Pwani Sports Excellence; Mahmoud Abbas aka Kenya One.

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In 1976, Notts County became the second British club to visit Kenya. After two wins in Nairobi, they lost their final two matches in Mombasa. The final fixture of the summer tour ended in a 2-1 defeat to Mwenge FC. The Mwenge goalkeeper was Mahmoud Abbas aka Kenya One, a nickname given to him by Leonard Mambo Mbotela. Abbas went on to star for AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars, following in the footsteps of goalkeeper Mohammed Salim Musa ‘Magogo’.

Clubs and then Kenya national team coach Ray Wood took serious notice of Abbas when he led Khamis High School to the 1977 national secondary school football title. Khamis beat fancied Njoro Boys in the final played in Mombasa. Njoro were back-to-back Champions in 1975 & 1976. Before signing for AFC Leopards, the club he is best associated with, from Mwenge, Abbas almost joined Kenya Breweries (now Tusker FC) but Magogo having left Breweries to play professionally in UAE scared them off another Pwani player who would potentially leave at his peak. A blessing in disguise, he joined AFC Leopards, then Abaluhya Football Club, in 1978. He was a mainstay for them and the national team, winning 3 league titles (1980-1982), 3 consecutive CECAFA Club titles (1982-1984) and 3 consecutive CECAFA Cups (1981-1983) respectively.

In a memorable moment before one of the CECAFA Cup Finals, Moi welcomed the national team to State House for a luncheon. He promised them a handsome cash reward to be handed to the Federation officials and divided equally among the players if they won. Abbas raised his hand. To which Moi responded, “Uko na maoni mengine Mswahili?” (At that point, Abbas was already known to be vocal). Abbas boldly stated, “Mtukufu Rais, ukiwapatia hawa viongozi hizo pesa nakuhakikishia hazitatufikia…naomba tuje tuzifuate wenyewe State House”. A bemused Moi agreed.

Indeed, they were back at State House shortly after to collect their reward, amidst praise from his teammates. Abbas later went on to be Harambee Stars’ goalkeeping coach but quit citing a lack of seriousness in the running of Kenyan football. Mahmoud Abbas, truly Kenya One.



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