Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top Secret Mission

YOUR MISSION, should you choose to accept it, is to unearth this Spiderman who was sighted during the Kenya versus Zimbabwe match.

The previous week, Spiderman had made his debut at a Harambee Stars match as they beat a team aptly known as Syli Nationale at the same stadium.

He walks around in mystery, and poses for photos with fans. He always has the Kenyan flag next to him and waves it at all the unlikely-est of places. Like on the scoreboard!

Watching a match at the Stadium is always an experience to relish and I looked forward to the two June matches with the great anticipation of any virgin boy. The place I sat was filled with the usual wise-crackers.

In both games, the anthems of the foreign teams were not well appreciated, though the fans stood respectfully as the speaker blared out the foreign tunes. The local one was sang with so much passion, it made me wonder why many fans did not participate in the Idols auditions.

Then the game begins. A long ball is send out of play by a Guinea player. 'Even if he charters a plane, he cannot catch that!' says the guy behind me as the Guinea player runs after the ball.

Dennis Oliech scores and the place is in rapture! A chant breaks out: SIO UCHAWI, TUMEZOEA! which basically translates to: THAT IS NOT WITCHCRAFT! WE ARE USED TO SEEING IT!

The Mexican wave does its rounds. One fan asks: Does the Prime Minister stand during the wave? A self appointed spokesman replies: No, the PM only stands when a goal is scored!

The gate to the Stadium is broken and thousands of fans who were locked out stream into the match. The wag behind me opines: Kenyans love free things. Even in heaven, you will see them breaking the gate to get easy access.

Later in the second half, Oliech nets his brace and I egg on a chant of: HAKI YETU! The stand catches the OUR RIGHT chant and within a minute the stadium catches on the chant with slight variations of 'bao' (goal) after each chant. That goal was our right, we basically sing. Yeah right!

The game and it is the long trek home. But due to the crowd control deficit, the next game against Zimbabwe almost gets called off so security measures are put up. I get my ticket on the Wednesday before the match and I go back to the Stadium. The stand I had been at previously is occupied so I get a place in the next one.

'MUGABE MUST GO!' says one placard in a cheeky reference to Uncle Bob who faces a rerun in the elections soon.

McDonald is in the house... and I do not mean the burger hawkers. Mariga. He scores and sends the stadium into more chants. The Mexican wave does its rounds. Oliech scores the second, but after the Zimbabweans (or is it Zimbabwese?) give Kenya a run for their money.

'OLIECH! ODINGA! OBAMA!' sings the crowd. A few others light their newspapers. With the sight of fire, another chant goes up: MOTO UMEWAKA LEO! which I think is some hymnal that states the obvious: FIRE IS BURNING TODAY.

The fire brigade is not required. If anything, it is the ambulance that is called when the Kenyan goal keeper gets injured. 'ORIGI! ORIGI! ORIGI!' the crowd which has long forgotten that howler against Eritrea sing on.

With the subs done, Oliech then dons the keepers jersey and gloves and makes his debut in goal! It is almost comical but Kenya prevail.

Spiderman may be still unmasked, but Superman has long been found. Dennis Oliech. Or is that Dennis The Menace?

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