Kenya’s Harambee Stars Vs Ugandan Cranes: The Journey to Kampala and Back

This weekend, a lot of African football was played. Teams were battling it out for a slot in the Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) to be played in January next year, hosted jointly by both Equitorial Guinea and Gabon.

Kenya and Uganda were in the same group, and I remember sneaking out of church (well, sort of) last year so I could catch the first leg of the match at Nyayo Stadium. Click to read my summary of them match last year! I had bet heavily on the game and might have had to change my nationality to Ugandan if we had lost. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

The buses were draped in the match banners! Excitement in the air was high!

Uganda was leading in the group which consisted of Kenya, Uganda, Guinea Bissau and Angola. Ugandans were confident, cocky, arrogant… they thought the match against Kenya was just a formality. If they beat us, as they knew they will, they would automatically qualify for the ACN. Since they were at home, and their team had an impressive run, their headlines in the newspapers were to the tune of “How to Celebrate the Cranes Win”, and clubs advertised how they will organize the winning party.

I had no idea how I was going to travel to Kampala, but luckily, Kalonzo Musyoka, our Vice President, offered to pay for football fans. I decided I was going to get on that bus somehow. Luckily for me, the VP is on twitter and he offered to pay for 200 tweeps to join the rest of the traveling fans. After hounding his account (I can be relentless he he), I finally ended up on the list of Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) who were sponsored for the trip which included free transport, 1000bob for food allowance and a free ticket. KEFOFA (KEnya FOotball Fans Association) organized the whole trip which was eventful as it was exciting!

We arrived at Nyayo Stadium on Friday afternoon where the rest of the fans were gathered. The VP was there to flag us off.. Because of the logistics of organizing, checking our luggage, briefing and finally take off, we left Nairobi at 9pm. We made a lot of noise as we cruised past the city’s highways which had been cleared of traffic for us!

Kenyan fans at Nyayo listen to the VP and other politicians give speeches at the Nyayo National Stadium shortly before flagging us off!

The journey to the border at Malaba was long but never boring. The KOT were a source of amusement as they called for numerous stops to empty and refuel (don’t ask!) their body systems.

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A tweep, @kiraggz, with his cheering stuff in very high spirits (sic).

We finally made it to the border at 4am, where the processing of our documents by immigration on both sides would take hours! We had to wait for everyone to be cleared! In addition, we waited for the Kenyan ambassador to deliver our tickets, the Ugandan security forces to frisk us (though all they did was count us!) after which they accompanied our convoy to Kampala. We left the border at around 10am, after some fans had freshened up by taking ‘passport’ showers and brushing their teeth at the border tap/washrooms.

The ticket and allowance in hand 🙂

Onwards then to Kampala.. we were tired and hungry but that did not stop us from blowing our vuvuzelas, whistles and making plenty of noise as we waved our flags at any small townships along the way. We did stop for food at some Forest point where they sell chicken on a stick. Yummy, whether chicken or wild birds!

A View of the River Nile at Jinja as we passed over it on our way to Kampala. Beautiful, as always.

The chicken on a stick being hawked... It tastes good, trust me

We made it to Kampala a little past 1pm in readiness for the match at 5pm. We drove straight to the Namboole International Stadium in Kampala, where we parked and tweeps readied themselves for the match. One @raidarmax decided to hawk popcorn so he could raise some money perhaps to buy some Nile Special… those guys had pitched tent at the stadium!

Raidarmax with a bag of popcorn.. okay more like a sack of popcorn!

It was 3 hours to the game yet the stadium was filling up fast! We decided to freshen up (we all can’t do public freshening ups at the border!) at some hotels/cheap lodgings/guesthouses etc that surrounded the stadium. We then donned our Kenyan shirts (trademark red), carried our flags, vuvuzelas, whistles and other cheering paraphernalia and off to the stadium we went!

The packed stadium!

The place was packed to capacity! We could hardly get sitting space! The Ugandan fans were cheering and overpowering us (they had the advantage of numbers and the public address system) but we put up a show! They sang We go, we go.. and we replied you go, you go! I’ll try to upload the clip.

The Kenyan fans at the stadium!

I will not bore you with the match’s technical details, the pictures should suffice! Uganda was desperate to score especially when they realized Angola was almost winning its match against Guinea, which meant that Angola would qualify. The first half was exciting but no goals were scored, and in the second half, with the help of the referee, they terrorized our defenders and goalkeeper.

Worried Kenyan fans as the second half got underway. We were afraid the inevitable might happen.. but it didn't!

There were so many ‘almost’ goals it’s a wonder no Kenyan fan got a heart attack! Uganda was relentless in its attack towards the dying minutes of the game and we have to give it up for the man of the match, Arnold Origi, the goalkeeper. His performance was nothing short of impressive. In the end it was a 0-0 draw which wasn’t that bad for us but was heart-breaking for Uganda. If only they had let us have Migingo, we might have let them score so they could qualify for the ACN in the spirit of the EA community! But they thought they were too good for our team!

Dining With The Stars

The Kenyan ambassador to Uganda had organized an after party on Saturday night for the players which was graced by the Vice President among other politicians. I was among the few lucky fans in attendance. I remember William Ruto coming to the table I sat at and greeting each of us, before going to sit down at the ‘high table’. I must admit I was star struck for a second there!

Arnold Origi (the goalie, rem) and Mariga with his small bro who plays for Celtic Wanderers sat at the table next to us; food and drinks was freely flowing, speeches were given; Harambee Stars’ performance acknowledged (I think the VP said he’d give the team half a million shillings and a mystery present for the goalie); and all in all we had fun! We then left in the VP’s entourage and I got a seat next to Eugene Wamalwa (at this point I feel like a groupie posting pics of me with *ahem, politicians and football stars but can’t help it for now!).

Keeper Arnold Origi was having Fanta at dinner time... I know the pic isn't so good, but I think it is more authentic this way using a pic from my camera rather than a Googled clear one.

Mariga, @rosyrotten, Player X (forgot name), @savvykenya, and Mariga's small bro.

Eugene Wamalwa and yours truly hitch a ride in the VP's entourage

On Sunday morning we got into the bus and traveled to Nairobi. It was a long ride this time since the excitement had died, but there were some rowdy fans in the bus that kept us entertained the whole way! The discussions though, cannot be posted on this very nice and decent blog as they were X-rated, fodder for Maina’s breakfast show on Classic 105!

The other side of River Nile on our way back to Nairobi

All in all, I had quite the time of my life! The VP should do this more often 🙂 especially if/when he becomes president.

P.S.

Most pictures taken by Calypso, my Galaxy S II. Others by a Nokia N8 courtesy of @kachwanya. I had to compress them so I could easily upload them and this reduced their quality but I hope you enjoy.

This entry was posted in Blog, Sports, Travel, Uganda and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Kenya’s Harambee Stars Vs Ugandan Cranes: The Journey to Kampala and Back

  1. Warhia says:

    Didn’t know such a huge bag of popcorn would exist. Wah! How you sell it? Crows cannot do a corn-invasion? 😀 All in all, looks like a good weekend spent. Thumbs of VP swinging tweeps tickets.

    Like

  2. Mika Mitoko says:

    Nice read as usual!!!

    Like

  3. Mundiasamwel says:

    it was a great trip the x kalozo for that you ma live long

    Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey… that was a picture pose 🙂 But I wish it was really my pop corn… How much profit I would have made! lovely post though, it was really cool hanging out with you guys…

    Like

  5. OtienoHongo says:

    Wow, glad you enjoyed yourself…

    Like

  6. kisslawsam says:

    You guys really enjoyed yourself! Good pictures and nice read!

    Like

  7. kenyanstar says:

    Too bad i missed out on this!! Glad you enjoyed!!

    Like

  8. Ingwe Fan says:

    Wonderful post. Kudos to all those Kenyans who went out of their way to watch the match and cheer on the boys.

    Dining With the Stars… that would be a good title for a TV series, no?

    Like

  9. Lwenyie says:

    im so happy for u gal.Keep up the good work

    Like

  10. Vincentmaraba says:

    Congrats 4 supporting the stars; kuja class

    Like

  11. wow, quite a trip, thanks for capturing the excitement online for us!!!!

    Like

  12. dng says:

    The SII has amazing photos!

    Like

  13. Wait is that chicken been hawked there or what? Keyword Seems junk food is not a delicacy over there.

    Like

  14. The Greatrnk says:

    I think we should be doing this more often, ie fans travelling away to cheer our team. When English teams travel to play in another country, both the national team and clubs, more fans than can fill the home stadium travel with the team, even if it means they will watch the match in bars (or not at all, as they will have blacked out).

    No photo of (you and) Dennis the Menace…….or the ‘shemechi’ coach who also coaches the national team?

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Dennis missed the party; and Zico was at the high table so I didn’t dare approach him 🙂

      Yes, we should definitely travel more often to support our team!

      Like

  15. Lionel says:

    I missed you!

    Like

  16. kentheone says:

    savvy Enyewe you look good. Lakini najua vile uliketi next to Eugene haukuwa unashikika.

    Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    How did the wild birds taste like again? Could have been a crane or a stork hehehe

    Like

  18. I will never forget this trip in my lifetime… Especially the fact that I had a special one besides me, made it more worthwhile. Memories are made ot these!!

    Like

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