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[FM18] Worldwide Journeyman - Season 8: O'Higgins Futbol Club (Chile) - Midseason Departures and Start of Copa Chile!

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Update 34: March 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

With a semifinal appearance at the CFU Club Championship with Mount Rich set for near in the future, there was a bit of time in between to switch focus to the national arena. My last action with Kenya did not go quite according to plan as we were dumped out of the African Championship of Nations, held in mali, in the first round; picking up just one point from our three group fixtures. 

The squad selection rule meant that some of our main players were missing for that tournament but they returned here as we looked to get started with our Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign. 

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Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers DETAILS:

The previous edition of the Africa Cup of Nations was held back in 2021 in Ivory Coast. The avid readers amongst you will remember that we managed to qualify for that tournament and actually made it out of the first round, eventually being knocked out by Ghana in a closely fought second round match (you can read about that tournament here). 

In order to qualify for the next finals, which are due to be held in Guinea, we would need to finish in the top two of our qualification group. As you may recall, our qualification group has already been decided:

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Not a particularly challenging group on paper but one that we will definitely be favourites for and therefore I am hoping the added pressure does not damage our performances or quell our attacking style.

The weakest side here are probably Lesotho. The minnows are currently ranked 172nd in the world and have finished their past six African Cup of Nations qualification campaigns in last place in their groups. Almost their entire squad plays their domestic football in the top division of Lesotho with just one, veteran forward Lehlomela Ramabele, playing in a foreign league (the Botswana top division). Their best player is right fullback Tsoanelo Koetle, a 29 year old who has racked up a team-high 77 caps.

The Comoros are a team who actually have some potential and have played quite well lately. They are only ranked 157th in the world but recently beat our rival Ethiopia in a friendly and have a squad with some decent players. They have a couple of decent looking regens, including forward Mohamed Moussa of Nancy in France, whilst goalkeeper Ali Ahmada enjoyed a stint with Toulouse and now is at Kayserispor in Turkey. Their best player is Rafidine Abdullah, a defensive midfielder who was previously at Reading but is now with Fulham. 

The biggest challengers in this group are likely to be Libya. The are currently ranked 89th in the world and have a fairly strong domestic league which is highlighted by the country previously winning two African Championship of Nation titles. They have a pair of £5m-rated players in the form of Ismael Tajouri (Lille - France) and Ahmad Benali (Pescara - Italy) alongside a host of decent domestic based players. In terms of squad strength, they are probably similar unlikeliness to ourselves and so should be a good challenge.

SQUAD SELECTION:

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The first round of qualifiers would see us take on Comoros at home following a tough away trip to Libya to start our campaign.  

In terms of the squad, I have gone for a fairly usual selection considering no major players are missing or ineligible. 

In goal, young regen Joseph Jackson Were has taken over as the nations number one whilst central defender Joseph Mwaniki has already clocked 33 senior national team caps at the age of 19. Veterans David Ochieng and Brian Mandela have both surpassed 55 appearances each whilst left fullback Eric Ouma has become a regular in the starting eleven. 

Our superstar midfielder Victor Wanyama makes a reappearance after being ineligible for the African Championship of Nations alongside Ali Abondo and wingback/attacker Ayub Masika. Our best player at the Championship of Nations was Humphrey Mieno and the veteran looks to be a key player for this qualifying campaign whilst Duncan Mbugi is another youngster who is excelling on the international stage recently. 

Our all-time leading scorer Michael Olunga returns, alongside squad regulars Paul Kiongera and Innocent Mutiso

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers RESULTS:

So we had just two qualifying games to play through during this international window as we kicked off the first of our three rounds of fixtures. As previously mentioned we would need to finish atop our qualification group if we wanted to make an appearance at the 2023 finals. 

Game 1. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Libya (World Ranking = 89th)

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What an amazing start to our qualification campaign as we absolutely destroy Libya thanks to some expert finishing!

Paul Kiongera was handed the start alongside Michael Olunga upfront and the veteran responded with an early finish as he slotted in from close range after just four minutes. During the African Championship of Nations we severely lacked a clinical edge but here, our recalled players, showed the class that we needed. Firstly we saw Ali Abondo rifle home from just inside the penalty area before forward Olunga added two goals in seven minutes, including a bullet header just before halftime to send us into the interval with a 4-0 lead. 

Olunga completed a brilliant hattrick as he glanced home another header just after the halftime break before Kiongera added a second of his own after 75 minutes when his strike ricocheted in following a deflection. There was time for Libya to grab a late consolation but overall this was an excellent performance and one that got our campaign off to a brilliant start. 

We actually were just behind in terms of possession and only had five additional shots in comparison to our opponents yet some classy finishing led to my highest ever victory as Kenya manager thus far. 

Game 2. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Comoros (World Ranking = 157th)

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A second victory and another that resulted from some excellent finishing on our behalf.

We again failed to totally dominate our opponents in terms of chances created but we got off to an outrageously good start. We were on the scoresheet in the games first minute when Paul Kiongera tucked home a close range header before his forward partner, Michael Olunga, grabbed a second just five minutes later as he fired home from inside the area. We then made it 3-0 when Victor Wanyama slammed home a penalty kick following a handball by a Comoros defender. 

Our superb first period meant we could ease back in the second half but this allowed our opponents to grab a first goal in the 56th minute. We ensured no chance of a comeback when we added a fourth just three minutes later; Kiongera adding his second with a classic close range poachers finish and giving him four goals in just two qualifying matches.

We managed to get an 18,643 strong crowd out for this game and the result meant we had recorded two victories from our opening two games.

STANDINGS:

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Two very impressive performances see us top Group J with a maximum of six points. Libya and Comoros both managed to win their other games against Lesotho and so sit on the same points totals (and goal differences) behind us.

It is a while now until our next qualification games, which will not take place until after the World Cup. The next round sees us take on Lesotho whilst again facing off against Libya. There were no real shocks with regards to the other qualifying games although it was nice to see Uganda (our fierce rivals) lose both of their opening two games!

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So that concludes my time with the international team for a while now with our next action being the 2022 World Cup in Australia! I hope it has been okay to drop a Kenyan update in amongst the CFU Club Championship that is ongoing with Mount Rich but I find it easier to write things in chronological order.

I will be back shortly with a Mount Rich update, where we will be facing off against Club Sando in the semifinals, knowing that a victory would not only give us a chance at the title but also guarantee some form of continental football for next season. 

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6 minutes ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Right. That is confusing. Thanks.

Haha. Quite fun though, it just means that every year there is a decent competition for Africa so not a bad continent to take up international management!

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Update 35: April 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Having spent a brief time back in Africa with Kenya easily navigating their way through the first round of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, we return to the Caribbean where the semi-finals of the CFU Club Championship are due to take place. 

As you may recall we drew Trinidadian side Club Sando (you can read about how we made it to the semis here) and although they were undoubtedly the stronger side on paper, a win would see us through to our first ever continental final!

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CFU Club Championship RESULTS:

All the group stages were now completed and it would be a straight, one-leg, game to see who would progress into the finale. 

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The other semi saw previous winners Puerto Rico FC take on another minnow, similar to ourselves, in the form of Guyanese side Buxton United. 

Game 1. CFU Club Championship Semi Final: vs Club Sando (Trinidad & Tobago)

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Amazing scenes! We are going to the final!

We travelled to Mindoo Philip Park in Saint Lucia for this tie and we had an excellent first period which ultimately meant we came away with the win. We started very quickly out of the gates and our early pressure was rewarded when Kyle Thomas smashed a shot in off the post from just outside the area after just 11 first half minutes. Things got even better for us in the 33rd minute when Shalrie Augustine clipped a neat cross towards the back post and Shaddai Sampson stooped to knock home a diving header. Two goals up and halftime and the dream was starting to become more of a reality. 

We were clearly nervous in the second period though and as the minutes ticked by Club Sando started to dominate proceedings. Despite our best efforts they ended the tie with more shots at goal and by holding the majority of the possession. We gave them a lifeline just after the hour mark when teenage defender Alec Leo pushed an attacker at a freekick and a penalty was awarded. The resultant spot kick was too good for Marc Walcott and we found ourselves having to really hang on through the final stages. 

But, hang on we did! They had a few decent late chances but were unable to test Walcott to any real degree and we came away with an amazing victor which would see us enter into the CFU Club Championship final for the very first time in our history. 

It would also mean that I was one win away from qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League! Something I honestly never thought would be possible! So, who would we be facing in the final?

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Oh no, Puerto Rico FC. The Puerto Rico based club actually play their football in the USA domestic system and totally destroyed Guyanese side Buxton United in the other semifinal game. These guys won this tournament back in 2020 and placed 3rd last year, demonstrating they are clearly an established side at this level.

They are a professional club who have an extremely multicultural squad with a number of Brazilian and Argentinian players. They also have a couple of Englishmen in the form of Brennan Dickerson (formerly of Colchester) and fullback Bradley Halliday (previously of Cambridge). All in all though they are the one side I would have chosen not to face as they have a distinct possibility of completely destroying us in the final, similarly to how they performed in the semis. 

Still at this stage I knew that, whilst a win would be amazingly ridiculous, a second place finish was nothing to scoff at...

Game 2. CFU Club Championship Final: vs Puerto Rico FC (Puerto Rico)

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So close yet we were not able to find a late leveller and second place was what we would have to settle for. 

In front of a 5,500 strong crowd in Aruba we gave a good account of ourselves but were ultimately outplayed by some superior opposition. We defended fairly well considering their attacking strength but just could not create the number of chances I usual associate with our main tactic. 

We were behind in the first half when former Colchester winger Dickerson headed home at the far post. The second half then started badly as we conceded early; this time Hector Ramos, one of the few actual Puerto Ricans in their side, scored with another headed finish and saw us surrender a 2-0 lead. 

The brightest moment arrived in the 70th minute when Shaddai Sampson scored a header himself, firing a powerful finish back across the keeper following a nicely flighted cross from the ever-improving Kyle Thomas. I was hoping this would give us a bit of a spark but it was not to be and the closest we came to a leveller was a long range Cassim Millette effort that was easily held by the goalkeeper. 

In the end a decent performance and one in which we were not totally embarrassed but to get this far and fall at the final hurdle was definitely disappointing if not a bit expected. 

PLAYER STATISTICS:

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With the tournament now at an end I thought it would be beneficial to have a look at some of our best players. I think we performed pretty well actually and this resulted in us having 13 players hold an average rating of at least 7.0.

Unsurprisingly, right fullback Cassim Millette (7.80) once again showed that he has too much class for our club and is easily capable of playing at a higher level. The youngster had two assists and played a team high 16 key passes in just five appearances. Also pleasing to see was the performances of Kyle Thomas (7.80). In the absence of Joel Francois-Ravalier, Thomas really stepped up and was reward with four goals to go alongside three Player of the Match awards. 

Defensively there were impressive displays from the likes of goalkeeper Marc Walcott (7.14) whilst African central defender pairing Moukaram Abidjo (7.14) and Christ Kisangala (7.08) also played very well, with the later racking up an outrageous 34 defensive interceptions. 

We struggled a bit in midfield but young Alister Rennie (7.06) showed his class as he averaged 4.51 tackles/game from his ball-winning position. 

In attack Shaddai Sampson (7.42) finished the tournament as our leading scorer, with five goals in six appearances, but it was also exciting to see the emergence of a pair of youth academy products in the form of Kimron Phillip (7.50) and Cassim Redhead (7.24), who added a further five goals between them. 

STANDINGS:

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I have no idea how we were not named as the 'Biggest Overachievers' but still, we had an amazing tournament and one in which we came bitterly close to winning a piece of continental silverware. 

Unsurprisingly, Puerto Rico FC dominated the headlines as they recorded their second CFU Club Championship win in just three years. Their English winger, Brennan Dickerson, was named player of the tournament following an outrageous 8.71 average rating!

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I knew that victory in the final would see us qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League but our consolation prize is (almost) as exciting. We will again be entered into the North American League, which is essentially the CONCACAF version of the Europa Cup. We did actually get to play in this once before, back in 2020 when we actually reached the quarter finals, so I am looking forward to taking part once more!

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Unfortunately that brings to an end our continental adventures for this season, at least until the North American League kicks off midway through the Grenadian league year. 

The next instalment from me? Well, that will be the 2022 FIFA World Cup - where I will be taking Kenya to their first ever finals! If you do not recall, we have been drawn in a horror group alongside Spain, Belgium and Uruguay, meaning that it could be a very quick, humiliating trip for the Harambee Stars!

Check back soon to find out how we get on...

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Great effort there to reach the final and so desperately unlucky not getting more there :( 

Still, more continental football, how do you rate your chances in the North American League?

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Great effort. Sad about the professional status looking unlikely. But i a few years it could happen. 

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On 5 June 2018 at 18:43, rodesire said:

Great effort there to reach the final and so desperately unlucky not getting more there :( 

Still, more continental football, how do you rate your chances in the North American League?

Last time we played in the North American league we won our first round tie but then we thrashed in the second round by a side from Costa Rica. There are some very good teams involved and it really depends on who we get in the draw as to how I think we will do...

On 5 June 2018 at 19:19, kidthekid said:

Great effort. Sad about the professional status looking unlikely. But i a few years it could happen. 

Professional status is so unlikely. The prize money for domestic competitions in Grenada is pitiful and I have not come anywhere near to winning the big bucks in North/Central America as of yet...

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Update 36: June 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: FIFA World Cup (Australia)

So this update has taken me a little while to collaborate but it is probably my crowning moment so far in this save. As you may recall from previous updates, I had managed to guide Kenya to a rather unexpected World Cup berth having topped our qualification group. Given that Kenya had never reached a World Cup finals before this feat was all the more historic and, given that the real-life tournament is currently in progress, I thought this would be a perfect time to post this!

This update will cover all the goings on at the 2022 edition of the tournament, including our progress in the group stage.

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FIFA World Cup 2022 DETAILS:

The FIFA World Cup is the worlds most reputable international competition and this years iteration would be held in Australia. This save has only seen one previous edition of the World Cup (2018) which was won by surprise outsiders Chile. 

For those not familiar, the World Cup follows a fairly simple format whereby teams are grouped into eight groups of four. From there they play each other side in their group once, before the top two sides progress into the Last 16 round. The draw for the initial group stages has already been completed and, as you might remember, we were handed a proper group of death...

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There were only a few sides in the whole tournament that I fancied our chances against and, it is safe to say, none of these three fit that criteria. 

The weakest side, if you can call them a weaker side, is Uruguay. The South American outfit are ranked way above ourselves (25th) and have a pedigree at this level having recorded two World Cup victories in the past alongside an astonishing 15 Copa America titles. They qualified for the three World Cup tournaments prior to this one, finishing 3rd in their group four years ago, and have a squad of solid superstars. 

Luis Suarez is still at Barcelona but, at 35 years old, he is no longer included in the regular national team squads. Edinson Cavani (PSG) will be at the World Cup though; the experienced forward boasts an international record of 68 goals in 146 appearances but their star players are probably midfield duo Rodrigo Bentancur (Real Madrid) and Lucas Torreira (Monaco) both of whom are valued at over £50m.  

The other two sides in our group are outrageously good. The next 'lowest' ranked though are Belgium but they sit a very impressive 9th in the world. The Red Devils are a national side with not much historical success but one that has been constantly tipped over the last few years to win a major trophy. They reached the quarter finals of the last World Cup, being knocked out against eventual winners Chile, and also lost to Germany in the 2020 European Championship semifinals, so they are definitely getting close to a major crown. 

Their squad is really strong with the likes of Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) and Eden Hazard (Manchester City) all still superstars despite now being in their 30s. Romelu Lukaku (Liverpool) is the squads current top scorer with a record of 52 goals scored in 118 appearances. Yannick Carrasco (PSG) is the final of five players in the squad valued above the £50m mark. 

The final side in our group are Spain. The European outfit are currently ranked 3rd in the world and lost to Germany in the quarter finals of this competition last time around. They have one previous title to their name (2010) to go alongside a trio of European Championships. They are currently managed by former Valencia boss Javi Gracia, who is a bit unproven and seemed like a bit of a risk when he replaced the well-known Rafa Benitez. 

Some of the big Spanish names of years past are gone but their squad is still very impressive. David De Gea (PSG) is still their best player, having racked up 82 caps since becoming the countries number one shot stopper. They have a whole host of attacking talent including Isco (Monaco) and Marco Asensio (Juventus) and 34 year old Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) still finds a space in the starting eleven. 

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Looking at some of the other groups I would say that we have possibly been given the hardest of the lot... just what we wanted from our first ever World Cup appearance. 

Group A has the makings of the easiest passage with two teams from Austria, Australia, Serbia and Honduras making it through to the next round. The rest of the groups look fairly even but as always, I am sure there will be some surprises along the way.

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Unsurprisingly, we are being viewed as rank outsiders and one of the weakest sides heading into the competition. France and Italy are named as favourites, with Brazil and our group rivals Spain, following closely behind.  

SQUAD SELECTION:

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Not too many huge surprises here as I selected my Kenya squad for the 2022 World Cup. We had no major injury worries, just a few knocks, so I had a full pool of players to choose from. 

Goalkeepers: No tough decisions here as I select the same three goalkeepers that I have been working with in recent squads. Teenage stopper Joseph Jackson Were is likely to start ahead of veteran Patrick Matasi who, at 34 years of age, is one of the elder statesman within the squad. Joel Bataro, who plays his club football in Kenya, will act as the third choice. 

Fullbacks: It is quite difficult to tell from the above image but I will be taking four wingbacks to Australia. On the right hand side I will be looking to start the very attacking minded Ayub Masika, who currently plays in China, ahead of 33 year old Jerry Santo. On the left, the battle for starting duties is pretty tight with both Eric Ouma and Erick Ouma Otieno both boasting similar skillsets. 

Central Defenders: A few tougher decisions here as I decided to leave Thomas Deng at home despite him being a regular in the past few squads and playing his club football in Australia. Regen Joseph Mwaniki has developed himself into one of the best players in the national squad and he will likely start alongside veteran Brian Mandela. The final member of the back three will either be David Ochieng, one of our most capped defenders, or the emerging 17 year old Duncan Mbugi. 32 year old veteran Crispine Odula will provide cover, although a number of our midfielders can fill in if required. 

Central Midfielders: There was no place in the squad for Collins Okoth, who had impressed a great deal in the last African Nations Championship. The star man here is undoubtably Victor Wanyama. The 31 year old is still playing in China following his transfer from Tottenham back in 2019 and is currently encroaching on 100 international appearances. Joining him in midfield will be the experienced duo of Ali Abondo and Humphrey Mieno. Also in contention is youthful Notts County player Henry Ochieng, who has played well alongside Wanyama in recent games. We have plenty of midfield options with Qatar-based ball-winner Peter Opiyo earning a recall along with Amos Nondi, who only has three previous international appearances. 

Attackers: The key player here is without a doubt Micheal Olunga. The rangy targetman is the countries leading all-time scorer having netted 53 times in 69 games and will be key to our chances of scoring in Australia. His strike partner will likely be the experienced Innocent Mutiso. The other option would have been Paul Kiongera, who showed some excellent international form in recent months, but a late injury would mean that he would miss the entire tournament. This left us a bit short of attacking threats after our starting duo, with George Odhiambo being the best reserve option having netted 17 international goals. Jacob Keli and Noah Wafula, who both play in Kenya, are also included. 

Lets make no mistake, this is not a squad that is going to be winning the World Cup anytime soon. We have one true world-class player in the form of Victor Wanyama but after him, all of the remaining players would struggle to get into most other international squads. 

Friendly RESULTS:

W = 0, D = 1, L = 1

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We played a couple of warm-up friendly games and they did not go according to plan at all...

We kicked off with a home tie against fellow World Cup side Mexico and tried to play our usual attacking style. This tactic did not go well at all and we were constantly exposed against a strong frontline and ended up conceding six despite being the home side in what is my worst defeat in football management thus far. we then travelled to Indonesia for an 'easier' game but ended up making a right meal of that one as we quickly went two goals behind. We did well to battle back and finished with a draw but overall this was not the preparation I had envisioned ahead of our first ever World Cup campaign. 

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Things got even worse when, just two days prior to our opening fixture, young goalkeeper Joseph Jackson Were was struck down with an injury that would mean he would miss the entire tournament. An absolute heartbreaker for teenager and, although he will have plenty of international chances in the future, missing out on a historic World Cup was extremely cruel. 

FIFA World Cup 2022 RESULTS:

Game 1. FIFA World Cup Group B: vs Belgium (World Ranking = 9th)

The first game of our world cup campaign saw us travel to the Brisbane Stadium to take on a very talented Belgium side. 

Team News:

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Patrick Matasi has to start in goal for us following the injury to Joseph Jackson Were. I also opted for 17 year old Duncan Mbugi alongside Brian Mandela and Joseph Mwaniki as part of our back three, with Eric Ouma chosen as the starting left fullback ahead of the talented Ayub Masika. England-based Henry Ochieng is selected to play alongside Victor Wanyama with Ali Abondo playing just behind skipper Michael Olunga and Innocent Mutiso

Belgium opt for a front three which already has me worried. Romelu Lukaku (Liverpool) is partnered by Divock Origi (AC Milan) and the emerging Nany Dimata (Gladbach). Talented midfielders Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne (both at Manchester City) form a devastating duo in the centre who will likely give Wanyama all sorts of problems. Tottenham's Toby Aldeweireld leads a strong defensive unit with expert stopper Thibault Courtois (Chelsea) starting in goal. 

Not the easiest of starts to our first ever World Cup but then again none of our group games look easy...

Result:

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A 3-1 defeat to start our campaign but we definitely did not embarrass ourselves. In fact, in front of a huge 52,500 strong crowd, we took the lead! 

After just twelve minutes we found ourselves ahead as Michael Olunga reacted quickest to rifle home from inside the box following a poor clearance. It was fitting that our all-time leading scorer was the man to score Kenya's first ever World Cup goal and for a brief moment an upset was on the cards. 

The early goal seemed to only spark Belgium's star players into life and, although we had a fair share of possession, our opponents attackers created a number of chances. We conceded an equaliser in the 24th minute when Nany Dimata out jumped Joseph Mwaniki to glance home a close range header. Still, at half-time we were tied at 1-1 and I could not have asked for a better start to our time in Australia. 

The second period saw us tire and the expert skills of Belgiums superstars became even more evident. Dimata added his second just moments after the restart and when Romelu Lukaku added a third header late on, the result was finalised.

Olunga's goal meant he was awarded a solid rating but our best player was Victor Wanyama. Our star midfield led the team with 12 tackles won and played one key pass. Ayub Masika also had a solid first game at right fullback, playing 39 successful passes and leading the team in touches of the ball. 

Game 2. FIFA World Cup Group B: vs Spain (World Ranking = 3rd)

The second game of our world cup campaign saw us have to take on an even more talented opposition in the form of one of the tournament favourites Spain. We matched up against the European side in The Gabba in front of 42,000 spectators.

Team News:

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A couple of changes for us as we go with a slightly more defensive look. David Ochieng comes in to replace teenage defender Duncan Mbugi who struggled in the opening game. Erick Ouma Otieno also replaces Eric Ouma at the left fullback spot after the later failed to make much of an impression against Belgium. We decide to go with a midfield three this time around with Humphrey Mieno coming in to play alongside Ochieng and Wanyama. 

For Spain, the biggest piece of news is that star attacker Isco missed out through injury. The rest of their side are obviously extremely talented with superstar keeper David De Gea (PSG) playing behind a back four that includes Hector Bellerin (PSG) and Alex Grimaldi (Juventus). Koke (Atletico Madrid) captains the side whilst talented attackers Suso (PSG) and Marco Asensio (Juventus) provide a worrying offensive threat. Paco Alcacer (RB Leipzig) is  preferred as the sole forward in place of Alvaro Morata (Chelsea).

Result:

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What a performance! We manage to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the 2022 World Cup as we hold favourites Spain to a draw!

After a fairly lacklustre first half, where we surrendered possession far too easily but managed to limit our opponents to long shots and half chances, the game exploded into life in the second period. Things went absolutely horribly just after the break when our superstar midfielder Victor Wanyama was shown a red card following a second bookable offence. With our talisman now off the pitch and us playing with ten men I definitely feared the worse and did not expect what was to happen next. 

We went a bit more defensive as Spain looked to make their man advantage count but, amazingly, we then took the lead. Michael Olunga grabbed his second goal in as many World Cup games as he slammed home a left-footed curler from well outside the area. This was a genuine worldie of a strike, that came from absolutely nothing and out of nowhere, that left David De Gea stranded as it nestled into the top corner. 

We then continued to hold on under a barrage of Spanish pressure and it genuinely looked like we might hold on for the unlikeliest of victories... but it was not to be! With time winding down, central defender Marc Bartra bundled home a last minute leveller as we failed to clear a late freekick. We had done so well to keep the Spaniards out and we came so close to recording a very memorable victory. Still, if you had offered me a score draw with Spain at the start of this fixture I definitely would have taken it! 

Olunga had a superb game and the led the way for us with a rating of 8.3. Also impressive was central defender David Ochieng, who made four key tackles and was a big reason we defended so successfully. 

 Game 3. FIFA World Cup Group B: vs Uruguay (World Ranking = 25th)

Team News:

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Despite our positive result against Spain we were forced into a few changes due to suspensions and fitness concerns. The most obvious absence is Victor Wanyama who is missing following his red card in the last fixture and in his place Peter Opiyo is given his first World Cup action. Duncan Mbugi returns as part of the back three in place of Joseph Mwaniki who was struggling for fitness, whilst Eric Ouma returns on the left. Ali Abondo replaces Humphrey Mieno in the midfield whilst our front two remain the same.

Uruguay boast an extremely strong side with the most notable name being that of Edison Cavani (PSG) who boasts an international record of 68 goals in 146 appearances. He leads an attacking unit that also consists of Premier League duo Jonathan Rodriguez (Everton) and Nicolas Lopez (Southampton). The midfield is manned by two super holding players in the form of Rodrigo Bentancur (Real Madrid) and emerging superstar Lucas Torreira (Monaco).

Result:

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Ugh, absolutely blown away by an impressive Uruguay side but for so long in this fixture we were very much in with a chance of securing a positive result. 

We manage to share possession pretty equally through the early stages and, just like we had against Spain, we were able to limit the clearcut chances created by our opponents. We looked a threat on the counter and just before halftime one of those counter attacks resulted in an unexpected opener. Michael Olunga netted his third goal of the tournament, managing to score in every group game, as the towering forward slammed home a header following a an inch perfect cross from fullback Ayub Masika

Just as we had done in our previous game we looked solid defensively and, with the minutes winding down, another positive result looked as though it could be on the cards... but just as in our previous game we could not hold on, only this time we totally capitulated. Our tired legs were exposed in ten second half minutes late in the game when a rampant Uruguay showed a lethal edge and slammed home four very impressive goals. Everton winger Rodriguez grabbed two goals whilst substitute forward Maximiliano Gomez added a brace of his own. 

There were not too many positive performances in this one outside of Olunga and Masika. The next best player was Ali Abondo, who bounced back from a poor display against Belgium in the opener, and led the team with 59 completed passes. 

STANDINGS:

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As you can probably imagine, we were unable to progress from our group as one draw and two defeats was definitely not enough. From a personal point of view I was very happy with our work though. We managed to score in every single game and, although we did not manage to win a game, we did claim one point - one more than I imagined that we would in this group of death.

Amazingly, we finished level on points with Spain (only finishing behind them on goal difference) as they lost to both Uruguay and Belgium. The European outfit failed to make it through to the knockout stages whereas Uruguay had an exceptional group stage, finishing atop after winning all three of their games and the South America side progress along with Belgium. 

WORLD CUP REVIEW:

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Despite finishing in second place in our group, Belgium managed to battle through to the final where they defeated Italy in extra time to claim their first ever World Cup title. The final itself was a tightly contested game with both sides creating chances but, in front of a huge 94,984 strong crowd, it was the Belgians who came out on top. 

Eden Hazard was named Player of the Match, to cap a wonderful tournament for the midfielder whilst the winning goal was scored by, now veteran, midfielder Radja Nainggolan in the first half of stoppage time.

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There were some genuine shocks during this World Cup with a number of big sides failing to get out of the group stages. England, Colombia, Netherlands and the aforementioned Spain were the biggest casualties, all failing to get out of their respective groups.

In their place, we saw a number of 'smaller' nations represent in the second round, with the like of New Zealand, Norway and Austria getting an extra game. The most impressive run was that from Wales who, not only got out of their group, but also defeated Croatia in the first knockout game before falling to reigning champions Chile in the quarter finals. There was also an impressive performance from Serbia who also made it to the quarters. 

Chile almost got the chance to compete for a second consecutive World Cup but they were knocked out in the semis. In the end, Belgium were very deserving champions; coming through a group with Spain and Uruguay whilst then defeating Brazil and Chile enroute to the final.  

OTHER NEWS:

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One positive moment for us from this World Cup was this bit of news. Michael Olunga scored three goals, one in every group game, but his finish against Spain was exceptional. He cut infield and rifled home a brilliant left-footed strike that beat David De Gea and was acknowledged as the second best goal of the tournament. 

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Another fun fact from this World Cup was the personal achievement that I reached 200 games in management. Unfortunately, my 200th game resulted in a bit of a hammering against Uruguay but James Yates is starting to become an established man in the world of football.   

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So that concludes the 2022 World Cup from Australia. It was a historic tournament for Kenya, their first World Cup finals appearance ever, and we managed to not disgrace ourselves, scoring in every game and claiming a first ever World Cup point. For the second World Cup in a row on this save, a nation who had never previously won the title won out as victorious, this time it was Belgium's turn. 

I am undecided as to what to do now with regards to Kenya. I have recently played through a few Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and could attempt to finish that qualification campaign before making a decision. To be honest, getting to a World Cup is easily the best thing I am ever going to achieve with Kenya and so I am considering looking for a new national side challenge.

What do you guys think? Do you want to see more from Kenya or would you prefer to see a new international perspective?  

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Well, one point is one point. A pity there were no points against Uruguay, but that didn't matter.

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Very well done in the World Cup :applause:If I were you, I'd probably try a new nation in all fairness, maybe even a different continent.

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On 19 June 2018 at 10:33, himan said:

Well, one point is one point. A pity there were no points against Uruguay, but that didn't matter.

Uruguay actually played really well and were the best side in our group! Belgium ended up having the last laugh though as they win their first ever finals trophy!

On 19 June 2018 at 10:53, rodesire said:

Very well done in the World Cup :applause:If I were you, I'd probably try a new nation in all fairness, maybe even a different continent.

Thanks! I have really enjoyed my time with Kenya to be fair but I do not know what else I can achieve with them having guided them to a first ever World Cup appearance. I also won a bit of silverware (2 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cups) so maybe it is time for a new challenge. I think I might get to the end of this calendar year, make sure I get them qualified for the next Africa Cup of Nations, and then I'll look for a new side.

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Update 37: Preseason 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

The early part of this calendar year has been jam packed what with Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2022 World Cup with Kenya. Domestically, my Mount Rich side were once again involved in the Caribbean Club Championship, where we finished runners up in the final; and gained qualification to the North American League. 

August sees the start of the Grenadian league season, which admittedly has become a bit of an afterthought given the ease at which we dominate it and the fact that I have so much else going on. Still, I thought it would be a good time to give you a low down on how the preseason went for the club side; re-looking at tactics and analysing the squad, transfers and club staff. 

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BOARD ROOM:

The financial side of this save is something that I have not really looked at in too much detail, mainly because things have not changed much since I took over. Our domestic victories and brief appearances in continental competitions has allowed some funds to be added to the coffers and we are easily the most wealthy club in Grenada. Our overall balance is around £260,000 which, whilst healthy, is not enough to pay for any facility improvements or upgrade the club to a professional one. 

Our positive financial state has allowed the board to once again offer us some healthy looking budgets:

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Both of these figures are around the highest I have received in my career. The wage budget is way more than I require but at least means I am not restricted financial with regards to looking for players. It has also allowed me to constantly resign our best players when they have become the subject of interest from abroad, a fact that I am very happy about. 

Board Objectives (2022)

GFA Premier Division - Win the GFA Premier Division
Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament - Win the Waggy-T Knockout

I have become used to these sort of expectations nowadays, with the board expect us to dominate all domestic competitions as an absolute minimum. We are the most reputable, most talented and most wealthy side in Grenada right now so these expectations are in no way unrealistic and definitely match my personal goals for the upcoming year. 

CLUB STAFF:

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No real changes at all in terms of club staff from last year and, in my opinion, this is a pretty substantial looking set of backroom staff for a semi-professional club. 

The one new addition that I was forced to make was the signing of a new assistant manager. My previous right-hand man, Anthony Hart, decided he had experienced too much success at Mount Rich and refused to sign a new contract, instead favouring a new role as assistant manager at Club Sando in his native Trinidad & Tobago. In his place I signed another Trinidadian, Colin Roberts, who was previously an U18 boss at a semi-professional side in his nation. 

The only other new face is that of Dajhal Percival who joins as another senior squad coach. The St. Kitts & Nevis native was also an U18 manager back in this homeland prior to joining us on a one year deal. 

TRANSFERS:

(Out)

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No-one was sold during the transfer window but we did release a number of players, some of whom have contributed massively over the past few seasons.

For starters we released a number of youth products who had failed to progress onto the first team. We also saw the departure of midfielder Kareem Coutain. The 27 year old played three seasons for us, having joined from Paradise Sports Club back in 2018, making 27 league appearances during that time. 

One of the biggest departures was that of experienced central defender Nicko Williams. The 32 year old was one of my first signings when I joined the club back in 2017 and went on to make 57 league appearances and claim three Grenada Premier Division titles and three Waggy-T Super Knockout cup wins.

Shavon Bishop was a young forward who had a fantastic scoring conversion record during his four seasons at Mount Rich. The youth academy product scored an impressive 23 league goals in 34 games but was deemed surplus to requirements given the depth of forward options we were acquiring. He has since joined Point Fortin in Trinidad but has struggled to get a place in the first eleven thus far. 

(In)

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We added a few players during the transfer window but not too may who will have much impact on the first eleven. Shavon Coutain, David Matheson and Shavon Leo are all youngsters who will be shipped out on loan or will spend the season playing for the U20s. The other two players are ones who should find a place in the first team squad. 

The first is Seychelles midfielder Philani August

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The 19 year old regen shares joint USA nationality and he was signed on a free transfer upon his release from American side Philadelphia Union Academy. He has already made his senior debut for Seychelles and is an attacking minded midfielder who I am expecting to fill in for the injured Joel Francois-Ravalier. He has high levels of dribbling, passing and technique and looks to be a fairly creative player who seemingly will fit perfectly into my tactical system. 

The other signing I made, and one who has the potential to absolutely destroy the Grenadian league, is 30 year old forward Emeca

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The Equatorial Guinea forward looks like an absolute powerhouse, with solid physical traits and high levels for dribbling and finishing. He has played 18 times for the senior national side and joins us from Sony Ela Nguema, a semi-professional side in his homeland, where he has spent his entire career up until this point.

Over the past six seasons the veteran forward has appeared in 165 games and scored 66 goals at an average rating of 7.15. Although he fills one of the foreign player spots in the squad, I am looking forward to seeing the partnership that he can develop with Shaddai Sampson and have high hopes for him going into the domestic season. 

THE SQUAD:

Seniors:

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This is essentially the senior squad, although I am sure some of the youngsters (see below) will get some game time in domestic games depending on how far we go in our continental competition). By now you will hopefully recognise some of the names on this list but one thing that jumps out when looking at the squad in this overview format is just how young everyone is. 

New signing Emeca is the oldest player in the first eleven but after him it is Christ Kisangala at the ripe old age of just 25. The starting eleven also has six youth academy products amongst it, with a further three being part of the squad, highlighting the fact that our youth recruitment work is paying dividends. 

Goalkeepers: Young Marc Walcott is seemingly overtaking David Ibeh as our most talented shot stopper. The 18 year old Grenadian, who is a former youth academy product, has already made his senior international debut and has been named the nations number one in the past few squads. Ibeh is a talented Nigerian who will definitely see some game action during this upcoming season. His first team chances have been limited somewhat but he did make 12 first team starts last year highlighting his continued development. 

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Marc Walcott profile.

Central Defenders: We finally received a talented central defender in one of our youth intakes when we acquired Alec Leo. The 17 year old had a very good debut season, making 10 appearances at an average rating of 7.28, and looks like he could develop into one of the best defenders that the club has ever seen. Our tactic relies on three central defenders and it is looking like the other two spots will be occupied by African duo Moukaram Abidjo and Christ Kisangala. Benin native Abidjo had his best year with us last season, totalling 19 appearances whilst Kisangala is one of our most experienced players nowadays and will be entering his sixth season at the club having arrived back in 2018 as Mount Rich's first ever foreign player.

Experienced veteran Raymond Allenye, who is still a regular in the nation side, and Ugandan youngster Karim Juma will provide the main rotation and back-up options. 

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Alec Leo profile.

Fullbacks: He might still be listed as a winger but Cassim Millette is one of the best players at the club and has become adept at playing as a right wingback. The 20 year old has already surpassed 50 league appearances for the club and has notched an impressive 19 senior national team caps. He is one of the best creative options in the club, collecting 26 assists in his last three season. On the left flank there will be a continued competition between Grenadian Joel Alexander and Zimbabwean youngster Tatenda Amini

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Cassim Millette profile.

Central Midfielders: If you remember correctly our best midfielder Joel Francois-Ravalier sustained a brutal injury at the end of last season which is likely to keep him out of the majority of the upcoming campaign. In his place I will be looking towards the newly signed Philani August to step up during his first season with the club. Alongside Ravalier last season was the impressive ball-winner Alistair Rennie. The 19 year old former youth academy product had a good season last year, with 4.72 tackles/game and averaging a rating of 7.18, as he helped shore up a solid defensive unit. He is another who has made appearances for the national side, collecting 11 senior caps.

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Alistair Rennie profile. 

Attacking Midfielders: The tactic we employ often sees us utilise a single attacking player behind a front two and Kyle Thomas is regarded by my staff as the best player in our squad. The 19 year old was part of the same youth intake as the aforementioned Rennie and last season was the first time that he really begun to shine for us. He scored six goal in 17 appearances last year and has also become a regular in the national side. He is a bit of a physical beast and I am hoping he really plays to his potential this season as he could be special. 

We still have Kyle John-Brown on the books, a talented attacker who has surpassed 50 league appearances for us, as well as new youngster Kimron Phillip. Philip has huge potential but his first eleven playing time might be limited due to the fact he's playing behind Thomas. 

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Kyle Thomas profile.

Forwards: The newly acquired Emeca is going to start the season injured but he has the chance to totally dominate this domestic league. He will likely start the year playing alongside Shaddai Sampson, who has been the most prolific player at the club in recent times, netting a stupendous 71 goals in his past four seasons. The 21 year old has also become a regular in the national team squads and has a pretty impressive record of seven goals in 19 appearances. 

Uriah Enoe will now be relegated to rotational duties having scored just 5 goals in 17 appearances last year. He might be related to fourth strike option if youth academy product Cassim Redhead lives up to expectations. The 17 year old is a talent and impressed with five goals of his own last season. 

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Shaddai Sampson profile. 

Under 20s:

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I have managed to build up some very sufficient depth over the past few years and we now have a solid U20 side with some potentially good players. Young forwards Bradley Mark and Rickel Modeste look like ones for the future whilst new signing David Matheson looks to be a find in the centre of midfield.  

Given the first eleven depth that we seemingly now have, it is unlikely that most of these guys will feature in the first team at all this season. For that reason I may look at shifting some of the older players out on loan to teams in our division so that they can start acquiring first team experience of their own. 

TACTICS:

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I have been using this set-up for quite a while now and, due to its success, it is also the one that I utilise with the Kenyan national squad. 

 The three central defenders are primarily responsible for defensive duties, with one being set to 'cover' in order to neutralise any long balls and the pacy forwards that seem to litter Grenadian football. The wingbacks are far more involved in attacking play and provide the width when our build-up play cannot work through the central areas. 

I will always set one midfielder to play as an attacker and one primarily as a defender to ensure some central balance. I have recently been playing the attacking midfielder as a shadow striker to add some extra offensive firepower and I always have one forward playing slightly deeper than our poacher. 

I almost always play on 'attacking', including during continental competitions, and I have a number of team instructions that I commonly use. All players in front of the three central defenders have personal player instructions but these are predominately used to minimise/maximise skills such as crossing, dribbling and risky passing depending on player skill level. 

Friendly RESULTS:

W = 7, D = 0, L = 0

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Some absolutely outstanding performances saw us go unbeaten through seven preseason fixtures. 

It is not as if we played a host of terrible sides either. Boca Juniors will be playing in the Grenadian Premier Division this season whilst Siparia are in the second tier of Trinidad. We also claimed a very impressive 3-1 home victory over Santa Rosa, a professional side who recently won the top tier of Trinidad & Tobago. The most pleasing thing here was our defensive performances, as we kept a stupendous six clean sheets and conceded just one goal. We have always managed to score goals, and that was no different here, but our defensive improvements are what I think might see us be able to compete more in upcoming continental competitions. 

OTHER NEWS:

North American League Draw:

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Speaking of continental competition, the first round draw for the North American League was recently made and we were drawn against C.D. Aguila of El Salvador. I will have a look at exactly how good Aguila are during my next update but they are a professional side who have some very good young regens that look very scary on paper...

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A fairly long update here but hopefully one that has given you an insight into how Mount Rich are looking in 2022. We have put together a very good looking squad and one that should easily secure another domestic league title. The focus the year however will be the North American League, as I feel more primed than ever to make a long run in this competition providing we get some favourable draws along the way. 

I will hopefully be back very soon with an update covering the first few months of the league season but I will then follow that with one showcasing our progress in continental competitions. 

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Moron St. John has to be one of the greatest player names ever,

 

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1 hour ago, dllu said:

Moron St. John has to be one of the greatest player names ever,

 

Haha. He could not make the cut at Mount Rich but signed for Boca Juniors in the division below us - and has since become a vital member of their first team squad. 

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Update 38: July & August 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Having detailed the current Mount Rich squad in the last update, this post will see us kickstart the 2022 domestic season in Grenada. As mentioned before, the board expectation is for us to easily win the league again, and looking at our squad in comparison to the other teams it would appear that aim should be achieved. 

We will also be taking part in our first North American League game but I am saving those fixtures for a separate update since they have become the main focus of my club management. 

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GFA Premier Division RESULTS:

W = 7, D = 2, L = 0

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We kicked off our league campaign by going unbeaten through our first nine league fixtures following some excellent attacking performances and a very solid defensive effort. We did drop a couple of points, recording two drawn games, but overall I was very happy with our form to start the year. 

We opened the league with a thumping of Happy Hill at home before recording a 2-2 draw with Paradise Sports Club, in what was an unexpectedly close encounter. That little hiccup seemed to act as a motivator as we then went on a run of six consecutive victories, conceding just one goal and scoring an impressive 19 times. During this run we recorded a mighty 6-1 win over St. John's Sports Club, a game that saw Cassim Redhead net four individual goals, and a pair of back to back 4-0 wins over both Hurricanes and Ball Dogs. We ended the month of August with a disappointing 0-0 draw with Hard Rock FC in a game that we actually dominated. 

The most impressive aspect of this run was our defensive displays, as we ended August on a run of six consecutive clean sheets. We started the season in excellent form on the attacking end, scoring 21 goals in our first five matches before our finishing turned a bit lacklustre and we scored just five in our final four games. 

PLAYER STATISTICS:

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These figures also include those statistics gained from the Caribbean Club Championship games at the start of the season, so give an overview of how things have gone this calendar year overall. As you can see, we have been very impressive and currently have 17 players averaging a rating of at least 7.0. 

As seems to be the case most seasons nowadays, our best player thus far has been right wingback Cassim Millette (8.01). The former youth product has been in fine form, collecting four goals, six assists and playing 45 key passes in his 14 appearances this season. His 57 crosses connected and 22 chances created are the most in the team by a big margin but Millette is also a fine defender averaging 3.93 tackles/game. 

On the opposite flank to Millette is left back Joel Alexander (7.44) and the young Grenadian international has had a fine season thus far, collecting five assists. The central defenders have also had good seasons so far, with young Benin player Moukaram Abidjo (7.21) and Christ Kisangala (7.04) leading the way .Young shot stopper Marc Walcott (7.14) has also established himself as the clubs number one between the sticks. 

In midfield, ball-winner Alistair Rennie (7.32) has stepped up in lieu of the absence of Joel Francois-Ravalier. The youngster leads the team with an impressive 4.76 tackles/game and does a superb job of protecting the back three. Philani August (7.16), the newly acquired Seychelles international has made a good impression since his transfer at the start of the year whilst Kyle John-Brown (7.37) has been playing more as a central midfielder than an attacker and it has proved successful thus far, as he has picked up five assists in 12 appearances. 

Up front has seen the emergence of a new threat in the form of youngster Cassim Redhead (7.70). The youth academy graduate has taken the lead by storm, scoring 13 goals in just 14 appearances thus far this season. New signing Emeca (7.69) had to wait a while to make his debut following an injury but he has looked clinical, scoring six times in just seven first team games. Shaddai Sampson (7.55) has not wanted to be upstaged by the emergence of two new forwards and our talisman has been smashing in goals himself, with 13 in 15 games. It has not just been the forwards playing well as young attacking midfielder Kyle Thomas (7.45) seems to be living up to his potential as he has scored six goals and collected three PoM Awards through 13 appearances. 

LEAGUE TABLE:

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Our undefeated start to the season sees us top the league table but, surprisingly, we have a challenger in the form of Paradise Sports Club. Our new rivals, who have lost just one game this season (to us ironically) sit just one point behind us and look as though they have the talent to push us all the way this season. We do have a much better goal difference than the second placed side but it is nice to have a bit of a domestic challenge - so long as they do not steal the title from us!

Hard Rock FC, who I would have predicted might have been our biggest challengers, find themselves well off the pace in 4th place behind surprise package Queens Park Rangers. St. John's Sports, who we thrashed 6-1, are having a torrid season thus far and are yet to win a game through their first nine fixtures. 

Our +22 goal difference is easily the best in the entire division and shows how prolific our attacking unit has been in comparison to the other sides. 

OTHER NEWS:

Not too much else to report on during the first few months of the domestic season, just a bit of injury news.

Injuries:

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We firstly lost Shalrie Augustine to a broken ankle. The 21 year old forward had an excellent year last season but it looks as though he will miss most of the upcoming campaign courtesy of an injury he sustained in his first league appearance of the season. Fortunately for us, we have had a number of other strikers playing in top form and so Augustine should not be too big of a miss. 

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We then also lost Chad Mark who, given the injury to Joel Francois-Ravalier, was in line to see more first team action this season. The 24 year old suffered a sports hernia during a training session but he looks as though he might return at some point before the end of the year. 

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Nothing else to repot on I'm afraid. We have dominated the competition, which was to be expected, but the fact we have a good rival this year in the form of Paradise Sports Club means that this domestic season is shaping up to be one of the more exciting ones in recent years. 

Whilst I do still expect to win the league, we are going to have to be at our best throughout if we are to record a fifth Grenada Premier Division title victory.

The next update will see me look at the first round of the North American League, the continental competition that we qualified for since we were runners-up in the Caribbean Club Championship at the start of this calendar year!

Thanks again for all your comments and views! I really appreciate it and hope everyone is still enjoying this write-up. 

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Update 39: August 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Having looked at the start of the domestic league season in my last update, this post will now turn our attention to the North American League. Given the ease with which we dominate opposition in the GFA Premier Division, my real focus this year would be on making a solid run in the continental competition. This started with a fine performance in the CFU Club Championship, where we finished runners up, and hopefully will continue into this tournament. 

As previously mentioned we had no real injury worries, although midfielder Joel Francois-Ravalier is still on the medical list, but I was interested to see how our side would hold up against some of the more talented teams from central America. 

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North American League DETAILS:

You probably will not be too familiar with the North American League as, although I have played in it before during this save, I have never really documented it in real detail. It is essentially the North American version of the UEFA Cup but it runs prior to the CONCACAF Champions League as it also acts as another way to qualify for that major tournament. 

The rules are fairly straightforward as the entire competition follows a knockout format with all ties, including the final, being played over a home and away leg. It is not a huge competition, with just 16 sides entering the First Round, meaning three aggregate victories will see you through to the final, the winner of which qualifies for the lucrative CONCACAF Champions League. 

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As you may recall, we had been drawn against El Salvador outfit C.D. Aguila in the first round. 

Now, I do not know much about El Salvadorian football, but Aguila look to be a pretty decent side. There are a professional team and have won the top division of El Salvador on four occasions. They also appeared in the North American League last season where they reached the quarter finals before being knocked out on penalties. 

They have a pretty good looking squad with a number of talented regens seemingly their best players. 18 year old forward Kevin Blanco, who is a full El Salvadorian international, and fellow teenage fullback Edwin Garcia look to be their most prized possessions. Blanco scored 27 league goals in his first two seasons and looks like he could be a real handful upfront for our back three. 

They also play their games at the 10,000 seater Estadio Juan Francisco Barraza in the city of San Miguel, which looks like a daunting prospect to visit. 

North American League RESULTS:

The first leg of our first round match fell on a midweek, with domestic games going on at either weekend, so I had to ensure I was managing playing time and fitness levels carefully in preparation for what was to come. 

The opening game would see us make the 2,000 mile trip to El Salvador where I knew a good performance was definitely needed.

Game 1. North American League First Round (First Leg): vs C.D. Aguilar (El Salvador)

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I decided to continue with our usual attacking-based tactic despite the opposition and it paid off for the neutrals as an absolutely enthralling encounter ensued. 

The opening few minutes were an absolute disaster as, seemingly, the grander of the occasion was a bit too much for my part-timers and we totally capitulated from the first kick-off. After just FIVE minutes, we were down by three goals, with some sloppy defending account for the first and poor marking at a corner gifting a third. In all honesty, I thought that was it, there was no way we were coming back and no way we were winning the tie from here. 

Still, we gave ourselves a very quick lifeline as we decided we fancied an early goal of our own. Kyle Thomas dragged home a sweeping effort after just 8 minutes to make the score 3-1 (in the 8th minute - crazy) and we had grabbed an all important away goal! The explosive first half was not done there though as Aguila regained their three goal advantage when Jose Luis Morales side-footed home after 36 minutes. 

Again we needed a response and we got one at the best possible time when Emeca rifled home a fine finish from the edge of the area right on the stroke of half-time. 4-2 was the scoreline going into the break and despite our defensive frailties, we had not been outplayed too badly. 

In fact we were the stronger side in the second half and talisman Cassim Millette grabbed a goal of his own after an Aguila defender missed an interception to make the scoreline 4-3. Both teams had a few chances late on but that is how the scoreline finished and, despite the defeat, I was happy with the way we bounced back and how we had grabbed three very important away goals. 

I knew we would have to score during the return leg in Grenada but we were well in the tie and had a definite chance at progressing. 

Game 2. North American League First Round (Second Leg): vs C.D. Aguilar (El Salvador)

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With only four empty seats at the Plains Playing Field, we just about scrapped through to the next round following a nervy second half display. 

I knew we had to score to stand any chance of progressing and it appeared that Aguila were well aware of that fact as well as they came out in a far more defensive shape than we had seen in the first leg. Fortunately for us, Emeca was on hand to fire us into the lead in the 22nd minute when his swivel and finish beat the Aguila keeper at the near post. 

We now led on away goals but knew that we would have to keep our opponents scoreless as a goal for them would swing the game back in their favour. We so very nearly made it to halftime but a well worked move down the right flank resulted in a simple far-post tap in for one of their forwards and, with just three minutes to go before the interval, Aguila were back on top. 

We switched to a more attacking emphasis and it definably paid off as we came out of halftime in a free-flowing, offensive mood. We almost scored directly from the restart as Emeca fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area. Seven minutes into the second half though and we did grab a second goal. Shaddai Sampson latched onto a clever Emeca layoff and the Grenadian forward smashed home a powerful effort into the roof of the net. Advantage Mount Rich!

Aguilar knew that a goal for them would once again swing the tie in their favour but, despite their best efforts, we were able to hang on. Their best chance came in the 85th minute when a point blank header was slammed straight at Marc Walcott, with the young shot stopper fortunately being able to tip the strike over the bar. 

Nervy times but we had made it through to the next round, the quarter finals, a feat that I had only ever managed once before in my Mount Rich career.

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The quarters saw us drawn against CD Pasaquina FC, another side from El Salvador but one not quite as reputable as Aguila. They have not had the same historic success as our previous opponents, having won the top division on just one previous occasion, and whilst their squad does look solid, it is not quite on the same level as Aguila's. 

Their best player is probably 19 year old Colombian defender Luis Fernando Rojas who is currently on loan but the rest of their El Salvadorian players do not look too daunting with very few having yet represented the national side.

To reach the quarter finals though they did have to defeat another Caribbean side, Club Sando of Trinidad & Tobago, whom we have played a few times over the past few years. Club Sando are a decent outfit but Pasaquina beat them by an aggregate scoreline of 4-1 so that makes me a little more wary of their talent. 

Game 3. North American League Quarter Finals (First Leg): vs CD Pasaquina FC (El Salvador)

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The first leg saw us host Pasaquina in front of a crowd where there was just one free seat left in the stadium... 

Again, we decided to stick with our attacking tactic and once again this led to an exciting, ding-dong, encounter where both sides created chances. We started the strongest though and this early pressure was rewarded when captain Shaddai Sampson fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner from close range after just 15 minutes. We again looked as though we would reach halftime on top but, for the second time in as many games, we conceded right on the stroke of the interval. 1-1 at the break was not the worst outcome but I was wary of Pasaquina collecting an away goal. 

Things got even worse in the 62nd minute when Colombian winger Luis Palacios fired Pasaquina into the lead with a spectacular rising effort from outside the box. We were now staring at a disappointing home defeat and needed a rousing final half hour to secure a victory. We responded well to going behind and were back on level terms just four minutes later when Sampson added his second following a poor backpass.

With things looking like they would end at 2-2, substitute Philani August picked a perfect time to grab his first Mount Rich goal. The Seychelles midfielder combined well with Kyle John-Brown and rifled a powerful finish past the Pasaquina keeper to ensure that we left Grenada with, what was, a well deserved victory.

Conceding two away goals was definitely disappointing but we would travel to El Salvador with the advantage and know that a positive result there would see us through to the semi-finals for the first ever time...

Game 4. North American League Quarter Finals (Second Leg): vs CD Pasaquina FC (El Salvador)

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Our second trip to El Salvador within the month but this one saw us come away with a victory that would mean we would progress into the semi-finals of the North American League for the first time in our history. 

It is safe to say that we were not the best side in this game but some clinical finishing from our forwards ensured that we claimed the positive result that we needed. I feared the worst when Pasaquina grabbed an early goal, after just 10 minutes, which meant they led the tie on away goals. We again showed real character to bounce back straight away though when Emeca steered home a header just nine minutes later following a good cross from fullback Tatenda Amini. Then, almost straight from the restart, we were ahead as Kyle John-Brown, who has been excelling in his new central midfield role, played a delightful through ball inside the Pasaquina centreback for Shaddai Sampson to latch on to. The club captains strike deflected off the recovering defender and rolled past the hapless goalkeeper to give us a surprising lead. 

Things got even better for us on the stroke of halftime as Emeca added his second of the game following another excellent assist from John-Brown. The Equatorial Guinea forward slid home a neat finish across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner to give us a very useful 3-1 lead going into the break. 

We switched to a more defensive set-up in the knowledge that Pasaquina required four second half goals to progress and, whilst they did manage one around the hour mark, we were never in any danger of going out. A strong first half had seen us power through to the semi finals, making this season the best in terms of continental competition, in this save thus far. 

STANDINGS:

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A 5-5 away goal win in the first round and a 6-4 victory in the second round mean we move onto the semi finals  for the first time in our history. 

There was not as much luck for the other Caribbean sides as Club Sando of Trinidad & Tobago were knocked out in the first round along with Buxton United of Guyana who were thrashed 10-2 by Walter Ferreti of Nicaragua. 

The four remaining sides are all from different countries which is exciting and, as you an probably see from above, we already know our semi final opponents.

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We will be up against Guatemalan side CSD Comunicaciones in the semi finals, with the first leg due to be played at the 14,000 capacity Estadio Cementos Progreso. We will have a look at our opponents in more depth during the next update but these guys are shaping up to be the toughest side we have faced in this competition so far.

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So that concludes my time in the North American League for now but I will be back shortly with a further update on our semi-final progress. 

The next post will probably switch focus back to the international side of things as I have decided to remain with Kenya, at least until the end of the current Africa Cup of Nations qualification process. We currently top our qualification group and have a couple of upcoming fixtures to play through. 

I hope you are all enjoying this save! Somehow, I am just two aggregate victories away from qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League, which would be an outrageous achievement for a team from Grenada. Come back soon to see if I can do it...

 

 

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This detailed description is so so good :applause:Amazing work, seriously :) 

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4 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Top work :thup:

Thanks kidthekid - pleased you are liking this!

53 minutes ago, rodesire said:

This detailed description is so so good :applause:Amazing work, seriously :) 

Thanks rodesire! I know the detail means it takes a little longer for me to get updates out but hopefully they are worth the wait...

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Update 40: September 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

It is time to switch focus a little bit here as we veer away from the North American League with Mount Rich and rejoin Kenya for the next round of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Our last international action saw us compete at the 2022 FIFA World Cup where we grabbed a surprise draw against Spain. 

Some would say that that performance, a first ever appearance at a World Cup finals, should have been my last action with Kenya as, lets be honest, I am unlikely to achieve anything greater with The Harambee Stars in years to come. Still, I have decided to stick around for now and ensure that I we gain qualification into a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. 

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Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers DETAILS:

The 2023 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is due to be held in Guinea and we are looking to secure a third consecutive appearance in the finals, having never achieved such a feat before. In order to secure a place at the 2023 tournament, we would need to finish in the top two of our qualification group and, so far, things were were going exactly to plan.

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As you might recall we emphatically beat Libya by a scoreline of 6-1, in what was my largest ever international victory, and then we defeated a talented Comoros side 4-1 in the opening round of qualification fixtures meaning that we topped the group, with a +8 goal difference. 

This round of fixtures would see us take on lowly Lesotho for the first time as well as hosting a Libya team who would surely be keen to avenge their heavy defeat from last time out.

SQUAD SELECTION:

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A fairly standard squad selection for me, with the majority of the star players retaining their spots. 

In goal, Joseph Jackson Were has recovered from the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup Finals through injury and has reestablished himself as the countries number one shot stopper. The central defenders are all regulars here, with regen Joseph Mwaniki and the experienced Brian Mandela leading the way. We made some changes at fullback where, on the left side, Eric Ouma will have competition from Kot Chol Tafesse, a 27 year old winger who has one previous cap and plays for Asker in Norway. 

In midfield we retain the standard choices with talisman Victor Wanyama encroaching ever nearer to that 100th international appearance. Collins Okoth is dropped from the squad and replaced by 16 year old ball-winner David Kimani, a recent regen who has joint English nationality and currently plays for West Ham. 

The only hang upfront is the reintroduction of Noah Wafula for George Odhimabo. Wafula has been in fine form in the domestic league this year, scoring 14 goals ad adding six assists thus far. 

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers RESULTS:

Game 1. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Lesotho (World Ranking = 173rd)

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The first game of this qualification round saw us host a Lesotho side who had yet lost their first two games in front of a 18,702 strong home crowd. 

We rested a few players, with both Victor Wanyama and Michael Olunga not having to see any game action, but those absences did not cost us too much as we cruised to a comfortable victory. We started the game brightly but it took us a while to find our attacking rhythm and we had to wait until the 30th minute to grab the opener. Noah Wafula, who had just been recalled to the squad, opened the scoring with his fifth international goal as he turned in an excellent placed finish from inside the area. 

We were dominating the attacking third but at halftime the scoreline was just 1-0 and I knew we needed an extra goal to make the game safe. We got that midway through the second period when Innocent Mutiso tapped home after some good work and a nice assist from strike partner Paul Kiongera. We ensured the result with a third goal just five minutes later when central defender Thomas Deng grabbed his first ever international strike following a freekick and a neat headed assist from fellow defender David Ochieng.

That assist, and the solid defensive work from Ochieng, was enough to see the defender named Player of the Match and ensured that we cruised to a third qualification win in as many games. 

Game 2. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Libya (World Ranking = 97th)

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Libya had slid down the world rankings following our emphatic defeat of them in the previous round and I expected a rousing response from our opponents. We played reasonably well but we struggled to keep the ball and were probably a bit fortunate to come away with a draw in this one. 

Despite the return of our star players, we failed to get going in the opening moments and were punished for our slow start as we fell behind in the 21st minute. It did not take us too long to get back on level terms but we required a bit of favourable fortune. A right wing cross from Ayub Masika was attacked by Innocent Mutiso and the experienced veteran was adjudged to have been pushed by a Libyan defender in a decision that looked a little soft. Still, not one to be complaining, captain Michael Olunga stepped up and emphatically slammed a left footed spotkick into the bottom corner. 

The second half rolled by without too much action despite both sides seemingly looking for a winner. Our best effort was a long range strike from Ali Abondo that sailed over the bar but a 1-1 draw did mean that we maintained our unbeaten qualification campaign. 

STANDINGS:

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Our undefeated form through four games means that we top the group but we are now just one point ahead of surprise package Comoros, who beat both Libya and Lesotho during this round of fixtures. Our +11 goal difference is easily the best in the group but, with us playing Comoros next, we will be needing a positive result in that game to ensure that we remain at the top. 

Lesotho continue their shocking run of form, losing a further two games, whilst Libya, who I expected to qualify with us, are now in deep trouble and very much in danger of missing out on the Cup of Nations. 

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The mathematicians amongst you may notice that Libya can still finish joint on points with ourselves but with sorting rules relying on results against one another before goal difference, our two positive performances against Libya can that we have already gained qualification. This will be the third consecutive Africa Cup of Nations that we will appear at and I think it solidifies the notion that Kenya are slowly becoming one of the more consistent sides in African football. 

OTHER NEWS:

Managerial Profile:

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The game against Lesotho saw James Yates take charge of his 50th game for Kenya. The international side of this save has really helped to provide more enjoyment during the downtime between Grenadian domestic seasons and has been rewarding in that we have won the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup twice and secured appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup. 

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The next international fixtures will be played in October, when we take on Comoros in qualification fixtures. Given that we have already secured a place at the Africa Cup of Nations, I am not expecting too much and might look at trying out some younger players. 
 
My next update will see us return to the GFA Premier Division as the league season for Mount Rich picks up speed. As you may recall, we topped the table through the first nine games but Paradise Sports Club looked like they were up for a challenge this season and sat just a single point behind. 

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Update 41: September & October 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

The last update saw James Yates guide the Kenyan national side to a record third straight qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations. That competition will not take place until next year (2023) and I am currently unsure if I will even be the manager of Kenya by that time. 

One thing that is for certain is that Mount Rich were still flying high atop the GFA Premier Division last time we checked in with them. We were also through to the semifinals of the North American League but we will be looking at that competition in more detail during my next post. For now we are going to see how we got on through the months of September and October in the domestic league. 

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TRANSFERS:

Before we get stuck into the results of the past two months, September sees the opening of the mid-season transfer window. I tend not to do much business in this period but this year I brought in a few first team additions. 

(Out)

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We did sell one player, for a very small fee, as Patrick Walcott was offloaded to Caledonia United in Trinidad & Tobago. Walcott was a pretty effective goalkeeper during the early parts of this save but he had slipped down the pecking order in recent years and spent much of the past few seasons with the Under 20s. The youth academy product did make 63 appearances for the club over four seasons.

(In)

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We brought in a trio of players, mainly to bolster our depth and first team options. 

Firstly we signed Alister Julien from St. Johns' Sports. Julien is an 18 year old goalkeeper who has already made 11 appearances for the Grenada U20 national side. He will likely slot into the youth squad as a direct replacement for the departed Walcott but he has more potential and could become a first team player one day. 

Secondly we picked up an English forward in the form of 18 year old Liam Griffiths.

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Despite his nationality, Griffiths spent the first two years of his career with The New Saints in Wales, where he failed to make a competitive appearance. The youngster joins a whole host of attacking options at the club but could find himself making some first team appearances given his impressive physical traits, where everything is rated at least 10. His technical and mental aspects need a bit of work but his technique, finishing and dribbling are all pretty solid for this level.  

The final signing we made was that of Fortunato Nguema.

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Nguema is another Equatorial Guinea national who joins us from Sony Ela Nguema, the club who Emeca joined us from at the start of the year. The 30 year old midfielder will likely play in the centre of the park and offers us another option in the continued injury absence of Joel Francois-Ravalier. The veteran has played 12 times for his country and has some solid all-round attributes without anything really standing out. 

GFA Premier Division RESULTS:

W = 6, D = 0, L = 1

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If you remember correctly we were unbeaten in our first nine league games of the season and that run continued through September. We had a little slip-up at the end of October as we suffered our first domestic defeat of the year but overall this was a fantastic spell. 

We kicked things off with a magnificent run where we kept four consecutive clean sheets whilst managing to score score 15 goals. This streak included an excellent 3-0 win at home to Paradise Sports Club, who had emerged as unlikely title rivals during the first part of the season. We continued our winning run with a thrilling 5-3 away victory overly a struggling Ball Dogs side before rebounding from our one defeat to end October with a victory over Grenada Boys Secondary School. 

These excellent couple of months saw us concede just seven goals whilst still maintaining our aggressive offensive form with 23 goals scored. 

PLAYER STATISTICS:

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Our excellent form through the past two months has been the result of some superb individual performances and we now have a career-high 21 players holding an average rating of at least 7.0.

Surprise, surprise... our star man still is right fullback Cassim Millette (7.98). The young wingback has now reached a double digit tally in terms of assists, with 11, despite playing in just 21 games. His 64 key passes played and 34 chances created are both team-high figures whilst his defensive prowess is highlighted by an average of 3.33 tackles/game.

Elsewhere in defence, fellow fullback Joel Alexander (7.52) has also impressed on the left flank. The Grenadian youngster has really improved his crossing this season  and his 34 crosses connected is second in the team behind just Millette. Moukaram Abidjo (7.22) has been the most consistent of the central defenders, whilst veteran Raymond Alleyne (7.16) has also had a decent season. Youth academy prospect Alec Leo (7.07) has recently been outplaying Christ Kisangala (7.02), although the African defender does lead the team with 84 interceptions. 

New signing Fortunato Nguema (7.34) has started his Mount Rich career brightly although he has appeared in just five games. Ball winning youngster Alistair Rennie (7.29) continues to impress in his defensive role, averaging a team-high 4.74 tackles/game. Joel Francois-Ravalier (7.23) has recently made his long awaited return from the injury that he picked up at the end of last year whilst Seychelles international Philani August (7.15) has played 26 key passes in just 15 appearances. Kyle John-Brown (7.12) has been playing more in a central midfield role recently and he has totalled five assists in his 18 games played. 

In attack, we have been seriously impressive! Young forward Cassim Redhead (7.67) has been absolutely lethal in the domestic league this season and he now totals 21 goals for the year, in just 24 club appearances. His continued growth alongside the emergence of new signing Emeca (7.53), who himself has 10 goals in 14 games, has led to a historical good attacking performance from Mount Rich. Alongside the two new stars, club captain Shaddai Sampson (7.37) has had an excellent year himself, racking up 16 goals in 21 appearances. We also have newly signed Englishman Liam Griffiths (7.32) who is already off the mark for his new club. 

Our attacking midfielders have been superb and young Kyle Thomas (7.36) final seems to be meeting his massive potential, having reached a double digit goal tally of his own. Kimron Phillip (7.41) has also played well in his rotational role, scoring five goals and creating five more in his 14 appearances. 

LEAGUE TABLE:

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Fair play to Paradise Sports Club as, going into he final two games of the season, they are just there points behind us. There is no denying that I would be gutted if we were to miss out on another GFA Premier Division crown from this position but it the fact it could happen shows that maybe the league is growing in strength?

Our +40 goal difference is stupendous and way better than anyone else in the division. Our only defeat of the year came against a surprising New Hampshire United side who currently find themselves in 4th. Happy Hill, who have been mainstays in the top tier for a while now, are in danger of being relegated following a disastrous league campaign. 

OTHER NEWS:

I actually have a few bits of other news to inform you of in this update... I hope you are excited. 

Youth Intake:

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October sees the annual youth intake take place in Grenada and once again we receive some players who are likely to find a place in the first team squad. I really focused on improving the youth facilities when I joined Mount Rich and those decisions seem to have been successful as I found a number of youth products currently blossoming in the first eleven. 

This season, the best looking prospect is probably Marcus Mark.

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The left fullback already looks like he could be good enough to play in the first eleven! He has an exceptional set of physical attributes for a 16 year old, with high levels of staminaacceleration and pace, all traits that I look for in the wingbacks within my tactical system. He is more defensive minded technically than I would really like, with high levels of marking and tackling, whilst his crossing needs work. 

His mental traits are also pretty developed for a teenager, with decent levels for decisions, concentration and positioning. With time, Mark definitely has room to improve and I imagine he could easily surpass Joel Alexander as the national teams starting left fullback supposing he remains injury free. 

Alongside Mark I signed six other youth players from the above group with Shandon Matheson and Alec Debellotte the two most promising. I will be converting Matheson, a natural winger, to an advanced playmaker whilst Debellotte has the potential to become a solid rotation man in the ball-winning central midfielder role. 

Injuries:

Just the one major setback through the past couple of months.

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Veteran central defender Raymond Allenye, who has now reached 62 international appearances for his country, suffered some sprained ankle ligaments that will see him sit-up the next mont of football. We do have plenty of defensive options but Alleyne was having one of his best seasons at the cub, in terms of individual performances, so this knock was a shame for the experienced defender. 

Waggy-T Knockout Draw:

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November sees the beginning of the Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament, a cup competition that I have won in each of my five seasons in Grenada. This year we were handed a fairly tricky first round tie given that we will have to face fellow GFA Premier Division side Hurricanes Soccer Club. Our opponents are not having the best of domestic seasons though and currently find themselves languishing near the drop zone. Given that we are also the home side for this tie, I expect that we will be firm favourites going into this one. 

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So that ends another domestic update from Grenada. It looks as though we are prime candidates for a fifth GFA Premier Division title with just two league fixtures left to play. The Waggy-T Super Knockout is also due to start soon and I will be focused on achieving another domestic double. 

As you may recall we had made it through to the semifinals of the North American League and that two legged tie took place during September... I will have an update put soon detailing how we fared in that fixture and then I will be returning with some African Cup of Nations qualifier news. 

I hope everyone is still enjoying this story and thanks to all of those who log in to view, like and comment!

 

 

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Pretty predictable stuff. though still very close to Paradise, which sounds fun, but isn't if it's about Football Manager.

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Update 42: September & October 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

I decided to look at the North American League separate to our domestic exploits just because it allows me to go into more detail about a competition that we have never before redhead this stage in.

Welcome back to Mount Rich, my Grenadian club side who have been dominating all domestic competitions in recent years but who have struggled to mingle with the top continental talents in the North Americas. The best result of recent years saw us finish as runners up in the CFU Club Championship, which meant we once again qualified for the North American League.

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North American League DETAILS:

As previously mentioned, the North American League is essentially the North American version of the UEFA Cup but it runs prior to the CONCACAF Champions League since it also acts as another way to qualify for that major tournament.  

The rules are fairly straightforward as the entire competition follows a knockout format with all ties, including the final, being played over a home and away leg. It is not a huge competition, with just 16 sides entering the First Round, meaning three aggregate victories will see you through to the final, the winner of which qualifies for the lucrative CONCACAF Champions League. 

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The last North American League update (which you can find here) saw us qualify for the semifinals of this competition for the first time in our history. During the first round we battled past C.D. Aguila, winning on away goals, before we displayed an efficient attacking prowess to dispatch Pasaquina FC, another El Salvador side, in the quarterfinals.

The draw for the semifinal had already been made and we drew CSD Comuinicaciones

Now I am not going to claim that I am any sort of expert with regards to Guatemalan football, but it is quite clear to see that Comunicaciones are one of the very best sides in the country. They are currently ranked as the nations most reputable side and have won the countries top domestic division a record 17 times. Last season they reached the quarter finals of the CONCACAF Champions League and so it is clear that these guys are looking like our biggest test thus far. 

They have a pretty good squad which is filled with a number of young regens who are all regulars in the Guatemalan national side. 19 year old goalkeeper Rony Gabriel looks absolutely class, whilst their best attacking threat looks to be Juan Carlos Pop, a 21 year old who has already made 28 senior national team appearances for Guatemala.  

They play their home fixtures in the 14,022 capacity Estadio Cementos Progresso.

North American League RESULTS:

The first leg of our first round match fell on a midweek, with domestic games going on at either weekend, so I had to ensure I was managing playing time and fitness levels carefully in preparation for what was to come. 

The opening game would see us make the 2,000 mile trip to Guatemala where I knew a good performance was definitely needed.

Game 1. North American League Semifinal (First Leg): vs CSD Comuinicaciones (Guatemala)

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Despite the stature of opposition, I decided to stick with the attacking tactic that we had utilised so well in our domestic games and this really paid off as we produced a dazzling display. In from of an impressive 13,348 strong crowd we came away with a 3-1 away victory, thanks in part to some individual brilliance from one of our youngsters. 

The game was a real back and forth affair through the early stages although both sides struggled to create chances. That being said, our first real attack of the game resulted in a goal when Kyle Thomas, who has really developed into a star this season, bagged his first following a neatly then finish from inside the penalty area. The young attacker was not finished there as he added a second goal twenty minutes later, tapping in at the far post following an excellent swinging cross from fullback Cassim Millette. We waltzed into the interval with a two goal advantage, two away goals at that, and a growing sense of confidence that maybe we belonged at this sort of level.

The second period began excellently as we added a third after just ten minutes of play. Kyle Thomas bagged his third, and with it a first career hattrick, when he reacted quickest to bundle home a loose ball from close range. We sat back a little bit then, which unfortunately allowed our opponents to grow into the game, but we looked solid defensively and it seemed as though we would head back to Grenada with a clean sheet. Unluckily for us, that was not quite the case as Comuinicaciones grabbed a stoppage time goal to give themselves some hope heading into the second leg. 

This was a superb performance by the entire team but it was unsurprising to see Kyle Thomas named as the Player of the Match. Millette was our second best player but there were also notable performances from fellow fullback Tatenda Amini and goalkeeper Marc Walcott

We entered into the second leg knowing that a positive result would see us through to the final of this competition for the first time ever! 

Game 2. North American League Semifinal (Second Leg): vs CSD Comuinicaciones (Guatemala)

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Despite it being a rare rainy evening in Grenada, a full capacity crowd tuned out to witness us reach the North American League final thanks to a fine 1-1 draw. 

Comunicaciones really did not look at their best in the first leg but they showed their class here and dominated large spells of this game. We actually got off to the very best start as, after just four minutes, club captain Shaddai Sampson fired us into an unlikely lead when he bundled home a squared pass from Alistair Rennie. This was literally the best thing I could have hoped for as it meant we could switch to a more defensive minded set-up, forcing our opponents to try and break us down. They did their very best but we held on admirably and made it into the halftime break a goal to the good. 

The second period started much in the same vain, as we held onto possession well and did a brilliant job at limiting chances for our opponents. They did grab at goal, in the 67th minute, which sparked a few nerves but we were able to settle down once again and played out the remainder of the game to finish with a 4-2 aggregate victory.

The fact we only conceded two goals against a top Central American side was extremely pleasing and was highlighted by the top performances in this match from defenders Moukaram Abidjo and Alec Leo

This was a brilliant performance over the course of two legs against a side that were firm favourites to progress at the start. It was also one that would mean that we would be contesting a North American League final for the very first time ever, with the prospect of a CONCACAF Champions League place should we do the unthinkable and win it all!

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The draw for the final has already been made and we find ourselves up against CD Real Espana

The professional side are from Honduras and are currently ranked as the nations third most reputable side. They have won the top domestic division on five previous occasions and they play their home games at the rather impressive 21,500 all-seater Estadio Francisco Morazan. They actually appeared in the last edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, where they were knocked out in the first round by Philadelphia Union of the MLS. 

Their squad is made up entirely of Honduran players but they are not to be scoffed at. 19 year old forward Aldo Diaz scored 14 goals in the top flight last season whilst also making his debut for the senior national side. His strike partner Camilo Murillo also reached a double digit goal tally last year and the two teenagers look like a formidable partnership upfront. Veteran midfielder Mario Martinez, who has over 100 national team caps, is the key man in the centre of the park whilst goalkeeper Renzo Rodriguez has recently become the countries number one between the sticks. 

To get to this stage, Real Espana defeated Malacateco of Guatemala in the first round before overcoming a very strong Puntarenas FC of Costa Rica in the quarters. Their semifinal victory saw them destroy Panamanian side Santa Germa, where they impressed with a 4-1 away win in the first leg. 

As has been the case with most of this fixtures thus far, the first leg would take place away from home. So... here we go, first leg of the North American League Final!

Game 3. North American League Final (First Leg): vs CD Real Espana (Honduras)

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I have no idea how we managed this but we leave Honduras with an excellent away win! 

The game took place in front of a bumper 16,186 strong crowd and we managed to defeat our opponents despite them creating almost twice as many chances as ourselves. Considering I thought we would be outplayed, we actually managed to retain possession well, but the home sides attacking prowess showed as they created chances at ease when they had the ball. 

Still, it was ourselves who opened the scoring when, after 17 minutes, Shaddai Sampson grabbed his second goal in as many North American League games. The club captain collected possession inside the penalty are from Joel Alexander before turning nicely and firing a neat finish into the bottom corner. Things got even better when we doubled our advantage just five minutes. Fortunato Nguema rose highest following an excellent right wing cross from Cassim Millette, to head home his first Mount Rich goal at the most opportune moment. We managed to get into the break with the scoreline at 2-0 and it appeared as though our excellent run of away form in this competition was set to continue. 

The second period saw us create very little in terms of an attacking threat as we sat back a little and looked to play on the counter. This allowed the home sides attackers to grow into the game and the aforementioned Aldo Diaz looked a constant threat, sparking an excellent one-handed stop from Marc Walcott following an angled strike. The young Honduran forward eventually got his goal when a poor backpass from Christ Kisangala was pounced upon and fired into the empty net. Diaz did hit the side netting with a late header and then was aggrieved when his penalty shout was turned down (no VAR here Aldo... unlucky). 

We eventually managed to hold on and came away with a very decent 2-1 win. This would mean we would return to Grenada knowing that any form of positive result would see us crowned champions of the North American League... surely we could not?!

Game 4. North American League Final (Second Leg): vs CD Real Espana (Honduras)

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UNBELIEVABLE! We are champions of the North American League...

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This is easily my greatest achievement at Mount Rich to date. Having dominated the domestic competition, victory in a continental competition was something that I honestly never thought I would see! 

The win came courtesy of a very good performance in front of another full house at Plain Playing Fields in Grenada. We got a bit of luck just after the half hour mark when our opponents were reduced to 10 men when one of their defenders was dismissed following a horrible looking challenge. We almost made our man advantage count instantly but Cassim Millette, our ever-reliable talisman this season, saw his 41st minute penalty kick easily saved by the Real Espana keeper. We were made to pay for that miss straight away as the prolific Aldo Diaz finished from close range to give the Honduran side an unexpected lead going into the halftime break. 

We sat back in the second half, knowing that our opponents needed a second goal and that gaps would open up as they became more attacking minded as the match progressed. Despite some pressure from Real Espana, we were resolute in defence and put the game to bed with eight minutes left when we produced an excellent counter attack. Some neat, quick passing and an excellent run from substitute Cassim Redhead, was ended by experienced forward Emeca tapping home a close range finish, guiding the ball into the bottom corner. 

Fortunato Nguema had an excellent game in the centre of midfield, completing a team-high 71 passes. Emcee was very solid upfront, taking his goal well, whilst Alistair Rennie won six tackles in the midfield area. 

STANDINGS:

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An absolutely brilliant tournament for us comes to an end as we claim a first ever continental title! We did not have the easiest ever run to the final, defeating a duo of El Salvadorian sides in the first two rounds before then beating Comunicaciones, an extremely talented Guatemalan team, in the semifinals. The last round saw us take on Honduran outfit Real Espana and we battled to a 3-2 aggregate victory, thanks mainly to two very good away goals in the first leg. 

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Unsurprisingly we were name as the biggest overachievers in the entire tournament. This comes as no shock to me as I never thought I would see the day where Mount Rich, a small semi-professional side from Grenada, would achieve victory in a continental competition. It is also worth noting that the biggest underachievers were C.D. Aguila, the side we beat in the first round. I think this accurately reflects just how good that 4-4, away goals, victory was!

This victory represents the first ever time a side from Grenada has won a continental competition, highlighting just how much of a historical achievement that this win is!

That being said, and winning the North American League is undoubtedly remarkable, the biggest news is the following.

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Mount Rich will be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League!

I honestly never thought I would achieve this at Mount Rich and it is going to be such an achievement to see my little Grenadian side represent the nation in the biggest club competition of North and Central America. 

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Whilst the North American League is not the most reputable of competitions in the world, winning another trophy means I am again adding to my Hall of Fame points. This tournament win adds a further 47 points, meaning I am now up to a grand total of 151

The plan now is to obviously stick with Mount Rich until we get to play in the Champions League but once that has passed I am thinking it might be time to look for a new challenge? Whilst I never thought I would qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, there is absolutely no way that we will ever, in a million years, win it - the strength of some of the Mexican and American sides is at a level that I will never be able to reach. 

Still, I am honestly so happy with what I have managed to achieve in continental competition this season. We reached the final of the CFU Club Championshipa nd this allowed us entry into the North American League, a tournament that we would go on to win!

 

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That is some achievement :applause: How much money are you looking at now?  Any chance of going pro before you leave?

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20 hours ago, Minuy600 said:

Wow. That's extremely impressive, dude. Excellent stuff.

Thanks Minuy! This save has certainly had some high points. 

Seeing Kenya in the World Cup was one thing but guiding Mount Rich to the Champions League has got to be the highlight thus far!

18 hours ago, Mbasnett6 said:

Fantastic work. Brilliant.

 

Thanks Mbasnett! 

17 hours ago, kidthekid said:

fantastic achievement 

It is definitely my best achievement to date - I am sure we will get hammered in the first round but I am very excited to be taking part. 

15 hours ago, rodesire said:

That is some achievement :applause: How much money are you looking at now?  Any chance of going pro before you leave?

Thanks for all your continued support rodesire! Despite all our footballing success, the financial side of things has not improved magnificently. We have done pretty well though considering we started this save with around £15,000 in the coffers. We are now up to an impressive £400,000, which I imagine is not quite enough to turn professional. 

Does anyone have any idea how much might be needed to turn a club professional?

 

 

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Update 43: October 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

After witnessing something quite special with Mount Rich in the form of qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League, we now switch focus back to the international scene with Kenya where we have a couple of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to complete. You may remember that the last round of fixture actually saw us already qualify for this tournament whilst simultaneously maintaining our unbeaten run. 

This update will cove the month of October, where we played the fifth group game of the qualification process. 

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Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers DETAILS:

As you may remember, we had already qualified for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which is due to be held in Guinea. This qualification meant we would be appearing in a third consecutive Cup of Nations, a feat never achieved before by the Kenyan national side. 

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We topped the group table with just two games left to play (against Comoros and Lesotho). We had gone unbeaten through the first four games and, although Libya can mathematically catch us, our results over them meant that we would still qualify even if that occurred. 

The main surprise in Group J is the fact that Comoros currently occupy the second place spot over the more-fancied Libya. Could they make a surprise appearance at the Cup of Nations?

SQUAD SELECTION:

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Not too many changes wth regards to the squad, for an away trip to Comoros followed by a home friendly against Congo. 

The three goalkeepers remain the same, and likely will do for the foreseeable future with not a lot of talent coming through at that position. That being said, Patrick Matasi is now 35 years old and in decline so I will have to find someone to operate as the nations third string shot stopper soon. 

In defence there is a recall for right fullback Daniel Mzee. The 25 year old, who plays in Switzerland, has made 21 previous national team appearances and offers a similar attacking threat behind first choice Ayub Masika. We also add central defender Alexander Borja Cordoba, a 24 year old who plays in Macedonia, who has just three senior caps at this point.

Outside of those two additions, the midfielders and forwards remain the same with star duo Victor Wanyama and Michael Olunga both present. 

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers RESULTS:

Game 1. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Comoros (World Ranking = 120th)

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Just the one competitive game this month and it resulted in one of our more disappointing performances, on a rainy evening in Comoros. 

We fell behind early, after just six minutes, as the Comoros captain glanced a near post header past Joseph Jackson Were in goal. We then spent the rest of the first half looking good in attack but without actually managing to create any clear-cut chances. It was a bit of a theme for both sides to be honest as we had a combined total of 33 shots but just 9 of those were actually on target. 

Despite spending a long time behind on the scoresheet we did manage to grab a deserved goal in the 74th minute when Michael Olunga latched onto a nice pass by Paul Kiongera before driving a strong shot beyond the keeper from just inside the area. A 1-1 draw, whilst not amazing, was a result I would have been happy to settle with given our awful finishing on the night but some late drama saw us lose points for the first time in this competition. FC Lorient midfielder Foaud Bachirou smashed home an excellent finish in injury time to give Comoros a surprise victory. 

We played well overall but our finishing and play in the final third let us down massively. That being said, one of the bright spots was the play of Kot Chol Tafesse at left wingback. The 27 year old played four key passes and provides a more attacking presence on the wing that better suits our tactical scheme. Despite his age, he only has six previous national team caps, but I think he could become an important player for us going forwards. 

Friendly RESULTS:

W = 1, D = 0, L = 0

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Following the disappointing competitive defeat we played a home friendly against a pretty strong Congo side, who are currently ranked above us in the World. 

We rebounded from our poor showing against Comoros and came away with a victory thanks to an early penalty from Victor Wanyama and a first international goal for current Notts County midfielder Henry Ochieng

STANDINGS:

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Our unfortunate defeat means that Comoros leapfrog us atop the table and now lead the way. It also means that ourselves and Comoros will be appearing at the next Africa Cup of Nations at the expense of Libya and a lowly Lesotho, who lost their fifth consecutive game. 

We still have one fixture left to play, against Lesotho, but it does not really matter where we finish as all qualifiers are seeding based on rankings. 

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I will be back soon with another update, covering the final qualification game and having a look at who else from around Africa will be appearing at the 2023 finals. Will anyone be a bigger surprise than Comoros? 

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Update 44: October 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

Following our disappointing defeat against Comoros in the last round of qualification games, we would be facing off against Lesotho in the final round of fixtures in this update. 

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Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers DETAILS:

The last update saw us lose top spot to a surprise Comoros side. That being said we were still in second place and had secured qualification a few games ago thanks to our head-to-head performances against Libya. 

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The top two sides from each group progress to next years Africa Cup of Nations, which this time around are due to be held in Guinea. From Group J, the two qualification teams have already been confirmed as ourselves and Comoros will be travelling to the finals. This will mark the third consecutive season that we have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations, an achievement that has never before been completed in Kenyan history and shows our growth as a footballing nation within the continent. 

SQUAD SELECTION: 

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Given that we were already through and that we were playing a Lesotho side who had lost every single qualification game up prior to this, I made quite a few changes to the squad. 

For starters, we retained our two most capped goalkeepers whilst also adding 19 year old Francis Njoroge, who is the most likely candidate to become the third string shot stopper when Patrick Matasi eventually retires, and whom has played 15 times for the countries U20 side. 

In defence we added 18 year old Peter Odhiambo, another who has played consistently for the U20 side, who is primarily a central defender. David Ochieng and Brian Mandela are both closing in on 70 senior international appearances whilst young regens Joseph Mwaniki and Duncan Mbugi are becoming regular members of the first eleven. 

There was a recall for Amos Nondi, the 25 year old central midfielder who is based in Georgia, and a first call-up for ball winning midfielder Francis Amboko. The 18 year old is another regular in the U20 side nowadays, having already made 23 appearances. 

Up front their was a first call-up for Salim Ottamax, another teenager who has scored 12 goals in 18 U20 international appearances thus far. 

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Qualifiers RESULTS:

 Game 1. Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Group J: vs Lesotho (World Ranking = 173rd)

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The final qualification game of the season saw us get back to winning ways with an impressive display of finishing against a lowly Lesotho side. 

We made quite a few changes to the starting eleven but that did not affect our play as our attacking-minded tactic continued to work a charm. We took the lead very early on when teenage forward Salim Ottamax slammed home a powerful header after just four minutes of his senior international debut. The youngster was in fine form and he doubled his goal tally in the 35th minute with another headed finish following a nice cross from Ayub Maskia. Masika ensured that the game was beyond doubt prior to halftime when the wingback fired in from a tight angle following a neat square pass from veteran forward Innocent Mutiso

We continued our fine attacking form in the second period when Mutiso grabbed a goal of his own, steering home a rebound from close range in the 52nd minute. Lesotho did grab a consolation goal midway through the second half but this did not affect a very positive result. He actually held less possession than our opponents but it did not matter given that our finishing was excellent. 

Friendly RESULTS:

W = 0, D = 0, L = 1

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We played one friendly fixture, a home game against Curacao who are currently ranked 115th in the world, after our excellent victory over Lesotho. 

The Caribbean nation do not have the greatest of squads in terms of talents yet, I realised after this fixture, that they are on an amazing unbeaten run that dates back to September 2021. They have actually won their past 11 games, including victories over Panama, Grenada and Martinique, so I realised they were going to e a tougher test than I first thought. 

We tried to roll with our usual attacking tactic but it backfired drastically as we fell behind 3-0 after just half an hour, with Wolves midfielder Leandro Bacuna grabbing the second goal. There was a goal for Victor Wanyama, on what was his 100th cap for his nation. The veteran midfielder is now just six appearances away from becoming the most capped player in Kenyan history!

STANDINGS:

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Our win, coupled with a Comoros loss to Libya, meant that we actually finished atop the qualification group. As previously known, ourselves and Comoros will be advancing to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Guinea. 

We ended the qualification phase with a very impressive +13 goal difference and an excellent 13 points from a possible 18. 

OTHER NEWS:

Just a few group draws followed the completion of the qualification phase and we first found out who we would be playing in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 Group Draw:

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We were grouped as 3rd seeds for the Africa Cup of Nations but that did not help us as we received a very tough looking draw. 

We will be up against Ivory Coast, Egypt and Zimbabwe. We will have a look at all of these nations in more detail prior to the start of the competition next year but this was a very tough draw with Zimbabwe being one of the best 4th seeds possible. We actually played Egypt in the last edition of the World Cup Qualifiers, where we beat them to top spot and a place in the finals. Ivory Coast are currently the highest ranked African nation in the game and this entire group looks to be a steep challenge.

CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup 2022 Group Draw: 

The other competition that we will be taking part in at the end of this year is the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. It is a simple group/knockout tournament that is contested by the teams of central-east Africa and is one that we have won the past two seasons. 

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Given that we have won this tournament the past two seasons, I am confident of progressing from this group although this was not the kindest of draws as we are matched up with Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda.  

We are definitely favourites but Uganda, who are one of our fierce rivals, definitely have the potential to cause us an upset. Sudan always look like a strong side on paper but we have faced off against them before, in this competition two years ago, where we easily demolished them 4-0 in the group stage. The final side, Rwanda, are not very talented but are one of the African nations on the up. 

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That ends the international aspect of things for a while. The CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is coming up in December but before that I need to play through the final few games of the GFA Premier Division season whilst also kickstarting Mount Rich's defence of the Waggy-T Super Knockout Cup. 

I will hopefully be back soon with a domestic update as we finally see the 2022 year come to a close. I hope you are all still enjoying this story and thanks again for all the comments, likes and views!

 

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On 29/06/2018 at 21:11, yatesiboi37 said:

Does anyone have any idea how much might be needed to turn a club professional?

In most European low-level leagues the threshold is around 1-1.5mil euro

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3 hours ago, rodesire said:

In most European low-level leagues the threshold is around 1-1.5mil euro

Ugh, I think I am a very long way off achieve anything like that. 

I am not sure how much money the CONCACAF Champions League brings in with regards to single rounds but the overall winner gets just £380k. I think it would take me a minimum of 5-10 more seasons to build a financial amount in the millions. 

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Update 45: November & December 2022

Team: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Having looked at the Kenya national team in my latest update and covered the fact that we had qualified for next years Africa Cup of Nations, it is time time to with the focus back to Mount Rich. The domestic season in Grenada finishes in December and these last two months also see the start of the annual domestic cup competition. 

This update will cover our last few league games and also see if we are able to complete an outstanding sixth consecutive Waggy-T title!

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GFA Premier Division RESULTS:

W = 2, D = 0, L = 0

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If you remember correctly, we were three points ahead of Paradise Sports Club going into the final two games of the season, knowing that two positive results would secure us another league title. 

We kicked things off with a thrilling 3-2 away victory against Queens Park Rangers, a side who have had a better than expected season this time around. We ended the calendar year with a superb 5-0 thumping of Hard Rock FC courtesy of a Kyle Thomas double and three further strikes from Fortunato Nguema, Emeca and Cassim Redhead. This was a great way to end the season, in front of the home fans, handing out a hammering to one of the better club sides in Grenada. 

Some years we have seen our players tire towards the end of the season and our goalscoring form has fallen away. Not this time around, as our final six league fixtures saw us score 27 goals, and I think this is a result of having some supreme depth this year which has allowed greater rotation and resting throughout. 

Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament RESULTS:

Alongside the final few league fixtures, November also saw the start of the Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament. This simplistic knockout competition is the only domestic cup in Grenada and is one that I have won in every single season that I have been manager at Mount Rich. The perfectionists amongst you will realise that this means I have not lost a domestic cup game in the past six seasons... would this remarkable run end this year?

First Round: vs Hurricanes (GFA Premier Division)

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The first round of the competition saw us drawn against fellow GFA Premier Division outfit Hurricanes, who were having a poor league campaign despite high pre-season expectations. 

In a game that we rotated heavily we still managed to look very solid defensively, limiting our opponents to just five total shots. That being said, we missed some of the creativity and firepower in attack and struggled to turn possession into chances throughout. We did grab a goal just after the half hour mark when barely used forward Uriah Enoe grabbed a rare goal. 

There were good performances from Kyle John-Brown, in his new central midfield position and from ball-winner Earldon Andrew, a youth product from last season who was making his professional debut. 

Quarter Final: vs Hurricanes (GFA First Division)

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The quarter final tie saw us handed a very favourable home draw, as we matched up against Eagles Super Strikers who were related from the top division back in 2017, and whom have not made it back since. 

This fixture allowed me to rest a number of usual first teamers and my starting eleven actually contained seven players who were products of our youth academy. Three of those players managed to get themselves on the scoresheet with promising attackers Kimron Phillip and Cassim Redhead both netting early on. Super Strikers did get a goal back which made the game an interesting affair for a while but a second half strike, and a first professional goal, for right wingback Ethan McQueen saw us safely through to the semifinal. 

Kimron Phillip, who I need to find a way to get involved in more first team games, was easily the best player on the pitch, adding five key passes and an assist to his goal scored. This game also saw a Mount Rich debut for 18 year old goalkeeper Alistair Rennie, who joined midway through the season. 

Semi Final: vs Fontenoy United (GFA First Division) 

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The semis saw us handed another nice draw as we faced off against Fontenoy United, another side who currently play in the division below us. 

This game saw the return of a number of first team players and they proved far too strong for our lower league opponents and we cruised to an impressive victory. We actually only had five shots on target for the entire game but all of these went in, highlighting the impressive level of finishing from our first choice stars. 

There were goals in the first period for ever-improving attacker Kyle Thomas, club captain Shaddai Sampson and a first professional goal for ball-winner Alistair Rennie, who somehow popped up in the opposition box! The second half saw us continue to press forward and Fortunato Nguema added a goal just after the interval. The fifth was headed home by Sampson, who added his second individual strike, in the 78th minute. 

Despite the two goals from Sampson and the play of our attacking unit, the Player of the Match Award was actually handed to 16 year old left wingback Marcus Mark who added four key passes an assist to go along with some solid defending. 

Victory in this game meant we would now be appearing in our sixth straight Waggy-T Super Knockout final. Could we add another piece of silverware to the ever expanding Mount Rich trophy room?

Final: vs Ball Dogs (GFA Premier Division)

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The final saw us up against a Ball Dogs side who were having a very disappointing time in the GFA Premier Division this season. The final match is held at the countries National Cricket Stadium and saw us romp to an excellent 5-0 victory in front of 2,741 fans. 

We played a fairly strong side and dominated throughout, limiting our opponents to just two shots in the game. We scored twice within a minute in the first half to give us an early, unassailable lead. Firstly, Kyle Thomas glanced home a rare header following a cross from fullback Cassim Millette and then Millette got himself on the scoresheet with a brilliant angled finish from the right side of the penalty area. 

The second half saw us start just as brilliantly and we had a third goal just five minutes after the restart. Ugandan defender Karim Juma stepped up to slam home a penalty awarded after an obstruction. Shaddai Sampson then added a fourth when he pounced quickest to steer home a rebound following a good save from the Ball Dogs keeper. Cassim Redhead, on as a substitute for Sampson, added a late fifth as he swept home a decent pullback from fellow substitute Joel Alexander

Unsurprisingly, Millette was named Player of the Match following an outstanding performance in which he scored, added an assist, played six key passes and completed five crosses. More importantly though, we added a SIXTH CONSECUTIVE WAGGY-T TITLE with this win to continue our domestic dominance in Grenada. 

PLAYER STATISTICS:

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This has been an exceptional league season and one in which we have played more games than ever thanks to our long runs in continental competitions. The superb performances have been built from a number of excellent individual displays, which themselves have led us to having a record 25 players holding an average rating of at least 7.0. 

The star man this year? Yep, you guessed it, Cassim Millette (8.12). The young wingback is such a creative asset and finishes the year with a team-high 14 assists and 78 key passes played. His 97 crosses completed and 40 chances created were also the most in the squad and he is an excellent fit within our tactical system. Although his primary skills are in attack, the youngster is a solid defender and averaged 3.12 tackles/game with 35 interceptions in his 24 appearances. 

Elsewhere in defence there was a strong year for left fullback Joel Alexander (7.43) who added seven assists of his own. In the centre, Benin youngster Moukaram Abidjo (7.34) led the defensive line with 61 interceptions, whilst youngster Alec Leo (7.18), Ugandan Karim Juma (7.16) and the ever-present Christ Kisangala (7.10) also had strong seasons. There was also some solid play from Millette's back-up Ethan McQueen (7.32) who scored his first professional goals and added four assists in 13 appearances, whilst Marcus Mark (7.55), a youth product from this year, played excellently in his first eight career games. 

In midfield, the newly acquired Fortunato Nguema (7.67) demonstrated that he was a shrewd signing midway through the season as he played brilliantly in his eight appearances. Ball-winning youngster Alistair Rennie (7.39) had his best season in a Mount Rich shirt to date as he averaged 4.48 tackles/game whilst also finishing with an 81% pass completion rate. Philani August (7.13) had a very good first season with the club as the Seychelles international completed 29 key passes in 17 games played, whist Kyle John-Brown (7.20) switched position, from shadow striker to central midfielder, and had his best season in a while. 

Our attackers were absolutely phenomenal with Emeca (7.70) who joined at the start of the year proving an excellent addition. The experienced Equatorial Guinea player scored 11 goals and added six assists in his 17 appearances in a brilliant debut season. The main firepower in the domestic competitions came from Cassim Redhead (7.65) who had a record-setting year as he scored 24 goals in just his third professional season. Club captain Shaddai Sampson (7.43) ensured he grabbed himself another double-digit goal season as he netted 19 times in just 25 games. English teenager Liam Griffiths (7.31) who joined at the midseason mark, showed his class as he netted four times in just eight games. 

There was also some excellent play from Kyle Thomas (7.56). Our young attacking midfielder has been threatening to become one of the clubs best players for a while and this was definitely a breakthrough season for him as he scored 14 goals and grabbed five Player of the Match Awards. Kimron Phillip (7.42) also demonstrated why he needs more playing time as he scored six goals and added seven assists in just 18 games.  

LEAGUE TABLE:

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We did not manage an unbeaten season, and we actually finished with three less points than we did last year, but we are once again crowned league champions!

In all fairness another league championship never looked in doubt, despite Paradise Sports Club having an excellent season themselves and ending the year just three points behind us. Their only two losses of the season were in their two games against ourselves and this highlights just how effective they were at dominating the rest of the competition. 

Hard Rock FC finished third, despite a poor season by their standards, just ahead of an impressive Queens Park Rangers side who by far exceeded expectations. St. John's Sports never looked like fending off relegation but they will be joined in the lower division by a poor Happy Hill outfit and a Hurricanes side who lost their relegation playoff game. Ball Dogs, who I had high hopes for going into the year, just about managed to remain in the top flight, winning their final league game. 

We scored a mightly impressive 59 goals throughout the season, which was 20 more than the next best side in the league. Defensively we were also the best side in the division, conceding just 13 times and being the only team to concede an average of less than one goal per game. Our +46 goal difference was immense given that the league season only lasts 18 games. 

OTHER NEWS:

A couple of extra news bits to keep you all up to date on from our final few months in Grenada. 

Injuries

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The first injury was to Philani August. It kept him out of the final month of the season and it is always a worry to see young players getting lengthy knocks. I am hoping this twisted ankle was just a one off and that injuries do not become part of the story for the young Seychelles international. 

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The second big injury was to Joel Francois-Ravalier. The young midfielder had been one of our best players for a few seasons before suffering a devastating cruciate injury at the end of last year that kept him out for nine months.

He made his return from injury earlier this year, playing sparingly but then he suffered another large setback, damaging his knee cartilage. he has now suffered two major injuries and one moderate injury in the past three seasons and it is looking like one of our most promising youngsters is in danger of becoming 'injury prone'. 

Under-20s

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I think this is a good indication of just how established we have become over the past few seasons in Grenada. Our Under 20s side, which contains a number of promising youngsters, retained the league title once again having won it last season. Most of these youth products would find a place in the starting squads of other GFA Premier Division sides and highlight the strength in depth I have created during my time at Mount Rich. 

Competitions

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Having already won the North American League earlier in the season, we added a domestic cup and league title to complete a first ever treble for Mount Rich!

This has been my most successful season at Mount Rich to date but things in Grenada are becoming far too 'easy'. We dominate the league and cup competitions regularly, without even having to utilising first team players but the aim this year was to compete in continental competition. 

We managed that, by going on a remarkable run that saw us reach the CFU Club Championship final before than winning the North American League. The late victory meant we would be entered into the CONCACAF Champions League, becoming the first ever Grenadian side to do so. Our league win means we will also be entering into the CFU Club Championship once more and I think my plan is to play through those two competitions (which take place at the start of 2023) and then maybe look to move elsewhere.

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Another cup victory and title win mean James Yates' Hall of Fame points are now increased to 164. I am the top manager in Grenadian footballing history and am not miles off entering the top 20 managers in all of North America. 

The final update of this calendar year sees Kenya take part in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, a competition I have won the past two seasons. Will I be able to add another piece of silverware to what has been a very successful season thus far?

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Update 46: December 2022

Team: Kenya
Division: CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup

The final action of a very hectic 2022 sees us return to Kenya where the national side have the annual CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup to contend. The last time we were with the national team we were gaining qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations.

This final update will see us run through the whole tournament, wrapping up the calendar year, and I was hoping to end things with another piece of silverware!

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CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup 2022 DETAILS:

The CECAFA Cup is a small, yearly, tournament that sees the best 12 teams from Central and East Africa compete against one another. The competition itself follows a fairly straightforward format in that there is an initial group stage (three groups of four sides). The three group winners and the best second placed side qualify for the one-leg semi finals, followed by a final. 

The avid followers amongst you will know that we have won this competition for the past two seasons, defeating Uganda in the final on both occasions courtesy of penalties. This edition of the competition was held in Ethiopia and I was aiming to win a third straight title. The draw from the group stages was completed a while back and you may remember who we drew.

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We received a fairly tricky looking group though where we will have to face off against two of the better nations, in Uganda and Sudan, alongside Rwanda

Rwanda are probably the easiest team is Group B but they did win this competition back in 2017. They have a couple of regen attackers who look pretty handy and have been on the up a little bit within African football so I do not expect them to be a simple game. 

Sudan are a side whom we played before during this competition two years ago, defeating them 4-0. They have a very talented side, all of whom play in the Sudanese top division, on paper but have been out of sorts over the past few seasons as a national side; having failed to progress from the group stages in the CECAFA Cup for the past two seasons and having not appeared at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2012. 

Uganda are a side I am very familiar with. Not only are they one of our fierce rivals but we have come up against them in the final of this competition for the past two years. Both of those finals finished 0-0 and we had to rely on penalties to be crowned victors. They are the most successful team in the history of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, having won it on 15 different occasions, with the most reason win coming in 2019. Melvyn Lorenzen is an excellent attacker who plays for Roda JC in Holland whilst regen leftback Godfrey Nsimbe looks like he could be a real talent. 

SQUAD SELECTION:

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The CECAFA Cup only allows 20 players to be registered but there will not be to many surprises here. 

In goal we decide to go with young regen Joseph Jackson Were and Joel Bataro, meaning that veteran Patrick Matasi misses out. The 35 year old is coming to the end of his career and this could spell the end of his international selections.

In central defence we select the experienced pairing of Brian Mandela and David Ochieng. Joseph Mwaniki, who has recently moved abroad to Sint-Truiden in Belgium, is an obvious choice in the first eleven nowadays with fellow regen Duncan Mbugi and Australia-based Thomas Deng providing solid rotational options. With the fullbacks I have started to swing towards more attacking minded players with rightback Ayub Masika, who is currently at Renhe in China, the best option. His back-up is Switzerland-based Daniel Mzee whilst on the left we have Kot Chol Tafesse, a fairly recent addition to my squads, competing with Eric Ouma for a starting spot. 

In central midfield the best player by a mile is veteran Victor Wanyama. The 31 year old now has 100 international appearances and is just five games away from becoming the countries most capped in history. Alongside him in the middle we select Henry Ochieng, of Notts County, along with ball-winner Peter Opiyo and the fairy versatile Amos Nondi. Ali Abondo plays in South Africa and can play in the centre of midfield or in a more advanced position behind the forwards.

Speaking of the forwards we select the usual suspects, with record scorer Michael Olunga being chosen alongside veteran duo Peter Kiongera and Innocent Mutiso. The final position in the squad went to Noah Wafula, who has impressed on the national stage recently and scored 14 goals in the latest Kenyan domestic season. 

Friendly RESULTS:

W = 2, D = 0, L = 0

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We were able to squeeze in a couple of friendly games prior to the start of the tournament and both of these resulted in positive performances. 

We opened with a 1-0 win over a lowly Burundi side where we looked very solid defensively and created chances freely. Our finishing definitely could have been better but we grabbed a first half goal thanks to young regen defender Duncan Mbugi which ensured we came away with the win. 

We then travelled to the host nation where we played Ethiopia. We put on a real show it what was a very tough warm-up game and scored three goals in the first half, two for Innocent Mutiso and one for Ali Abondo, which meant we cruised to a solid win. Again, we were very string defensively and limited our opponents to just four total shots. 

The most pleasing aspect of these friendlies was our defensive solidity. We have had the tendency to completely capitulate defensively sometimes, mainly due to the attacking nature of our tactic, but it was pleasing to see that we would be going into the tournament in god form. 

CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup RESULTS:

All three group games would be played at different neutral venues in Ethiopia and we had a tricky looking start ahead of us having been drawn against some of the better sides in the competition. Firstly though, we would have to get passed a plucky looking Rwanda side. 

Game 1. CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (First Round, Group B): vs Rwanda (World Ranking = 168th)

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We picked up from where we left off in the friendly games as our opening fixture resulted in a routine 3-0 win where we created twice as many chances as our opponents. Ali Abondo netted the first goal, after just seven minutes, when we steered a side-footed finish into the bottom corner following a nice lay-off from Paul Kiongera. Things remained that way until half-time as we struggled to find a way past a fairly well organised Rwandan defence. 

I am always wary of games that sit at 1-0 and I made it known at halftime that we needed to find a second goal. It did not take us long, as Paul Kiongera rose highest in the 58th minute to plant a close range header into the net following an Eric Ouma cross. It took us just a further four minutes to ensure the game was safe as Abondo added his second, sweeping home a close range strike. 

Unsurprisingly, Ali Abondo was named Player of the Match having scored two goals and player two key passes. The 33 year old is another who is coming to the end of his international career but he has been excellent for me ever since I joined the nation's coaching set-up. 

Game 2. CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (First Round, Group B): vs Sudan (World Ranking = 127th)

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It turns out that we really like playing Sudan, having beaten them 4-0 two years ago during this stage of the competition!

In front of a huge 23,517 strong crowd we displayed a brilliant attacking flair and absolutely destroyed our opponents despite actually having less of the possession. We came out of the blocks flying in the first half and scored four goals, the first of which came courtesy of a close range finish from captain, and record scorer, Michael Olunga after just eight minutes. We then doubled our lead in the 15th minute when an Olunga shot rebounded off the post and into the back of the Sudanese goalkeeper, eventually trickling over the line. Sudan then grabbed a goal for themselves but we restored our two goal lead just two minutes later when Paul Kiongera robbed a defender of possession before slotting a neat finish under the onrushing keeper. We ensured my halftime team talk was even easier when Kiongera grabbed his second right on the stroke of halftime, smashing home a long range effort following a neat lay-off from Henry Ochieng

The second period saw not a great deal happen as we decided we were happy to preserve our three goal lead. Sudan did try to throw players forward but we defend resolutely and actually grabbed a fifth goal in the closing stages when Noah Wafula finished off a quick counter attack with a fine flicked header. 

An excellent performance meant we now had two wins from two and the prospect of progressing to the next round was looking are an more likely. Before we could celebrate though we had to overcome a rival game against Uganda...

Game 3. CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (First Round, Group B): vs Uganda (World Ranking = 98th)

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10,600 supporters turned out to watch the fierce rival clash between ourselves and Uganda. Having defeated these guys twice in the past two finals of this competition, I was expecting a bit of motivated response but what we got was a fairly drab game that produced just 15 total shots. 

Fortunately for us, some fine finishing in the first thirty minutes meant that we had this game sewn up by halftime, so a boring second period was fine by our standards.  We took the lead when Innocent Mutiso smashed home a 17th minute strike from inside the penalty area before Paul Kiongera added a second when he somehow headed home the rebound after seeing hi initial effort ricochet off the crossbar! Two minutes later and Mutiso added a third when he glanced home a fine near-post cross from left fullback Eric Ouma

Other than those three goals, we only had one other effort on target whilst Uganda only managed one shot on target for the entire game, making this not the best game for any neutral fans. It was at least one that saw us travel through to the semi-finals.

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Last years finalists Uganda are out but we progress to the semifinals along with Sudan (as the best second placed side) and the winners of the two other groups; South Sudan and Ethiopia

Fortunately for us we get drawn against the worst side left in the competition, South Sudan who are currently ranked 195th in the world. They have won no notable silverware to date and have a squad full of players that I have never heard of. There best player is probably leftback Peter Deng, who plays in Indonesia, although they have a decent looking American-based regen in the form of 18 year old attacker Lokiru Aloisio. 

Game 4. CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (Semi Final): vs South Sudan (World Ranking = 195th)

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Oh dear... This is probably my most embarrassing result on this save thus far. 

There is no there way to put this, South Sudan are a very bad team. They have some really bad players and recently lost to both Mauritius and Sao Tome & Principe in friendly games. I did rotate the squad a bit, thinking I could rest some of our star players for the final, but that is not an excuse for a result like this. 

We were awful in the first half and fell behind to two goals in the space of seven minutes. I made two changes at halftime, followed by another at the half hour mark, although I soon regretted these when central defender Brian Mandela was forced off with an injury, forcing us to play the final 23 minutes with 10 men. 

Somehow, we actually look far better when our opponents had the numerical advantage. We pulled one back in the 73rd minute when Michael Olunga, one of the three substitutes, was fouled in the box and smashed home the resulting penalty. Just three minutes later and we were all tied up when Paul Kiongera slotted home a deft finish from the edge of the area following a clever pass from Ayub Masika

We tried our best to force a third but could not find a way through as the players legs begun to tire. Fortunately, extra time does not exist in the CECAFA Cup as drawn games go straight to penalties. The first nine spot kicks all found the mark before teenage defender Duncan Mbugi stepped up and saw his effort palmed away by the South Sudan goalkeeper. 

Heartbreak for the youngster and a terrible end to the tournament for us as South Sudan progress to a very unexpected finale. 

Game 5. CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (Third-Place Playoff): vs Sudan (World Ranking = 127th)

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Despite our loss, we were allowed a fifth fixture as we contested the Third Place Playoff with Sudan following their loss to Ethiopia in the other semifinal. 

We once again dominated a Sudanese side who we have now scored 13 goals against in three previous fixtures. Henry Ochieng had an excellent game in midfielder, orchestrating attacking opportunities, enroute to 24 total shots for the side. Paul Kiongera scored the first goal before young defender Duncan Mbugi bounced back from his penalty miss in the semifinal to score in this game. 

Michael Olunga then netted a couple of late gaols for himself to make the scoreline look far more impressive and reflective of our dominating performance.

Third place, whilst not a bad result, is very disappointing given that we overcame some tough opposition in the group stage and got knocked out by a surprise opponent in the semifinals. 

OTHER NEWS:

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Unbelievably, South Sudan defeated Ethiopia 1-0 in the final to lift their first ever trophy. I honestly have no idea how they have won this; they lost to Swaziland in the World Cup qualifiers and then most recently failed to even make the group stage qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations having lost to Sao Tome & Principe. Unsurprisingly, the tournaments champions were named as the biggest overachievers, whilst Uganda, who we defeated in the group stages, had a cup to forget.

Paul Kiongera had an excellent tournament for us, finishing with the Golden Boot and averaging the highest rating of any player.  

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That concludes a rather disappointing end to the 2022 calendar year with Kenya. That being said it has been a very successful year with the national side, one that has seen Kenya appear at their first ever World Cup finals and secure qualification to another Africa Cup of Nations.

I am unsure with what to do concerning the national side. I am not going to win the Cup of Nations but it might be fun to have another crack at it, and see Victor Wanyama become the countries most capped player of all-time.  

Thanks again for all your support, I'll be back soon with a season review from Mount Rich before we move towards the start of the CONCACAF Champions League!

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Update 47: End of Season Review (2022)

Club: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Remarkably, this season review comes at the end of my sixth season in charge of Mount Rich in Grenada. Since I joined the club, we have developed Mount Rich into an absolutely dominating powerhouse in terms of domestic football in Grenada but we have also become an annual regular in the continental competitions of the Caribbean and North America. 

This season was no different in terms of our domestic performances but it did see us achieve our greatest success thus far in terms of continental play. 

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COMPETITIONS:

GFA Premier DivisionFinal League Position: 1st

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Played: 18 (W = 15, D = 2, L = 1)
Goals Scored: 59, Goals Conceded: 13, Goal Difference: +46
Points Total: 47

We did not manage another unbeaten season, losing one game against New Hampshire United, but we still are crowned league champions after collecting an impressive 47 points from a possible 54. 

We scored a league high 59 goals, a record total for me thus far in a singular season, and an improvement on the 47 that we scored last year. Having finished 14 points clear of everyone else last season, this year actually saw us develop a close rival in the form of Paradise Sports Club. They were in touching distance of us at the top all season long but fortunately we beat them in our two fixtures and this meant we ended three points clear. 

This is a fifth GFA Premier Division title for Mount Rich and we are now just one championship shy of matching Hard Rock FC's record of six career championships. The option is there to stay a few more seasons and ensure that I establish Mount Rich as the best historical side in Grenada but that would require a further two domestic league wins. 

Waggy-T Super Knockout Football TournamentFinal Position: Winners

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My continued love affair with the Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament continues as I collect a sixth consecutive domestic cup trophy. In fact, since joining Mount Rich, I have not been on the losing side of a Waggy-T game, having gone unbeaten over the course of six seasons! That is what I call domination. 

We battled through the first round with a 1-0 victory in the opening match against Hurricanes before then seeing off Super Striker from the division below us in the quarters. The semis and finals saw us produce two outstanding attacking performances, recording a pair of 5-0 victories in each game.

CFU Club ChampionshipFinal Position: Runners Up

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I have played in the CFU Club Championship on four previous occasions, reaching the Third Place Playoff twice before only making it to the Final Group Stages last year. 

This season saw us put in our best performance yet as we battled all the way to the final, eventually losing to a very strong Puerto Rice FC side. We won all three of our initial group games and advanced to the next group round with ease. Here we received a fairly favourable draw and avoided some of the bigger Jamaican and Trinidad & Tobago sides, overcoming SV Barber (Curacao) and North Village Rams (Bermuda) to advance to the semifinals. 

Here we met up with one of the best sides in the competition, Club Sando (Trinidad & Tobago). We battled hard and were rewarded with a shock 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Kyle Thomas and Shaddai Sampson. We played reasonably well in the final but were outdone by a very strong Puerto Rico FC team, losing 2-1, who actually play in the American league system. 

Still, this was an excellent performance for us and one that saw us gain entry into the North American League. 

North American LeagueFinal Position: Winners

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This was only the third time in my career that I had managed to get Mount Rich into the North American League, a continental competition competed over by teams from the Caribbean and North & Central America. The ultimate prize for the victors is an entry ticket for the CONCACAF Champions League...

The first time we played in this competition we were knocked out in the first round. Second time around we went one better and reached the quarter finals but this time we went on a magical run and ended up being crowned champions. 

Our first round victory over C.D. Aguila (El Salvador) was one of our best performances in this run as we went through thanks to a 5-5 away goals win. The second round saw us come up against another El Salvadorian side in the form of Pasaquina FC and we defeated them 6-4 on aggregate. The semis saw us drawn against a very strong Comunicaciones (Guatemala) side but we managed to battle past them as well, winning 4-2 over the two legs. In the final round we came up against Real Espana (Honduras) and despite our opponents larger stature and professional status we won the title, thanks mainly to a 2-1 away win in the first leg in Honduras. 

As previously mentioned, this piece of silverware meant that we would be representing in the CONCACAF Champions League at the start of next season! A massive achievement for my little semi-professional club from Grenada. 

PLAYER STATISTICS:

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We ended the year with an insane 25 players holding an average rating of 7.0 or higher, a phenomenal feat given that we only played 18 league games. Below are some key stats from my sixth season in Grenada:

  • Cassim Redhead emerged as a dangerous treat in the domestic competition and finished as the clubs top scorer, with 24 goals throughout the course of the season. Shaddai Sampson recorded another double-digit scoring season as the club captain netted 19 times in his 25 appearances. Two other players managed to exceed 10 goals as young shadow striker Kyle Thomas scored 14 times and new signing Emeca grabbed 11 goals in just 17 appearances.
  • The leading assist provider this season was right fullback Cassim Millette, who tallied 14 in total. There was a three way tie for second as fullback Joel Alexander, midfielder Kyle John-Brown and attacker Kimron Phillip all collected seven assists.
  • Fullback Cassim Millette ended the season with the most Player of the Match Awards, picking up 6 whilst attackers Cassim Redhead and Kyle Thomas both collected 5 awards. 
  • Ball winning midfielder Alister Rennie led the team with an impressive average of 4.48 tackles/game in his 24 appearances whilst central defender Christ Kisangala collected a team-high 106 defensive interceptions. 

All-time Best XI:

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I am not really sure how these things are worked out but there are a couple of new editions to our all-time best eleven. 

Patrick Walcott, recently left the club, retains his place in goal although I am sure he will be usurped by Marc Walcott soon. The back three is made up of Christ Kisangala, who now has 130 total appearances for the club, alongside Moukaram Abidjo and veteran Raymond Alleyne. Nicko Williams, who was one of the best defenders at the start of this save, still finds a place on the bench.

Cassim Millette, who is closing in on 100 appearances himself, is solified on the right flank whilst Zimbabwean Tatenda Amini is named as the left fullback. Quinton Rennie, who played 60 times for the club prior to the emergence of Millette, is on the bench. 

The midfield duo of Kyle John-Brown and Joel Francois-Ravalier highlight the emergence of some of my youth academy players, coming from the first and second intakes respectively. Alister Rennie is developing as a solid, ball-winning option in the middle of the park and he is named amongst the substitutes. 

Kyle Thomas is quickly emerging as one of the best players in the club and he is named in the starting eleven ahead of Chad Mark, who was influential through the first few seasons. 

Shaddai Sampson has now scored 90 goals in 120 appearances for Mount Rich and he is named alongside new starlet Cassim Redhead as the starting two forwards. Uriah Enoe, who has found himself out of the starting squad in recent years is named amongst the substitutes having reached 100 career games for Mount Rich. Shavon Bishop, who left for Trinidad & Tobago, is also named on the bench. 

PLAYER AWARDS:

1) Player of the Year: Cassim Millette (RB) - 24 matches, 6 goals, 14 assists, 78 key passes, 40 chances created, 3.12 tackles/game, 6 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 8.12

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This man is well on his way to becoming a legend for Mount Rich. Despite being just 20 years old he is nearing 100 career appearances and this season gone was probably his best yet, as he averaged a rating of above 8.0. 

He grabbed himself a career high six goals, whilst also contributing 14 assists. He led the squad in key passes and chances created, highlighting his attacking prowess, whilst also playing solidly on the defensive end. 

His physical attributes are very good for a player at this level, with his high ratings for stamina, pace and acceleration meaning he can operate up and down the wing with ease. His crossing continues to improve and he is easily the best player at this skill in Grenada right now. His mental have also seen some increases and he now has solid ratings for work rate, decisions and teamwork

He has 25 senior caps for Grenada and that number will only increase as he is now a regular in the starting eleven for the national side. 

2) Defensive Player of the Year: Moukaram Abidjo (CD) - 27 matches, 2 goals, 1.49 tackles/game, 61 defensive interceptions, Ave Rating: 7.34

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Moukaram Abidjo has steadily emerged as a star in the heart of our defence and this season he led the central defenders. The 20 year old had his best season yet in a Mount Rich shirt, collecting 61 defensive interceptions. 

He might be a youngster but he is a strong lad, with a very good rating for strength. He is also very good in the air, with solid ratings for jumping reach and heading. Some amongst you may remark that he does not collect many tackles but I play him in a covering role - often relying on him to use his superb marking skill to nullify the oppositions best attacking option. 

The youngster also made his first ever senior appearance for Benin this season and might be difficult to hold onto as he is now attracting interest from some bigger American sides. 

3) Midfield Player of the Year: Alistair Rennie (CM) - 24 matches, 2 goals, 3 assists, 81% pass completion, 4.48 tackles/game, Ave Rating: 7.39

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With Joel Francois-Ravalier struggling with injury it has been up to Alistair Rennie to solidify the central midfield position and the former youth product had a career year in 2022. The youngster operates in the unheralded ball-winner role and actually led the team with almost five tackles per game. He also proved his ability to retain possession by completing 81% of all his passes played. 

Rennie has a excellent distribution of physical traits, with almost everything in double figures. He has solid technique and is good at tackling with a high level of bravery which means he is never shy of challenge. 

The competition for central midfield spots in the national side is a bit competitive but Rennie's fine club form saw him earn a few more appearances for Grenada this season and he is now up to 16 total caps. 

4) Attacking Player of the Year: Cassim Redhead (ST) - 27 matches, 24 goals, 6 assists, 33 key passes, 22 chances created, 5 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 7.65

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With the likes of Shaddai Sampson and Emeca being rested primarily for continental competitions this season there was a chance for young Cassim Redhead to tae over the domestic league and boy did he! The 18 year old notched 24 goals in all competitions and collected five Player of the Match Awards in his 27 appearances. 

The youngster has a superb set of physical attributes, with an excellent combination of acceleration, pace and strength whilst also being good in the air with a solid jumping reach. This is what makes him so good at this level, he is just a physical beast in this league and dominates less physical defenders with ease. His technical skills are not amazing but he has solid finishing to go alongside a reasonable mental attribute setup. 

The youngster capped a brilliant season by making his debut for the Grenada national side and eventually picking up a pair of goals in a friendly match against the Cayman Islands!

5) U21 Player of the Year: Kyle Thomas (CAM) - 23 matches, 14 goals, 2 assists, 44 key passes, 5 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 7.56

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Kyle Thomas is quickly becoming my favourite player at the club. The young attacker had a real breakthrough season at the age of 20, scoring an impressive 14 goals from his shadow striker position. 

He is another who is an absolutely physical beast. He has an exceptional combination of pace, acceleration, stamina and agility, which makes him a handful for any defensive players trying to get near to him. His mental traits are okay but his technical attributes could really do with some work. If he were to improve some of the technical aspects of his game, he could become one of the greatest players in Grenadian history and cold easily end up playing outside of our island nation.

He is another who is a regular in the national side, racking up 21 caps, yet he is often played out of position since Grenada's tactics do not incorporate a player behind the forwards. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The domestic side of football with Grenada has obviously become a bit of an afterthought given the ease at which we cruised to another league and cup double. The real highlight this season was winning a continental competition, an achievement that I genuinely never thought I would be able to achieve at Mount Rich. Winning the North American League was obviously a massive achievement but it also brought with it a huge prize - a place in the CONCACAF Champions League. 

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We have been drawn against MLS side Houston Dynamo in the first round of the Champions League, which has all the makings of an absolute thrashing but we will give it our best shot and see what happens. The fact there is a Grenadian side in the competition is in itself a huge achievement and one I am very proud of. 

Alongside the Champions League, we will once again be entering into the CFU Club Championship - a competition I have not yet managed to win. 

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Once again, the initial group draw has already been completed and we awarded a fairly decent looking group. If anyone can guess where our three group opponents are based there are bonus points (no use of Wikipedia allowed) but we have actually played one of these sides before in this competition. 

The other Grenadian side in the competition is Paradise Sports Club. So far no-one other than ourselves has progressed from the initial group stage but Paradise will have a good chance given their relatively easy looking group!

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So that final does conclude 2022. It has been a long old year and good job if you stuck around for all the Mount Rich and Kenyan updates.

It has been a very successful, and enjoyable, season for me; one in which we completed a treble win with Mount Rich and secured a first continental trophy. With Kenya we were able to play in a historic first ever World Cup finals, holding Spain to a 1-1 draw, after which we secured qualification to a third consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. 

The next update will see the start of the Champions League where I am just going to enjoy the occasion and hope for the best against a very strong looking Houston team!

 

 

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On 1 July 2018 at 23:57, kidthekid said:

very tough draw in the champions league. Best of luck

 

On 2 July 2018 at 02:02, himan said:

Houston, we have a probleem. :applause:

Yeah... not exactly what I had hoped for our first Champions League tie but, then again, any of the teams in the competition would have been a nightmare to face...

3 hours ago, tommypownall said:

Really enjoyable read!

Thanks Tommy, pleased that you enjoyed it! Feel free to follow along!

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57 minutes ago, yatesiboi37 said:

 

Yeah... not exactly what I had hoped for our first Champions League tie but, then again, any of the teams in the competition would have been a nightmare to face...

Thanks Tommy, pleased that you enjoyed it! Feel free to follow along!

Will do!  Back on the forums after a 8 (!) year absence.

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I have finally managed to work my way through an absolutely monstrous 2022 season, one that saw James Yates take charge of multiple continental and international competitions. I am going to use this update as a way of previewing Mount Rich and highlighting juts how far we have come. This will be my 7th season in charge of the small Grenadian club and I think it is likely that I do not make it to the end of this year before resigning, as I am very much ready for a new challenge. 

Before we get stuck into that, I would like to welcome you all back to Mount Rich.

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Club Background:

Mount Rich have become an absolute powerhouse within Grenada in this save. Formed in 1986, the semi-professional side had not experienced much in the way of success before my arrival back in 2017, having previously won no serious silverware. Since I joined though the club have collected 12 trophies over the course of six seasons (five league titles, six domestic cups and a continental trophy). 

Our continental win and upcoming appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League has boosted our reputation to 1.5 stars, cementing our position as the most well-recognised side in Grenada. 

Facilities:

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Not too much has changed with regards to our facilities over the past few years. Despite winning quite a lot of silverware, the prize money on offer for semi-professional, Grenadian football has not been quite enough to fund much in the way of developments. 

One area that we have continued to improve on however is our youth set-up. Our junior coaching has just received a recent update, and is now up to a good level and our youth recruitment remains at extensive. This, coupled with our fairly decent Head of Youth Development, has seen a number of good prospects come through the youth system in recent years. 

The 700 capacity 'stadium' has just seen the pitch be relaid and it is now in a perfect condition. 

Competitions:

If you have been following this series at all over the past few seasons then you likely will have become very familiar with the competitions that Mount Rich take part in. The main focus throughout this time has been the GFA Premier Division, the top domestic league of Grenadian football. This top level league consists of 10 different sides (with everyone playing each other twice for a total of 18 fixtures), with the top two sides qualifying for the CFU Caribbean Cup. The bottom two teams are automatically relegated to the first division, whilst the side finishing 8th has to contend with a relegation playoff to ensure their survival. 

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Since I joined the club back in 2017, we have dominated the domestic league competition. We have won four consecutive titles, and five of the past six, to assert a modern era dominance not before seen in the island nation. The one slip-up came in 2019 when we lost out to Hard Rock FC, who themselves are currently the most successful side in Grenadian history having won the GFA Premier Divison on six previous occasions. 

The second domestic competition that you are hopefully aware of by now is the superb named Waggy-T Super Knockout Football Tournament. This little cup competition consists of just three, one-legged, knockout rounds prior to a final played in the national team's stadium. 

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We might have been pretty dominant in the league competition of Grenada but in the domestic cup competition we have been literally unbeatable. Since I took over back in 2017, we have won every single Waggy-T cup tie and this has led to a record six consecutive trophies. We are now the most successful side in the history of the Waggy-T Super Knockout, which is a pretty impressive achievement given my short reign in charge. 

The main continental competition that we participate in is the CFU Club Championship. This is essentially the Caribbean champions league and our participation in this tournament is directly tied to finishing within the top two sides in the Premier Division. This is an absolutely massive tournament; where 64 teams enter the opening round and are split into a whopping 16 different groups. 

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We have participating in this Caribbean tournament for the past five seasons. Our best performance came last year when we lost in the final to a very strong Puerto Rico FC side but prior to that we had reached the Third Placed Playoff on two other occasions (2018 & 2019). 

The final competition that we will be taking part in this year is the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. This is the premier continental competition of North & Central America and one that we qualified for last season. Our qualification process was far from straightforward; finishing second in the CFU Club Championship meant we gained a place in the North American League, a competition we would eventually go on to win and that championship saw us awarded a place in the Champions League. 

This competition is fairly straightforward, with 16 teams participating in a simple knockout format with all ties being played dover two legs. As you are probably aware by now, we will be playing a very tough opposition in the First Round...

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Grenadian Football:

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I have kept an eye on the Grenada job ever since I started this save but Andrew Munroe still remains as the main man in charge. During the past six seasons he has not managed to achieve much but has created some stability. The most recent Caribbean Cup saw them reach the Fifth Place Playoff, one of their best performances in said competition for a while. When I started this game Grenada were ranked 161st in the world but they have climbed a few places since and are now at 134th. They highest rank they achieved was back in 2019 when they climbed up to 127th. 

Despite the rather stagnant progress as of late, things are looking bright for the future of the national side. They have a forward in the form of Kimron Sampson, who plays for Manchester City and has scored 17 international goals in just 21 appearances. He seemingly has the potential to become a seriously good player and, being at an English premier League clubs mean he has every chance of reaching his potential. Only four players in the current senior side are over the age of 23 so it would appear that as the youngsters develop things should only get better for the small island nation. 

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So that concludes my reintroduction to Mount Rich and to the country of Grenada in general. We will be kicking things off on the island nation very soon as the CFU Club Championship gets started very early in the calendar year. Prior to that though we will be kickstarting our very first CONCACAF Champions League appearance with a two-legged tie against a very daunting Houston Dynamo side. 

I am planning on getting through the early season continental competitions and then will consider looking for a new club challenge. The domestic side of things in Grenada has become far too simplistic and I think I need a new breath of life within this save to keep in fresh and exciting. 

What do you guys think? 

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It seems you have taken Mount Rich pretty much as far as you can. I say get the Houston games over with and then start looking for a new challenge. :thup: 

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6 minutes ago, dllu said:

It seems you have taken Mount Rich pretty much as far as you can. I say get the Houston games over with and then start looking for a new challenge. :thup: 

That is literally my plan spot on. It would be really fun to turn them professional but it would take me an absolute age and I do not think I would stay motivated through endless domestic seasons. 

Any ideas on where you'd like to see me go?

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7 minutes ago, yatesiboi37 said:

Any ideas on where you'd like to see me go?

Well, you've been to North America and Africa, so maybe Asia? Alternatively somewhere in South America but outside the big two nations.

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Having looked at the domestic side of James Yates' management career in the last update I think it is a good time to highlight some news from the international side of things.

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Given the news of James Yates' resignation from international management (for the time being anyway) I will be using this update as a review of my time in charge of the Kenya national side.

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Team Background:

Kenya is an East African country located on the equator and bordered by Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan. They have a population of around 37 million people and the main languages spoken are English and Swahili. The senior Kenyan side have been partaking in international fixtures since 1926 but the current governing body was not formed until 1960. 

The national stadium is the all-seater Moi International Sports Centre, which has an outrageous capacity of 60,000. It was built in 1987 as a home for the All-Africa Games, an athletics competition, but is now used by various sports including football and rugby as the national stadium. Kenya have three main rivals, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, with the later seemingly a bitter rivalry as we had a listed derby game with them!

Managerial Record:

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It seems an age ago that the Kenyan FA decided to accept my application to be the manager of their senior national side back in 2020. Since that date I have taken charge of 62 total games, recording a win percentage of 66%. 

We proved to be a side that was not willing to settle for a point, only drawing five games during my reign. We also utilised an attacking tactic that meant we were always an exciting side to watch; scoring 159 goals at an average of 2.6/game whilst conceding 1.4/game. 

Competitions: 

The most exciting aspect of taking up the position of Kenya manager was that the national side partook in a number of different competitions and tournaments. I was able to experience a number of different scenarios that I previously had no experience of, providing a source of interest during the slow-grind of the domestic season in Grenada. 

FIFA World Cup

Tournaments Entered: 1 (2022)
Best Finish: Group Stages

The crowning moment of my time in Kenya was the fact that we qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in the countries history. We managed to reach the 2022 finals, which were hosted in Australia, thanks to an excellent qualifying campaign that saw us finish atop an African group that consisted of Egypt, Benin and Liberia. 

At the finals we were drawn in a horror group that contained Belgium, Spain and Uruguay. We were beaten quite comfortably by Belgium and then were smashed by Uruguay during my 100th international game in charge. We came so close to grabbing a first ever World Cup win against Spain but were undone by an injury time equaliser. 

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Africa Cup of Nations

Tournaments Entered: 1 (2021)
Best Finish: Second Round

Alongside World Cup qualification we were able to secure a place in the 2021 version of the Africa Cup of Nations, the continents premier international tournament. We gained a placed in the competition, hosted by the Ivory Coast, after we placed second in a qualification group that contained Democratic Republic of Congo, fierce rivals Uganda and Mauritania. 

In the actually tournament we were drawn in a group with DR Congo once again along with Tunisa and Gambia. Two victories from our three group fixtures saw us qualify for the second round of the competition for the first time ever, another excellent historic achievement. The second round saw us matched up with a very strong Ghana side but we gave them a good game, eventually losing 2-1. 

CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup

Tournaments Entered: 3 (2020, 2021, 2022)
Best Finish: Winners x2

This annual competition was one that I had never even heard of prior to joining Kenya but was also one that I had some very positive success in. The CECAFA Cup is a small, yearly, tournament that sees the best 12 teams from Central and East Africa compete against one another. 

We gained automatic entry into this tournament every year and I actually managed to win the whole thing at the first attempt back in 2020, defeating fierce rivals Uganda on penalties in the final. The 2021 tournament saw us again play excellently and we found ourselves up against Uganda again in another final, again defeating them on penalties - amazing for us, heartbreaking for them... 

I do not wish to talk about the 2022 tournament ever again... it was a disaster. 

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African Championship of Nations

Tournaments Entered: 1 (2022)
Best Finish: Group Stages

Another tournament that we were able to play in was the African Championship of Nations. This was another competition that I had previously never heard of but it followed a similar format to the Africa Cup of Nations with the main twist being that countries were only allowed to use domestic-based players. 

This was obviously a real pain for us as our star players are all based abroad and therefore ineligible. We managed to just about qualify for the 2022 tournament, held in Mali, but were then drawn in a group alongside Zambia, Gabon and Senegal. Our Kenyan based players decided they did not know how to defend and we conceded 8 goals over the course of three group games, claiming just one point, and were subsequently dumped out of the competition. 

Rankings:

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When I first joined Kenya (back in January 2020) the nation were ranked 112th in the world. A combination of our Africa Cup of Nations performance and excellent effort in reaching a first World Cup finals saw us reach a historical high of 64th. 

Our recent poor performance in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup means that I will be leaving Kenya having seen them drop to 86th, still a top-100 side but one seemingly on a bit of decline. 

Key Players:

I am going to use this section just to have a little look through some of the key players that I have been able to utilise over the past few seasons as manager. Obviously with national team management you are a little restricted with regards to who you can select in your squad but I have had some excellent players over the past few years. 

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It would appear that the future of the Kenyan national side is in good hands, with three of the top five players being aged under 21.

One player who looks like a real star is 16 year old West Ham product David Kimani. The young holding midfielder looks as though he could develop into an iconic player and, given that he is at an English Premier League club, he has every chance at reaching his full potential. Duncan Mbugi is a young defender who has racked up 27 senior international caps aged just 18 and who is now attracting interest from European sides. Joseph Jackson Were is the young goalkeeper who looks set to be the countries number one for a very long time. 

There are a number of veteran players here who have served me very well. Central defenders David Ochieng and Brian Mandela both surpassed 70 international appearances on my watch whilst midfielders Ali Abondo and Humphrey Mieno both became regulars in the main squad. 

One of the most impressive new players was central defender Joseph Mwaniki

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The 20 year old has recently moved to Belgium where he will be looking to kickstart a probably European career. This guy was one of the first regens that I called up to the main squad and he quickly became a first choice for me in the centre of defence. This early introduction to the team has seen the youngster collect 43 senior appearances already and he has the potential to easily become of the most valuable players in Kenyan history. 

I also had the privilege of managing a dangerous forward in the form of targetman Michael Olunga

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The rangy 6'3" forward has been playing in China ever since I joined up with the Kenya squad but he has been an outstanding player within our tactical system. As you might recall, he became the countries all-time leading scorer during this save and now has a very impressive international strike rate of 60 goals in 80 appearances. He is solid in the air and loves a long range effort (he scored an absolute worldie in the World Cup) making him an all-round threat, especially when matched up with some of the weaker African nations. 

Then finally, I could not write this update without mentioning the enigmatic Victor Wanyama

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The holding midfielder left Tottenham quite early in this save and is now getting paid an absolute fortune to play over in China. He is by far and away the best player I have coached and easily the best that Kenya has ever produced. He is now one appearance away from becoming the most capped Kenyan of all-time and he has been a huge reason that we have done as well as we have over the past few years. He eventually will start to decline in terms of attributes but he easily has three or four more seasons left in him and it will be interesting to see how many caps he eventually finishes on. 

Final Thoughts:

I leave Kenya having had a really enjoyable few seasons with Kenya, ones where I have achieved a couple of historical accomplishments including a second round appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations and a first ever qualification for a World Cup finals. 

I have managed to improve the World Ranking of Kenya, taking them up to 64th at one point, the highest ever mark in their history. I have overseen the introduction of a few solid looking regens whilst also getting the opportunity to manage some truly quality players. 

I am not sure what the plan will be now regarding international management. I would love to try something else at some stage of this save, possibly on another continent, but for now I will play through some continental competitions with Mount Rich before seeing what is available. 

 

 

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Update 48: March 2023

Club: Mount Rich
Division: GFA Premier Division

Having recently resigned as manager of Kenya, I was free to focus on my early season continental commitments with Mount Rich. As you may recall, our victory in the North American League last year meant that we gained qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League whilst another domestic league title meant that we would once gain be playing in the CFU Club Championship. 

This update is going to look at the first of these competitions, the Champions League, and check out how our small, semi-professional side got on whilst mixing it with some of the big guns of Northern America. 

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TRANSFERS:

Before we get stuck into the main details of our Champions League journey, it is worth noting that we made a couple of moves in the transfer market over the course of the offseason. 

(Out)

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We allowed a trio of players to depart at the beginning of March, all joining sides in the TT Pro League of Trinidad & Tobago. 

The first two, Shavon Coutain and Shavon Leo were both youngsters who failed to make any first team appearances for the club, instead they spent the majority of their time away on loan. 

The final sale was a fairly big one in that it became the highest transfer fee received for Mount Rich, albeit it was for only £3.5k. Tatenda Amini, the 22 year old Zimbabwean fullback, joined the club on a free transfer back in 2019 as one of our first ever foreign players.

During his four year career he made 65 appearances whilst acting as a solid defender on the left flank. He never really fit the mould of attack-minded fullback that I wanted in my tactical system, eventually being usurped in the first eleven by Joel Alexander and then more recently by Marcus Mark., but he acted as a very solid player for a number of years. 

He leaves to join Club Sando in Trinidad & Tobago, for whom he recently made his full debut and he looks like he should be able to forge a career as a back-up/rotational player in a mire reputable league. 

(In)

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We only hired one player during this time, signing central defender Charlison Smeekes on a free transfer. 

I discovered the 19 year old a while ago when I came up against him in an international friendly with Kenya. The senior Curacao international was at a club then, but he recently became a free agent and I quickly jumped at the opportunity to sign him. He played for four seasons in the MCB First Division (top tier of Curacao) where he was a starting calibre player from the get go. 

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The 19 year old has already collected 15 senior international caps and has the physical tools required to be successful within the Grenadian league system. He has excellent strength and jumping reach to go along with solid pace. He has decent defensive technical skills but I am very impressed with his mental attributes, especially given his youthful age. 

Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League DETAILS:

There has been a lot of talk about this competition during the course of this save but this is the first time that I get to write about it in detail. It is the premier continental competition of North America and takes place every year with teams qualifying from the top domestic leagues of the area as well as through competitions such as the CFU Club Championship or North American League. 

The rules are fairly straightforward as the entire competition follows a knockout format with all ties, including the final, being played over a home and away leg. It is not a huge competition, with just 16 sides entering the First Round, meaning three aggregate victories will see you through to the final, with the winner receiving £380k and a ticket into the FIFA Club World Cup! 

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The First Round saw us handed a very tough looking draw as we get matched up with MLS side Houston Dynamo

This will likely be the best team that I have played this far with Mount Rich. They are obviously a professional side but were only formed back in 2006, making them one of the more newly established MLS sides. They got off to a fantastic start to life in the division, winning back to back MLS titles in 2006 and 2007 but since then they have not won any notable silverware. 

They have a very strong looking squad. Their best player is probably Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael but they also boast full American international midfielder Tyler Adams and Honduran attacker Romell Quioto, who has over 100 international appearances, amongst their ranks. Spanish midfielder Jordi Quintilla, who once was on the books of Barcelona, is another senior member of the squad whilst Mexican international attacker Erick Torres is their most valuable player, at £3.8m. 

Their home games are played at the 22,039 capacity BBVA Compass Stadium, which will be one of the biggest grounds that we have ever played at. 

Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League RESULTS:

All games in the Champions League are played over two legs, a home and away one. The first leg would be played in Grenada and, amazingly, we were allowed to host the game at our 700 capacity Plain Playing Fields stadium. 

Would our larger opponents find life difficult on a Wednesday night in the Caribbean?

Game 1. CONCACAF Champions League First Round (First Leg): vs Houston Dynamo (USA)

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They did not find it difficult at all. 

We actually gave a good account of ourselves, matching our much stronger opponents in terms of possession percentages but we struggled to create any clear cut chances against their very solid defensive unit. We conceded once in the first half, a towering header from Colombian forward Mauro Manotas, and once in the second half. 

There were not too many bright performances from ourselves but the best player for us was probably Alistair Rennie. The 19 year old ball-winner won seven tackles in the midfield area whilst also leading the side with 38 pass completed. Marc Walcott had a fairly solid outing in goal, making eight saves throughout the game. 

This was not a terrible performance by any means, and I knew we were always going to struggle to create scoring opportunities against a side of this calibre. That being said, we played fairly well defensively and limited our opponents to 10 shots on target but we would now head to Houston needing an absolute miracle in order to advance to the next round of this competition. 

Game 2. CONCACAF Champions League Second Round (First Leg): vs Houston Dynamo (USA)

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The second leg saw us travel to Houston, Texas where we played in front of a huge 20,941 capacity crowd. We were trailing following the first leg but we played excellently in this game, reverting back to our usual attacking-based tactic to ensure a thrilling contest ensued. 

We got off to the best possible start when, after just 27 seconds, Kyle Thomas rifled a fine, left-footed strike into the bottom corner. We won possession following the Houston kick-off and a long Alistair Rennie pass was collected by Emeca. The Equatorial Guinea forwarded squared an excellent pass that was met with a first time strike from Thomas, a goal that was our first ever in the Champions League! Then, just a minute later, we were almost two goals up when a long clearance from Marcus Mark fell into the path of Shaddai Sampson. The club captain raced through, one on one with the Houston goalkeeper, but he saw his tame effort palmed around the post. 

Houston grew into the game from that point, as was probably expected, and they grabbed an equaliser in the 19th minute when Mexican forward Erick Torres climbed above left fullback Mark to score with a header. We managed to make it into the break level and a famous result looked like it could be on the cards!

We almost grabbed another quick goal straight after the restart when Moukaram Abidjo flicked a header just over the bar following a Cassim Millette corner but ultimately we fell behind just after the hour mark after we failed to clear our lines properly. We showed some real character though, and were back on level terms when Thomas grabbed his second goal of the game. Joel Francois-Ravalier found Samson with an excellent angled pass, whilst the forward dragged a few defenders out wide with his run. He then chipped a neat pass into the path of an onrushing Thomas, with the young attacker then crashing home a nice right-footed finish. 

Once again though, we were unable to hold on and Houston grabbed a third goal soon after, when a poor piece of marking allowed an open, far post finish. We struggled to create much in the closing stages as our opponents reverted to a defensive shape, with the best chance falling to Sampson who could only find the side netting with a strike from a tight angle. 

Although we were defeated, this was a very entertaining game and one that I was very proud of. We shared possession pretty well and created a good number of chances against an opposition of a much higher calibre. Kyle Thomas had an excellent individual game and was actually named the Player of the Match whilst there were also pleasing performances from the fullback duo of Marcus Mark and Cassim Millette, who played a combined seven key passes in total.

Defeat here meant that we crashed out in the first round of the competition, losing 5-2 on aggregate. 

STANDINGS:

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Houston Dynamos actually ended up making it to the semi finals, with the stage actually being dominated by MLS opposition. The best non-American side were probably Chivas of Mexico but they were one of only two non-MLS teams who made it to the quarter finals. 

In the end, NY Red Bulls overcame Orlando City in the final to secure a first ever Champions League title. Puerto Rico FC, who defeated us in the CFU Club championship last season were also knocked out in the first round, losing to El Salvador side LA Firpo. 

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That being said, I am not quite sure how Puerto Rico FC were named as the competitions biggest overachievers... Houston Dynamos, who I thought had a pretty good tournament were somehow named as the biggest underachievers. 

The American dominance this season came as a bit of a shock given that an MLS side had never won the CONCACAF Champions League before. 

OTHER NEWS:

Not much us to report given the short length of time that we were actually a part of this competition. 

Records

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The one thing of note was that, for now anyways, Kyle Thomas will be a part of CONCACAF Champions League history. His goal in the second leg of our tie against Houston became a record for the fastest goal scored in a match. 

I am not sure how long this record will last but it is pretty fun to see a Mount Rich a part of the record books in such a prestigious competition. 

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So that brings to a close a, rather disappointingly, short update but one that saw my tiny, semi-professional Grenadian side get to compete with the big boys of North America on the biggest stage! 

I am never going to win this competition with Mount Rich, it would literally take me forever, but I have achieved a major aim just by qualifying. I am not too sure where to go from here? I think I might have one more crack at the CFU Club Championship, a competition that I have come very close to winning on a number of different occasions, before potentially looking at other opportunities. 

What do you guys think? What would you like to see next from James Yates?

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On 5 July 2018 at 23:32, himan said:

Well, if you start to be pro now? :brock: :P You never know.

Haha... I asked the board again after this continental tie but unfortunately they were once again not interested - citing the lack of financial funds and lack of reasoning to do so. 

I think it would take a few CONCACAF Champions League titles for them to actually consider. 

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