Kenya: Macdonald Mariga – First East African to play at the UEFA Champions League

Wednesday night 28th April 2010, marked a histvictory for Inter Milan and their controversial manager, Jose Mourinho. But of greater joy to Eastern African football fans was the first East African player to ever make it to a UEFA Champions’ League: MacDonald Mariga. reports how MacDonald Mariga made history playing in his first UEFA Champions League game when he was brought on later in the game against Chelsea:

McDonald Mariga came on and it’s like Chelsea players panicked on seeing him, coz first thing their captain John Terry did is foul him and get a yellow card for it.

According to Muchene, here is the real story:

…But back to the real story….Congrats Mariga! You can lead Inter all the way to the final.

Nigeria Best Forum Topics adds this:

The moment may have gone unnoticed in London but not in Nairobi where Mariga‘s mum was blowing a Vuvuzela as her son became the first Kenyan and the first East African to play in the Champions League.

MacDonald is raising the East African countries’ profiles:

There is also huge interest in neighbouring, and equally football-mad, Uganda because real hopes exist that a player from Africa‘s footballing eastern backwaters can spearhead a change, which one former Kenya coach – contrary to conventional wisdom – believes is possible.

Yasin Ansari, a Kenyan living in South Africa, says this in his blog:

This blog is about a Kenyan (yes another one but not just anyone) who last night walked onto the field with about 15 mins to go in the game and not only was I impressed but mighty proud that he stood his ground and played well earning him the right to play for one of the most successful coaches of our time, Jose Mourino…. McDonald Mariga is his name, playing in a number 17 jersey as a midfielder. Watch this guy, he will be remembered as one of the stars from Africa.

Kenya's & Inter Milan's MacDonald Mariga shields ball from Seydou Keita of Barcelona. Image

SportsKenya, (where this author also contributes) describes what he calls a ‘cameo appearance’ by the Kenyan star,

The Kenyan football fan had a unique opportunity to see one of their own playing at a UEFA Champs game and though it was a cameo appearance, it was enough to turn our patriotic selves into rapturous cheer.”
In a previous post, the blog reports what was to be his debut game for Inter Milan in the Champions League,
“After creating such a buzz during the transfer window in January, our very own McDonald Mariga's about to take to the pitch, this time on a high profile game which might just launch his career into greatness…Playing for one of the continent's revered sides and playing against one of England's best hopes for a Champions League win, Mariga will come up against tried and tested pedigree at a continental level.

GhanaSoccernet, discusses Sally Muntari’s prediction of Macdonald Mariga’s future,

He is just a delight to watch. I am sometimes marvelled by his sharp instincts and ability to manoeuvre his way through defenders. He has such an incredible speed, pace and skill on the ball. If he continues to play the way he is currently doing for Milan then I can confidently say he is the next big thing to happen to the game.”

And Muntari continues to say,

Mariga is real and ready to take on the rest of the world. I don’t foresee him fading away like other young talents in time past. In the next few years, he will blossom into the biggest football act out of Africa., a blog by Kenya’s sports broadcaster Topi Lyambila, calls Mariga “Kenya’s beacon of hope”:

Mariga is versatile and a joy to watch, a player who moves with the fluidity of the ultimate professional. Although coming in as late substitute, for the past two games, Mariga is writing history as the first ever East African to play in the Champions League penultimate and final stages.

Yasin Ansari summarises by saying, “Thank you Mr. Mariga for giving me that feeling of being proudly Kenyan.”:

As the spectacle drew to an end and the sprinklers were switched on to encourage the Inter team to boycott their celebrations and get off the field, I watched Mr. Mariga shake hands and hug some of the legends of the game. All I can say is that I can’t wait for the 22nd when I will watch Inter Milan do what they have been trying to do for years and more importantly get a glimpse of this midfielder…Thank you Mr. Mariga for giving me that feeling of being proudly Kenyan.


  • Latest gossip. Mariga and oliech are having an ego clash leading to kenya’s recent loss to minnows guinea bissau. But the positive thing is that both players are playing full time for their clubs. Forza auxere forza inter milan. God bless kenya. All will be okay.

  • Richard Wanjohi

    It may not be an ego clash as some media reports have it. It also bodes well for their careers to play full-time while they can and increase Kenya’s (East Africa too) visibility on the European leagues. With better management of the national team, I’m sure their contribution will be more than welcome and they can inspire their compatriots to conquer the African challenge. As you say God bless our efforts and work for the best !

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