Spaniards, Italians and Gor should prosper this weekend
Spain Vs France Today 9:45pm
My Prediction: Spain 2 – 1 Les Bleus
Neither of these two sides have yet shown their best at Euro 2012. Spain had a great game against the Republic of Ireland but that was expected. They struggled against Croatia but got the three points and drew with Italy. However as we saw during World Cup 2010, this is a team that peaks mid-way through a tournament and I expect Spain to peek today. Despite the rumours of conflict in the camp before the tournament, this has not been evident on the pitch. Coach Vicente del Bosque is spoilt for choice when it comes to selection but the strength of a team is also judged by the strength of the bench. And Spain’s have probably the strongest bench in the tournament. France meanwhile are lucky to be here given that they lost their last group game 2 – 0 to Sweden. But they are here and it’s obvious to see why. They have some of the best players in the world in Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri and Frank Ribery but for some reason they aren’t working well together and this is costing them. If the real Les Bleus step forward today, they can send this game into extra time with a draw, but I fear that if Spain peak today, it’s all over for my former side. Besides, no more silverware for Nasri please.
England Vs Italy Sunday 9:45pm
My Prediction: The Three Lions 1 – 2 Azzurri
England have impressed me at the tournament but not even that can make me support them. Bias aside though, Wayne Rooney may have taken time to settle, but he scored the all important goal and looked much sharper as the game against Ukraine progressed. England haven’t had an excellent campaign but they finished top of the group and did what was required of them to be here. I think their decent performance has to do with the players having mad respect for coach Roy Hodgson. We’ve all seen it before where a team performs well or not because of their relationship with the coach. We saw how Chelsea players refused to rise to the occasion for AVB and then turned things around for Roberto. England are doing just that right now. There was no such unity in camp in the “Capello era”. Infact Rooney is quoted as saying the England camp has never been this relaxed. I guess it’s been the lack of pressure and the lowering of expectations. Unfortunately now, that expectation has risen, things may change now. Italy too haven’t been at their best but just like all four teams yet to play their quarters, none have peaked. This game is so unpredictable but I am putting more faith in the Italians. On head to head; the previous 22 meetings have produced nine wins for Italy, seven for England and six draws. But Italy have lost only once to England in 35 years. They are not about to make that 2!
The Kenyan Premier League
Western Stima Vs Gor Mahia Today 3pm
My Prediction: Stima 1 – 2 Gor
This game is live on Television! Yes Gor Mahia are back on the live TV schedule after the management and the KPL took steps to ensure order will be maintained during league matches. I’m happy about this because many fans across the country were missing out on great football. Welcome back Gor! That said, club secretary general George Bwana appealed on my Simba Super Soccer show this week for Gor fans to travel to Mumias for this game and cheer the boys. And as I write this article on my desk facing Waiyaki Way on Friday; I have seen cars with green army fans blowing vuvuzelas heading out of Westlands. Good on you! Stima are a tough team to beat in Western but usually that’s at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega. Because Bukhungu doesn’t have a perimetre fence, this game was moved to Mumias for security reasons. Sad for Stima not to be home. Anyway Gor will be trying out some new faces like Dan Serunkuma. Last week they failed to beat Tusker in normal time but I’m sure the mzungu had a chance to assess which areas to work on before the second leg starts. Gbwana says Gor are aiming for a top three finish! Alright!
AFC Leopards Vs Sofapaka Wednesday 7pm
My Prediction: Ingwe 2 – 2 Batoto Ba Mungu
I really thought that by the time this game was played it would be a battle between the first and second position. But Ingwe failed to get maximum points in their game against Sony Sugar on Wednesday, instead coming out with a 1-1 draw. Which means that AFC are four points behind their opponents in this game and third in the log. Ingwe lost Salim Kinje to Simba FC in Tanzania and let go Francis Chinjili. However, they aquired the services of Paul Were to complement their already impressive line-up of strikers. I think they just needed to warm up and the game against Sony would have provided them with a test that no other side has had the luxury of, talking ahead of the second leg. Sofapaka however have a star studded line-up that includes the likes of scoring machine John Barasa, Humphrey Mieno, James Situma, and the list goes on. This will be a tough tie and I see it ending in a draw.