Kenyan Football

Kenyan Premier League News Round-Up: AFC Leopards appeal for financial aid and more Kenyan Premier League News Round-Up: AFC Leopards appeal for financial aid and more
Kenyan Premier League News Round-Up: AFC Leopards appeal for financial aid and more

About Kenyan Football

Kenya Football History

The history of Kenyan football can be traced back to the early phase of the 20th century. The sport was introduced by British settlers and it appealed to the nationals, who became engrossed with it as a result of its simplicity. Between the 1920s and the 1950s, football grew enormously in the country and had a lot of people developing interest and participating in the sport. Players took to the pitch to display their talents, supporters travelled to stadiums to cheer them on - the sport continued growing fast.

The likes of Shem Chimoto, Kadir Farah, Elijah Lidonde, Ali Sungura, Peter Oronge, Ahmed Breik, and Ali Kadjo found success as players and quickly became icons. Moving forward, the Kenya Football Federation (KFF), was formed in 1960 to take charge of affairs pertaining to soccer in the country. More developments followed, with major clubs and tournaments established and Kenyan football crossing borders to make their mark on the international stage.

Kenya National Football Team - The Harambee Stars

The Kenya National Football Team was established in 1960. It is nicknamed the Harambee Stars and it has survived for almost six decades. The team represents the nation in major competitions at the elite level both at the continental stage and on the global one. They primarily play their home games at the Moi International Sports Centre.

While football continues to progress in the country - especially at the club level - it is quite unfortunate that Kenya's national team is yet to go far on the international stage. The Harambee Stars entered their first FIFA World Cup qualifier in 1974 but failed to make the cut for the final tournament. Even until now, they are still waiting for their maiden appearance in the most coveted football competition in the world.

Kenyan Team in AFCON

Kenyan National Football Team hasn't been as impressive as its reputation suggests. The Harambee Stars are yet to prove their credentials with their exploits at major competitions. Their record at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament is quite unencouraging and unbefitting of a nation of such repute.

The team has appeared in the AFCON tournament on five separate occasions but it is obvious to learn that they've never made it to the second round of the competition. In their recent appearance this year, they lost their first game 2-0 to Algeria. Although they were able to subject Tanzania to a 3-2 defeat, a 3-0 loss to Senegal ensured they never made it past the group stage for yet another time.

Following that, The Harambee stars now occupy the 106th position in the latest FIFA ranking of the top footballing nations of the world that was released in November this year. Their highest ever ranking was 68, which occurred in December 2008 while their lowest was recorded in July 2007 when they occupied the 137th position on the list.

Kenyan Premier League (KPL)

The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is the top division for men's football clubs in Kenya. The league was established under the Kenya Football Federation in 1963 but is currently being controlled by the Football Kenya Federation. Eighteen clubs contest in the league and there is also a promotion and relegation system with the Kenyan National Super League.

Since it was created in the '60s, many clubs have triumphed in the division. However, no one has been able to come close to the record of Gor Mahia FC, which is the most successful club in the history of the competition with a whopping 18 championships to its name. The Mayienga are the current champions as they claimed the 2018/2019 edition.

The KPL adopts a double round-robin system, where each club plays their rivals twice - once at their home stadium and the other at their opponent's ground. Similar to the system of the top European leagues, the division kicks-off its season in August and concludes it in May, with clubs playing a total of 34 games during the course of the term.

At the end of each campaign, two clubs who finished at the bottom end of the table are relegated to the Kenyan National Super League and the two clubs that concluded the term at the top of the KNSL are promoted to replace them. Then, the 15th placed club in the KPL will lock horns with the third-placed team in the KNSL for the third promotion spot.

Famous Kenyan Players

Kenya has been blessed with many fantastic talents in the past. From legendary goalkeepers to unbeatable defenders to world-class midfielders and unstoppable attackers, there were so many of them that inked their names in the history books, courtesy of their brilliant efforts on the field of play.

James Siang’a, who was the goalkeeper of the Harambee Stars during the independence era, spent 13 years at the top of the game. Dan Odhiambo also ranks high and is well-reputed as the greatest Gor Mahia guardian of all-time. Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Magogom, Joseph Were, and Ben Okoth also deserve a mention for their incredible exploits between the sticks during their days.

Names like Jonathan Niva, Peter Otieno Bassanga, Daniel Anyanzwa, Josephat Murila, Bobby Ogolla, Amrani Shiba, Peter Wasiembo, Moses Wabwai, Joram Roy, Charles Makunda, Anthony Mukabwa, Vincent Kwarula, and Austin Oduor always come to mind whenever we are rating the most famous Kenyan defenders in history.

Meanwhile, the country has also had many great midfielders. The likes of Sammy Owino, Allan Thigo, Wilberforce Mulamba, Daniel Nicodemus, Peter Oronge, McDonald Mariga and Hezekiah Ang’ana are some of the most famous Kenyan midfielders ever while players like John Nyawanga, Ali Sungura, William Chege Ouma, Joe Masiga, Ellie Adero, Nashon Oluoch, Charles Ochieng and Livingstone Madegwa rank among the greatest Kenyan attackers.

Kenyan Players in the English Premier League (EPL)

The English Premier League has grown to become the biggest division in European football, drawing massive sponsorship deals within the past few years and attracting talents from every corner of the world. In fact, it is the dream of almost every player out there to have a taste of English football - including Kenyan footballers.

However, despite the level of talents present in the country, it is obvious that Kenya have just one player in the EPL at the moment. Tottenham Hotspurs' Victor Wanyama is the only superstar from the nation plying his trade in the Premier League. A native of Nairobi, Wanyama plays as a defensive midfielder for the Spurs. He joined the club in the summer of 2016 and he has gone forward to forge a reputable career for himself. He was part of the team that made it to the Champions League final earlier this year.

Kenyan players playing abroad in 2019

While Kenya's record isn't very impressive with regards to representation in the English Premier League, the nation does have some of its players plying their trades in other European leagues right now. Apart from Tottenham's Wanyama, Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge), Ismail Dunga (Tirana), Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg), Amos Ekhalie (Mariehamn), and Arnold Origi (HIFK) also play in other top-tier European divisions.

Kenya also has players outside Europe. Handwalla Bwana and Lawrence Olum both play in the USA's Major League Soccer division (MLS). Ayub Masika plies his trade in the Chinese Super League while Michael Olunga plays in Japan's J2 League. John Avire (Egypt), Cliff Nyakeya (Egypt), David Owino (Zambia), Ibrahim Shikanda (Tanzania) and Masoud Juma (Albania) play in other African divisions amidst many other Kenyan players plying their trades abroad in 2019.

Last Modified Dec 7, 2019 16:54 IST
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