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Leclerc triggers Ferrari frenzy with Italian GP win

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Charles Leclerc triggered frenzied Ferrari celebrations on Sunday after holding off a race-long Mercedes challenge to take the Italian Formula One team’s first home grand prix victory since 2010.

Valtteri Bottas was second for Mercedes with five-times world champion Lewis Hamilton a distant third after tyre wear took its toll in a thrilling battle with the 21-year-old Monegasque.

“What a race! I have never been so tired,” gasped Leclerc as a sea of fans, starved of success at Monza since Fernando Alonso won in the red overalls, swept onto the pit straight to party below the overhanging podium with flags and flares.

“Winning here is just a dream,” continued the winner, switching to fluent Italian to address a crowd cheering a fitting triumph on the 90th anniversary of both Monza and Formula One’s most glamorous team.

“Last weekend (in Belgium) was my first victory, but the emotion of winning here is 10 times that,” said Leclerc, now a two-times winner — and Ferrari’s sole one so far this season — in only his 14th race for Ferrari.

“Thanks to everybody. I have no words.

Hamilton’s lead over closest rival Bottas was cut to 63 points from 65, with the Briton limiting the damage by making a late pitstop for fresh tyres to set the fastest lap and gain an extra point.

“He did a great job, congratulations to Ferrari,” said Hamilton, who took the fight to Leclerc from the start but dropped behind Bottas 10 laps from the end when he cut the first chicane.

“A lot of pressure from both Valtteri and I. I did the best I could. Obviously following so closely for such a long time, the tyres eventually just went off the cliff.

“But nevertheless they were just quicker today, quicker in a straight line, so even if we did get close we couldn’t pass. So not our day but still strong points for the team,” added the 34-year-old.

Vettel Nightmare 

Leclerc’s German team mate Sebastian Vettel had an afternoon to forget, going from bad to worse at the one circuit where every Ferrari driver wants to impress.

While Leclerc led from pole position, the four-times champion spun off, plunged to last place and served a 10 second stop/go penalty for a dangerous return to the track.

He was then lapped by his impressive team mate, who is now 13 points above him in the standings and fast becoming the main man at Maranello.

Mercedes lead Ferrari in the constructors’ standings by 154 points.

Stewards also handed Vettel three penalty points, taking his 12 month tally to nine. Three more in the next three races will trigger a one-race ban.

“I lost the rear, a mistake by me,” the German, 13th at the flag, said of the incident. “A good day for the team but not good on my side. I can’t be happy with my day today.”

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Renault, just ahead of team mate Nico Hulkenberg in a strong race for the French manufacturer.

Thai driver Alex Albon was sixth for Red Bull, with team mate Max Verstappen eighth and Mexican Sergio Perez seventh for Racing Point.

Antonio Giovinazzi, the first Italian to compete in his home race for eight years, was ninth for Alfa Romeo and British teenager Lando Norris took the final point for McLaren.

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Vettel’s early spin drew the ire of the stewards when he steered his Ferrari back on track into the path of other cars, with Canadian Lance Stroll making a glancing contact and also going off.

Stroll, the innocent party turned offender, then almost hit Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly when he came back on and was served with a drive through penalty.

‘Dangerous Driving’

Leclerc and Hamilton, meanwhile, went wheel-to-wheel, with the Ferrari driver shown a black and white flag — the equivalent of a yellow card in soccer — for squeezing the Mercedes off at the second chicane on lap 23.

“He didn’t leave a car’s width,” exclaimed Hamilton over the radio. “He pushed me off.”

Leclerc’s response to the flag was one of puzzlement: “Why?”

The radio crackled back into life later on when Leclerc made an error and seemed to change line while braking, blocking Hamilton in his slipstream.

“There’s some dangerous driving going on,” declared Hamilton.

Bottas led briefly when Hamilton and then Leclerc pitted, with the Finn stopping later and his fresher tyres coming into play in the closing stages.

“This is your win,” he was told over the radio but a mistake three laps from the end primed the Ferrari ‘tifosi’ for the party as Leclerc took the chequered flag first for the second time in eight days.






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School games boss Orero wants students kept active

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PHILIP ONYANGO

By PHILIP ONYANGO
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Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) chairman Peter Orero has urged the youth to especially avoid social places saying the youth form the base of the of pyramid of population growth and can easily infect the old.

He is therefore advising schoolteachers and coaches to ensure that the students especially players are kept busy, individually, at their homes during this period of social distancing.

This can be done by giving them coaching assignment using social media platforms.

Orero, speaking from his isolation base at Dagoretti High School where he is the principal, said allowing the children to venture out into gatherings can be a recipe for increasing the curve of coronavirus infection.

He pleaded with the school going children, who fall under is custody as KSSSA chairman, to strictly follow the government guidelines on social distancing, washing hands frequently and sanitising.

“It is really annoying that some youth have not taken these government guidelines seriously and can be often be seen playing in groups and venturing in social places which can be very catastrophic should they get this virus and spread it to the old who are more vulnerable,” said Oreo.

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According to Oreo, KSSSA will have a very busy calendar whose climax will be defending the East Africa Secondary School Games overall title when Kenya hosts the championships in August.

He said this will require that the players be fit and in the correct frame of mind all which he said cannot be achieved if the players are not engaged now.

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“All over the world, we have seen players taking advantaged of any small available space in their compound and even living rooms to keep fit and learn some basic on instruction of coaches through technology.

“If applied by our teachers and coaches, this will not only ensure the youth are kept from public gatherings but will also ensure they return to school very fit and ready to continue with the school programs from where they stopped,” he said.

He pleaded with the Kenyan youth to take great care of themselves to preserve their future.

“I would not wish that any of the students who are home contract this disease. I advice them to form groups to send messages to each other on washing hands, self-distancing and sanitising, among other things to fight this virus and eventually return to school as fit as fiddles. Exactly the way they left school,” he said.

He confirmed KSSSA secretary general David Ngugi’s announcement that schools term one games that were set to take place in Kapsabet from April 14, would be held in June during the half term break.

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Coronavirus has worsened poor financial state of KPL players

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MOSES OJUANG'

By MOSES OJUANG’
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There is an ancient Chinese curse that simply says: ‘may you live in interesting times”. Well, the interesting times are here.

There are people deluded enough to think this curse is a blessing but they are really wrong.

Interesting times are those where nothing seems to work; there is too much fear and anxiety; what we may do as humans to change the tide seems useless and uncertainty clouds our future plans and scuttles them.

Nobody thought of the Covid-19 onslaught on the planet. We were looking for the completion of football leagues all over the world but now we are staring at a desert of unhappiness and unrequited love.

The Olympics have been shelved until next year if the situation changes. There are many that think if only the curfew was imposed when there is football and other sports to be watched it would have been somehow bearable.

Well, if there was football, we wouldn’t have minded even a complete shutdown but that’s not the case; it is killing the souls of men out there and we really sympathise with those comrades suffering at present.

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There are leagues — and the Belgian one comes to mind — that have finished the season without playing all the matches!

They have already crowned the league leaders and named the teams to be relegated.

Soon there shall be an avalanche of other followers that will borrow the same leaf even though the conditions of their league are totally different from those of Belgium.

The players all over Europe are soon going to be forced to take a 30 per cent pay cut and the negotiations are going on.

In England, there is a possibility that the remaining Premier League matches will be played behind closed doors thus removing the fans from the stands.

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This means that the broadcasters will not be there and as such revenue will not come from the match attendance or from sponsors and advertisers whose merchandise will not be on display.

They have not yet decided whether to go the Belgian way or not bearing in mind that if they do, the EPL will have to forfeit some £800 million to the aggrieved parties.

Liverpool may be crowned champs and many will not complain, but the battle will be upon those that wish to qualify for Champions League next season and the other batch wishing to join Europa League. These leagues too have not ended this season.

Who then will be relegated and by what formula? Any method used shall be very unfair.

It is on the same note that we turn to our own country where the league remains suspended. There are calls already to crown K’Ogalo the champions for this season. That will be a waste and very narrow thought. Our players in Kenya cannot take a 30 per cent pay cut since they are lowly paid and many have not seen a payslip in months.

Here it is brutal since we are very sure clubs are not paying salaries and blaming it on the coronavirus! We know it because we talk to the players.

This is a call of distress to all those concerned: pay the players now even if the virus be thy refuge.

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City Stars deserve promotion, says club CEO

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DAVID KWALIMWA

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Nairobi City Stars Chief Executive Patrick Korir says he expects his team to be promoted to the Kenyan Premier League next season even if the current National Super League (season) is cancelled.

City Stars currently enjoy a 10-point advantage over second-placed Bidco United in the second-tier football league, but the competition has since been halted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are 13 rounds of fixtures remaining in the competition, but it is unclear when or whether the competition will resume.

The competition rules allow the top-two teams in the NSL to be automatically promoted to the top-flight, while the third-placed team proceeds to negotiate a promotion play-off.

“We find ourselves in a very difficult situation but I am encouraged because all our staff is safe. Our coach returned to his native Bosnia and has joined his family after a two-week quarantine period. I expect us to be promoted to the top-flight based on our performances this season. We have topped the NSL for six months,” explained Korir.

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Korir also confirmed the club’s coach Sanjin Alagic had finally joined his family in Bosnia after staying in self-quarantine for two weeks when he recently returned home.

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But should the season continue, a number of players within the squad will be offered lifelines to return to near, or full fitness.

They include defensive midfielder Charles Chale Otieno, strikers Jimmy Bageya and Vincent Jamaica Otieno, defenders Wycliffe Otieno and Edwin Buliba who have recently missed crucial games.

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