27/11/2005 seems a lot while back but surely not for the Ethiopians, not for CECAFA football lovers. Stade Amahoro Kigali, Defending Champions Ethiopia don’t just get the shock of a match, Uganda frustrate them to a goalless draw in what was the second match of the group B match day 1. As the story goes on- Ethiopia later finished second in the group behind Uganda and ahead of Sudan (What has now split to South Sudan and Sudan), Somalia and Djibouti.
Allow me now take you a little while back, 27th November 1982, in front of 30,000 plus fans, Kenya v Uganda Final in Kampala. Abbas the star of the show, two penalties saved in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, broken Ugandan hearts and an earnest celebration for Kenya. 24th November 1982, that’s three days before the actual final, Joe Masiga handles in the box, Zimbabwean Joel Shambo walks up to take the resultant spot kick- such is the confidence Abbas got, stands between the sticks and the kick fluffed right into his hands. It’s not just genius, it’s incredible- it’s belief.
One would ask, why all the above examples? It’s a reminder of the past, the moments that produced the magic for the sides.
So while yesterday, the two countries, many years later- to the exact dates (thank God for CECAFA’s timings, consistent) strode onto the pitch, all out to seek another CECAFA crown, more questions arose as to whether any of the sides would make it to the final judging on the opening display.
Ethiopia enjoying a huge chunk of possession, typical of their style of play (best shown during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers) sought to knock the ball around and try and get the ball over the line in crisp fashion while Kenya, for what is utterly unbelievable had not their coach on the touchline, the assistant barking orders from his marked area and for what I would call unbalanced, it was always going to be hard for Kenya to nick in a goal.
The ‘school of thought’ that the game is growing and the fans are back to the stadium surely didn’t help Kenya’s cause and as one Musonye would say ‘Kenyans love watching soccer in the bars’, you only wished he asked how a country that has flour prices at close to Ksh 200 would let off their office work for a 2PM/4PM kick off.
Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty- I would bet that best describes Kenya’s situation at the moment. Watching the Kenyan players get the ball over the final third, lots of uncertainty over the future of strikers in this country is out there for all to see.
From the days of a Mike Muiruri and Mike Baraza, the heroes of Ethiopia 2004, when an openly biased referee, out to please Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoud (who was also the owner of St George FC and the sponsor of that year’s edition of the CECAFA senior challenge Cup, actually renamed to Amoudi Senior Challenge Cup in his honour) made Kenya trail 2 nil before the two gentlemen popped up with two goals in the second half to the disbelief of the Ethiopian crowd, much so it needed a penalty shoot out to knock Kenya out of the competition- the striking standards have way fallen.
Faulting the backline would be of no use, sometimes it’s got to give, lucky we were, Boniface in his element made some decent saves albeit few. Tourneys are won by strikers; every time Kenya has won this tourney- it’s been critical, a striker does the work.
2 weeks or less from today, Kenya celebrates 50 years since we became a free country. That’s a long while, isn’t it?. 50 years ago, in this same country, Uganda beat Kenya to the CECAFA title (Uganda 5 points, Kenya 4 Points), surely we shouldn’t let this happen again. Dr Hassan Wario in his speech at the KPL awards reiterated the need for Kenya to finally make its citizens smile after a long wait on the pitch.
The pitch is where you and I would love to see the game played, but boy, NO! That doesn’t seem to be the case. So much scepticism surrounds us as is the case. A shambled up Technical Bench, a crop of players; thoroughly talented but not yet working together like a well-oiled machine- you can only wish this gets behind us as soon as the next match.
While Kenya hopes for the best in the second match- the essential and meaningful component of the search for the truth is forever here with us. Are we prepared as well as the competition demands, so many lost chances in the past- not more can be lost any more. Whether in front of goal or in signing a pay check that would relieve the pressure off the Technical bench, something has to be done.
50 years is such a long time, the next match is such a short time away- one more loss and down we go. Playing for survival in the final group match wouldn’t be of pride at all. Shall we sit back and watch? Like our pride; secured and brought back safe in the name of independence, The CECAFA CUP, must be fought for; every single tackle, with absolute precision, every pass true to the cause and every goal, bang on (extremely British) for Glory!