The late 1980s represent a halcyon era for Kenyan football. Local giants Gor Mahia, nicknamed K’Ogalo, became the first East and Central African side to lift a continental title, dispatching Tunisian titans Esperance in 1987s two-legged Nelson Mandela Cup final.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) also shortlisted K’Ogalo striker, the peerless Peter Dawo for the 1987 African Player of the Year. The young striker famed for his heading ability, topped Gor’s continental campaign with 10 goals and would finish seventh in the voting for the African Player of the Year (1987). Not bad for the 23-year old’s Gor debut year.
What might be lost to the younger generations of Kenyan football fans is the convergence of sponsorship between Liverpool FC, then a mega team that challenged on all winnable fronts, and Gor Mahia’s chief rivals, AFC Leopards. Both teams would share a common sponsor, Crown Paints, and be part of some historical firsts.
The Reds were the first English team to feature a commercial sponsor on their shirts, Hitachi, in 1979. In Kenya, Ingwe, as the Leopards are popularly called, would also break grounds by featuring Kenyan football’s first shirt and team sponsorship, Crown Paints in 1987.
Lancashire-based paint manufacturer Crown Paints, sponsors of Liverpool FC from 1982 to 1988 would end up sponsoring AFC Leopards thanks to astute business from the team’s commercial team led by team coach Graham Williams.
Graham Williams’ achievements include enabling Leopards reach the semi finals of the 1985 African Cup Winners Cup. Among the team’s scalps en route this milestone were Ghana’s Asante Kotoko SC and Mufulira Wanderers FC from Zambia. The Leopards would shrug off injuries to their key striker, J.J. Masiga, to lift the 1986 domestic league title, with an unbeaten record, having scored an impressive 96 goals.
Williams helped establish a youth development culture, one his club would reap richly in the years that followed retirement of Liverpool fan Mahmoud Abbas, and his compatriots like Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba and Josphat Murila.
Special mention to J.J. Masiga, Kenya’s answer to Brazil’s physician, footballer, political activist and philosopher Socrates. Having excelled in both football and rugby, this legend would retire to his dental practice. Like Socrates, Masiga too trained as a medical doctor, specializing in dentistry. Talk of having one’s cake and eating it!
Legendary AFC Leopards and Kenya Striker J.J. Masiga wearing a shirt featuring sponsorship by Crown Paints. The team poses for a photo wearing similar shirts.
The All Footballers’ Confederation Leopards Football Club, officially abbreviated as A.F.C. Leopards and commonly known as simply A.F.C., Leopards or Ingwe (Luhya for “Leopards”), is a professional football club based in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 1964, the Leopards have won the Kenya Premier League a record 13 times, the Kenya Cup eight times and five CECAFA Club championships (a regional club competition).
REFERENCES: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/sakataball/uploads/pics/masiga.jpg | http://blog.crownpaints.co.ke/2012/07/19/crown-paints-kenya-ltd/ | http://www.kenyanstar.co.ke/retracing-our-roots/page-7 | http://www.ingwefans.com/the-team.html
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