, Nasibo Ibrahim and Halima Tadicha all booked their names in the list of golden boots contestants with a brace each.

Nasibo Wario and Kula Dida were Isiolo’s other scorers.

Starlets coach Collins Otieno said the fans are yet to see the full potential of his charges, as Mabuu Queens were not their match.

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“They (Mabuu Queens) were too weak, allowed in easy goals making it so easy for us. If we get a stronger team, the crowd will be impressed with our display,” said Otieno.

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In the second girls’ semi-finals, Susan Wanjeri struck late to help Chuka University storm into the final with a 2-1 victory over season one champions Ngakaa Talent from Makueni.

Ngakaa Talent started brightly, taking the lead in the 36th minute through Samantha Adhiambo.

But Talent coach Boniface Makumi’s side failed to sustain the momentum in the second half, Wanjeri levelling the score in the 49th minute. She grabbed a brace and sealed Chuka’s victory five minutes to time.

“Endurance earned us victory because our opponents were good just like us. I think we have a good chance to win the title tomorrow now that we are done with the match that was our toughest,” said Chuka coach Sean Opwora.

Isiolo Starlets 8-0 Mabuu Queens

Chuka University 2-1 Ngakaa Talent

Isiolo Starlets v Chuka University – final

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‘It’s not over,’ Guardiola warns City after Madrid win

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is wary of a Real Madrid fightback in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie © AFP / JAVIER SORIANO

MADRID, Spain, Feb 26Pep Guardiola warned his Manchester City players that Real Madrid are more than capable of a Champions League fightback after a historic 2-1 last 16, first leg win for the English champions at the Santiago Bernabeu.

City struck twice in the final 12 minutes through Gabriel Jesus and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty to beat the 13-time European champions for the first time in their history.

Madrid will also be without captain Sergio Ramos for the second leg after he was sent off late on for bringing down Jesus, but Guardiola is wary of Madrid’s history of comebacks in the Champions League.

“It’s just the first part, it’s not three points. If one team can overcome this situation, for experience, for everything, it is this club, but of course it is a good result,” Guardiola told BT Sport.

“I am so proud of course but it is just the first step, we have another game, it is not over. So be calm, enjoy it, enjoy the moment. Have a good dinner, good regeneration, on Sunday we have a final, keep going in the Premier League and prepare the second game against Madrid.”

Guardiola again sprung a surprise on a big Champions League night with his team selection as Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Fernandinho were left on the bench.

Jesus was deployed in an unfamiliar role wide on the left, but Sterling’s introduction as a second half substitute pushed the Brazilian up front and swung the game in City’s favour.

After Jesus headed in De Bruyne’s cross, Sterling was chopped down by Dani Carvajal inside the area.

“They press so high and the centre-backs can jump, we saw the space we believed was outside. Gabriel is so quick and Riyad (Mahrez) can do it,” added Guardiola.

“In the end we knew for the last 20-30 minutes, Raheem is so fast too. It was good.”

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How coronavirus has affected Chinese football transfer market

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AFP

By AFP
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A double blow of the coronavirus and a new salary cap has seen the bottom fall out of Chinese football’s transfer market, while Odion Ighalo led what could become an exodus of foreign stars.

Shanghai SIPG smashed the Asian transfer record when they signed Oscar from Chelsea three years ago for EUR60 million, with Hulk, Marouane Fellaini, Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez all moving to China in recent years.

Their arrivals put Chinese football on the map and provoked consternation in Europe’s major leagues that Chinese clubs were distorting the transfer market with world-leading wages.

But with wages now capped at EUR3 million a year, and the Chinese Super League on hold over the coronavirus outbreak, China isn’t the destination it once was.

China’s winter transfer window looks poised to close with a whimper on Friday, with Chinese Super League clubs spending just EUR28 million so far, the lowest since 2011.

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There were two notable departures with striker Ighalo joining Manchester United on loan from Shanghai Shenhua and Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco returning to Atletico Madrid from Dalian.

China’s domestic football is indefinitely suspended because of the virus outbreak, which has killed nearly 2,800 people in the country and has now spread around the world.

Harry Belford Spencer, co-founder of First Pick Group, a Shanghai-based sports advisory company, said the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus had put off prospective foreign signings and

dissuaded Chinese clubs from doing business.

“You are not going to invest a lot of money as a club if you don’t really know what’s happening,” said the Briton, who is involved in the Chinese transfer scene.

“You are signing these players with the intention of them playing earlier (from the start of the season in February), and there’s now this delay.

“You don’t want to build up a big wage bill and that’s probably why you see a guy like Ighalo joining United because why would Shanghai Shenhua want him on their books paying a salary when they’re not playing football?”

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Even before now, China’s transfer market had begun to cool after the Chinese Football Association brought in measures to encourage clubs to develop youth players.

The most significant was a 100 percent tax on foreign signings of more than 45 million yuan (EUR6 million), introduced in 2017.

In December, the CFA said that foreign players could not earn more than EUR3 million a year after tax.

That torpedoed any chance of Gareth Bale, who was on the verge of joining Jiangsu Suning from Real Madrid last summer, coming to China.

The salary cap will not affect existing contracts — SIPG’s attacking midfielder Oscar is one of the best-paid players in the world on a reported EUR26 million a year.

But it will hit foreign players when it comes to renewing, meaning they are likely to look outside China when their current deals expire.

In a sign of how Chinese clubs’ spending has plummeted this winter, the most expensive transfer over the last two months was Brazilian Ricardo Lopes, who went to SIPG from Jeonbuk Motors for EUR5.46 million.

The outlay this winter is the lowest since the 2011 window, with CSL clubs relying on free transfers, loans or signings for nominal fees.

Nine of the 16 sides in the league have not spent a penny, including Fabio Cannavaro’s champions Guangzhou Evergrande, according to transfermarkt.com figures.

While foreign players are hesitant to come to China because of the virus, domestic transfers have also slowed considerably because of the impact on everyday life and difficulties clubs face trying to plan for a season that has no start date.

Spencer, who expects the transfer market to pick up somewhat once the health crisis eases, said: “The virus of course makes it difficult for clubs to take players in.

“Whilst lots of China isn’t affected, it’s a reality of: do you want to play in China at the moment?”

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Human rights group pleads for banned athletes

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DENNIS LUBANGA

By DENNIS LUBANGA
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A human rights group has petitioned the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to lift bans on all athletes sanctioned for doping, basing their demands on “questionable errors” in anti-doping programmes.

They argue this will ensure justice for the affected sportsmen and women.

According to the Africa Alliance for Health, Research and Economic Development (AAHRED), suspensions and bans on athletes due to anti-doping rules violations has become common in Kenyan and, generally, East Africa.

“The negative effects of the anti-doping programmes present misery and painful punitive actions specifically to those who deny the charges of doping but are found guilty on evidence of results with discrepancies from both human and equipment technicalities, leave alone the naturally occurring biological conditions beyond their control requiring extensive research,” said Gilbert Kiplom, the sports and human rights officer at AAHRED.

Addressing journalists in Eldoret on Wednesday, the group claimed they had examined the steps that include sample processing, laboratory chain of custody, A-Sample confirmation and analysis process.

These are the most important steps that determine credibility of the doping tests that lead to either positive or negative results and which they say “raised serious doubts.”

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“We have cases of so many suppressed voices of athletes affected by the anti-doping control procedures whereby they are articulating to the world how AIU and doping testing institutions control procedures have casted doubts over positive test allegation amounting to infringement of their liberal rights,” said Isaac Kore, a scientist at AAHRED.

“Such suspensions render these athletes jobless and with no livelihood,” said Kore. The organisation is now calling on the government to support the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) and Athletics Kenya (AK) in their anti-doping campaigns. “We call on the government of Kenya to support by funding research on biological factors, environmental doping causatives agents for the sake of justice and accountability in sport,” said Justine Kurui, the CEO at AAHRED.

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Kurui said by doing so, the country will reduce the possible discrepancies and increase public and all stakeholders’ confidence in the process of attaining indisputable results for the good of the sport and the country’s image.

“Let it be known that suspension or banning of athletes/ officials causes irreversible damage to human lives if done without justice in due process.

“The errors preceding suspension cannot and must not be neglected as it can portray the highest level of impunity and presumptive outcome that can damage lives and destroy the future of our hardworking athletes,” added Kurui.

AAHRED Wednesday also took issue with global anti-doping institutions saying they had forced some athletes to take up alternative careers rather than those they were talented in. “Olympic 1,500 metres champion and three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop is a classic example of such frustrations we are talking about.

“Even though we are happy for him that he has switched careers and moved on with life after serving a four-year doping ban imposed in April 2019 after he tested positive for EPO, we believe it is not his wish to go to motorsport. Such are the frustrations that our good athletes are going through,” said Kiplom.

Speaking at the same time, distance running star Mercy Kibarus, whose woes commenced in earnest five years ago, moments after she came second at the First Lady’s Half Marathon held in Nairobi in March 2015 maintained her innocence calling on the anti-doping institutions to re-look into her issue.

“All I can say is that I want my issue to be addressed as soon as possible because the results that came out had a lot of errors. I would wish to go back to athletics because I have nowhere else to go to. My whole life revolves around athletics,” said Kibarus maintaining she has never taken any drugs to help her ran faster. She indicated that she has severally proven her innocence but the anti-doping bodies have continuously refused to clear her subjecting her to further suffering and frustrations.

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