The mention of Reinhard Fabisch is always guaranteed to spark nostalgic feelings amongst many a football lover.
Fabisch, born on 19th August 1950 is best remembered by Kenyan football fans for his three stints as Harambee Stars Head Coach.
His first stint saw him coach the national team in 1987, masterminding the team’s return to the 1988 African Cup of Nations after a sixteen year hiatus. He also steered the team to the final of the 1987 All African Games football tournament where they fell 1-0 to Egypt in the final played at a packed Moi International Sports Center on 12 August 1987.
When former Kenya Football Federation boss Joab Omino famously remarked, “ coaches come …and coaches go,” it was clear that Fabisch would not be accompanying the team to Morocco for the 1988 AFCON. We also thought we had seen the last of German tactician Reinhardt Fabisch.
Well, that was not to be the case. Fabisch would return to coach the national football team on two more occasions.
The first was in 1997, where he overhauled the existing squad, replacing them with a host of hitherto unknowns who put up a decent display in their attempt to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
Infact, fans chanted “Fabisch for President” after he led the team to that famous draw 1-1 against Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier at Kasarani in January 1997.
Kennedy Simiyu, one of his call ups ended this qualifying campaign with 2 goals while Mike Okoth was joint top scorer on 5 goals alongside Angola’s Paulao, Burkina Faso’s Mamadou Zongo and Zimbabwe’s Vitalis Takawira.
In 2001, Fabisch was back in the saddle as Kenya Head Coach, replacing Nigerian Christian Chukwu.
He guided the Harambee Stars to that year’s CECAFA Challenge Cup final where they lost in the final to hosts Ethiopia.
His side also failed to reach the 2002 AFCON, finishing bottom of their pool which also featured Morocco, Tunisia and Gabon.
He would be dismissed from his job in May 2002 by the then KFF boss Maina Kariuki only for the Sports Minister of the day, Francis Nyenze to declare his sacking illegal.
“They (KFF) have no legal right of sacking Fabisch because they are not in office,” Nyenze told the news agency Reuters.
The minister had dissolved both the KFF and the Kenya Cricket Association (KCA) and nominated caretaker committees to replace them.
However, the Kenyan High Court dismissed the minister’s actions and reinstated both associations five days later, though the minister insisted his decisions remain in force.
“Only the caretaker committee has the right to make any changes in the national team’s management, Nyenze said.
“No one else. Fabisch should be ready to join the national team’s camp to start preparations for African Cup of Nations qualifications,” he added.
For his part, Fabisch said he had heard nothing from the KFF confirming his sacking.
“I have no comment until I receive the communication. My lawyers are handling the matter and I would like to reserve any comments until KFF communicates to me in writing,” Fabisch said.
Anyway, Jacob “Ghost” Mulee took over Fabisch’s post.
Prior to returning to coach Kenya in 1997, the German also coached Zimbabwe between 1992 and 1995, bring them inches close to World Cup and AFCON qualification in 1994. This team consisted of Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar and Peter Ndlovu.
A colourful, and at times controversial character, Fabisch also coached South Africa side Mamelodi Sundowns in 1996,Emirates Club of the UAE between 2005 and 2007 before his last assignment as Benin Head Coach for the 2008 AFCON.
He stood down from his Benin job in April 2008 as a result of cancer and died three months later on 12 July 2008 in Munster, Germany aged 57.