Noah Abich: Dead-ball specialist who prowled KPL like a colossus
Joseph Saasia in Nairobi
Noah Abich’s name has been in the tongues of Kenyan football enthusiasts for close to two decades, his service for 12 clubs making him a Kenyan Premier League great.
The versatile defender, who since last year has been with Nairobi City Stars as the team rose back into the Kenyan Premier League, has now announced his retirement but is not walking away from the beautiful game.
All he has known in life is football, and the end of his playing days has now opened a new phase as he embarks on coaching.
During his stint in the top flight, he’s remembered for some uncanny goals, mainly penalties. He had a knack of scoring beautiful ones. He’ll particularly be remembered for the beauty he curled from some 18-yeards out, against Leopards, while donning a Mathare shirt. That was five seasons ago, the venue being Nairobi City Stadium, when he left the Leopards keeper stranded; the ball nestling with ease, to the keeper’s right, as he wheeled away in celebration, to be mobbed by ecstatic team mates.
Now taking over new duties at City Stars dugout, Abich hopes he’ll inspire the next generation of footballers, and train many more to have the knack of scoring penalties and free-kicks.
“I must say I am excited, I want to take up this new challenge and make City Stars even bigger, I want to thank the entire management for their trust, you know this are rare happenings, I will dedicate all my energy to the club,” the former defender told Citizen Digital.
Born on February 2, 1987 in Otongolo, Kisumu, Abich who’ll be 34 in February says he grew up admiring ‘top footballers’ then, but with a faint idea he would rise to the apex of the beautiful game in Kenya.
“I grew up admiring the likes of Ken Simiyu and for the last 15 years, yes, I can look back and say I made an impact too,” he said.
He came into the limelight while featuring for Thur Gem High School in the national finals in 2002, where then Nzoia Sugar FC tactician Evans Kadenge noticed his raw talent. A year later, he would join Kadenge at Nzoia, beginning his professional career at the Sudi based club.
“We were playing in Nationals in 2002 when then Nzoia Sugar FC tactician Evans Kadenge identified me, I must say I owe him a lot, he signed me immediately at Nzoia and things turned around,” Abich went on.
He has also donned the colours of Tusker, Bandari, Chemelil Sugar, Sofapaka, Sony Sugar, Nakuru AllStars and Mount Kenya United.
“We won trophies right form high school when I played under coaches like Gordon Akuku, Mr. Indimuli, the late Chris Makokha, I must say they contributed a lot to the growth of my football career.
“In the premier league, I did wonders, I was known on dead balls and free-kicks, my stint at Mathare was remarkable, I want to appreciate so much coaches like Mr. Okumbi, Pamzo, Francis Baraza, I used to take their instructions 100%,” Abich said.
Until last season, Abich was turning out for Nairobi City Stars.
The team did not renew his contract and he has since been appointed as a youth coach at the club.
“The management saw my potential, I want to thank them a lot, I won’t let them down, I want to focus on identifying and nurturing these young talents for City Stars,” the seemingly excited defender said.
The right-back, who has a Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Level ‘C’ Licence coaching badge, has been actively involved as a coach at Underwater Football Academy in Zimmerman, Nairobi.
“I lived in Zimmerman for a while and whenever we would train from there, kids would flock the ground and watch us in awe. It hit me that God was communicating to me. I decided to start training them and that is how the academy was founded in mid-2019,” Abich told Citizen Digital.
“This is a tough neighbourhood and the kids can easily get swayed into crime and drug abuse. This was God’s calling and I am really happy to be doing this,” he added.
He went on to share his greatest lesson as a player for a decade and a half.
“You have to respect the game to be disciplined. That means you have to listen and do whatever your coach tells you.
“That is what I learnt from the onset of my career and that’s why I have managed to play at the top level for long.” he concluded.
Nairobi City Stars CEO Patrick Korir, who covered Abich as a player for over a decade even before they reunited at the club, has nothing but kind words for the defender.
“He didn’t play much as we got promoted last season but he was deliberately in the team as a mentor and for the unity of the team. His vision of the game is second to none.
“He is reliable, dependable, a true leader and mentor. He always wants to win and the kind of winners’ mentality he carries supersedes his actual will to win. You can’t go wrong with him in your team,” Korir told Citizen Digital.
“When I came to City Stars the team was as good as relegated. Then the transfer window opened. I was told Abich was one of the players training and hoping to be signed. Without hesitation I said ‘sign him’ without even checking on his fitness.
“I had always known him for his dead balls – penalties, free kicks and throw ins. Little wonder he arrived and was scorer with eight goals (six penalties) and had as many assists in two months (April -June) to see the team survive relegation.
“I have no doubt he will deliver in his new position at the club, I want to wish him well as he settles in his new position,” he concluded.
Abich joins the likes of Kakamega Homobeyz’ tactician Nicholas Muyoti, AFC Leopards’ Anthony ‘Modo Kimani among other retired Premier League stars who’ve made transitions into coaching. Muyoti and Kimani are already making their names at the big stage and Abich would definitely relish the prospects of going one step better, to coach at this level, for now though, he’s learning the ropes, a day at a time.