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Kenyan restaurants enjoy a windfall as World
Cup matches attract multitude of revelers

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The expansive balcony inside Mojo’s lounge and bar located in central Nairobi was filled to capacity on Thursday evening as youthful revelers watched a match between Colombia and Senegal that was beamed live on a giant screen.

Predictably, the ardent soccer lovers were dejected when Senegal was felled by Colombia but continued to enjoy their favorite tipple during the post-match analysis delivered by an elite panel of experts.

The World Cup fever that has enveloped Kenya’s urban centers and rural villages has been a boon to restaurant owners who have spruced up their establishments to attract soccer fans with sophisticated culinary tastes.

At the sleek Mojo’s lounge and bar, waiters had a hectic time as they served local dishes and exotic wine to patrons who keenly followed Senegal and Colombia square each other.

Senior management and service crew who spoke to Xinhua revealed that sales have been on an upward trend since the World Cup kicked off on June 14.

“Our business picked up rapidly the moment the World Cup kicked off on June 14th and we are always busy in the evening when soccer enthusiasts flock this place to enjoy the beautiful game as they sip their favorite drink,” said Dennis, a middle-aged supervisor.

He revealed that local beer brands are preferred by patrons watching the Word Cup matches though the well-heeled do not hesitate to order exotic wines and spirits.

Besides investing in giant flat screens, comfy chairs and stylish interior decor, the Mojo’s lounge and bar has also hired young and energetic customer care personnel to maximize on the World Cup windfall.

Charles Murage, a jazz artist and soccer fan, told Xinhua recently that he has in the last two weeks trooped to this modern joint in the evenings to watch the game while enjoying his favorite drink.

“Downing one or two bottles of my favorite Guinness beer has been part of the ritual whenever I am watching the game in this establishment,” remarked the 32-years-old aspiring entrepreneur.

Murage admitted that the standards had improve during the 2018 World Cup and regretted missing any single match since the entertainment was profound.

“This is a terrific World Cup compared to the previous ones and am enjoying the wizardly of star players from my favorite teams like Brazil, Portugal and France,” said Murage

He vowed to continue watching subsequent matches to be played during the second round despite elimination of all African teams at the initial phase of the tournament.

Kenyans’ love for football that has defied time and seasons always herald good tidings to savvy investors in hospitality industry.

Historically, ardent soccer fans in the East African Nation have always preferred to watch matches in restaurants as opposed to homes where disruptions are bound to arise.

Tribeka restaurant that is a few yards away from Mojo’s lounge and bar was also in a carnival mood when Senegal and Colombia fought vigorously for a slot in the second round of World Cup tournament.

As usual, the management at this elegant joint had prepared adequately to handle an influx of patrons keen to watch and cheer their favorite team.

“We have been receiving so many customers whenever there is a match in the evening and they have been ordering bottles of beer as they cheer their favorite teams,” said Edwin, a customer relations officer in his early 30s.

“The sale of local beer, snacks and cigars has been tremendous and we are prepared to handle this influx of customers and make a good return on our investment,” he added.

The World Cup fever was evident at Clarion Restaurant that is a few blocks away from Tribeka as a predominantly middle aged cast of patrons cheered the Senegal team as a demonstration of African brotherhood.

A young waiter called Moses told Xinhua that every World Cup match has been a boon to the mid-sized hotel as clients’ part with their last coin to order beer and snacks while watching the beautiful game.

“Our giant screens have attracted football fans of all ages and economic background and we are happy because business has gone up,” said Moses.

“It has been a good season for our business and the profits accrued will cushion us from future uncertainties,” he added.

Kenyans from all walks of life have expressed unwavering devotion to the World Cup matches even though their national team is yet to participate in this highly tournament.

Savvy entrepreneurs in hospitality industry are capitalizing on this time honored love for soccer to spruce up their establishments in readiness for a huge turn-out of patrons with disposable income to spend on exotic dishes and wine.



Kenya catches World Cup fever despite absence

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The chilly weather in Nairobi is at its crescendo as Juliet Wanjiru wades through the traffic to her favorite spot in one of the crowded restaurants in the town center. Wanjiru is not on a day-off, holiday or hungry, she has just snuck away from work to catch the action as Senegal takes on Colombia in the World Cup in Russia.

The contagious World Cup bug is spreading fast across the country. Many people have caught the fever and results and performances in Russia have become a major talking point in offices, saloons, barber shops, markets and at home.

“I work as a marketing executive and will always sneak out to catch my favorite team. My job involves working in the field, so I have to give an excuse to walk out. I can’t miss it and I am here to support Senegal. Let the Teranga African ambassadors,” Wanjiru told Xinhua in a recent interview in Nairobi.

Sadly for Wanjiru and by extension many Africans, Senegal lost 1-0 to Colombia and caught the flight back to Dakar together with 15 other countries, who have exited the World Cup. This leaves Africa without a team in Russia.

“A few egos have been crashed. But not many will be watching the remaining teams with a chin in their hands. The zeal and enthusiasm of fans is increasing,” said Thomas Omukoya, an ICT executive. Though Senegal, together with Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria and Morocco have been eliminated, the continent’s fans have kept a close eye on the proceedings in Russia.

Human Resources firms globally have estimated that the World Cup could cost a country 250 million working hours through staff absence, late arrivals and poor performance due to frustration at not being able to monitor games.

But social spaces and public television viewing areas in Nairobi have continued to record huge numbers as fans turn up to cheer on their teams. Kenyan football experts believe it is a matter of time before the country’s national team, Harambee Stars, joins the fray to compete at their first World Cup.

Philip Orwa, an ardent fan of Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia raises an accusing finger at the government for not having direct support for local football. “Our league is sponsored partly by SportPesa and other corporate companies, with many of the clubs depending on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ... or meager gate collections during match day. More needs to be done on sponsorship rights and airing of the matches,” said Orwa.

Nicholas Musonye, the Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) secretary general, says misplaced priorities are to blame for Kenya’s absence at the World Cup. “There is zero support from the government. They want to wait and come in at the last minute to support the national team in their campaigns at international level. They do little in supporting the team’s preparations for qualification for the World Cup. Though lately, the government has shown commitment and [they] have helped hire a professional coach (Frenchman Sebastien Migne),” Musonye said.

For Kenyan sports journalist Ben Ouma, professionalism is lacking in the country’s football and is the only thing missing that would otherwise catapult the country to the top echelons of the sport. “We need to get our players on long-term contracts and pay them enough to take football as a career and not just a part time event. However, our football is full of officials who use it for political gain. This has left our league running pathetically with no plans. The government has not been supportive and will consider other projects and not sport,” Ouma said. 


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