Harambee Stars 1993-2003

Harambee Stars would redeem their image in 1993 when they didn’t lose a single match both in the AFCON qualifiers and friendly matches. Even though Dr Congo qualified for AFCON tourney, it was their superior goal difference that secured their fate. Infact Stars had beaten them In Kinshasa. According to the FIFA rankings the team was placed in the 72nd position. The current 117th position is indeed a far cry as to where we were 20 years ago. A perfect shot that was to celebrate the country’s 30th anniversary. Gor would win the league title, and Breweries the Moi Golden Cup. Mike Okoth would become the first Kenyan player to ply his trade with European league in the Belgian jupiter league.

After failing to qualify for the 1994 AFCON finals that were staged in Tunisia, Stars and the KFF fell into further trouble when they pulled out from hosting the 1996 event. As a punishment Kenya teams wouldn’t participate in any CAF events in 1995. Gor Mahia would be eliminated by Zamalek in the second round of the CAF champions league while leopards were eliminated via the away goal rule by Angola’s Premerio Di’ Maio in the quarter final stage. However leopards complained bitterly to CAF concerning the maltreatment meted to them when they arrived in Angola. Here are some of the allegations.

The late coach Reuben Malola claimed leopards was denied at least three clear penalties after Premiero players handled the ball in the box but the ref waved play on. The match started on a pacy note and leopards should have gone ahead in the 3rd minute but a premiero defender handled the ball in the penalty and the ref ignored. Technicaly the match it was a good game and leopards frustrated the hosts pinning them in to their own half most of the time. 

Premiero finally breached leopards defence in the 35th minute and scored a seemingly offside goal. Five minutes after the goal leopards in bid to equalize, another of premiero defender handled the ball but surprisingly the ref waved play on. Keeper Joe Mwangale had an outstanding game for leopards and kept the team in the game. Upon arrival, they were made to stay in the airport for a good four hours before they were transported to their hotel at about 10:00pm Kenyan time. 

To the team’s dismay they were made to sleep in a dormitory-looking like hostel which had no proper sanitation and unfit food. The following day the team took a plane to Luanda to Benguela. However they were detained in the plane for two hours before they took and arrived in Benguela the match venue at 11:45 AM. The match kicked off at 3 PM. With this ordeals, leopards although they gave a good account of themselves and once more endured the wrath of the referee, finaly were robbed what seemed to be their pathway towards clinching the CAF Cup. 

Kenya Breweries who had terrific run in the Mandela Cup, would painfully let go of the trophy at home when needing a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw would be enough to see them clinch the title following their 2-2 draw in Kinshasa against Motema Pembe.Instead the team collapsed and were beaten 3-0 before the unbelieving 30,000fans who had thronged the Nyayo stadium to witness the second time a Kenyan team would win a continental title it wasn’t to be. 

Probably complacency and a feeling that the trophy was already secured did much to damage Breweries hopes of winning the trophy. Did they have a proper game plan against their opponents who on that fateful day had everything going for them? Their league winning feat after sixteen years was a minor consolation. 

Focusing their energy in the 1995 CECAFA Club cup, Breweries were eventually eliminated in the semi-final stage by Uganda’s Express red eagles.Harambee Stars would also be tossed out in the semi stage by yet the Ugandans the Kobs. Gor would win the league title and Rivatex the Moi Golden Cup a similar scenario as it was five years back.  

Earning a reprieve by CAF, Stars were allowed to feature in the AFCON and world cup qualifiers. Faced with the dreaded Algerians, Stars would upset the North Africans. The flippant attitude by Coach Ali Fergani who had captained his side during the 1982 event, certainly spurred the stars when he remarked their was no soccer in East Africa but only track and field events. 

When he failed to lead the desert warriors past stars he was duly sacked and banned from coaching any team for a period of three years. This famous win enabled stars to qualify for World Cup qualifiers proper and was also invited to participate in the Simba four nation’s tourney in South Africa. However the team performed dismally since they lost all their three matches to hosts South Africa, Ghana and Australia. A lose to Namibia during the AFCON qualifiers in Windhoek, meant Vojo Gardesavic who was a hero some months back was relieved his duties. 

The late Reinhardt Fabisch would assume the reigns for the second time. H e was the man who had led the stars in their 1988 AFCON qualifiers and also secured a silver medal for stars in 1987 4th all African games. When stars lost to Guinea in their first world cup qualifier, he wasn’t impressed and secretly he was planning to eliminate almost the entire team.

After featuring for the CECAFA Cup, Fabisch was so much impressed with the Sudan B side that featured the under18, 21 and 23 side. He set about to overhaul the stars and replaced them with the youth team.Musa Otieno and Francis Onyiso were spared the axe .Later Vincent Kwarula and Mike Okoth were recalled. Breweries would be the first team to win the inaugural Kenya premier league and also supplemented that win by reaching the semi-final stage of the CAF Cup. 

Reasserting it’s dominance in the CECAFA Club cup,AFC Leopards the best-assembled squad in the 1997 season won the tourney for the fifth season by beating Kenya Breweries in an-all Kenyan final. Albeit the bright start, with the team harboring ambitions of clinching CAF Cup. League title and the Moi Golden Cup. However the KCC from both Uganda and Kenya ensured the leopards dream would quickly turn into a nightmare. 

Fist it was Uganda’s KCC that eliminated leopards in the CAF Cup quarter final match and broke their unbeaten home run in the continental matches. Eldoret Kcc would pour more misery to them when they outclassed the leopards beating them 4-1 in the Moi Golden cup final then went on to deny them the league title after both teams settled for a 2-2 draw when a win would saw leopards clinch the league title. Utalli who had survived relegation by a whisker the previous year clinched the league title. I t was the first time in many years that unfenced team would replace the big two in the continental events. Indeed Eld KCC and Utalli triumph served as an inspiration to other teams. 

Kenya Breweries and Mumias Sugar fell flat in their continental duties. The national team which was involved in the AFCON Qualifiers and the France 98 World cup qualifiers. They had a dream start in both events. They drew with Nigeria the then Olympic champions beat Burkina Fasso and Guinea drew with Cameroon beat Gabon and everything seems to be going well. 

In their bid to make they debut in the World cup and as well as qualifying for the AFCON after a five year absence,Fabisch took the initiative to take stars to camp in Germany on a one month tour. He had pulled the same move in 1987 and the results witnessed stars qualifying for AFCON and securing the 4th All- African games silver medal. 

Pointing out ills bedeviling the African soccer, Fabisch expressed that most federations are unable to make long term plans while at the same time the administrators are using the game a s a stepping stone in their pursuit for political ambitions. For the good of the game, he believed that administrators should realize that football is more than playing but it’s a profession. He did had his share of criticism; Many accused him of his tough manner of selecting players he dismissed such a notion claiming that he was only driven by players performance. Indeed players should be selected on merit and not by favors. 

No sooner had the team returned from Germany, than rot set in. First Nigeria would outplay and whitewash stars to clinch the World Cup ticket. Two weeks later, Namibia would upset them at home in the AFCON qualifier. Gabon would finally ensure their dream of participation in the 1998 AFCON was all but evaporated. The draw in Yaoundé against Cameroon was a mere consolation as well as the world cup qualifier against Burkinabe’s. Of course Fabisch was shown the door. 

Gloom continued early in 1998 when leopards the CECAFA Club champions were bundled out of the tourney in the group stages in humiliating manner. Stars didn’t fair better either as they had unconvincing star in the AFCON qualifiers proper drawing against Madagascar at home and losing to Dr Congo. Gor Mahia and Eldoret Kcc were also put to sword with regards to the continental assignments. Only Utalii fc Saved Kenyan football face by being eliminated in the second round of the CAF champions league on penalty shootout by Tunisia’s Etoile du’ Sahel. Leopards would win the league and Mathare United won the Moi Golden cup. 

It seemed bad luck was following leopards since they were again bundled out of both the CECAFA club cup and CAF champion’s league by Rwandese sides Kiyovu Sport and Rayon. Mumias Sugar experienced the same feat only novices Mathare utd made it to the second round. In the CECAFA under 20 the national team secured the trophy and the senior team earned a runner up spot. Tusker would win the league title in dramatic circumstance. 

 While Mumias required to beat KSM All stars by seven clear goals to beat Tusker to the title on goal difference, they went on to thrash All stars 10-0. This score line seemed controversial. A commission of inquiry was formed to investigate the matter and Mumias were found guilty of match fixing and as a repercussion were dropped to the lower tiers. The Moi Golden cup they had also won was handed to Coast Stars. 

The new millennium commenced with disappointment still. Tusker would be eliminated in the CAF champions league in the first round as well as Shabana and Coast Stars. H.Stars despite posting impressive results in their friendly matches against Burundi and Burkina Fasso couldn’t replicate it in the World Cup and AFCON Qualifiers. Malawi bundled them out of the World Cup qualifier in the preliminary stage and had unimpressive start in the AFCON qualifiers drawing with Tunisia and losing away to Morocco. In the inaugural Castle larger cup, they lost to Uganda cranes in the final. While Uganda hosted the CECAFA Cup stars registered one of the most disappointing results. Tusker would however win the CECAFA Club cup. 

Clinching the league for the second successive season, Tusker opened the year 2001 by triumphantly defending the CECAFA Club cup. Their impressive shows continued and were it not for the last minute goal by Esperance, Tusker would have become the first team in the country to earn a slot in the CAF champions’ league group stage. Oserian also had a good account in the CAF Cup where they were also eliminated in the second round by Etoile du Sahel on away goals rule. 

For the third time Reinhardt Fabisch was contacted to coach the national team. Aiming to qualify for AFCON Mali 2002, the team build up matches were encouraging since they defeated Zambia, Uganda and drew with Egypt. The streak continued in the AFCON qualifiers where they beat Gabon and drew them in Libreville then drew with Morocco in Nairobi. Needing to secure a draw in Tunis, Stars collapsed and got thrashed 4-1 hence being eliminated. Creditably they finished in the runners up position to Tanzania in the Castle cup as well as CECAFA Cup to Ethiopia. Oserian won the league title while leopards clinched the Moi Golden Cup. 

2002 was a great year for Kenyan soccer. In contrast Oserian, leopards and Mathare united would be eliminated in the first round of the continental event earlier in the year. But that would be eclipsed quickly by the tremendous performance of the national team. Despite the fact that Fabisch resigned, he had left behind a solid team and an assistant coach who could succeed in various tourney. 

True to the sence of the word, Jacob’’ Ghost ‘’ Mulee the current technical director ensured stars had a perfect start in the AFCON qualifiers. The team easily dispatched Togo, Cape Verde Island and Mauritania. In their build up matches, they beat Tanzania and Burkinabes then drew with Rwanda and Kuwait. Finally the team won Castle cup and the CECAFA Cup for the first time since 1983. On the local front, Nzoia would clinch the league title while Kenya pipeline won the last edition of the Moi Golden Cup.  

Nzoia would be eliminated in the first round of the CAF champion’s league while Kenya pipeline had their efforts thwarted in the second round.Ulinzi would clinch the league while Chemilil claimed the transparency cup which replaced the Moi Golden Cup. It was the second season that witnessed the big three struggling to represent the country in the continental events.Inspite losing to Togo who had naturalized five Brazilians stars went on to qualify for the AFCON 04 after beating Mauritania and Cape Verde. In the build up towards the qualifiers they defeated Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania. With it a glorious way to celebrate the nations’ 40th anniversary.

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