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Joy as Lodwar town hosts North Rift races

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BERNARD ROTICH

By BERNARD ROTICH
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 SAMMY LUTTA

By SAMMY LUTTA
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Lodwar, the capital of Turkana County has rich history and has been classified as one of the hottest regions in Kenya, with temperatures rising to 35 degrees Celsius.

The region has become a popular destination for many after huge oil deposits was discovered in Turkana. The region has also produced top athletes for Kenya, among them former Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai and former World Indoor 800 metres champion Paul Ereng.

On Saturday, athletes from Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, West Pokot, Turkana and Trans Nzoia counties converged at Ekaales Centre which usually hosts annual cultural celebrations to chase places in the team that will compete in the national trials in Nairobi next month.

For the first time, North Rift Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships were held in the region yesterday. The organisers split the races into two, with morning and evening sessions because of the high temperatures.

In the morning session, senior women’s race started at 6.20am, followed by junior women’s 8km race, girls’ 5km race and the mixed relay. Iten-based Monica Chirchir won senior women’s race.

Chirchir crossed the line in 32min, 46.29sec to win ahead of Judith Korir, also from Elgeyo Marakwet, who timed 32:52.92. Irene Cheptai from Turkana was third in 33:02.80.

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Chirchir was happy to have won to qualify for the nationals. “The race was tough but I had prepared well for to compete with the best athletes in the region,” said Chirchir. She is eyeing a slot in team Kenya for Africa Cross Country Championships slated for April in Lome, Togo.

“My target is to get a slot to represent Kenya in the Africa Cross Country Championships. I will train harder to achieve this,” said Chirchir who was second in Iten’s Athletics Kenya Cross Country series two weeks ago.

Kakamega Forest Marathon champion Korir came in second after losing the battle to Chirchir when the athlete sprinted to the finish line.

Korir told Nation Sport that the race was tough and the course was challenging but she gave her best after good training in Kapsait, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Cheptai, who was making a comeback after a two-year maternity break, is using the cross country events as part of build-up ahead of the Olympic Games trials where she will be seeking a place in Kenya’s 10,000m squad.

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Mass exodus looms at Gor Mahia

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CECIL ODONGO

By CECIL ODONGO
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Gor Mahia are on the verge of losing four key senior players.

Nation Sport has established that the four are no longer interested in playing for Gor Mahia and intent to leave the club at the end of this season.

The four, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised while still under contract and with the season yet to end, said their decision would not change even if Gor Mahia secured a major shirt sponsor.

The players said they were fed up with Gor Mahia repeatedly failing to meet its financial obligation to the squad members and it was better for them to look for greener pastures.

“It has been tough at Gor Mahia since the sponsorship of SportPesa ended. I can’t blame the club management for the current financial woes but as a player, I have dependents whom I have to look after. I have bills to pay,” said the players.

They also blamed Gor Mahia officials for “abandoning the club and leaving all the management burden to the chairman Ambrose Rachier” who has been struggling to ensure they are paid, however little money it is.

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“Personally, if all goes well I will leave but am indebted to the chairman who has been there for us during hard times. I am not afraid to say that other officials have abandoned us in time of need. Whenever there is an issue, we are always told to talk to the chairman who sometimes gets to us personally and assists. We are grateful for that,” said one of the players.

They called on the government to chip in and financially assist community-based clubs like Gor and AFC Leopards so that they can return back to their glory days.

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They wondered how money from the Sport Fund was now being channelled to other functions yet sportspeople were going hungry and begging for food.

The Kenyan Premier League is currently suspended following a government ban on public gatherings in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has already caused the death of seven people in the country.

With no action, no source of income and a season in limbo, many KPL clubs remain hard pressed to pay their contracted players.

Fifa on Tuesday proposed that contracts of players be extended until such time that the season does actually end.

Fifa, in the same communication, encouraged clubs and players to work together to find agreements and solutions during the period when football is suspended.

Nation Sport understands that Tanzanian giants Azam and Young Africans are keen on the services of three of the four players who want out.

The other player said he has been in negotiating with Tunisian giants Esperance.

Yanga SC and Simba have lately been raiding K’Ogalo’s camp for fresh talent.

Former K’Ogalo stars Francis Kahata and Meddie Kagera signed for Simba in 2019 and 2018 respectively while Ivorian striker Yikpe Ghislain, who played for less than a season at K’Ogalo, left for Yanga amid financial tribulation at the 18-time Kenyan Premier League champions last December.

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Okeyo awaits Germany return for some unfinished league business

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AGNES MAKHANDIA

By AGNES MAKHANDIA
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Kenya international midfielder Willis Okeyo can only wait and see if he will be able to complete his tour abroad.

Okeyo was scheduled to link up with his German club Verein Fur Bewegungsspiele Stuttgart this month for the second leg of the Herren Oberliga League.

In fact, Okeyo was to fly out of Nairobi on Saturday ahead of the season’s second stanza that was scheduled to bully off next weekend but that can now obviously not happen because of the lockdown in most parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost the entire sporting calendar, internationally, continentally and nationally has been decimated as measures are taken by various governments to try and contain the spread of Covid-19.

Germany had by Thursday recorded 113,296 cases of the disease with 2,280 deaths while Kenya’s figures stood at 184 with seven deaths.

The first leg ended in July. Stuttgart are lying third on the league table with eight points from five matches, behind Ludwigsburg on 13 points and leaders Freiburg with 13 points.

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Okeyo remains hopeful he will be back in Germany and is drawing inspiration from football side Bayern Munich who resumed training last Monday.

“The club is engaging me on a daily basis and that has given me hope. They are also in constant communication with the Germany Embassy so that once the Covid-19 is contained, I will be given first priority to jet out and join them,” said the 36-year-old international.

He was in the Kenya team that competed in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers held in South Africa last year.

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Kenya finished fifth as South Africa qualified to represent Africa at the Tokyo Games that have been rescheduled to next year.

Okeyo, who locally turns out for giants Kenya Police in the Premier League, said he has learnt a lot from the Germany club and at the same time challenged players to watch YouTube hockey videos to remain knowledgeable in the sport.

“I have become a better player. While at Stuttgart, I have embraced coaching and when in Kenya I extend my coaching skills to the USIU (United States International University-Africa) women’s side,” Okeyo said.

“My input is there for everyone to see after I guided the students to finish second in the women’s Premier League last season and qualification to the African Clubs Championship.”

The talented Okeyo feels he has gained so much in his short stint in Europe.

“I receive training programmes from my club in Germany which I share with other players locally. I still do morning runs and avoid eating junk foods,” he said.

He revealed he intends to play for two more seasons before retiring.

“I will play for Police and Kenya if selectors need me.”

“I think I have served the country the best way I could.”

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Ibrahimovic’s return to training in Sweden sparks rumours

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AFP

By AFP
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AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to training in Sweden with Hammarby, the club he part owns, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to lockdown Italy, has fuelled speculation regarding his future.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported the 38-year-old Ibrahimovic will choose against renewing his Milan deal which finishes at the end of the season.

The Swedish outfit’s president Richard Von Yxkull said the decision was in the hands of the attacker who played 116 times for his country before retiring from international duty in 2016.

“It’s about knowing how Zlatan sees his future and what he wants to do,” Von Yxkull told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Earlier in April the Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch league winner said he wanted to stay in the game after retiring.

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“I want to learn something new about football, with a different angle. I will contribute from the sidelines, not on the pitch,” he told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

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Ibrahimovic’s last Milan appearance was the loss to Genoa on March 8.

All football in Italy has been suspended due to the coronavirus which has claimed the lives of nearly 18,000 people in the country.

Measures to fight the outbreak in Sweden are lighter which have allowed Ibrahimovic to train with Stockholm’s Hammarby, a side which he bought a 25-percent share in last November.

Ibrahimovic started his career with hometown club Malmo before trophy-laden spells with some of the world’s biggest outfits including Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain before re-joining Milan in January.

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