Focus on Football in Kenya

Football is the most popular sport in Kenya with millions of locals both young and old passionately following their favorite football clubs both locally and internationally.
It’s not uncommon to spot a gathering of a few hundred people congregated around a big-screen television with great excitement keenly watching their favorite teams playing.

Despite being passionate supporters of their local teams, Kenyans are also known for being impatient and sometimes even rowdy when their teams are not playing to their perceived standards.

Brief History of Football in Kenya

Football in Kenya is made up of the national men’s team, the national women’s team, and a series of several interconnected leagues with the topmost being the Kenya Premier League.

Kenya National Football Team

The national football team popularly known as Harambee Stars represents Kenya in international competitions.
National football in Kenya is governed by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) a local governing body headed by Nick Mwendwa. 
The local association is a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), under the jurisdiction of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) a sub-confederation of CAF.

The national team plays its home matches at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani a 60,000 capacity stadium situated in the capital city Nairobi, and is coached and captained by Jacob Mulee and Victor Wanyama respectively.

The country’s most capped player is veteran goalkeeper Arnold Origi with 120 caps and the top scorer is Dennis “the Menace” Oliech with 34 goals.

International Tournament Participation & Achievements

Kenya is eligible to play at a number of international competitions such as those organized by FIFA, CAF, CECAFA, and FKF. Nonetheless, Kenya has only appeared in six Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments with the first appearance in 1972 and the last in 2019. Despite participating in six tournaments Kenya has never gone past the group stages. The country has also never qualified for a FIFA World Cup tournament.
As of 10 December 2020 Kenya was ranked in position 104 by FIFA. With her highest ranking being position 68 (December 2008) and the lowest being position 137 (July 2007).

FIFA Suspensions & International Bans

FIFA has suspended Kenya a couple of times due to interference in local football activities by the government in total disregard of FIFA member statutes. The first suspension came into effect in 2004 and lasted for three months.

The second suspension came into effect in October 2006 and was enforced due to the country’s failure to respect signed agreements that were aimed at resolving the recurrent problems in the country’s federation. The suspension was later lifted after the federation amicably resolved its internal wrangling.

Leagues & Tournaments

The Kenyan football league system is made up of 7 divisions, with the highest being Kenya Premier League and the lowest being sub-county leagues.

The country’s apex league is made up of 18 clubs, followed by 20 clubs in the FKF National Super League (the country’s second-highest division). At the end of every season, the two clubs at the bottom of the standing trade places with the top two clubs in the subsequent division.

The most successful club in the league’s history is Gor Mahia FC. They have claimed the KPL title a record 18 times five more than any other club. Apart from the league, the FKF Cup is the only other major club competition in Kenyan football.

Major Clubs & Rivalry (Derby)

Every country around the world has a few major clubs with enduring rivalry and sometimes borderline animosity, especially among the fans.
Kenya is no exception either, the two major clubs and bitter rivals in Kenya are Gor Mahia Football Club which was founded on 17 February 1968, and All Footballers' Confederation Leopards Sports Club commonly known as A.F.C. Leopards or simply AFC founded in 1964.

Among the fiercest fans, Gor Mahia is nicknamed K’Ogalo while AFC is nicknamed Ingwe.
Their rivalry has spanned over several decades and when they face each other their match is commonly dubbed as the Mashemeji Derby. 

Both clubs have produced a number of memorable matchups and they’ve both claimed a number of local and regional honors. However, over the years Gor Mahia has had an upper hand in this rivalry with 18 league titles to AFC’s 13. They are also the only club from Kenya and CECAFA region to have claimed the prestigious African Continental Title when they won the African Cup Winners’ Cup in 1987. 

Read More :

Women’s Football in Kenya.

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