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AFCON 2019: Mariga fails to hold back tears as Kenya struggle against Algeria

By Clive Kyazze

Kenya played in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2004 against Algeria in their Group C opening game at June 30th Stadium on Sunday evening.

In the stands was a handful of Kenyan fans, one of them was not ordinary and it was none other than Victor Wanyama’s big brother McDonald Mariga and other siblings who came to cheer the Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder.

While everyone was off their seat happy and excited to see Kenya play again at this stage for the first time after 15 years, Mariga remained glued to his seat struggling to stay calm.

Victor Wanyama (left) and his big brother McDonald Mariga outside Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on October 7, 2011 ahead of Harambee Stars 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Uganda. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

He actually cleared his teary eyes with his left hand as his right was playing with his well shaved beards.

At the end of CAF anthem, Mariga cleared his eyes again before standing up to join the rest of the Kenyan community for the national anthem.

“When they were coming down, I pictured myself to be there, I wanted to play for my country but everything has an end. I suffered a lot to be a fan than on the field to play,” Mariga told after the game.

“It’s a career and with injuries like how I had with my knees it’s very difficult to continue,” he added.

Despite the stage seeming to be too big for the East Africans side who lost 2-0 through goals by Baghdad Bounedjah and Riyad Mahrez, Kenyan had their moments in the game.

On many occasions just like any other fan, Mariga got off his seat in tense moments, threw his arms in the air but also cheered the boys despite sitting meters away from the pitch.

In the end, the Harambee Stars lost 2-0, the 2010 UEFA Champions League winner believes it’s not over yet especially with a tournament of 24 teams.

Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama (12) chase down his Algerian counterpart Riyad Mahrez at the June 30 Stadium, Kenya lost the game 2-0 / Bata Images

“This is the first game, we have two more games, I hope we will win and qualify for the next stage.”

“It’s good for us to be here, it will help Kenyan football grow learn a thing or two from the other teams that have been here longer and I think we are on the right track,” he noted.

Kenya play their counterparts Tanzania on Thursday, June 27th, in what is expected to be a mouthwatering East Africa Derby, the latter lost 2-0 to Senegal before the Kenya-Algeria clash.

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