Kenya’s football legend Siang’a passes away aged 67

Departed Gor Mahia legend, James Sianga
Departed Gor Mahia legend, James Sianga

The East African world of football is mourning the loss of former Harambee Stars assistant coach and Gor Mahia coach, James Siang’a, who passed away in Bungoma on Friday night after a long battle with diabetes.

Siang’a, who was once Kenya’s goalkeeper, was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2008.

“He asked me to sing him a happy birthday song yesterday and in the midst of it he asked to go to the washroom. He tried to get up but he suddenly felt he didn’t have the energy. He started sweating profusely after I’d helped him back to his seat,” his wife, Hilda Siang’a, narrated to Citizen Digital of the events before his demise.

The 67-year-old managed Kenya between 1999 and 2000 before moving to Tanzania, where he took charge of the Tanzanian national team in 2002. He also managed Tanzanian club sides Simba SC and Moro United, as well as Express FC in Uganda. During his spell at Simba, Siang’a was remembered for leading the team to the group stage of the CAF Champions League in 2003, after knocking out then tournament holders, Zamalek of Egypt.

In October 2004, while at Moro United, Siang’a was approached to take over as manager of the Kenyan national team, but he refused. Later that same month, Siang’a was also approached to become manager of the Tanzanian national team; once again, he refused. Siang’a also coached Mtibwa Sugar in Tanzania, before becoming coach of Gor in Kenya in 2008.

At the time, K’Ogalo were languishing in the relegation zone but he pulled them up to ninth and although he never led the side to a title, he transformed the club back to its winning ways.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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