Francis Kadenge: Gifted winger, master dribbler, goal poacher

Francis Kadenge was one of the finest right winger from Kenya every young football player with ambition wished to emulate in the 1980s when AFC Leopards was a mighty force to reckon with.

He was in the thick of things for Leopards when they dominated the East and Central Africa Club championship, lifting the crown three times consecutively in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

His service on the field will never be forgotten in the history of Ingwe after scoring the winning goal against stubborn Admarc Tigers (2-1) to lift the title in 1983 in Zanzibar. The tricky winger emerged the top scorer in the tournament.

Kadenge, a product of the famed Bernard Zgoll Youth Centres, packed plenty of speedy, was an excellent, sometimes audacious dribbler and had an eye for goal. He could dribble in tight spots and relished taking on the defence.

His skill was good enough to make him burst into the very competitive Harambee Stars of the 1980s.

Born 53 years ago. November 4, he was raised in Nairobi’s South B Estate. Like his more famous father, Joe Kadenge, he played for Maragoli United (Imara FC) before moving to AFC Leopards in 1982 together with the likes of Peter Lichungu, Mickey Weche, Omar Shaaban, Mike Amwayi, Dan Musuku, Issa Suleiman, Peter Ouma, John Arieno and Henry Omondi.

He also had stints in Re-Union in between a professional football sojourn in Oman.

Kadenge came from a football playing family. His younger brother Oscar is currently a Leopards player. His other brother, Evans is an assistant coach at Nzoia United, a Division One side, while another brother, Rodgers, played for the defunct Utalii FC and Volcano United. Kadenge is survived by three sons.

At the time of his demise he was based at Gisambai village in Tiriki, Vihiga County after relocating from Nairobi. He passed on on Sunday at Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu, a gifted player who brought flair and excitement to Kenyan football.

AFC Leopards 1980s dream XI: Mahmoud Abbas, Pius Masinza, Patrick Shilasi, John Arieno “Papa”, Josephat Murila, Abdul Barasa, Francis Kadenge, Haggai Mirikau, Joe Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Mike Amwayi.

By John Ashihundu


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