martes, 31 de diciembre de 2013

Football from the inside (II): Uganda

Our second post of this section is about Ugandan football. We have spoken with Ismael Kiyonga (@kiyongaismael), SC Villa fan and contributor.

- Do you think Ugandan football is not in its finest moment after your national team was eliminated really soon both FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifications?

It’s been long since Ugandan football went into disaster and failing to qualify for AFCON and WC are just climaxes. Its high time administrators realized this and got back to the drawing board otherwise, qualification for AFCON and WC finals will forever remain a dream. There is no way Uganda was going to qualify with a mediocre league that is uncompetitive. In this part of Africa, you can’t depend on foreign based players only to deliver but also local based players who are competitively involved in football with a quality league not the one in Uganda currently.

- Do you believe Uganda deserved more in CECAFA Cup, where it was eliminated by Tanzania in Penalties in Quarter-Finals?
From the onset, Uganda was never amongst my favourites to lift this year’s championship depending on the preparations. The Likes of Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia appeared more prepared than Uganda right from the start. The Cranes lacked enthusiasm in their game and were never passionate. Even when Tanzania went a man down immediately after recess, the Cranes didn’t up their game and they could have easily lost in the closing minutes had Tanzania been sharp upfront. Reports of lack of motivation were heard even prior to their last group game against Sudan and I guess this switched them off. They got what they deserved in my opinion.

- Your next aim is doing well in African Nations Championship in January in South Africa. Have you got any chance against Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Morocco?

The Cranes can do better but am worried the preparations for this tournament are still wanting. The Cecafa Cup was meant to be the best preparation for this cup but amazingly, no local based striker was part of the team and with news that Emma Okwi just like Godfrey Walusimbi is restricted, it means the Cranes will go into the tourney with inexperienced players upfront. Besides, the local players have not had the best of competitions in the league and my thought is that they will struggle past organized states like Morocco, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.

- Why are there any important players like Sekagya or Kasule do not play with Uganda since some years ago?

Ibrahim Sekagya is now retired and so is Kasule but the latter was no important to Cranes in any way. Players like David Obua and Nestroy Kizito also hanged their boots but those are available still feature.

- Is there a crisis also on club terms due to URA elimination in the Preliminary Round of the Champions League and any Ugandan team participated in Confederation Cup?

Not really. Its long time since a Ugandan club last performed well in Caf club competitions so I guess they are used. On a number of occasions, clubs win local competitions and even fail or refuse to represent the country and no one cares. That explains the crisis in Ugandan football.

- I think Emmanuel Okwi is the most promising player for SC Villa and Uganda national team. Do you agree with me?

There is no doubt about that but it’s high time he turned promise into potential before his good years are left behind him. Luck always comes once but Okwi is lucky to have had more opportunities to lift his standards but all gone to waste. Can you imagine he missed opportunities to join Red Bull Salzburg, Parma and recently left Tunisia’s Etoile Du Sahel for SC Villa – a club embroiled in administration wrangles??

Thankfully, he recently got a deal at Yanga in Tanzania. Maybe that will help rejuvenate his game but only if he gives it 100%

- The arrivals of Okwi and Walusimbi to SC Villa will play an important role for fighting for the champions trophy in league again, don´t they?

There is no doubt about that. The two have quality in them and they can inspire SC Villa to glory but only if they play their hearts out. Unfortunately, Okwi has left for Yanga (TZ) and Walusimbi is on Gor Mahia’s wanted list.

- At the end of the first stage of Ugandan league, there are 9 teams at the top of the table separated only by 6 points. Any predictions for league champion?
It’s a bit tight at the top but I still fancy KCC FC, SCVU, Vipers and SC Villa to battle for the title till the closing stages. No clear favourite as inconsistency is a common episode in our teams.

- How important is Kagame Interclub Cup for your clubs?

It’s very important since it provides opportunity to our players to encounter regional competitions. Besides, it’s a source of revenue for the club just in case it finishes in the top three and this is just enough motivation to help the players to compete at a high level.

- What is the average attendance of an Ugandan Premier League match?

I must confess that league football no longer attracts mammoth crowds like it used to 8 years ago. Though clubs like SC Villa and KCC FC once in a while boost of over 500 fans at home, some clubs struggle to get 50people. The average attendance currently is less than 200 fans.

- How do you consider matches tickets are in Uganda? Expensive, normal or cheap?

I think they are cheaply priced. For instance, at just $ 2, u can watch games from the ordinary sections and utmost $ 5 for pavilion seats (VIP).

- Is the relationship between press, players and coaches very close there?

It depends but most of our players and coaches are not used to the press. Most can’t talk confidently to the press. The gap has remained wide just because coaches and players have a phobia for press.

- How do fans live the Kampala derbies between KCC FC and SC Villa?

Gone are the days when such games would bring Kampala to a standstill. Since 2004, these have turned into normal games and fans are no longer attracted to them like it used to be.

Surprising but true, such games can be played with just a few people noticing.

- What does the Ugandan Federation need to improve for level of the clubs grow up?

First, the FA needs to let clubs run the top flight league like its done elsewhere in the world and instead of doing much work, they concentrate on supervision and guidance when called upon.

Secondly, the FA should create a good atmosphere for sponsors to come join the clubs instead of being hostile to them. For instance, just a year after the league had gotten Uganda Breweries (Bell) and Supersport as title and league sponsors, the FA chased them out just because of selfishness instead of finding away to collaborate the standards of the game.

Since then, clubs lack money to pay their players and some even have no jerseys but the FA is not bothered.

- Are the players of Ugandan teams professionals or amateurs?

Under the Jinja Declaration (JDC) –an agreement reached by the FA and super league club in 2010, it was assumed that all players plying their trade domestically would be professionals but this hasn’t been achieved. The FA overtook the running of the league, players are not paid and those who get payments rarely get their salaries on time.

In my observation, they are still amateurs.

- Do you think Uganda will host any big tournament (e.g. African Cup of Nations) in the near future?

I don’t think so. First, there are no facilities in terms of standard stadia to host these games. Besides Mandela stadium Namboole, no other stadium in Uganda is worth hosting an international game and thus only a dreamer can expect that to happen.

Just recently in 2012, Uganda almost failed to host CECAFA Challenge Cup since the rains made Namboole unplayable.
- Thanks for your words..

By @futdelmundo

viernes, 13 de diciembre de 2013

Football from the inside (I): Ethiopia

We are going to write a new section for first time in this blog. It is called "Football from the inside" and we want to write here about how people around the world feel, live and speak about the football nearest to them. Our first post is about Ethiopian football and to write so we have spoken with Omna Taddele (@omna_tg), Saint George F.C. fan and contributor.

- How do you think is the present in Ethiopian football?

The present condition of Ethiopia football is all good. With this amazing squad we accomplished a lot. From participating in the African Cup of Nations after 30 years absences and also we managed to qualify for the World Cup play offs which is a great thing and personally we’re in a good form though we’ve some problems that we should adjust. Especially Goalkeeper problem and lacking of a goal poacher are the main problem. Some players went abroad that leads them to become a professional. You can see Getaneh Kebede and Shemles Bekele.

- And the future?

The future looks bright for sure; the Ethiopian Football Federation should work on bringing young talents though. We are hoping for a great thing like qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and become the first East African nation to do that. I also know our football clubs would have a great journey in African club competition. I can tell you that the future for Ethiopian football will go to be fantastic.

- Incredible performance of Saint George F.C. in continental competitions in 2013, isn´t it?

Indeed, Saint George F.C. showed us amazing performance on CAF Confederation Cup even though they got eliminated in the group stages. 2013 has been a good year for our football. Saint George F.C. eliminated some good teams along the way like ENPPI of Egypt, Djoliba of Mali. It was unfortunate that they were beaten by Zamalek of Egypt in CAF Champions League. Over all Saints wrote history and it was an exciting journey.

- I suppose you think it is a pity that Saint George F.C. cannot take part in Champions League or Confederation Cup in 2014, after being runner-up in league and cup.
 Yes it is infuriating. We’re beaten by Dedebit, defending champions of the 2012/13 Ethiopian Premier League, in the title race and we also lost the Ethiopian Knockout Cup to Defense Force on penalties.
- How did the people of the country feel the qualification for an Africa Cup of Nations, 30 years after your last participation on it?
The people felt so good. Nobody really expected them to be there but they deliver. The people were amazed by them and also felt very proud. Even people were around the Addis Ababa Stadium before the crucial 2nd leg game against Sudan for almost 24 hours before the kickoff. It was a good vibe. Almost everybody took the national team very seriously and I hope it’ll continue like that.
- What are the main reasons for Ethiopia only got one point in this tournament? Maybe, unexperienced players in this kind of tournaments?
The main reason is lack of experience plus concentration problem. Not to mention injuries occurred to key players like Adane Girma and Asrat Megersa during the Cup also hindered us from going through to the next stage. And also lack of discipline and not having a good Goalkeeper cost us much.
- The next big tournament Ethiopia will play is African Nations Championship in 2014. What do you hope about this tournament? 
 I hope African Nations Championship is going to be a very nice experience and also a good way to know where our league is coping up with the others. We’re together with Ghana, Libya and Congo Brazzaville and it’s to be tough though. Hopefully Coach Sewnet Bisahw will select a good squad and we can make it to the final if we work hard.
- Talking about Getaneh Kebede, do you think is your most promising player for the future?
 Yes Getaneh Kebede is exciting talent to watch. He is a natural born goal scorer and his partnership with star player Saladin Said will make us strong. He’s having quiet a good time at Bidvest Wits so of course he can become the next best thing in Ethiopian football.
- Will Youssouf Hersi be able to play one day for Walias or it is impossible?
Why not? Any Ethiopian player can play for the national team.
- Do you believe all the promising players of Ethiopia must emigrate to have any chance of getting a better football career?
Almost every player in the whole world wants to be a professional and wants to play in a good league and Ethiopian players have the ability to do that. Actually I do believe our league should be strong and our players should have a good playing career not also in abroad but here in Ethiopia also.
- What do you consider the most important for your league: sign foreign players or train national players that afterwards can help your national team?
Train national players will be a nice and wise move. I’m not against the fact that having foreign players which eventually rise the quality of the league but we should give priority for national players first after all they are the one who will take the national team to the next level.
- About your national league, which aspects do you think should be improved?
Our league should be better organized and have a schedule accordingly with the FIFA calendar. We need sponsors and we should attract the people by different means to come and watch league matches instead of watching English Premier League.
- Is the Ethiopian league broadcasted by TV?
No, the Ethiopian Premier League is not televised. It’s overwhelming frankly.
- How many people attend to a league game? Are the stadiums full or otherwise are empty?
 It depends. Teams like Ethiopia Coffee, Saint George F.C. have large section of fans and Stadiums will relatively fill but when it comes to some average teams some enthusiast’s only watch the game. Clubs like Arbaminch City and Woliyta Dicha have also a fan base. Particularly Arbaminch plays its home game in front of 50,000 fans which is a good thing.
- Have you got there some problems between fans of each team?
Yes sometimes. Mostly it’s between the two great Ethiopian sides Saint George F.C. and Ethiopian Coffee fans. I also witness some football hooliganism. Since Saint George F.C. and Ethiopia Coffee are bitter and arch rivals it’s a common thing to expect.
- It is difficult to find a lot of information of Ethiopian league online, or at least in English. Don´t you think that this situation improved, much more people would follow football in Ethiopia?
The situation improved much but there needs to be a work done. I hope it’ll continue to progress too.
- Your league matches are played only in two Regions of the Country, why the other regions don´t have teams in the league?
Only Addis Ababa, Oromia, South Nations Nationality Region (SNNP) and Amhara have representative. Tigry have two representative, Guna Trading and Trans Ethiopia, but over the years their performance declined and get vanished. Other regions like Somali, Afar, Gambela, Dire Dawa and Benshalgul Gumuz are way behind. They need to work to have at least one representative in the league. The main answer for your question is they lack strong teams. If you see Afar, Somali and Gambela I don’t know if they have a football club also.
- I´ve discovered some of league matches are played on weekdays, for instance at 13.00 or 16.00. Don´t this fact difficult people went to the stadium?
 It’s difficult thing for sure. As I said earlier it’s because of the league isn’t better organized plus the Federation wants to end the season before the summer. It’s hard to play football in the summer. That is why you see that kind of Schedule.
- Thanks for your words.
By @futdelmundo

domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Football in Paradise

By David Dhannoo

For those who are not familiar where Mauritius is, it is an island nation with an approximate population of 1,288,000 and is situated off the south east coast of the African Continent in the south west of the Indian Ocean.

Football on the island is very popular, the likes of the English Premier League dominate household viewings. The majority follow the top four English teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

The national team, often referred by it's nickname, Club M played it's first competitive international game against island neighbours Reunion in 1947, they won 2-1 on the day. For the next twenty years Mauritius played many games with their Island neighbours such as Reunion, Madagascar, and the Seychelles.

By 1967, Club M started playing against other nations, mainly countries from continental Africa.

Throughout their entire history, the islanders have only once qualified for the African Cup of Nations, which was in 1974 and hosted by Egypt.

Near the end of the 1990's Mauritian football showed its ugly side, with deadly riots caused by once named Scouts Club (known today as A.S. Port Louis 2000). Scouts Club were playing Fire Brigade Sports Club (known today as Pamplemousses SC) in a title decider, Fire Brigade were given a controversial penalty and won the game 1-0. Seven people died and rioting lasted for three days.

The ramifications lead to an eighteenth month ban on domestic football,with the national team remaining to play. It has been said that at this point both domestic and international football started to plummet on the island.

At present Club M are in their worst ever ranking, sitting in 189th place in the FIFA World Rankings. Their African Cup of Nations qualifiers have been a disaster, scoring only two goals and conceeding fifteen. Club M's heaviest defeat was back in October last year when they lost 7-0 to Senegal away in Dakar. In June they played the DR Congo at home and lost 2-1, they were therefore eliminated with two remaining games left.

At present Les Dodos are preparing for the Indian Ocean Island Games which is being hosted by the Seychelles. They have been training in South Africa for the past week playing friendlies with the Orlando Pirates, Black Aces Mpummalanga, Platinum Stars, and Pretoria University.The team fly back on Sunday and will continue preparations. It is believed they will play French Islanders Mayotte before arriving in the Seychelles for the eighth Indian Ocean Island Games. Mauritius will play the Maldives in their first match which will be played on the fourth of August in the Seychelles capital Victoria.

Follow David in Twitter: @Mauritiusfoot

viernes, 21 de enero de 2011

AFC Cup will be great test for Kezman

By Allan Ng
Hong Kong´s editor

Steven Lo said on his blog last night the signing of Mateja Kezman is related to years of hard work and how one thing leads to another. It was not easy to sign Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman because both of them were free agents and numerous clubs around the world made offers.

From winning the league in 2006, taking part in Barclays Asia Trophy in 2007, to hosting Juventus and Manchester City in Hong Kong in 2008, then hosting Tottenham Hotspur in 2009, forming a club partnership with Spurs in the same year, to signing Nicky Butt in 2010, etc etc. All these events were related and led to the signing of Kezman.

Steven Lo had said before that because foreign players are relatively expensive, therefore they will not be given much time to get acclimitised to the club and must perform from the word go. Nicky Butt has already played a game for South China in November and received rave reviews, but Mateja Kezman is still unproven. We know that when it comes to axeing unsuitable players, Steven Lo is no slouch. Leandro Carrijo, a fans' favourite and came to South China after protracted negotiations, has been loaned to TSW Pegasus after a poor spell.

South China's main aims in 2011 is to win the AFC Cup and defend their Hong Kong First Division League title. In the AFC Cup, both Nicky Butt and Mateja Kezman will have to play in the sweltering heat and humidity of India, Indonesia and Thailand, which will be completely different from the cool and dry climate of Europe. They will need to be very fit and it will be a great test for them and Kezman in particular. He will need to score frequently if he wants to fulfill the length of his contract.