As we look back to the golden era of the Kenya National football team, the squad that played at the 1987 Fourth All African Games really stands out.
This particular team overcame low expectations (due to their lackluster appearances in international matches hitherto to the games) to reach the final match of the contest where they narrowly lost 0-1 to Egypt.
When it is all said and done, one can argue that this was one of best all-time squads that Kenya has ever put together.
Time seemed to have stopped for a whole month in August 1987 as we watched in awe as the team advanced from one stage to the next. Very few events have captured the attention of Kenyans like the way 4th All Africa Games football matches did, gluing them to their radios and TVs as Kenya’s great commentators dramatically narrated the action on the pitch.
1987 was also probably one of the most successful years for Kenya at club level that saw Gor Mahia win the African Cup Winners’ Cup over the Espérance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia (Note that the African Cup Winners’ Cup tournament was merged with CAF Cup in 2003 to form one tournament, the Confederations Cup).
It was therefore no mistake that Gor Mahia fielded 10 players for the national team at the All Africa Games.
Lineup for the 1987 4th All Africa Games
David “Kamoga” Ochieng’ (Gor Mahia) – Indisputably one of Gor Mahia’s and Kenya’s greatest goalkeepers, Ochieng’s reliability and discipline as a goalie showed through during the 4th All Africa Games. Kamoga was also very successful at club level having been part of Gor Mahia teams that won both league (1984,1985) and international club tournaments (CECAFA -1985, Continental Mandela Cup – 1987). In the discussion for Kenya’s greatest goalkeeper of all time, Kamoga’s name is always thrown in against that of Mohammed “Kenya One” Abbas.
Wycliff Anyangu (AFC Leopards) – At club level, Anyangu ably manned AFC’s defense line alongside fellow Harambee Stars teammate Mickey Weche. He is the father to Klinsmann Omulanga, the up-and-coming striker for Mathare United who was called up to the starting lineup in May 2018.
Hassan “Carlos” Mwakani Juma (AFC Leopards, Deceased) – Certainly AFC Leopards must have been secretly happy with the disbandment of Vocano United, as they gained a superb defender in Hassan Juma. Flashback to 1986, AFC had lost to Volcano United in an effort primarily led by Juma and were now glad to have Juma on their side.
Mickey “T9” Weche(AFC Leopards) – Great defender and also captain at the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations where he scored Kenya’s lone goal of the tournament. He went into coaching after retirement spending time in AFC’s technical bench and coaching at Strathmore University. Visit Weche’s official Facebook page.
Austin “Makamu” Oduor Origi (Gor Mahia) – Hailing from the high flying Origi family that has produced two generations of superb world-class football players, Austin was Captain for both Gor Mahia and Harambee Squads at various points of his career. Read this very detailed and well written biography about Oduor at gormahia.net.
**David Odhiambo (Gor Mahia) – For the life of us, we could not find information on David Odhiambo. (We could have this one wrong but our research points to a David Odhiambo in the starting lineup.) We are thankful to our Facebook readers for pointing out that indeed David Odhiambo was part of the team and went by the nickname “Morale” and played for ReUnion FC at club level.
Charles “Kabanze” Otieno (Gor Mahia, d. 1999) – Also nicknamed “Engine” after Gor Mahia coach Len Julians was quoted saying Otieno was the Engine of the team. Named one of the best midfielders to play for Gor Mahia. Otieno passed way months apart with another Harambee Stars member from AFC Leopards David Akoi.
Davies “Armando” Oyiela (AFC Leopards, d. 2012) – Arrived at AFC Leopards from disbanded Volcano United with teammates Hassan Juma and Nobert Anyira. He was also pivotal in helping the Harambee Stars qualify for the 1988 African Cup of Nations. As one of our Facebook followers noted Davies Oyiela was laid to rest near Luanda Railway station.
“Golden Boy” Ambrose Ayoyi (Scarlet) – The 4th All Africa Games were on the tail-end of the Kenya Football Hall of Famer’s career that had started in 1974. His last Harambee Stars’ assignment was in the 1988 African Cup of Nations.
Wilberforce “Maradona” Mulamba (AFC Leopards) – All-time lead scorer for the AFC Leopards.
— AFC Leopards SC (@AFCLeopards) February 19, 2017
George “Fundi” Onyango (Gor) – Also considered one of the best midfielders to ever play for Gor Mahia.
From the Bench
John “JB” Busolo (AFC Leopards) – Goalkeeper for Maziwa FC before proceeding to play for the AFC Leopards and Bandari FC. After playing in South Afrrica, Busolo relocated to the United States and settled in the Birmingham, Alabama area. This article by koderoh.wordpress.com probably is the most detailed biography of Busolo. As noted by one of our Facebook Followers, Busolo went back to Kenya about 5 years ago.
Abbas “Zamalek” Khamis Magongo (Gor Mahia, 1964-2003) – Beloved by many fans, Magongo was lured from Kenatco to play for K’Ogalo in 1983. Still recovering from a injury he played in only one game in the 4th All Africa Games (against Madagascar in the group stages). Visit Magongo’s memorial Facebook page to pay tribute to this Kenyan hero.
Bobby “The Six Million Dollar Man” Ogolla (Gor Mahia) – Bobby played only one game during the 4th All Africa games (infamous semi-final against Malawi that the lights went off and was settled by penalties) changing places with Mickey Weche. His nickname was due to his great football physique and strength. Bobby went on to a successful coaching career with stops at Gor Mahia, Sofapaka and City Stars among others. You cannot miss him now because of his snow-white head of hair. Read more about Bobby at gormahia.net
James Nandwa (KTM) – Joined KTM in 1983 and playing for them for 10 years before moving to play in Oman. After retirement, he successfully ascended the coaching ladder becoming head coach at the club level and for the national team.
George “Artillery” Odembo Nyangi (Gor Mahia) – At the 4th All Africa Games, Odembo scored the winning goal through a free-kick in the second half of the last group game (against Madagascar), having entered the game in the second half. Also scored lone winning goal for Gor Mahia over AFC Leopards during the 2nd leg of the 1989 Mashemeji Derby. The teams had drawn 1-1 in the first leg. After retirement relocated to the United States.
Sammy “Jogoo” Onyango (Gor Mahia, 1961-2002) – Corner kick specialist for his club and national team. Also a very dependable player for his club especially in clutch situations, Onyango scored the deciding and lone goal in seven separate 1-0 games over his career. Visit Onyango’s Wikipedia page.
Peter “Omuga” Dawo (Gor Mahia) – Dawo spent the 4th All Africa Games on the bench with Coach Reinhard Fabisch (1950-2008) preferring Ambrose Ayoyi and Sammy Onyango to start.
We must say that when we started researching for this article, we did not realize how excruciating it would be to find even the most basic of information on such a great group of heroes. We thought that the internet would be a treasure trove of information with many websites existing in adoration of this group of players that defied all odds and gave us an August to remember.
We were wrong.
It is sad to realize how fast our sports heroes disappear from the national limelight into obscurity, sometime accompanied by poverty and ill-health associated with the rigors of competitive sport.
Sports is the only career-line that reaching forty years seems a lofty goal for a retirement age. In most cases, in sports, you are an old man or woman at thirty five years of age.
With our sports heroes retiring so early (unlike politicians who sometimes undeservedly stay in the limelight right into old age and mostly due to their notoriety), it is easy for the public to forget these group of young men who transcended tribe or religion, captured our imagination, united us and boosted our national pride to great heights through what was undoubtedly the golden era of Kenya football.
At INFO254 we continue to salute these true sons of Kenya and in our own small way seek to immortalize their achievement on that fine August, thirty years ago.
- This article on kenyapage.net/ is probably the most detailed account of the triumph of this high achieving national squad.
- See scores and match-ups at the 4th All Africa Games at Wikipedia.
- View all international matches played in 1987 at rsssf.com. This website has a large database that provides soccer statistics for any tournament played under the sun, throughout the whole world!
- Veteran sport journalist Roy Gachuhi talks sports history in the video below.
Featured Image: Courtesy of www.sportsmemories.be