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Gilbert Cheruiyot; the ordinary Kenyan that saved the day in Ivory Coast

Gilbert Cheruiyot is by all means just a normal Kenyan, if not in fact totally unknown.

It is a name that if one was to mention, or ask around about, people would probably think he is a record-breaking marathoner, or an international long distance runner.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Gilbert is neither a runner, nor a politician, or engaged in any of the things that bring about instant prominence and fame here in Kenya.

Instead, Gilbert is simply just an ordinary man who also happens to be a football match official.

During the games he officiates he goes largely unnoticed, as spectators concentrate on the players that are around him. Not even the referee is usually noticed.

However, just this week, he was thrust in the thick of things as the entire hopes of a nation lay on him.

The referee in an African Cup of Nations qualifier collapsed and was stretchered off the field on Tuesday, resulting in the game between Ivory Coast and Ethiopia ending with around 10 minutes still to play.

Referee Charles Bulu of Ghana appeared to become disorientated in the 81st minute of the Group K game at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.
With Bulu staggering, concerned Ivorian players held him up by his arms for a short while as others called for medics. Bulu was being helped toward the sideline when he suddenly slumped down and lay on his back with his eyes closed.

He was treated by medics and taken off on the stretcher, although he was conscious when he was carried off. Reports say he had fainted.

After this, the country which was impatient for a continuation of the game realised that the officials were in a major conundrum.

The game was in danger of being called off with Ivory Coast leading 3-1 because the fourth official at the game was Ivorian and unable to take charge.

However, after discussions on the field between officials that lasted about 10 minutes, Kenyan assistant referee Gilbert Cheruiyot took over as referee, to the relief of the fans.

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Written by Joshua Wanga

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