Varsity don Waweru makes history as first Kenyan centre ref at Afcon

By Sammy Kitula: Wednesday, July 3rd 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Kenyan referee Peter Waweru when he handled the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tie between Ivory Coast and Namibia in Egypt on July 1, 2019. [Stafford Ondego]

Peter Waweru has gained fame for solving algebra problems as a lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, but on Monday night, he was solving other problems as a centre referee in the Africa Cup of Nations.

While Ivory Coast and Namibia fans were focused on their players doing business inside the 30 June Stadium, Kenyans were interested in watching how the JKUAT don would conduct his football class, his first at this level.

Waweru, who has a doctoral degree in Pure Mathematics, was in control of the proceedings from the first whistle and it didn’t even show that he was making his debut in the continental showpiece.

Even when Namibia's Deon Hotto hacked Ivory Coast star Wilfried Zaha and a pocket of the Ivorian fans called for a more punitive punishment, Waware , as composed as they come, flashed a yellow card across his face; the only booking in the entire match.

Waweru was assisted in the match by his compatriot Gilbert Cheruiyot.

Waweru, who has published five academic papers and his main research area is Abstract Algebra, has been on an upward trajectory in his career as he oscillates from lecture rooms to football fields.

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He officiated in the CAF Champions League and was picked for the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, in Niger.

Cheruiyot, who was also one of the assistant referees in the 2016 Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) in Rwanda, was also officiating in his first Africa Cup of Nations.

For these officials, when the appointment comes through, so does their research for the match.

Principally, they plan their positioning for the game. The referees also use prior information of the teams to play or even consult their colleagues and see what they can pick ahead of the tie.

Perhaps, this is what Waweru did. But because we only tend to remember referees when they make controversial decisions, not many people noticed Waweru on Monday night.  Another thankless job. 

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