On Sunday evening, SportPesa hosted a dinner in honour of the Everton team who had played against Kenyan team Kariobangi Sharks at the Kasarani Stadium.
Among those attending the event was Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sport, Culture and Heritage Amina Mohamed who said she was “delighted to meet the Everton FC leadership and First Team”.
Following Sunday’s game, Everton manager Marco Silva said he believes the highly-competitive nature of the game provided an ideal platform for his side to build on during pre-season.
Everton drew 1-1 with the Sharks before being edged out on in a penalty shootout by the African side in front of a passionate 64,829 crowd who saw Kariobangi take a first-half lead through Duke Abuya. Blues’ boss Silva praised the Kenyan fans for the electic atmosphere created inside the stadium.
Joe Williams’ smart free-kick levelled the scores seven minutes after the break and, with the scoreline remaining unchanged until the final whistle, the game went to a penalty shootout.
Nathan Broadhead, Josh Bowler and Fraser Hornby all made no mistake from the spot, but Kariobangi stopper Brian Bwire was to prove the hero, saving from Williams and Dennis Adeniran, before rifling in the winning kick.
A total of 22 travelling Everton players were on the pitch during the game, with Theo Walcott, Morgan Schneiderlin, Andre Gomes, Tom Davies and Leighton Baines among those who completed the first 45 minutes. Ademola Lookman was taken off early in the first half after suffering a twisted ankle, but the injury is not thought to be serious.
Everton boss Silva said he believes the keenly-contested clash will boost his players’ fitness levels and sharpness.
“The most important thing for us was that it was a competitive game,” he said.
“It was a first pre-season match for us, and it was good environment to play in.
“We tried to give 45 minutes to all of our players. Unfortunately for us, Ademola had an injury in the first half. It was the only bad thing of the match.
“The game was everything we expected. It was the first time they played against a Premier League team, and they played a good game.
“The atmosphere was very good.
“It [the atmosphere] gave the opposition high motivation to play, which was good for us, too.
“Coming here and creating a strong relationship with the African supporters is very important for our club.
“We enjoyed it a lot.”