Match-fixing has for the past few weeks been a topical issue in the Kenyan football circles. This after FIFA, the global football body, banned four former KK Homeboyz players for match manipulation.
Ugandan George Mandela received the heaviest punishment of them all, a life ban from all football-related activities, while three Kenyans; Moses Chikati, Festus Okiring, and Festo Omukoto, were slapped with four-year bans respectively.
Match-fixing, however, is not a recent thing in Kenyan football, at least going by Wilson Raj Perumal memoirs, Kelong Kings, written together with investigative journalists Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano.
Kelong is a Singaporean slang for match-fixing.
In the book released in 2014, Raj, a Singaporean match-fixer of international repute, who served jail terms in Singapore and Finland over match-fixing related offenses, boasts helping Nigeria’s Super Eagles qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by fixing their last qualifying Group B match against Kenya in Nairobi.
Nigeria, who were two points behind Tunisia ahead of the final round fixtures, needed a win in Nairobi and at least a draw in Maputo, where the Mambas of Mozambique were hosting Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles in another Group B tie.
The Super Eagles’ fate was not in their hands and they needed help which Raj gladly offered.
Manipulating the game against Kenya was the least of Raj’s worries, it was as good as done, he had made friends within the Stars camp and was cocksure that they would deliver, the real job was to get a favorable result in Maputo.
“There is no guarantee that this ploy will produce the result that we want because I have no power over Tunisia’s match, except for the letter and the promise, but you’ll get your three points against Kenya; that I can guarantee. I have some players in the Kenyan team,” he assured a Nigerian football official during a meeting at a hotel in Abuja, which was organized by his local agent called Prince.
The ploy was a letter to Mozambique FA, assuring that if they fight tooth and nail and hold Tunisia, then they would be up for a handsome reward of 100,000 dollars. The Mambas shocked Tunisia 1-0.
Reaching the world cup guaranteed each participating team a cool $8 million, so $100,000 was pocket change.
Raj personally made it to Nairobi alongside his two friends Rajendra Prasad and Eric to arrange the fix with three Kenyan players, who were on his payroll, two of which he was certain would start the game.
The match was slated for 14 November 2009 at the Kasarani Stadium.
“Eric and I met the Kenyan national team players outside their training camp.”
His instructions to them were short and clear, “boys”, he told them, “help Nigeria win. Try to get this done for me.” The players nodded.
A day to the match, striker Dennis Oliech, who was in top form then, pledged to punish the Super Eagles in the opening minutes of the game and true to his word, the Menace delivered, netting the opener in the 15th minute.
But Obafemi Martins leveled for the visitors in the 60th minute before Yakubu put them in the lead four minutes later. Allan Wanga restored parity in the 77th minute, but Martins would get the all-important winner in the 81st minute, the job was done.
All the three Super Eagles goals were scored from close range with the forwards let loose.
Raj says that he also helped Honduras qualify the World Cup, a first to be staged in Africa.
“Ferrying Nigeria and Honduras to the World Cup was a personal achievement.”
“I felt that I had accomplished something important and that I finally sat on the very summit of match-fixing; a true Kelong King.”
His reward was to organize Nigeria’s pre-World Cup camp and three build-up matches, which he planned to fix.
In April last year, FIFA banned former Mathare United defender George Owino from all football-related activities for life for “fixing the national team games between 2009 and 2011.” They did not mention the specific matches Owino was involved in manipulating.
Raj used mainly defenders and goalkeepers for his fixes, however, as his empire grew, he roped in match officials.
Owino started the match, while goalkeeper Willis Ochieng’ was between the posts.
Kenya XI vs Nigeria: Patrick Oboya, Peter Odhiambo, Dennis Oliech, Willis Ochieng (GK), Jockins Atundo, John Njoroge, Musa Otieno (C), Victor Mugabe, Emmanuel Ake, George Owino and Edgar Ochieng.
Using a fake company by the name World Wide Events and Sports International and later Football4U, Raj twice invited different Kenyan sides to play in fishy tournaments in Egypt and Bahrain in 2009.
He helped organize many such tournaments, especially in Asia. He was often tasked by the host federations to help them bring on board foreign teams, of which, after agreeing with the teams, he would fix their matches after paying for their airfare and participation fee.