Where do I even begin? That we lost 2-1 to Tunisia? That organisation as far as entry into the stadium is concerned was crappy?
Saturday morning came. It was a bit cloudy. But then, in this dusty town of Naivasha its been cloudy somedays but it is still dry and as dusty as hell. Carrying a sweater is just an extra burden. I like travelling light, that’s why you’ll rarely see me carrying a handbag.
So here we are at Nyayo/Coca Cola Stadium at last. It’s my first time at the stadium. The last time I attended a match live was at Kasarani. I call up the guy with our tickets. He gives us disturbingly vague directions. Have you ever tried to find someone in a large crowd? Like a graduation or a football match. You lack words to describe anything near you and you can never make out what the other person is saying. Worst of all, you realise you have run out of credit and you battery is dying. Thank God you are with your small bro, who also turns out to be creditless. At least his phone battery is full. So you look around for a hawker of credit to no avail. They are not entering the venue. Please call me’s invariably end up being sent to wrong numbers. What to do? Then the clouds burst opne and you are showered in a deluge.
As you look around for a place to shelter, your bro suggests borrowing airtime. That is when you look around for friendly faces. My bro points out, “Why don’t we ask them?” This tall guy and a quorum of his pals. He is scratching a Bamba 50.
“Excuse me, do you have any extra credit?” At my charming most.
“Why don’t you just use this.” He offers me his card, which he is about to load. Am so grateful, it doesn’t help he is not bad looking. That turns out to be the only good part of the day.
We finally get the tickets (“The Blue sign..yes, that BIG ONE..we are standing right below IT!”..and much more yelling into the phone.)
At the match in Kasarani last year, there was better crowd control since the distance between the entrace into the compound and the actual gates to the stadium is quite big. The queues moved foward fast, the tickets were checked and authanticated…it was a modicum of efficiency.
Nyayo was the total opposite. (Coca Cola is too long a word). Chaos everywhere. It was a scramble to get into the stadium. After much trodding of toes-mine, and not as much as a glance at my ticket, am in the stadium. Tickets cost Kshs. 300 and 1000 for VIP. VIP has a shade and plastic chairs. We had the P’s tickets, no V, no I.
KFF/KPL/K whatever had printed 27 000 tickets. The stadium’s capacity is 30 000 but I can tell you that it was overflowing. How the extra 5 000 or more got in is not a mystery, there was no checking or validation of tickets. We search for a good spot. This stadium is kinda bogus..it’s just a field albeit with concrete terraces. It’s drizzling and the players on the field are warming up.
“Look, their kit has no names on them, again! How am I supposed to know who is who?” I ask my bro. He quickly points out some players. “There is Oliech..he is wearing blue socks. Besides, this is not the official uniform, they are just warming up. Look, there is Musa Otieno, the captain. And Mariga..” I have put on my glasses but through the drizzle all I can make out are fuzzy mirages.
We are optimistic as we sit on a plastic paper to wad off the damp on the concrete slabs. The players come out wearing a red kit that’s nameless, as usual. I can’t pick out Oliech because he has shaved his dreads. The red kit is quite dreary on this drizzly evening. My bro tells me their white kit was stolen. STOLEN? How? Who will wear it? I don’t believe it but he tells me he read it in the newspaper.
It’s not even two minutes into the game, and as my bro excitedly points out Radhi Jaidi(Tunisia’s most striking player and captain..picture coming soon), the ball is in the back of our net. Tunisia scores the opening goal. My miraa chewing neighbour chews hard.
Halfway into the first half, it starts raining. We look left and right..and center and of course no miracle; we have no place to shelter and no one has an umbrella nearby. We are soaked wet. I can’t even rember the last time I was rained on this much. Do we leave? We stick it through. Those VIP tickets after all..
The second half and we are still upbeat. The Mexican wave and all. Patrick Oboya is the star of the game. I later had a shot of him in the bus.
He delivers a wonderful cross to Oliech who scores our equalizer. It’s celebration all through as plastic bottles are thrown around the pitch. Our miraa chewing neighbour has the seizures and can you imagine there is no single first aid group around? His friends help him out as we try not to crowd him. My attention is now on the pitch and him wondering if he’ll be ok. I did not see Tunisia score its winning goal.
All that, and all I can say is, it’s too soon to fire the coach, Antoine Hey.
P.S. Oliech was speaking into a Nokia 1110(the popular blue phone that’s dirt cheap) as he left the pitch. Can’t he afford a gisty one even a Chinese one? Ok, perhops there is nothing gisty about a Chinese phone.
The photos are finally up.