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Giants make last-ditch bid for glory

PARIS, February 17 – Italian giants Juventus will take a stab at European glory for the second time this season when they meet Dutch heavyweights Ajax in the first-leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday.

The last 32 clash is a rematch of the 1996 Champions League final, which saw the Italian club triumph over then holders Ajax in a penalty shootout 4-2 after it finished 1-1 at the end of normal time.

With the Amsterdam side nine points off league leaders PSV Eindhoven and Juventus trailing first-placed Inter Milan by 16 points, the Europa League represents their last chance at winning a major title in 2010.

Juve’s French midfielder Jonathan Zebina conceded that another Serie A title is out of the club’s reach but that his team would give their all to win the trophy.

"We have to continue now as the season is still long and there are objectives. It might not be the Scudetto, but it won’t be bad if we win the Europa League," Zebina told the official Juventus website.

But Ajax’s Danish starlet Christian Eriksen believes his side can pile on the woes for The Old Lady, who sacked coach Ciro Ferrara just over two weeks ago.

"Juventus are in bit of a crisis," the 18-year-old playmaker said.

"I hope we can win at home. We must now seize our opportunity. I think we can pull off an upset."

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Juventus feature in this rebranded successor to the UEFA Cup after crashing out of the Champions League earlier this season, while Ajax failed to even qualify for Europe’s elite competition after finishing third in the championship.

A place in the Europa League is the consolation prize awarded to clubs that finish third in their Champions League qualifying groups.

Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool was one of those sides and his team will bid to turn around their ailing season when Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni – coached by former Romania and Chelsea star defender Dan Petrescu – visit Anfield on Thursday.

The Reds have been knocked out of both of England’s domestic cups and are behind Premier League leaders Chelsea by 14 points.

"Clearly I would prefer to be fighting for the title or for the Champions League but you must accept the situation," said the Liverpool manager.

"But you have to be positive and turn things in your favour…we have got to keep progressing in the Europa League and aim to finish as high as we can in the Premier League."

Although striker Fernando Torres is still out injured, Benitez is expected to field his strongest possible side on Thursday in the club’s last-ditch bid to win some silverware this season.

The tournament include eight Champions League drop-outs including German titleholders Wolfsburg and Ajax’s bitter domestic rivals PSV Eindhoven.

Hamburg’s new signing, Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, will be looking to open his European account on Thursday when the German side play PSV, where he plyed his trade before his big money move to Manchester United in 2001.

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But the 33-year-old, who arrived from Real Madrid during the January transfer window, has no intention of granting any favours to the team that launched his career.

"It’s the sort of coincidence only football can bring about, but those who know me know I don’t live in the past," said van Nistelrooy.

In the pick of Thursday’s other games, Roy Hodgson’s Fulham meet Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk – who can claim to be the defending champions as they won the last ever UEFA Cup last year – at home while former England coach Steve McClaren sees his high-flying FC Twente side welcome Germany’s Werder Bremen, who were beaten by Shakhtar in the 2009 final.

Spain’s Atletico Madrid will play Turkish giants Galatasaray at home, while Hertha Berlin play Portugal’s Benefica.



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  2. Sam

    April 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Thanks CS for an excellent rebuttal.You are always so thorough in your work and we sincerely believe you and know that you will take this country places. Anyway my point of concern is that it is too early in our development process to talk about huge wage bill in civil service since we are not there yet. As we move to the next phase of our development process, there is need to produce more to support the development process. Look at history especially the countries that have developed and see the trend in their wage bill. Comparing Kenya to Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana is comletely missing the point. My sincere believe as an Economist who is well versed in development issues is that we need to improve our productivity levels and redploy where necesary to areas where there are shortages and with high impact on development. Kenya can generate more revenue from taxes and other sources that can support the wage bill and development projects. let us come up with innovative ideas to grow the economy, create wealth and jobs to our people. Opportunities exist in various areas including PPPs, agriculture, service industry, manufacturing, jua kali, SMEs and value addtion activities, among others. Retrenchment will have far more adverse repercusions on the economy. Huge potential to the grow the economy is there so let us think outside the box and take advantage of available opportunities including encouring our people to establish businesses in the country and the region. But how can they do it when interest rates are high, taxes are unbelievable, electricity is costly and inadequate,i.e, local environment is not conducive

    • steve

      April 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

      My concern is that the top government officials make pronouncements which are not based on any scientific research but from reports made by some “consultants”. They should establish the structure of the economy and the way it relates to the wage bill. The government should have a vision of the country and map out on how it wants country to get there. The government should simply think outside the box and expand the economy.

  3. steve

    April 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

    My concern is that the top government officials make pronouncements
    which are not based on any scientific research but from reports made by
    some “consultants”. They should establish the structure of the economy
    and the way it relates to the wage bill. The government should have a
    vision of the country and map out on how it wants country to get there.
    The government should simply think outside the box and expand the

  4. steve

    April 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    The statement by the CS is trying to skirt around some facts. There are a number of questions which need to be addressed. How much domestic revenue was collected from taxes and other sources including A-in-A from state corporations 2012/13? What was the recurrent and total expenditures including those in state corporations? How much was paid to public servants in salaries and wages including those in state corporations? The answer to those questions will give us the actual public wage bill for Kenya.


    April 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I have read this article and Ndii appears to be right, sounds like latin mass and obfuscation.
    First, what is the total wage bill of the central government? and what is the central government’s total revenue? From this we can tell for ourselves what the ratio of central government wage bill to central government revenue is.
    Second, what is the consolidated public wage bill and what is the consolidated goverment revenue?
    The ratios are easy to compute, give us the actual numbers.

  6. Sam

    April 9, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thanks all. It seems the CS and her highly trained and exposed technocrats are keen to drag us back with retrogressive policies which will reverse the gains already made rather than taking us foward to the next level. Believe me not, Mr. David Ndii is very right and to say that the public wage bill is unsustainablly too much thereby calling for drastic measures including retrenchment and countrywide consultations on how to address it is not only awful but reckless and unbelievable at this stage of our development. Can the Government pull all efforts to grow the economy, address corruption, increase revenue collection, attract more FDI, create jobs and wealth to the hardworking Kenyans and millions of jobless youths. Radical shift and policy changes are needed to create an enabling environment and policy framework to grow this economy. Innovative approaches are needed to raise development revenue and expand the economy not thru simplistic approaches being propagated by the CS and the GoK. I

  7. Paul Macharia

    September 1, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Even after reading the rebuttal by the cabinet Secretary, I still concur with David Ndii. The problem is not with the wage bill, but with consumption. The government pays way more for goods and services procured due to corruption and wastage!

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