Brave RMS team fired up despite quarters exit
Prior to the first whistle of the StarTimes Media Challenge on Saturday at Nairobi’s Safaricom Stadium, the RMS football team had not trained, most of the players were meeting each other for the first time and tactics were discussed tactics pitch side.
However, the side went on to earn the plaudits when their brave run ended at the quarterfinals after rapidly transforming from potential whipping boys to tournament favourites before eventual champions Radio Africa eliminated them in controversial fashion.
However, having come so close to emulating English Premier League rank outsiders Leicester City FC’s brilliant run to the summit this season, the RMS team was not crestfallen in defeat, instead resolving to return for the next tournament stronger.
Drawn in a monster Pool A alongside fellow local media giants, Standard Group and Nation as well as hosts StarTimes, RMS turned up to have a dose of fun having ruled themselves out of progressing past the first hurdle.
In their opener against StarTimes, Samson Maunda unleashed a cracker for the winner in a 1-0 victory two minutes from time at Nairobi’s Safaricom Stadium when action got underway on Saturday.
Revitalised, RMS then took on Standard who had the imposing frame of sports editor and former AFC Leopards trialist, Robin Toskin in goal but his intimidating presence between the sticks was given a fall of the Biblical Goliath proportions by Vincent Osiemo in another 1-0 victory.
Osiemo sold two Standard defenders a dummy before turning and firing a sling shot that nestled at the far post, out of the reach of the despairing dive of Toskin for the winner.
With shock qualification to the quarters already assured, RMS took their foot of the pedal and rang the chances with Ramogi FM sports guru, Milton ‘Jaka Black’ Ochieng coming in goal for Mutua who had kept Standard at bay.
Perhaps thoughts of his popular evening show filled in his mind because two moments of calamitous, if not comical, defending from Jaka Black cost RMS a third victory on the spin after he conceded two needless penalties.
Burly Allan Munga dispatched them with aplomb in a 2-0 win for Nation in the last game.
The spot-kicks were given when Ochieng charged outside the D like a raging bull, not once, but twice and in the seven-a-side tournament, that is a penalty offence. An opposing attacker is also not allowed to strike inside the box.
Standard and Toskin in particular did not see the funny side of Jaka Black’s rush of blood, accusing RMS of match fixing since defeat to Nation meant the favourites tumbled out of the competition bottom of the group.
“How can a keeper rush out twice! RMS Sports Editor receives a call from Allan Buluku (Nation sports editor) and before you know it, the team is 2-0 down!” the bitter Toskin alleged.
“On both occasions, I was rushing to stop the attackers. I forgot this was seven-a-side football,” the disconsolate Ochieng rued after his twin howlers cost his side a perfect record in the group as his teammates comforted him.
Osiemo spurned two chances to score for RMS, first in the sixth minute when he skied an open opportunity before he was set up to go for goal by a Maunda throw but once again, his shooting boots deserted him.
In the quarters, Radio Africa prevailed 2-0 with Bryan Maina giving them a fourth minute lead before Fred Arocho converted a debatable penalty in the first half, awarded when the referee deemed keeper has stepped out of his area.
The decision was hotly disputed with RMS threatening to walk out of the pitch because it was indeed Arocho who caused the infringement first by stepping inside the box before the keeper came out to claim the ball.
Commonsense prevailed and the game went on to its conclusion.
“We didn’t attend any training sessions explaining our performance but RMS has really worked hard. In the first match against Star times RMS proved they can play well and also in the second match against Standard the results were good,” team captain and Radio Citizen’s Geoffrey Mwamburi alias Beki stated.
“Making the quarter finals was not easy. We look forward to working hard and ensuring that we emerge the winners come next time,” Chamgei FM’s Emmy Cherono, one of the RMS female players said.
“We have really tried because we have made it to the quarter finals with any training. If we set aside time to train you can be sure we are capable of emerging the winners,” Maunda added.
Jeremiah Kimani aka Referee Mwenyewe of Inooro FM, Carol Kones (Chamgei FM), Philip Muchiri (Radio Citizen), Robert Mutunga (Musyi FM) who did a commendable shift as a marauding defender were some of the vernacular radio voices that added colour to the RMS side that had intern Mercy Rop playing the role of ‘Dr. Eva Caneiro’ as the team medic.
Radio Africa won the finals against Goal.com 1-0 to win the KSh50,000 first prize and a trophy as Capital FM who bundled Nation out in the quarters, finishing third.
Report by Mutwiri Mutuota and Paul Kimani