It was to be a clash of monumental proportions, a decisive tie for Kenya but the show never happened. Well for those of us who braved the scorching sun to make our way into the stadium, lots of disappointment and unmet expectations.
The Ugandans had promised to come in their bus loads and they did. By last count there were twenty 49-seater buses with more minibuses (some parked in town due to heavy traffic on Uhuru Highway) and numerous personal vehicles. Oh by the way it was Independence Day today and maybe that’s why they should up in their numbers.
They said that it was the 12th man who would make victory ours. That we did and the droves of fans had streamed in from 10 a.m. As we made our way into the stadium, some not interesting sights of Kenyans ‘cutting queues’ and security hired for the day (G4S...Ponyoka na $$$) and regular police kept allowing impatient & irritating guys who almost faced the wrath of fans who filed along well.
Onto the game and our boys looked a bit rusty and the Ugandans looked more technically able. They kept our defence on the back seat for the first 15min with good use of the flanks. We took time to get the game back and Mariga started lording it over the midfield but most of the other players around him kept waiting for him to make his move.
The best chance of the 1st half was the dead ball situation which Mariga cut down through the wall but straight into the hands of the able goalkeeper who plays for SuperSport in South Africa. Much of the action in the first half was not all that to write home about.
2nd half and the game Kenyans had gone to watch almost came to pass. With Mariga now making some nice exchanges with the rest of the players in the mould of Edgar Ochieng, Victor Mugabe and Dennis Oliech.The worst bit was the fact that we didn’t quite utilize those chances. Another deadball situation and Mariga’s kick hit the post again.
Mid-way into the 2nd half and the Ugandas were back to their flanks and the right one looked like their favourite side. They saw more of the ball and they seemed content to cross them past our goal mouth. By the 80th minute, it looked like ours was a lost cause.
Man of the Match : Without a doubt, MacDonald Mariga - we qualify him as our captain, not because he is playing Inter or Europe but he has the calmness and ability to make the other players dig themselves in.
- Fans did come in their numbers without a doubt and the stadium was almost filled to capacity.
- Ticketing was almost on point - no need of walking to the gates & monies collection points
- Ban of bottled substances – we know what is usually in the bottles is not the stuff meant to be in those bottles. They also serve as missiles when fans when they get discontented with play on the field.
- Fair security – Fair because their presence kept the crowd in check
- Weather – beyond our control but yes it was nice to have the sun shining on our brows
- The fans who were to be the 12th man at times kept mum only coming back when the Ugandans cheered along their team. We don’t seem to have a song or chant that unites the fans and no those political songs are so 2007. We should hire the rugby crowd next time.
- Shall we see reciprocity of sorts from our Kenyan politicians and businessmen? The Ugandans travelled in true sports fans passion and their presence strengthened their team. Mike ‘Sonko’ , Mr. PM anyone?
- Ticketing – while they insisted on not selling tickets at the venue, no arrangements were made for the visiting team fans. Even the VIP ones were totally sold out and the spaces filled out – disappointing if you paid that slight amount for money.
- Lack of merchandise – The flags and wraps were good but since we don’t usually know the national colours worn at any particular time, we can’t stock up on the team shirts.
- Security – Meant to help maintain law and order, they also were the part of the loopholes of people coming in without tickets. We counted over 10 people who ‘sneaked in’ even after we alerted them.
- Parking- If the stadium is to maintain its international status; the Stadia Management Board must find some better space of parking for fans. International standards demand that only team vehicles, ambulances and fire engines and security vehicles should be anywhere close to the ground. Seeing the loads of buses too close to the stadium was a major concern. Thank God the score was as it was, Lord have mercy had Uganda won the game.
- Technical expertise – the technical bench at times looked like they were waiting for reactions from the fans. Still on the same, please get a new captain, the current one didn’t seem to rally the players up even when the game was getting out of reach.
- TV/Media Rights - the circus is truly NOT out of town when it comes to Football Kenya Limited and on Saturday they ensured that no media house screened the game thanks to the greed in selling the media rights. Our own media houses are not without blame for imagining that they can wait till the last minute to make a compromise bid. We hope both parties learned and moreso the Football Kenya who's term is really living on borrowed time.