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Local players and fans should learn from Mariga’s exploits

Updated Saturday, March 20th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

The Uefa Champions League quarter-finals draw was done yesterday and McDonald Mariga’s Inter Milan was in the pot for the last eight matches.

When the Champions League last eight matches would be played Mariga will write history as the first Kenyan to play in the last eight of the lucrative European competition.

The Kenyan youngster made history by opening Champions League account for Kenyan players even though he played only the last five minutes against Chelsea.

Even if he had played only two minutes, the fact that we had one of our own playing among the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka, Julio Cecar, Javier Zanetti and Lucio is a huge achievement.

Mariga has opened local football to the world and scouts will soon be flooding local leagues in the hope of getting another Mariga.

Another Kenyan Dennis Oliech is also doing well in France and his team Auxerre are third in the French league, which means some Champions League football is beckoning for another Kenyan.

We had mourned when Mariga failed to secure a work permit to play in the English Premier League with Manchester City, but it seems Inter Milan was a blessing in disguise for the combative midfielder.

It has shown that with discipline and commitment a players’ dream can be realised and it does not matter what obstacles they will be going through.

We hope Mariga’s exploits will be a lesson to our football administrators, fans and players who are playing in the local league.

With the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches now live on satellite television this is a chance for our players to put themselves on the shopping window.

They can, however, only do this by giving a good account of themselves on the pitch and before long they could be following in the footsteps of Mariga and Oliech.

The fans who attend these matches can also help give a good picture of Kenyan football by not engaging in hooligan activities, which could taint the image of local football.

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