Kenya Harambee Stars at the 4th All Africa games

In August 1987, Kenya put up what is probably their best ever performance in a continental event. Now before anyone dismisses the All Africa games, you should know that in those days, the All African games featured full strength teams unlike today when they feature U-23 players. Kenya was in group A along with Cameroon, Tunisia and Madagascar. Group B had Egypt, Cote’d Ivoire, Senegal and Malawi. Cameroun featured several stars who would later make waves at the 1990 world cup:  Benjamin Massing, Jean Claude Pagal, Cyrille Makanaky, Andre Kana Biyik, Jacque Songoo, Charles Ntamark and Bertin Ebwelle among others.


The 1987 edition of Harambee stars was perhaps the best ever
Backrow: John Busolo, George Odembo, Austin Oduor, Ambrose Ayoyi, Sammy Onyango, Davis Oyiela Charles Otieno, George Onyango Fundi, Peter Dawo, Wilberforce Mulamba
Frontrow: Mickey Weche, James Nandwa, David Odhiambo, Wycliff Anyangu, David Ochieng, Hassan Juma

 

 

Not much was expected from team Kenya. Even though Kenya had done extremely well in the regional CECAFA challenge cup during the 1980s, most fans realized that the 4th All Africa games would be a completely different proposition given the quality of the opposition. Not much was known about the new coach, Reinhard Fabisch. And his performance so far was far from impressive. Kenya had just finished losing 7-1 aggregate to Egypt in an Olympic qualifier while playing under Coach Fabisch. However a month earlier, the Kenya national team had gone to Germany for training. There they stayed for a month and played 10 friendly matches against second and third tier German sides. The training camp built cohesion and Kenya’s play dramatically improved.

Kenya started off against Tunisia. Fans Nyayo stadium were tense, not knowing what to expect from either Tunisia or Harambee stars. When the lineup was read, fans were baffled. Why was Mickey Weche playing in central defence instead of his usual full back position. And why were Harambee stars playing with 2 wingers and no central striker ? Amid tense moments, Kenya gave a good account of themselves. At half time the score was 0-0. In the second half, Sammy Onyango “Jogoo” sent one of his trademark pinpoint crosses which Ambrose Ayoyi “Golden Boy” finished with a glorious diving header. Kenya won 1-0 and fans were finally believers.

In the second match, Kenya came up against the mighty Cameroun. This is the same Cameroun that had won the Africa nations cup only 3 years earlier in glorious fashion and almost won again 2 years later. The same Cameroun that when they toured Kenya for a friendly in 1984, easily beat the hosts 3-1. Then Captain Theophile Abega said “Kenya have a long way to go in football”. Kenyans expected another beating. But they were surpised when Ambrose Ayoyi  showed why he was nicknamed “the golden boy” when he scored the match opener yet again and Kenya were  up 1-0. But Cameroun came back storming to score 3 straight goals. Kenya seemed destined to lose. However they came back storming and scored 2 late goals to tie the game. The final score in this thriller was 3-3.


The Cameroon team at the 4th All Africa games


Powerful central defender Emmanuel Kunde is pursued by George Onyango Fundi

 


Winger James Nandwa leaps of Cameroun keeper Jacque Songoo

The final group match was against Madagascar. As usual, President Moi who was very popular at the time, was present with many from his cabinet. Wilberforce Mulamba scored the opening goal. Madagascar equalized midway through the second half. Kenya could have qualified even with a draw but the large crowd including the President and his cabinet wanted a winning goal. Fabisch introduced George Odembo “Nyangi” in the second half and Kenya were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box. Madagascar soon found out why Odembo was nicknamed “artillery” by fans as he blasted a crashing free-kick through the Madagascar defensive wall and into the net for Kenya’s second goal. Kenya went into the semis in grand style. In the other group, Malawi shocked all by beating Egypt to top the group. Angry Egyptian players sobbed openly as they thought they had been eliminated. Others like Hany Ramzy took their anger out on Nyayo stadium by smashing windows in the dressing room. However Games organizers threatened to disqualify Egypt if they did not pay.

The final group match was against Madagascar. As usual, President Moi who was very popular at the time, was present with many from his cabinet. Wilberforce Mulamba scored the opening goal. Madagascar equalized midway through the second half. Kenya could have qualified even with a draw but the large crowd including the President and his cabinet wanted a winning goal. Fabisch introduced George Odembo “Nyangi” in the second half and Kenya were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box. Madagascar soon found out why Odembo was nicknamed “artillery” by fans as he blasted a crashing free-kick through the Madagascar defensive wall and into the net for Kenya’s second goal. Kenya went into the semis in grand style. In the other group, Malawi shocked all by beating Egypt to top the group. Angry Egyptian players sobbed openly as they thought they had been eliminated. Others like Hany Ramzy took their anger out on Nyayo stadium by smashing windows in the dressing room. However the result of the other group game worked in the Egyptians favour and they scraped into the semis. Games organizers threatened to disqualify Egypt if they did not pay for the damage they caused.

In the semis, Kenya faced Malawi only a day after they had played their last group game. The match was played under floodlights. The fatigue was evident as Malawi who had plenty of rest were clearly outplaying the Kenyans. Suddenly the floodlights at Nyayo stadium stopped working. Was it a power outage ? After all power outages have always been common in Kenya right ? Or did they switch off the lights to save Kenya from imminent defeat ? Your guess is as good as mine. In any case the game was replayed the next day and with Kenya getting an extra day of rest, they matched the Malawians and won on penalties 3-2 with Sammy Onyango, George Onyango “Fundi” and Austin Oduor slotting Kenya’s penalties. The other semi was also decided on penalties and Egypt beat Cameroun


Austin Oduor scored the winning penalty on this day


This Malawi team gave Kenya and other teams a torrid time
Standing Charles Phiri,Kennedy Malunga,Holman Malunga,Donex Gondwe,Felix Nyirongo,Henry Chikonja, Young Chimodzi .
Squatting Peterkins Kayira,Lawrence Waya,Peterkins Nkunga.
Image courtesy of Malawi hall of fame

 

In the final Kenya played well and battled the Egyptians tooth and nail. However they  lost 0-1. The goal Egypt scored was debatable as it was scored from a seemingly offside position. Replays seemed to confirm this, the Egyptian striker was left all alone against goalkeeper David Ochieng with no defender in sight. As a side note, before the game, President Moi ordered all the gates open so fans could get in for free. The stadium had close to 120,000 fans that day, twice its capacity. Its a wonder the stadium did not collapse. Thank goodness for sturdy Chinese construction.


Captain Bobby Ogolla introduced the players introduced to the president before the match. From left: James Nandwa, Mickey Weche, David Odhiambo, David Ochieng, Sammy Onyango, Ambrose Ayoyi

 


Harambee stars line up before the final. From Left: David Odhiambo, Hassan Juma, Sammy Onyango, Charles Otieno, Ambrose Ayoyi

Kenya gave its best ever performance at the 4th All African games. Its fair to say that Kenya was at its peak. Other players who played key roles in this campaign included the overlapping left back Hassan Juma. To this day, many think he is the best left back ever to play for Kenya. There was Bobby Ogolla and Austin Oduor “Makamu in central defence, David Odhiambo and Charles Otieno in midfield along with Mulamba and George Onyango “Fundi”. And of course Sammy Onyango and Ambrose Ayoyi. They beat Tunisia and finished ahead of Cote’d Ivoire and Senegal, each of whom failed to make the semis. However these countries put in place structures that allowed them to ascend to the top of African football and even qualify for the world cup. Kenya on the other hand has lagged behind and even regressed. The difference is having officials who are patriotic, committed to the cause and intelligent enough to come up with ideas on how to lift the game. Kenya is unfortunate to be led by officials who are greedy, corrupt, self serving or flat out clueless.

Kenya on the other hand has lagged behind and even regressed. The difference is having officials who are patriotic, committed to the cause and intelligent enough to come up with ideas on how to lift the game. Kenya is unfortunate to be led by officials who are greedy, corrupt, self serving or flat out clueless.

It is worth noting that Kenya has never participated in All African games qualifiers much less played in the games. Kenya does not even have regular U-23 or U-17 or U-21 sides. This is largely due to official incompetence. One is left wondering why these clowns fight so hard to become KFF officials. Malawi too were very strong in the 1980s. At ANC 1984, they tied the Green Eagles of Nigeria (as they were known back then) 2-2. Malawian players like Clifton Msiya, the Waya bros, Jonathan Billie, Stock Dandize, Young Chiemodzie among others made waves all over Africa.

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6 Responses to Kenya Harambee Stars at the 4th All Africa games

  1. Martoe says:

    Thanx for the info. Just debating jana with a soccer fan who was nick named golden boy and artillery. Now we jua better. Thanx again.

  2. Andrew says:

    Point of correction: Kenya’s first game against Tunisia was played at the Moi International Sports Complex, Kasarani and not Nyayo stadium as narrated above. Otherwise thanks for the information.

  3. Ndere says:

    I don’t remember of David Odhiambo in midfield as of 87, Fundi Onyango also didn’t break into the team until after 1987 correct me if I am wrong I thought the team was as follows David Ochieng, Wycliffe Anyangu , Austin Oduor, Bobby Ogolla,Hassan Juma, Sammy Onyango Jogoo, George Nyangi Odembo, Abbas Khamis Magongo,Ambrose Ayoyi, Wilmberforce Mulamba, William Obwaka, With Davies Oyiela, Musuku,Zangi Okello coming in and out of the team.

  4. Ndere above is right but a notable omission in his line up is James Nandwa who was surprisingly Fabisch’s preferred choice upfront to Africa’s top striker at the time Peter Dawo.

    • Thomas oluoch says:

      i think Shabic is right David Odhiambo of Re -Union FC was a popular choice in Midfield for the late Fabisch.Key players for the AAG 1987 were.1.David Ochieng2.Wycliffe Anyangu3.Hassan Juma.4.Mickey Weche(Bobby Ogolla played only one match against Malawi,the one we switched off the…you know)5.Austin Oduor 6.Charles Otieno.7.Ambrose Ayoyi.8 David Odhiambo 9.Wilberforce Mulamba 10.George Onyango 11.Sammy Onyango Others in & out in the tournament were James Nandwa,George Nyangi & Abbas Magongo(who was not 100% fit due to injury and played only one game against Madagascar,and boy did he play in that midfield!)

    • Thomas oluoch says:

      Shabik,interesting recollection,i am nostalgic of that generations footballers,the best we ever had.However the in the Kenya -Cameroon game we did not trail 1:3 at any time .Ayoyi scored(1:0)Cameroon equalized(1:1) Bertin Olle Olle then scored(1:2) Mickey Weche scored(2:2)Wilberfoce Mulamba scored(3:2) finally Olle Olle scored the equalizer again(3:3)what a game it was!