Kenya’s inaugural Guinness Night Football Extravaganza came to a thrilling conclusion on Friday at the Halcyon Lounge and Grill in Kitengela, Kajiado County.

This was the venue for the final event of the 5-a-side competition, which had seen Guinness visit Machakos, Kisumu, and Nakuru to pick the best teams ahead of the grand finale.

The winners from the four counties had already arrived at the venue three days prior to the final to start preparations for the big day, which included a whole host of activities one that was a memorable night for Kenyan football fans.

Fans sipped bottles of Guinness while playing PlayStation, while others enjoyed thrilling highlights of past English Premier League matches.

As the revellers continued to enjoy entertainment from DJ Teargas and DJ Gibbz, the first 5-aside football semi-final began, with each team knowing the overall winner would proceed to the Pan African football extravaganza for the Guinness Night Football grand finale.

After impressing in the semi-finals, Stream FC (from Kisumu) came up against Bangers FC (Nairobi region) in the final, cheered on by a huge crowd. 

The intense match had to be settled via spotkicks after a 1-1 draw in normal time; Stream FC were clinical from the spot as they converted all of their efforts.

During the final, Bangers FC went ahead in the first few minutes with captain Hassan Hussein finding the back of the net to give his side a 1-0 half-time lead. In the second half, Fredrick Ochieng equalised for Stream FC in the dying minutes to send the match straight to penalties.

Stream FC ultimately emerged as Kenya’s inaugural champions of the Guinness Night Football tournament, winning 3-1 on penalties.

Elated Stream FC captain Calvin Ogallo explained afterwards: “We had a strategy to execute, although it did not go our way during the first half.

“During the second half, we regrouped and had a chance to kill the game. I am glad to have captained my team to the trophy. Evans Ogalo, who marshalled Stream FC’s defence throughout the tournament, could not hide his joy after winning the trophy, and also securing his ticket to Nigeria.

“I never knew that one day I would board a plane in my entire life,” Ogalo said, while shedding tears, “I am happy that finally I will also board a plane and will be looking forward to the experience.

“I want to thank Guinness, because if it were not for them to bring such a tournament, then maybe I could have never lived such an experience. Thank you very much, Guinness.”

Bangers star Byron Otieno, couldn’t hide his anguish after missing a penalty in the shootout.

“We had a good tournament since it began, and our run to the final was unmatched,” Otieno said. “In football, there is always a winner and a loser, and you cannot count on penalties to win matches.

“I knew I would score from the penalty spot but it was not the case, I missed the target and now we have finished in second position.

“We can also try our luck next time,” he concluded. “I want to thank Guinness for the chance, and wish Stream well.”

In addition to the trip to Lagos for the Pan-African championship to be held at the end of January 2020, winners Stream FC walked away with Sh100,000, first runners up Bangers FC won a similar amount as a consolation prize, while Black Jubil finished third to secure cash prize of Sh50,000.

Vincent Brian, a staunch blues supporter, also took part in the competition and was able to take positives from the experience despite missing out on the trip to the final.

“It was a good experience, to be honest,” Brian began. “In any competition, you compete to do well and win the top prize, but my team [Sega FC] missed out, but as much as we missed out on the trophy, we picked up a lot of lessons thanks to Guinness.”

Spectator Judy Adhiambo, 23, who followed the action unfold with a bottle of Guinness in her right hand, was elated to be a part of history.

“It was a great event and I have enjoyed every bit of it,” she said. “I came out to enjoy a beer and didn’t know there was such activity going on. 

“I know Guinness goes hand-in-hand with football and, to me, it was a great night to be part of the event.”

Judith Osimbo of Pro Soccer said: “What a way to end the tournament, my team did not win or finish among the top five but I feel proud to have been part of the journey.

“We have played together for the last 12 weeks and the final day will always remain in my mind, it was a memorable day and I thank Guinness for their generosity and will to support football in the country.”

Speaking at the event, Kenya Breweries Limited Guinness Marketing Manager, Ms. Nduku Wamakau said: “The Guinness brand is all about sharing with friends.

“These are among the many ways the brand has, over time, been at the forefront of expanding our football horizons and experiences.”

As well as Kenya, Guinness Night Football has launched in Uganda, Nigeria, and Cameroon, with all four nations set to contribute winning players to the grand finale.

Bottles of Guinness could be seen everywhere you looked in the Lounge, and when Kenyan rapper Khaligraph aka Papa Jones took to the stage and played his famous hit ‘Julius Yego’, the crowd went wild.

In January, Kenya’s representatives will join those from the other countries at an epic Pan African football extravaganza that will include 5-a-side football matches, football-skill showcases and much more.

They will also have a chance to meet celebrity football fans as well as share in the universal love of the beautiful game.