News: Saurer’s scapegoat
AFCON 1992; Ivory Coast beat Ghana 11-10 in the final; Kenya failed to proceed past the group stage   (Credit: Goal.com)


On the 28th of July 1991, Kenya downed visiting, and fancied, Sudan 2-1 at the Moi International Sports Centre to book a ticket to a third straight Africa Cup of Nations.

Sudan, who only needed a draw to proceed at Kenya's expense, had a late fight back in the game only managed a consolation from Fath Elrahman but it was Kenya who celebrated their triumph delivered by goals from Henry Motego and Mike Okoth.

Zero goal difference

“I told you we will do it, didn't I ? Said an over elated National team Coach Gerry Saurer to the press soon after the game.

The win over Sudan sent Kenya to the top of a very competitive Group ‘6’ by virtue of the most goals scored. The Harambee Stars had four points, same as second placed Mozambique and Sudan, as all had two wins each in the qualifiers.

Interestingly, all had zero goal difference but Kenya went through having scored four goals, one more than both Mozambique and Sudan. It has to be noted that the fourth team in the group Mauritius pulled out of the qualifiers.

Previous appearances

 With the ticket booked, focus from then on shifted to Senegal, where the Africa show piece was to be held in the coming year from 12 – 26 January.

When the draw was made, the 12 qualified teams were placed in four different groups of three teams each. Kenya was placed in Group ‘A’ with hosts Senegal and Nigeria.

As Saurer prepared his team for the big event, he was well aware that in the previous appearance in 1990, under Mohammed Kheri, Kenya failed to score a single goal, leave alone pick a win, as the team emerged bottom of Group ‘B’ that also had Zambia, Senegal and Cameroon.

In 1988, under Coach Chris Makokha and Brazilian Technical Advisor Danilo Alves, Kenya had also emerged bottom of Group ‘B’ with no win as they fell by identical 3-0 losses to Nigeria and Egypt and picked a 0-0 draw with Cameroon.

Abbas Magongo

Given the back drop, Saurer had his work cut out; he had to get at least a win to move Kenya to the knockout stages for the first time ever.

He shaped up his team well and headed out for the tournament with a strong list of 20 players; John Busolo, Ken Kenyatta, Charles Bwire (goal keepers), Vitalis Owuor, Francis Oduor, George Sunguti, Mickey Weche, Tobias Ochola, Sammy Omollo, Vincent Kwarula (Defenders), Allan Odhiambo, Henry Nyandoro, Tony Lwanga, John Lukoye, Peter Mwololo (Midfielders), Dave Odhiambo, Terry Onyango, Alfayo Odongo, Elijah Koranga, Simon Ndungu and James Mbwabi (strikers)

Two Oman based players Abbas Khamis Magongo as well as Gabriel Olang were however left out.

Kenya went down 2-1 to Nigeria in their first game at the Leopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar. Some defensive lapses allowed Nigerian ‘beast’ Rashidi Yekini to score twice in a span of eight minutes, the first in the seventh minute.

Pressured

Kenya however picked a consolation goal with a minute left on the clock as Mickey Weche slotted home an awarded penalty.

The second game played at the same venue is one Saurer hoped to forget quickly as Kenya had no answer to the host Senegal; they lost it 3-0 with goals from Souleymane Sane right after the second half restart, Jules Bocande (68) and a Victor Diagne goal a minute to time doing the damage.

A few days after been dumped out of the tournament, the team was back home. And the pressured Saurer had a scapegoat for the quick exit, he blamed it on two of his dependable Oman-based defenders; Mickey Weche and Vitlais Owuor whom he accused of sabotaging the team. 

"I have facts to prove this, and I am very disappointed that the two players sabotaged their country in Senegal’ he said to the press upon arrival

I am a very disappointed man. I know Mickey and Vitalis for many years, but they let me down badly

Aim of finishing me

I suspected that there was something wrong in our match against Nigeria. Our professionals did not impress me and when I talked to them in a post match meeting, I realized they had planned to sabotage me.

They went as far as recruiting some young players into their camp with the aim of finishing me in our deciding match against Senegal" he added

Prior to the tournament, Saurer had picked an issue with foreign based players during qualifiers and decided he would drop all of them from his plans.

Arrived late

Days before heading out to Senega,l the Federation insisted that he must include them in his squad to boost the team's performance.

However, of the four 'forced' on Saurer, Oman based Vitalis Owuor, John shoto Lukoye and Mickey Weche arrived on time to make the trip but burly Henry Motego arrived late and missed out all together; his place was taken up by defender Vincent Kwarula.

His excuses aside, the loss to Senegal happened to be his last assignment with the national team. He was soon booted out from his job on 13 March of 1992, two and a half months to the close of his contract, and interestingly, his job was handed back to Kheri, the man he had replaced on 17 of May 1990. 


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