By Hillary Mukasa
Richard Otambo was admitted to Iterio High School in 1985 from Gesusu to join form 2. Nyambane was the Games Master and soccer Coach while David Omamba was the Deputy Headmaster. Richard Otambo’s elder brother the late Chris Otambo played hockey for the National team and was the top scorer of the Kenya Hockey team that won Gold in the 4th All African Games in Kenya. He also participated in the Olympics games in 1984 and 1988. That is a story for another day. This is the story of Iterio secondary football team produced some of the most decorated players in the Country. The players we wish we were.
Team of All Stars
Nyambane the legendary games master scouted for players with super talents that made a formidable football team at Iterio High School. He brought in stellar names like Henry “Ndovu” Motego, Salim Mabruk, Sylvester Mageni, Mike Okoth (Goalkeeper), Henry Nyandoro from Nduru High School, Anthony Waliuba, Bitange Ondieki, Charles Ogembo, Jared Omoyo, and Vincent “Jerican” Abuga. Henry “Ndovu” Motego was scouted from Cardinal Otunga in Mosocho while Mike Okoth was scouted from Ndarasha Secondary School in Laikipia. These Iterio superstars were made to be talked about. When we say superstars you need to understand.
Frustration in the 1986 KSSSA National Championship in Thika
The National Championship of the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) football finals in 1986 was held in Thika. Iterio High School met football giants Kakamega High School in the grand finale in a battle of titans. Richard Otambo claims “Poor officiating cost us in that match. Two key players of Iterio Salim Mabruk and Henry Nyandoro were given red cards. The referee was a luhya and officiated in the Superleague equivalent to the current Premier League.” The referee knew most of the players from both schools since most of them played top flight football. “Most of the players in Iterio played for Shabana Fc while most of the Kakamega High School Green Commandos played for MOTCOM of Kakamega. The referee did not take this to be an inter school match and mistook it for a league match between Shabana FC and MOTCOM FC” Adds Richard Otambo. Iterio played with 9 men in regular and extra time. Unfortunately they lost in a penalty shootout. Henry Motego and Charles Ogembo were not lucky as they shot their sport kicks wide. Iterio scored through Richard Otambo and Anthony Waliuba.
Iterio versus Kakamega High School derby in Bukhungu Stadium in 1987
En route to the National Championship Iterio were the Zonal Champions. They beat Kisii High School to be crowned as the District Champions and beat Homabay Boys High School 2-1 in the Provincial Finals. That year they had only themselves to beat.
The 1987 derby between Iterio and the Mighty Kakamega High School had a special place in the hearts of the players and the teams. Salim Mabruk and Henry Nyandoro had completed their Secondary school education. Kakamega High School was star studded and their squad was composed of accomplished players in MOTCOM like Mike “Computer” Wambani, the late Hezron Osuka, Isaac Kwoba, Mike Obonyo, Tony Lwanga and Reginald Asibwa among others. Iterio were at the peak of their power and assembled invincible players such as Richard Otambo, Mike Okoth, Henry “Ndovu” Motego, Vincent “Jerican” Abuga, Anthony Waliuba, John Orare, Jared Imbo, and Evans Omoyo. Richard Otambo beat Mike Kisagi in the 4th minute to score the first goal. The Green Commandos equalized through Mike “Computer” Wambani. The score neither changed during the regular time nor the extra time. During the penalty shootout Richard Otambo who always started for Iterio opened the scoring followed by Mike Okoth and Anthony Waliuba. Iterio lost two penalties taken by Vincent Abuga and Ogembo. Kakamega lost 3 and scored 2. Richard Otambo was the phenomenal goal provider in the tournament leading him to be the top scorer.
All the fans in Bukhungu Stadium rally for Iterio
Musingu High School Soccer fans turned against their arch rivals Kakamega High School in that grand finale. Almost all the fans in Bukhungu that day rallied behind Iterio. Like all fans locally and internationally the Musingu diehard fans enjoyed the loss of Kakamega High School more than the wins by Musingu. Dogo Khan the founder of Shabana FC and the team coach Akbar Khan and almost all the Shabana FC players traveled to watch the match. The match was broadcasted live on KBC radio.
What they say about Shabana FC
Most of the key players in Iterio Secondary School played for Shabana. In 1985 Shabana FC was promoted to the Superleague now Kenya Premier League under founder Dogo Khan and Coach Kubar Khan. Shabana was the name of Dogo Khan’s hardware and it is an Indian name. Shabana FC recruited players from Iterio, Kisii High School and Nduru. Dogo Khan the sponsor of Shabana FC paid school fees for the players. Household names in Shabana FC in 1985 were Mike Okoth (goalkeeper), Willy Bala, Willis Owegi (now in Canada), Sammy Simiyu (RIP), Charles Ombongi, Henry “Ndovu” Motego, Evans Ombuna, Henry Nyandoro (RIP), Issa Masese (Goalkeeper) who later joined Rivatex FC, Sylvester Mageni, Chir Chir, Onash, Jelan and Omari “Tigania.” Richard Otambo remembers scoring for Shabana FC against Gor Mahia in the 30th second at the Gusii Stadium in a top tier league match. Only great players would score against Gor Mahia in the 1980’s. The game ended 1-0 in favor of Shabana FC. In 1987 Shabana FC finished in position 3 in the top tier league and represented Kenya in the CAF competition.
Richard Otambo’s role models in Iterio and Shabana
“Henry Nyandoro was my most admirable player in Iterio and Shabana FC. Nyandoro knew my voice. When I called him “Kaka” he knew where I was. I remember in a league match between Shabana FC and Kisumu Poster that ended 4-4. I scored 4 goals for Shabana courtesy of passes from Nyandoro.” Narrates Otambo. Henry Nyandoro was irreplaceable and irresistible. He was the beauty of the game. “Kisumu Posta had the likes of Charles “Korea” Omondi.” Recalls Richard Otambo
His other role model was Henry “Ndovu” Motego. Otambo says “He was strong, possessed great pace, delivered great crosses and was good in scoring free kicks either directly or from rebounds”. States Richard Otambo. Henry “Ndovu” Motego scored goals for his School, Club and Country. Richard Otambo played in the National team alongside other school mates Henry “Ndovu” Motego, Mike Okoth and Henry Nyandoro.
Some things in life and football just have to be accepted and this is one of them. Such caliber of players is no longer in Iterio Secondary School these days. Let me hope we don’t regret that so much. All I wanted to talk about is the happiness in 1987.