Sakari switches from rugby to football, eye greatness

By James Waindi
Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
Daniel Sakari of Kariobangi Sharks (centre) attempts to dribble past Gor Mahia’s Michael Apudo in a recent FKF-PL match at Kasarani Stadium. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA
In summary

Daniel Sakari drives his inspiration from his idol Michael Jordan. Just like Jordan who is arguably the greatest pro basketball player of all time, after finishing with six NBA titles and one of the best careers in league history, despite the fact that he began as a baseball player and failed to play professional baseball, Sakari also began his sporting career as a rugby player and is optimistic of playing to the highest level after switching from rugby to football.

His goal against reigning league champions Gor Mahia on January 10 left a section of fans on the stands amazed. His team Kariobangi Sharks ended winning the thrilling duel 4-3.

He picked the ball from his goalkeeper Brian Bwire in his own half, made a solo run on the right flank, going past Gor’s Cliffton Miheso, then left Gor defender George Ochieng on the ground with a slight dummy as he cut inside the field before curling in a left foot shot that Gad Mathew could not stop.

The goal is likely to be in contention for the goal of the season award and little did the fans who lauded his brilliance know that he just began playing football six years ago after switching from rugby which was his passion sport.

For many renowned players locally, playing football has been their thing from their early ages, but the story is very different in Sakari.

“I just began playing football in 2014 while I was in my final year at Maseno High School and I’m so excited with my progress in the sport,” said Sakari who has earned a call up to national team Harambee Stars ahead of crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt and Togo.

He added: “At Maseno, I began playing rugby from Form One when I joined. I was introduced to the sport by my mentor Cabral Jaoko who was by then in Form Four and the captain of the school’s rugby team and he is the one who gave me the nickname Mafia.

I made it straight into the school’s main team because of my pace on the wing and my memorable moment was when we reached the 2013 East Africa School Games semifinals in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania before we were knocked out by a school from Uganda.”

Sakari a graduate of Science in Mathematics at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), says ventured into football by luck as he started representing his dormitory just for fan during inter-dormitories competition, before the school’s football coach Derreck Awuonda spotted him and called him to the school’s main team.

That was the beginning of his journey that saw him get recruited by National Super League side Green Commandos upon completion of High School, then he later joined Kakamega Homeboyz, before Kariobangi Sharks rushed for his services.

“I was playing football for fan at the inter-dormitories matches in school and I was not serious since my main focus was rugby, until the school’s football coach Derrek Awuonda spotted me in one of the matches and he drafted me directly to the school’s team, in my final year and that was the beginning of my football journey,” Sakari told People Sport.

He added: “While playing for the school, the furthest we reached was the provincial level of the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) competition.

I went ahead with the sport at MMUST where Green Commandos scouts spotted me and before long Kenyan Premier League side Kakamega Homeboyz offered me a contract.”