KPL transfers: No classic deal but plot never short on drama

By nesta kizito
Jan 31, 2022
  • KPL Champions Gor Mahia dominated transfer headlines yet again for all the wrong reasons.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

The Kenyan Premier League may have been on recess since late November 2013, but there hasn’t been a shortage of talking points from the sidelines to whet the fans’ appetite ahead of the new season.

The player transfer window, which closes on Friday at midnight, in particular, has been the preoccupation of most clubs.

One would expect that with less than 24 hours to the closure of the transfer window, ‘moneyed’ clubs such as Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Sofapaka would have gone overdrive in behind the scenes negotiations for that highly prized player.

Don’t hold your breath; you highly are unlikely to wake up to earth shaking news on Saturday morning. As a matter of fact, virtually all clubs are done with the business end of things in as far as signing players for the first leg of the 2014 season is concerned.

Interestingly, there hasn’t been any big move so to speak of.

While some clubs such as Leopards and Tusker went for the tried and tested, league champions Gor Mahia chose to play to the gallery in their trademark style that has now become an all too familiar publicity stunt.

Biggest transfer story

Still, the happenings at Camp K’Ogalo made the ‘biggest’ transfer story, thanks to one Julius Situmbeko, that sneaky Zambian youngster who duped the club into believing that he was theirs for the taking only to hive off a tidy sum of the cash from the club’s coffers before retreating to his native Southern African homeland unnoticed.

Close to five hundred thousand shillings flashed down the drain! It was ridiculous!

A scandal that in other places would have cost the club officials who had anything to do with this Situmbeko fellow their positions or worse criminal charges in a court of law for negligence and embezzlement of public funds.

How a club with as rich a history as Gor Mahia’s can exhibit such gullibility when it comes to business transactions – the blood life of all professional outfits – is a paradox. It is baffling yet not wholesomely unusual; such things only happen at Gor Mahia.

The Situmbeko saga was a near perfect rendition of similar goof the club pulled at the beginning of last season. There was talk of refund of part of that money(Ksh.330,000) from the boy's current club Power Dynamos.

For weeks on end, the club had been gloating about the impending arrival of a Brazilian player – a feat that would make K’Ogalo the first Kenyan club to sign a player from the world’s spiritual home of the beautiful game.

Elaborate plans were laid, the media appropriately notified and a red carpet rolled out for the Samba Boy’s homecoming.

On that occasion, I happened to be among the scores of fans of who trooped to City Stadium on a Tuesday morning to witness a ‘historic’ moment.

And when it was time for Giovanni Rodriguez – for that was his name - to step forward, what swaggered out of the dressing room was a rotund, chubby, pot-bellied character – a far cry from image of a nimble footed Selecao the club had painted.

Brazilian imposter

The fans on the terraces were felt in stiches at the sight of the Brazilian import struggling to keep up with the pace of his training mate under the mid-morning’s sweltering heat.

K’Ogalo’s outspoken Croatian coach at the time Zdravko Logarusic dismissed him forthright at the end of the training session branding him a ‘joker’.

Thereafter very little was heard of this imposter who became the butt of every joke in town.

And so after the Rodriguez embarrassment, it was rather strange that K’Ogalo had the temerity to do it all over again only this time with a Zambian replacing the Brazilian for the lead role in this erratic game of charades.

Regardless, it provided a well-deserved comical relief that helped in momentarily easing the withdrawal symptoms of action-starved fans during the off season.