Tuesday, 9 September 2008

At the ball game

All set for kick off

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to witness the brave warriors of Namibia get a lesson or two about football by the Harambee stars. Kudos to the boys for getting one step closer to World cup qualification. Let's hope they can pull something off when they meet Guinea away.

This being my first live national team football match I went with a lot of anticipation. Reports were that the match was sold out and the traffic on Thika road pointed to the fact. An interesting thing I noted was that there were a lot of the middle class rugby crowd headed there from the cars which were draped with the national flag and associated paraphernalia. A good thing to note that the game has such wide appeal hopefully at this rate we'll see better things for Kenyan football. However one of my pals pointed out that a lot of the support was because the team is doing well and I would tend to agree that we are fair weather supporters.

A section of the crowd at gate 13

After braving the traffic we made our way into the stadium a few minutes before kick-off. The crowd was not as large as I had anticipated and it was easy to get space. The thin crowd made it hard to pull off the Mexican wave as it kind of got lost at the gaps. The atmosphere was ok though I noticed that we are yet to learn the art of cheering in this country as there were quite a number of silent moments. That all changed when a goal came from the penalty spot and the stadium erupted into wild celebrations. Had to watch my head as people threw bottles from the upper terraces.

The team's performance was good enough to grind out a win though not without some tense moments in the second half. One area that really needs improvement is set pieces. We had so many free kick but we never so much as threatened the opposition from them. Also worth noting is our lack of attacking options; the absence of star forward Dennis Oliech was clearly evident. We need to get that talent pipeline moving because I know the next Oliech is out there just waiting to be discovered.

Once the final whistle was blown we quickly made our way to the exit. However our exit was not without incident. At around the point we joined Thika road one of the wheels of the car we were in ran over a lady's foot. What even made it more startling was the way she was screaming and writhing on the ground. The shock made me freeze for a minute before we bundled her and her friends into the car and rushed her to hospital. The ride was quite an experience with her wails and groans of pain especially since she had sprained that same foot before. You can imagine the kind of pain she was in! Fortunately for her there was no major damage and she received treatment at the hospital.

Fortunately for us there was no other drama that day as we went back home!