Football History in Kenya

Football History in Kenya

Football was introduced in Kenya at the beginning of the 20th century by British settlers. Kenyans naturally took to the sport due to the simplicity of its nature. In the 1940s and 50s, The Kenya national team competed in what was then known as the Gossage cup that pitted the three East African countries. Among the stalwarts from that era were Shem Chimoto, Elijah Lidonde and Peter Oronge. Club teams competed in the Remmington Cup organised by Kenya’s then supreme soccer body the Football Association (FA). Teams from Caost Province in Particular Mwenge and Feisal, dominated the local scene, producing classy players like Kadir Farah, Ahmed Breik, Ali Sungura and Ali Kadjo.


In 1960, the Kenya Football Federation was formed to govern Football in the country. Later the Confederation of East and central African countries was formed to organize regional tournaments.

The 1960s saw the formation of some of the most popular clubs today. Abaluhya (now AFC Leopards), Luo United ( Now Re-union) , Nakuru All stars and Feisal of Mombasa were among the most popular club teams in the early 60s. The late sixties saw the formation of Gor Mahia ,Maragoli FC, and Ramogi FC ( now Lake warriors). Abaluhya represented the majority of football fans from the Luhya tribe. Luo United was the brainchild of the Oginga Odinga and represented members of the Luo tribe from what was the North Nyanza district. Gor Mahia , whose founder members included Tom Mboya represented Luos from what was then South Nyanza district. Maragoli FC represented members of the Maragoli community, a sub tribe of the Luhya. Ramogi FC represented the large Luo community then residing in Mombasa. The tribal element in soccer added to the excitement, tension and rivalry in the local scene. A player crossing to a rival team would be risking death. Notable players from that era include Joe Kadenge, James Sianga, Peter Ouma , Nocodemus Arudhi, Chris Obure and Fred Siranga. Nakuru All stars won the inaugural Kenya National football league in 1963. Luo Union won the second season in 1964 and capped a glorious season by beating The Ethiopian national team which was then the African Nations cup champions.


Kenya first made their appearance in the Nations Cup finals in Cameroon in 1972 – and were unlucky not to qualify for the semi-finals. In the tournament’s opening match, Kenya were pitted against the hosts, the Indomitable Lions, who edged them out 2-1. Harambee Stars drew the first blood when player-coach Jonathan Niva slotted home a first half spot-kick. But the Cameroonians, cheered on by their home crowd, fought back more strongly in the second half to win 2-1. Harambee Stars then drew their subsequent matches against Togo (1-1) and Mali (1-1). But their chances of making it to the last four took a nose-dive when Mali held hosts Cameroon to a goalless draw. Leading by example, Niva scored two of three goals Kenya registered – one against Cameroon and another against Togo. The third one was netted by midfielder Jackson Aluko against Mali. After the Cameroon tournament, the CAF selectors named an All-African squad from the competing teams for a special match against the then World Cup champions, Brazil. Kenya, despite being eliminated in the quarter-finals, provided one of the players – Livingstone Madegwa. However, owing to the breakdown in communication, the talented ace striker missed out.


Kenya Breweries made history in 1973 when they became the first Kenyan side to reach the Semi finals of a continenetal event. They reached the Semi Finals of the Champions cup, beating Ismailia of Egypt in the quarters. In 1975, Kenya won the East and Central Africa challenge cup (CECAFA Cup) for the first time ever. The arrival of German coach Bernard Zgoll in th early severties heraldes a new era in kenyan Football. Besides coaching the national team succesfully, Zgoll set up a series of national youth development centres all over the country. These centres produced several excellent players among them Sammy Owino Kempes, Dick Anyanga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Sammy Taabu, Sammy Onyango and Jared Ingutia just to mention a few.

1978 was the year when Kenya Brewries captured the imagination of Football fans countrywide. That year they won the league comfortably with a star studded line up that included Elly Adero, Binz Mwakolo, Livingstone Madegwa, James Tiema and goalkeeper Mohammed Magogo, one of Kenya’s best ever keepers.


In 1979, Gor mahia made history by becoming the first team from East and Central Africa to reach the finals of a continental event when the reached the Finals of the cup winners cup, eleiminating the much fancied defending champions, Horoya in the semi finals. It was the best team ever assebled by a Kenyan club at the time, with quality players at each position. The defence was marshalled by Bobby Ogolla and included Otieno Bassanga, Oduwo “cobra” and Austin Oduor. Allan Thigo quite possibly the best playmaker in Kenyas history controlled the midfield, ably assisted by Sammy Owino Kempes and Tim Ayieko. Schoolboy, wonderboy Nashon Oluoch “Lule” and Goerge Yoga played on the wings supporting centre forward Andrew Obunga.


Between 1981 and 1983, Kenya won three succesive CECAFA cup titles. That stellar team included among others Mahmoud Abbass in goal, Bobby Ogolla and Josephat Murila marshalled the watertight defence, Jared Ingutia and Wilberforce Mulamba Were pivotal in attack while Joe Masiga and Ambrose Ayoyi formed a formidable strikeforce. In 1981, Kenya beat hosts Tanzania 1-0 thanks to a freekick by James Ouma “jacaranda ” to win the first of three successive regional diadems. The following year, Mahmoud Abbass gave a spectacular display of penalty saving to help Kenya beat Uganda in the final played in Kampala’s Nakivubo stadium. In 1983, the tournament was held in Nairobi at the newly constructed Nyayo stadium. The home team did not disappoint there fans winning all games en-route to the title. Ambrose Ayoyi was the top scorer in that tournament earning himself the nickname “golden boy”.


Posted on June 5, 2012, in Categorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: