Relegated City Stars skipper Amboko announces retirement

Former Nairobi City Stars FC captain now turned coach of the club, John Amboko, gives ...
Former Nairobi City Stars FC captain now turned coach of the club, John Amboko, gives instructions during their Kenyan Premier League match against Gor Mahia FC at the Nyayo National Stadium on July 24, 2016. Gor Mahia FC won the match 2-1. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Captain John Omboko has announced his retirement as a Nairobi City Stars player at the end of the season following their relegation from the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) on Sunday.

Their drop has been four years in the making and the long flirtation with relegation morphed into a full-blown embrace when they finally ran out of the proverbial nine lives at the hands of Kakamega Homeboyz who habour ambitions of playing in the KPL Top 8 knockout tournament next season.

Amid a crippling cash crunch and little motivation, the deflated players could not muster anymore effort to stage another Great Escape with Amboko who has been a permanent fixture at the club for 13 years and has worn the armband since 2011 deciding against continuing the wretched journey with City Stars in the National Super League (NSL).

He is among the dependable players expected to abandon the sinking Kawangware-based ship that is headed to insolvency unless someone can rescue them from their imminent demise.

Amboko maintains he is not quitting due to the rough seas they have sailed this season but he saw it prudent to pave way for the next generation.

As the other players lay desolate outside the team bus late into the evening following their 3-1 defeat to Homeboyz, Amboko cut a lone figure in the back seat as he pondered his next move away from what has been his home.

“Things haven’t been easy for us and year in year out – for the last four – they’ve turned to worse due to unending financial struggles. During this time our best players departed club for greener pastures.

“In all honesty our club chairman has done all he could to keep us from falling apart and behind the scenes he’s been embroiled in endless legal tussles with players – both past and present – all demanding their unpaid wages,” Amboko told Citizen Digital.

The 32-year-old added he does not remember the last time he got paid with most of their earnings coming from allowances from winning or drawing matches where only three victories this season left players reeling.

But he holds no grudges with a club he says gave him a chance in the game.

“It is through City Stars that I’ve been able to raise a family and more importantly mentored over 700 young footballers. I’ve helped Benson Iregi (City Stars), Oliver Maloba (City Stars), Evans Gateri (Bandari FC) and David King’atua (Bandari FC) blossom into quality players.

“I don’t have any regrets because I knew this moment was always going to arrive. I’ve dedicated my life t playing football but now is the time to seek other alternatives to fend for my family.

“Relegation is obviously a big blow for the team but it’s something that will always catch up with any club that has no sponsors,” Amboko added.

The captain who had a short stint with AFC Leopards in early 2011 added that bigger clubs have contributed in their decline by preying on their best talent and will be even less powerless to hold on to them while playing in the NSL.

His departure will be another disaster for a side that has so heavily leaned on the defensive steel of the center-back for the past decade.

It is the beginning of an era they will dread to usher in but one they must. And whether they can regroup and fight their way back to top flight football remains to be seen.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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