Former team-mate believes Ochieng, Dawo were more lethal with their headers than feet
No doubt Kenya is blessed with football players who carve a niche for themselves due to their expertise in scoring through headers.
The name Charles Ochieng may not ring a bell to today’s players and fans but the former Luo Union FC (which was later named Re-Union FC) man was the first to wield the magical head in the early 1970s.
So clinical was Ochieng that defenders who were given the onus to mark him had butterflies in their stomachs whenever the ball landed on his head.
Former Gor Mahia kingpin defender James ‘Kadir’ Ouma, who played alongside Ochieng in Harambee Stars then, gave an overview of the striker’s credibility of putting the ball at the back of the head even in the tightest of angles.
“He was a scorer per excellence through headers. He was feared by many defenders who might have been wrongly thinking that they were safely keeping sentry despite his presence on the pitch,” said Ogolla.
Ouma states that Ochieng’ was the dynamo that propelled Luo Union to the national league title in 1975 as well as the regional silverware twice in a trot, 1976-1977.
A decade later, Kenya would savour having a second wonder in the form of the magical head of Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars centre forward Peter Dawo.
Born in Kericho in 1964, Dawo began playing football in the local league for MTI. After performing well with the team, he was discovered by Gor who signed him in 1987.
Dawo’s full potential was realised in the same year when he steered Gor to the historic Africa Cup Winners (Mandela ) Cup triumph besides helping Harambee Stars reach the final of the 4th All Africa Games where the team controversially lost 1-0 to Egypt in Nairobi.
Besides leading Gor to their first continental Cup diadem, Dawo scored a record scoring 10 goals in the competition of which nine were headers.
He would later replicate the feat in the Kenyan Premier League matches as well as knock-out competitions.
Dawo also finished seventh in the voting for 1987 African Footballer of The Year, three years before he retired from football.
He made several appearances for Harambee Stas including Five Fifa World Cup qualifying matches. He played for Kenya at the 1988 and 1999-0 Africa Cup of Nations.
Then almost immediately after the Dawo Era, other heading specialists emerged including Robert Mambo and ex-AFC Leopards defender Francis Oduor, although they could not surpass Ochieng’s and Dawo’s records.
Locally, Mambo played for Coast Stars, Nyoka FC and Kenya Pipeline before moving to Europe where he left a wonderful mark of marksmanship through headed goals.
A very powerful player in the air during his active days, Mambo’s heart and desire belonged to the football pitch and would effortlessly score for fun through headers.