MOI: Football fans mourn 'Shabiki Number One' | Nigeria
MOI: Football fans mourn 'Shabiki Number One'

MOI: Football fans mourn 'Shabiki Number One'

As Kenyans continue to mourn the death of the country's second president Daniel arap Moi, who passed away on Tuesday, many football fans will remember his tenure with his love for local football and the national team Harambee Stars.

Moi, a football lover and former player, was ever-present at the national team home matches as well as supporting local clubs during their continental assignments. He was nicknamed Shabiki (fan) Number One.

The former president never missed local derby matches pitying traditional rivals AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia whenever his schedule allowed. As expected, he played very delicate game of balancing his love for the two clubs as this would have had a direct impact on his political support base.

Tribal identity

In the early 80s, in order to stem tribalism in the country, he ordered that any club that had a tribal name be renamed to drop overt tribal appendages. AFC Leopards had to change Abaluhya Football Club to All Football Club prefix to maintain it's identity. Luo Union would change to Re-Union.

It is however rumoured that he loved the name Gor Mahia and spared the club from rebranding. This, however, is yet to be authenticated or confirmed.

His love and support for any local club representing the country were manifested in how Kenya was a regional football powerhouse. AFC Leopards, Gor and Tusker (then known as Kenya Breweries) ruled the CECAFA region.

Harambee Stars won CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup between 1981 and 1984 while AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia won the Club championships between 1981 and 1989 with the exception of 1987 when Uganda's SC Villa briefly broke the Kenyan dominance.

Mandela Cup

Moi was also the chief guest when Gor Mahia beat Tunisia's Esperance to lift the MandelaCup (now renamed Caf Confederation Cup) in 1987. Gor remain the only Kenyan club to have won any continental trophy. 

Moi would host victorious sports team at State House and showered them with gifts such as cash, cars and land. In an interview with Nation Sport, Gor Mahia chairman revealed that Moi gave the country's biggest clubs parcels of lands in various parts of the city.

The whereabouts of those pieces of lands remains a mystery. 

It was under his regime that the country got it's biggest sporting facilities, Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium Complex. The two facilities are all located in Nairobi.

Moi's love for local football was evident when renamed the country's premier Cup competition from Kenya Challenge to Moi Golden Cup in 1986. The tournament's final match was always played on October 10 to coincide with Moi Day festivities. 

It was later changed to presidents' Cup in 2003 after he stepped down from power and later to FKF Shield (Cup).

Harambee Stars welfare

Apart from local clubs, Moi made sure he attended the ceremonial kick-off of matches involving the national team. Clad in his typical well-cut suits and his trademark ivory rungu, he would kick the match ball to the great applause of teams and fans. 

In an interview with Nation Sport, former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno recalled how Moi made sure that players'welfare was attended to. 
“When he attended our matches, we were sure all our allowances would be settled and we played with all our hearts. Mzee Moi was a president who loved football and contributed to where we are today,” said Otieno.

The former president will be accorded a State Funeral with all appropriate Civilian and Full Military Honours being rendered and observed.

[Image: Harambee Stars/Twitter]