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Recapping Harambee Stars wins and losses this past year

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This year Harambee stars made the country proud by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a 14-year absence.

The AFCON tournament that the men’s football team has missed since 2014 is slated between June 15 and July 11, 2019.

The big win for the Kenyan team came after the Confederation for African Football (CAF) confirmed Sierra Leone was disqualified.

Sierra Leone was also disqualified from all football activities by FIFA due to government interference.

The West African country’s disqualification meant that group F composed of Ghana, Ethiopa and Kenya with Kenya in the lead with seven points.

However, in June last year, Harambee Stars seemed to have kicked off the competition on a wrong foot after losing 2-1 to Sierra Leone.

They later on gave new strength to their hopes by beating Ghana 1-0 in September and registering a resounding 3-0 during their match in October against Ethiopia.

The Stars now join other teams that qualified for the finals, including Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco, Mali, Tunisia, Guinea, Uganda, Mauritania, Madagascar and Ivory Coast.

Nonetheless, things seemed to be working out differently for the women’s team, Harambee starlets, after they missed at the Total African Women’s Cup of Nations 2018.

Though Kenya had not qualified for the competition, they were included after CAF suspended Equatorial Guinea for allegedly fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying matches in June.

Initially, Kenya protested the eligibility of the West African player Anette Jacky Messomo, who was allegedly a Cameroonian that had played for various clubs in Europe.

CAF upheld Kenya’s protest only to rule in favour of Equatorial Guinea in September 8, after the CAF disciplinary Council confirmed the eligibility of the player in question.

Therefore, reinstating the West Africans in the Total African Women’s Cup of Nations, meaning Kenya was out.

In athletics, Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge did Kenyans proud after setting a new world record at the Berlin Marathon in September 16.

The 34-year-old, widely seen as the greatest marathon runner of the modern era, ran a time of time of 2:01:40 on a sunny and warm autumn day along the flat inner-city course.

“I lack words to describe this day,” said a beaming Kipchoge, “I am really grateful, happy to smash the world record.”

Kipchoge’s performance marked the biggest improvement in the marathon record since Australian Derek Clayton took almost two-and-a-half minutes off the mark in 1967.

In the women’s race, Gladys Cherono won with a course record and best time of the year of 2:18:10, leaving Ethiopians Ruti Aga and pre-race favourite Tirunesh Dibaba in second and third place respectively.

Another big win came in for the Olympic marathon champion after he was named the UN person of the year in October 24.

Besides being awarded for his athletic heroism and determinations, the gold marathon holder was also awarded for his extraordinary performances, his work on HIV-Aids in Kenya, and his endurance and courage.

On December 4, the marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge was honoured as the IAAF male athlete of the year at the athletics annual awards ceremony.

Kipchoge missed by 26 seconds, breaking the magical two-hour barrier when he crossed the line in 2:00.25 in a special race on the Monza circuit in Italy in 2017 that was not eligible for record purposes.

The London Marathon champion in 2018 was also IAAF Continental Cup and Central American and Caribbean champion in both the long jump and triple jump.

Also, earlier this year three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop tested positive for a banned blod-boosting agent EPO.

The 28-year-old however claimed that a doping sample might have been tampered with by testers but AIU confirmed that former Olympic champion’s test results were true.

“We confirm that recombinant erythropoietin was detected in a urine sample collected from Kiprop,” AIU said in a statement.

 

Also sharing in the same fate is Kenyan sprinter Boniface Mweresa who failed a doping test.

Samples from Mweresa, who won silver in the 400m and gold in the 4x400m at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, taken at the June 6-8 Kenya Defence Forces Championships in Nairobi tested positive for a banned substance.

Mweresa was dropped from the team for the African Championships which were held in Asaba, Nigeria in August 1.

Following this, Athletics Kenya president Major Rtd Jackson Tuwei warned athletes to keep off performance-enhancing substances to salvage the country’s integrity.

He regretted that the country has moved dangerously close to getting banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because of increased doping cases.

“Only four countries in the world are in Category ‘A’ and Kenya is one of them. For four years running, we have been on the watch list of IAAF, but that has been upgraded because athletes don’t want to listen to advice on doping,” he said.

In October 18, former Sports CS Hassan Wario and legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino were arrested over the Sh55 million Rio Olympics scandal.

Former Sports PS Richard Ekai and director of administration at the ministry Harrun Komen Chebet are also among the key suspects named in the sleaze.

NOCK secretary Francis Kanyili, Kiptanui Arap Soi (Chief de Mission), and Patrick Kimanthi (deputy NOCK Treasurer are also facing charges.

On November 16, however, the DPP spared legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino.

The DPP told magistrate Douglas Ogoti that he did not wish to prosecute Keino after going through his file from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

On December 6, pre-trial conference for the Rio scandal failed to take place after suspects complained that they had yet to get all documents to be used against them.

Chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti criticised failure by the DCI and the office of the DPP to fully disclose documentary evidence.

The new pre-trial conference will be held in January 22 next year.

 

And it was a big blow for the rugby team after tourism CS Najib Balala cancelled a Sh20 million sponsorship to Kenya Sevens team for over embarrassment that the team caused the country on an international game.

The team apparently covered the Kenyan brand during Paris sevens.

“How can you be a Kenyan and go to an international activity and cover the brand Kenya, how?” The CS asked furiously.

He said even if the team had a problem with Brand Kenya, they should have solved their issues “instead of embarrassing the whole nation”.

The Star





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