Forget the brace in Cairo; the crucial goal against Ghana, and the cheers from the 60,000 fans on Kasarani stands, “Engineer” Michael Olunga.
The truth is, “people will love and support you when they think it is beneficial”, as Nicki Minaj said.
At only 25, Olunga is already in the history books of football. He is Kenya’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) top scorer and always on target when the country needs him the most.
You can comfortably compare Olunga to Portugal’s mercurial striker Cristiano Ronaldo based on their performance and impact in their national teams.
Both have shown similarities in scoring important goals. But Olunga is only wowed for a moment while Ronaldo has Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport, named in his honour. What an appreciation!
Our men’s football team, Harambee Stars, has been struggling to make a mark on the continental arena.
The Stars have only qualified twice for the Afcon Finals in the past two decades — in 2004 and 2019.
However, the 2004 team fell in the abyss of national amnesia. Only two members of the squad are vaguely recognised by Kenyans: Dennis “The Menace” Oliech, who retired from football a few weeks ago, and the coach, Jacob “Ghost” Mulee, who is a radio presenter in one of the local FM stations, Radio Jambo.
The rest — like Musa Otieno, John Mururi and Francis Onyiso — were long forgotten. How fast we forget the legends!
The 2019 team had a couple of promising players — like Erick “Marcelo” Ouma, Ayub Timbe and the captain, Victor Wanyama.
The passion, strength and relentlessness in that young team awakens the dream of reaching our first ever Fifa World Cup.
That dream can only be shut by negligence of Football Kenya Federation (FKF), the government and, yes, the media.
The media should remind citizens of their heroes. But when Oliech retired, not even a newspaper page was designated to refreshing Kenyans’ memory.
I expected a beautiful documentary on our screens too. Maybe that will come after he joins Joe Kadenge six feet down.
But look at the South Americans — the legendary Pele, the great Ronaldo of Brazil, and Argentina’s Diego Maradona. While Maradona is sort of a demigod in Argentina and even once led La Albicelestes to 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and Pele statues erected in Brazil, we have Nairobi streets named after foreign politicians instead of our own great sports legends.
In fact, almost all avenues in the capital are named after politicians.
Kadenge died a poor man. Now, nobody recognises Oliech, who, alongside Musa Otieno, were allegedly kicked out of the VVIP stands during an Afcon qualification match between Kenya and Ethiopia at Kasarani.
I hope the Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) Awards will avert the shame from recurring.