Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.
Sunday 6th April 1997,The Burkina Faso national team arrived in Nairobi for a world cup qualifier match.This was an important fixture for both sides as a vital three points would see either team go in second place behind the super eagles of Nigeria,in a group that also consisted of Guinea.
All four sides competing for the ultimate prize,a ticket to the world cup 98 in France.
The match took place at the Moi International Sports Complex,a fortress of Kenyan soccer. Despite the bad weather and murky conditions the venue was all sold out and jam packed, in attendance was also President Moi and other high level dignitaries from his cabinet .
Coach Reinhardt Fabisch had prepared his men well for battle,and the opening exchanges proved just that as the Kenyans created a couple of good chances,sending the fans in cheers of approval.
However the cheers were short lived,when on the 10th minute of the game,Burkina Faso’s Mamdou Zongo broke free from the Kenyan defense beating the keeper, Francis onyiso,slotting the ball in the right hand corner of the net.
Suddenly the Kenyan fans were left stunned and in shock over the goal.,it was almost like pin drop silence in the stadium as the match continued with little chances created up until the 37th minute when brahima cisse threatend to break loose,but was brought down in the box by John lichuku,the referee immediately pointing at the spot awarding Burkina Faso a penalty,firmin somau stepped up and calmly slotted home the spot kick.
Further misery on the Kenyan fans and the team,as the scores reading 2-0 to Burkina Faso, at this stage it looked impossible for a comeback,and the fury of the fans was directed at the coach,chants of “FABISCH MUST GO” could be heard all around the stadium.
Coach Reinhardt Fabisch had a paralyzed expression of helplessness,as the half time whistle blew.
Forty five minutes were left to salvage something out of the game or face public humiliation for the team.
Coach Reinhardt Fabisch made some changes early on in the second half,he brought Mike okoth a little forward to play the sole striker,taking out Godfrey Osama, and putting in Francis were slightly behind Mike okoth.
Fifty one minutes into the game and a brilliant one two,with Ken Simiyu saw Mike okoth go past the keeper and net a goal for Kenya.this goal gave the fans a little reprieve and slight hope,Coach Fabisch made another change this time bringing in play maker Mike mururi for Suleiman Rashid, the change paid dividends almost immediately, Mururi fed okoth with a neat cross,for okoth to tap in for the equalizer, the goal sent the fans in a delirium of cheers,the fans barely settled downed when Kenya got a corner kick,Michael mururi took the kick and found Francis were’s head,who headed in a bullet.
This game was turning out to be a cliff hanger, four minutes later another twist in the tale,when Burkina faso’s Mamdou Zongo broke free from the defense and netted an equalizer..
It seemed to be headed for a draw up until the 82nd minute when Mike Okoth scored from close range to complete his hatrick.
As soon as the final whistle blew scenes of joy and jubilation were seen on the ground and across the country.
A nation United behind its team,this was by far the greatest football match in Kenyan football history.
Coach Fabisch and some of the players
It’s amazing how a country can be United for national pride,as the Kenyan elections come closer,it would be nice if it can go smoothly and peacefully.