Kenya fight familiar Burundi for top spot in Group ‘B’


Kenya’s lead striker Michael “Engineer” Olunga has said that he is not worried that his Gor Mahia team-mate Karim Nizigiyimana may pass vital tips to his Burundian compatriots ahead of their crucial Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup Group ‘B’ clash Wednesday afternoon.

The two sides meet at Hawassa Stadium with each looking for a win to confirm passage to the quarter-finals.

And aware of the expectations, the lanky Olunga, who came off the bench to net the second goal in Kenya’s sleek 2-0 victory over Uganda Cranes on Sunday, said Wednesday’s battle that will pit him against his club team-mate is just like any other match and he expects to do well.

“I feel good,” said the marksman. “These are the kind of tournaments that gives you a platform to build your name, and I want to do just that.

“It will be a tough game against Burundi. If they play as well as they did in their opening game (against Zanzibar), then it will be a real fight for the top spot.

He went on: “As much as I will play against Karim (Nizigiyimana), I don’t expect the match to have a club dimension. He is a team-mate, but club football is totally different from international football. He will be my opponent on the day.”

Nizigiyimana warned Kenya to expect a tough battle: “It will be a tough game because it’s a team I know and it has some good players but I will give my best for my country.”

Also plying his trade in the Kenyan Premier League and whom coach Alain Olivier will rely on is Sofapaka midfielder Fuadi Ndayisenga.

Speaking to Nation Sport after taking his charges through a two-hour workout at the Hawassa Agricultural College, Stars coach Bobby Williamson decried the state of the pitch at the National Stadium in Addis Ababa.

“Most pitches in Africa are overused, hard and bumpy,” the Scot said.


European leagues much loved here

Watching the English Premier League may be a popular pastime in Nairobi and Kenya as a whole. But here in Ethiopia, residents are madly in love with the EPL and European league football in general, so much so that they don their favourite team’s jersey on match days.

And the fact that last weekend provided a rich menu of European football offered the perfect opportunity for the sport’s enthusiasts to jam pubs, restaurants, hotels and clubs to catch the action via live television.

Addis to Hawassa: A memorable road trip

Ethiopia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa alongside South Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe and Kenya — and it’s not by fluke.

The other day, yours truly and a number of other foreign journalists made the road trip from Addis Ababa to Hawassa, a city located on the shores of Lake Hawassa in the Great Rift Valley, 270km south of Addis.

We experienced first-hand this beauty. From enchanting plains, rolling hills and the expansive tracks of land, the view was breathtaking.

No meat on menu because of fasting

Ethiopia’s population is approximately 100 million. Of this, a huge chunk are Orthodox Christians, followed closely by Muslims.

Interestingly, many Ethiopians are highly religious and follow their faith, well, religiously. For instance, on Wednesday and Friday, people don’t consume meat and dairy products. This is because the two days are dedicated to fasting.

Some hotels will openly tell customers, “We are sorry but today is fasting day,” meaning you can’t be served meat.

Battered Kenya image has a twinkle

Unchecked corruption and tribalism may have given Kenya bad publicity, but the image is not so bad — at least in Ethiopia.

There are residents who truly appreciate the other side of the magical Kenya. On Monday, while going through my business at the lobby of Hotel Inter-Continental, an elderly Ethiopian lady, upon learning that I was Kenyan, excused herself and engaged me in conversation in some pretty good Kiswahili: “Kenya is such a good country with very kind people.”