Nostalgic Pamzo reminisces the day Kenya Breweries’ beer went flat in the 1994 CAF Cup Winners' Cup final

FOOTBALL Nostalgic Pamzo reminisces the day Kenya Breweries’ beer went flat in the 1994 CAF Cup Winners' Cup final

Mark Kinyanjui 06:00 - 27.06.2023

Kenya Breweries were just 90 minutes away from lifting the CAF Cup Winners Cup in 1994, replicating Gor Mahia's 1987 triumph.

Former Gor Mahia, Harambee Stars and Kenya Breweries (Now Tusker) legend Sammy Omollo Pamzo has reminisced the time Tusker nearly replicated the Gor Mahia side of 1987 by winning the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994 but fell short in the very last leg in Nairobi.

The Kenyan lads were just 90 minutes away from clinching the coveted trophy but their opponents danced on their graves at the eleventh hour.

Omollo and his teammates had forced hosts DC Motema Pembe to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the final played at Kinshasa’s Stade des Martyrs on November 27, 1994.

Patrick Nachok broke the deadlock in the 5th minute before Motema equalized through Monka Ngalama in the 16th minute. Buawi gave the hosts an advantage at the stroke of halftime before Henry Motego drew the brewers level later in the match, giving the Kenyans the advantage by virtue of scoring two away goals.

Everybody expected the return match in Nairobi to be a walk in the park for the brewers but Motema Pembe grabbed the cake right from their mouth, instead thrashing them 3-0 at the Nyayo National Stadium on December 10, 1994 to claim the title 5-2 on aggregate.

On their way to the finals, Kenya Breweries saw off Mozambique’s Ferroviario da Beira 5-1 on aggregate, after winning the first leg 2-0 in Nairobi before posting a 3-1 away win. They later rode to the quarterfinals on the back of a second round walkover following the withdrawal of Rwanda’s Rayon Sport due to the Rwandese genocide.

Pamzo insists that complacency was the reason they lost the title at the very last minute because they assumed the job was done after holding the side to a 2-2 draw.

“Back in 1994, Kenya Breweries did not have fans, but Kasarani stadium was filled to the brim! We were all determined to replicate Gor Mahia’s 1987 Mandela Cup winning season!”

“I keep saying that if we had lost away to Motema Pembe, we would have won the return leg in Nairobi. After we did well against that side in Congo, we basically got complacent. We never trained because we thought it was a done deal.

“ In the first half, we were down by two goals to nil. In the dressing room, we assumed that the crowd would be enough to drag us back, but we were soon 3-0 down after the break.”

“It was a sad moment. From there, many people dispersed in a bid to run away from the embarrassment. The likes of Boniface Oduor and Patrick Nachok died from depression while Vincent Kwarula and Tom Odhiambo moved to the USA. Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee and Paul Onyiera both retired from football,” said Omollo.

Omolo believes that Kenyan football took a hit two years later in 1996 when Kenya were denied the chance to host the Africa Cup of Nations owing to inadequate infrastructure needed to host the tournament.

“That had a massive effect on our football. A majority of the players at the time were kind of a golden generation. I also believe that the halting of the secondary school games also had an effect because secondary school games were the gateway for talent to be identified.

Omollo attended Githumu High School in Murang’a county, where his actual journey in football began to blossom. The school had stamped authority in the Kenya secondary schools ball games for a while and had appeared a record three consecutive times in the national event.

It was during this era that Omollo’s talent bubbled to the fore and clinched the attention of none other than the men’s national team coach Gerry Saurer who spontaneously drafted him into the U-21 outfit, alongside erstwhile football legends including Tom Odhiambo, Tony Lwanga, Francis Oduor, Patrick Kisanya, Terry Onyango, Tobias Ocholla, Henry Motego and Paul Onyiera.

“Back then, powerhouses like Kakamega High School and Musingu were known to produce football talents which would then be plucked by the national team coaches into the team and at the same time be signed by clubs. That is how I was signed by Breweries.”

Following the capitualtion, Omollo moved to India where he made history as the first ever Kenyan to play in that country.

“I signed a professional contract with Indian side East Bengal FC in 1996 and after two seasons in India, I moved to Mohun Bagan A.C. for another three seasons,” says Omollo.

Omollo returned to Kenya in 2002 where he played for Kenya Pipeline until 2005.He also briefly played for Securicor before hanging up his boots to focus on Coaching.

Omollo has coached Mahakama, Tusker, Oserian,Sony Sugar, Zetech University, KCB , Posta Rangers and Kenya Police. He has also served as assistant coach at East Bengal and Gor Mahia.

The 54-year-0ld insists that, having served both roles, he would still prefer playing because the modern player lacks natural leadership skills.

“I prefer being a player rather than being a coach. In my playing days, we had leaders left, right and centre on the pitch. Strong leaders and characters who did not need the armband to lead.