April highlights

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FILE - In this Thursday, March 8, 2018 file photo Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger waits for the kick-off of the Europa League, round of 16 first-leg soccer match between AC Milan and Arsenal, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

BY DAVID ONJILI

Arsene Wenger takes a bow after 22 years.

Finally, one of football’s most long serving managers, Arsene Wenger, announced on 20th April 2018 that at the end of the 2017/2018 football season he will be stepping down as Arsenal Football Club manager. This will bring to an end his tenure of 22 years at the helm of Arsenal, a journey that enabled him guide the club to 3 premier league titles one of which without losing a single match and seven FA Cup wins.

While the club has gone fourteen years without winning the league title and there have been growing discontent amongst fans with some opting to stay away from home games, it cannot go without mention that Arsene remains one of the classiest, most humorous and welcoming football managers.

A man who revolutionalised English football with a strict diet for his players, his team displayed silk passing and breathtaking counter attacks. Whatever opinion one holds of him, Arsene will be remembered by many for his lifelong commitment as a football purist whose vision enabled the club to build the 60,000 seater Emirates stadium.

Mohamed Salah is the PFA player of the year 2018.

He has already been nicknamed the African ‘Messi’, not only worshipped and idolized by the Anfield faithful but has also become a global footballing god. At the time of writing, Salah had scored 43 goals in 47 games played in all competitions this season. He remains 4 goals shy of the record of 47 goals in a football season scored by Liverpool legend, Ian Rush during the 1983/1984 season. Salah leads the premier league goal scoring charts with 31 goals with four games remaining before the end of the league.

The icing of the sugar is that on April 22, he was voted the 2018 Professional Footballers Association Award (PFA) player of the year beating Manchester City’s Belgian born Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur finishing third in the polls where fellow players voted for their choice of player of the year. Football lovers can only pray he stays fit and leads his national team, Egypt, to the FIFA 2018 World Cup that starts in June in Russia.

Gor Mahia back in the group stages of continental football after a three-decade absence

Gor biro, Yaw ne yo (Gor is coming, open the way), is a song that echoes everywhere Gor Mahia goes and after years of conquering the local soccer scene, Gor Mahia will be representing Kenya in the African Football Confederations Cup group stages where they have been pitted against Rayon Sports of Rwanda, U.S.M Alger of Algeria and Young Africans of Tanzania in group D. The monetary rewards for this qualification means that the least amount the club can pocket is Sh27million with the amount rising to Sh126 million if they win the tournament, Sh63 million as runners up and Sh45 million and Sh35 million for semi-final and quarter final appearances respectively.

The greatest benefit is that the team will be able to play against top teams, attract the attention of international media exposing both their players and technical bench to scouts world over.

Sportpesa is back

Their exit from sponsoring sporting activities was announced earlier in the year by their CEO Captain Ronald Karauri. This was on the background of the government imposing a 35% tax on betting activities and the aftermath has been far reaching. Clubs in the Kenyan Premier League, which live on the breadline have seen their players go without salaries and match bonuses. It was so severe that a former coach, Jacob Mulee had to once sponsor lunch and convince players to honour a league game.

Sportpesa have announced a 3 year sponsorship of Gor Mahia worth Sh198 million, AFC Leopards will get Sh159 million, the federation will get Sh69 million and they (Sportpesa) will be the Kenya Premier League title sponsors to a tune of Sh259 million.

Sportpesa also announced that Hull City, who feature in the English Championship will visit Kenya in May 2018 and they will play the winner between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards in an exchange game from the title sponsors.