Match-fixing is not new in Kenya

Friday, May 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Vincent Otieno in action during a recent match involving Ex-Internationals against Umoja Wazee FC. INSET: Otieno (right) featuring for Kenya Pipeline, shields the ball from Gor Mahia’s Robert Oluoko in a league match in 1996. Photo/PD/FILE

Match-fixing is not a new phenomenon in Kenya and can be traced to two decades ago when winning the league title was a matter of life and death amongst senior teams, one of the country’s players of yore has revealed.

Indefatigable defender Vincent ‘Otinje’ Otieno, who played for Harambee Stars and the now defunct Kenya Pipeline FC, said connivance to throw away matches then mostly involved teams chasing the league title.

“There was very poor pay then to players as compared to now when teams are making a killing out of match-fixing.

During our times, bigwigs who had almost made the league title their preserve did not have qualms engaging in the vice ostensibly to get a fatter cheque.

But make no mistake!, this malpractice did not involve small teams,’’ said Otieno.

The former international, who is son to Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars legend Maurice ‘’Ole Tunda’’ Ouma, stated that his club Kenya Pipeline, which won the Kenyan Premier League in 2002, employed Fifa Fair Play to the letter and always played clean to win matches.

Offered Otieno: ‘’Back then, we were guided by football ethics and the doctrines set by the world governing body.

In fact, Pipeline won the league that year fair and square and duly grabbed the ticket to represent the country in the Africa Cup Winners Cup the following year.” 

Otieno made the revelation in the wake of the expulsion of Zoo Kericho from the 2020/2021 Betking Premier League by Fifa over match-fixing by some of its players.

Former federation boss Sam Nyamweya also said in a press statement that: “The findings by Fifa are a serious indictment on the leadership of the federation under Nick Mwendwa, which failed to put in place measures to curb the match fixing vice.”

Born and brought up in the football-crazy Jericho Estate in Nairobi, Otieno is considered one of the best left footed players of his generation and whose overlapping turned opponents defence lines inside-out.

Otieno exploded into the KPL as a marauding fullback and with his left foot his most lethal weapon, reminding many of his predecessors like Sammy ‘’Jogoo’ Onyango (Gor Mahia) and Dan Shikanda (AFC Leopards/Gor Mahia).

“I used to love how these players scored and since I was also a left-footed player, I worked hard to emulate them,’’ said the father of three who was the mainstay in Pipeline defence.

Incidentally, Otieno would score with his powerful left foot from 30 yards when Pipeline edged out AFC Leopards 1-0 in a league match in 2003.

In 2003, Otieno, then also a constant feature for Eastlanders in the Otii Father Cup at Jericho’s Uwanjo Soo (Now Camp Toyoyo), was instrumental in Pipeline winning the league after which the team took a stab in the Africa Cup Winners Cup.

In the first round, Pipeline eliminated Anse Re-Union of Seychelles on the away goal rule but later fell to Power Dynamos of Zambia in the second round.

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