What you need to know:
- It was indeed a fitting conclusion to 29 days that celebrated 64 football matches across eight stadiums in Qatar, the first World Cup hosted in the Arab world
- Senate majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot was cheering from the Lusail Stadium’s terraces in the company of, among others, newly installed Sports Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke
- How I hope to see such VIP enthusiasm translate into a Kenyan debut at the 2026 Fifa World Cup finals to be jointly hosted by USA, Canada and Mexico
The banter between President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel around the Fifa World Cup final underscored just how Sunday's exciting clash between Argentina and France gripped the hustler nation.
"Supporting the African team in the World Cup final. Good luck Rachel and kids as you support the other side. Remember to pay the bet!! Either way expecting fine football," President Ruto tweeted before kick-off, alluding to the heavy presence of players of African origin on the "Les Bleus" roster.
"Game on Bill. May the best team win. Vamos Argentina!!!," Mama Rachel responded, rubbing it in when "La Albiceleste" went two goals up courtesy of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria: "Two goals up! Bet still on Bill?"
The First Lady subsequently congratulated the new champions.
"On this National Day of the State of Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, we have been treated to a spectacular and iconic 2022 World Cup final match between Argentina and France," @MamaRachelRuto celebrated after Argentina's 4-2 penalties triumph.
"The emotive game saw fingers crossed across the world. But, as is the essence of all sports, a best among equals had to be found. And, Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalty kicks after a thrilling 3-3 draw. What a match!
"I want to join the rest of the world in congratulating the Argentina National Football Team, Captained by Lionel Messi, for winning the 2022 World Cup tournament. Wear your three stars with pride! Bill, pay your bill!," she added.
Meanwhile, Didmus Baraza was eavesdropping.
"William Samoei Ruto is supporting #france for the love of Africa. @MamaRachelRuto, @susankihika and yours truly are supporting #argentina for the love of football..." the Kimilili MP, he of the Moroccan Fez fame, tweeted.
The Commander-in-Chief finally conceded defeat, pledging to honour his bet, the amount hitherto undisclosed.
"Congratulations Argentina for winning the World Cup. My African team at World Cup played a superb game. Will pay my bet!!! All round wonderful game. Tukutane home," @WilliamsRuto chimed in, going on to list the African nations of origin of 15 "Les Bleus" players.
While @WilliamsRuto followed the final from the VVIP box - alongside, among others, French President Emmanuel Macron, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Fifa supremo Gianni Infantino, Argentine Football Association President Claudio Tapia and Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani - Senate majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot was cheering from the Lusail Stadium’s terraces in the company of, among others, newly installed Sports Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke.
"Messi is in my prayers....70 percent of football fans around the world are looking up to him today...#VamosArgentina," @Aaroncheruiyot tweeted, and, later, celebrated as Messi finally lifted the trophy: "What a final!!!! Well deserved.. Well done France, good fight.. #VamosArgentina... Champions of the world... Well deserved...
“To the Host nation Qatar, thank you for the best World Cup ever, despite all the hate from Europe... You did all of us proud."
Meanwhile, Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria saw a trade opportunity for Kenya in the game
"The Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry (MITI) is committed to increase Intra Africa Trade from 19 percent to 70 percent under the African Continental Free Trade Area and also increase exports to the world including award winning footballers," @HonMoses_Kuria, an avid football follower, tweeted.
One Stella Kariuki (@ciikoou) followed the conversation, opting not to focus on the game, but implore @WilliamsRuto to buy him a gift at Doha's Hamad Airport’s duty free shops.
"Please bring me a bottle of perfume from the Qatar duty free shop. I’ll reimburse you the money," she interjected the conversation.
Sports Cabinet Secretary @Ababunamwamba flew back to Doha for Sunday’s final, having been in the Qatari capital earlier to successfully negotiate the lifting of the Fifa ban on Kenya.
"One of the greatest #FIFAWorldCup finals ever. EPIC! Congratulations #Argentina. Great effort #France #Messi. Football, indeed all of sports, is magical. A beautiful universal language that inspires and unites beyond all barriers of race, religion, social status, politics," the CS posted.
Baba (@RailaOdinga), a footballer of repute in his heydays, wasn't to be left out despite his favourite teams Brazil and Germany having taken the early flights back to Rio de Janeiro and Berlin respectively.
"This World Cup has been epic, from nail-biting penalty shootouts to the highest scoring final in history," @RailaOdinga remarked.
"Congratulations, Argentina and Lionel Messi, on your well-deserved victory.Bravo Kylian Mbappe on scoring the highest number of goals in a World Cup final."
Miles away at the Vatican, Pope Francis - himself an Argentine, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Flores, a commercial district of Buenos Aires - was also celebrating.
"A belated birthday present for @Pontifex#WorldCup #Argentina," Jesuit priest Fr James Martin tweeted with an image of the pontiff carrying the Argentina flag.
It was indeed a fitting conclusion to 29 days that celebrated 64 football matches across eight stadiums in Qatar, the first World Cup hosted in the Arab world.
For a moment, the Russia-Ukraine war was in the winter back burner and in Kenya, hustlers temporarily cast aside their economic woes to watch grown men crying after losing matches, as billions worldwide viewed.
How I hope to see such VIP enthusiasm translate into a Kenyan debut at the 2026 Fifa World Cup finals to be jointly hosted by USA, Canada and Mexico.
It will be the biggest ever World Cup, featuring 48 teams, up from the current 32-team format, with Africa's slots increased from five to nine.
Now that avid cyclist @MamaRachelRuto won her Qatar 2022 bet and has been bitten by the football bug, and that @WilliamsRuto recently mooted a "bottom up" youth football programme, and with @HonMoses_Kuria seeking to export award-winning footballers, it's all systems go!
I'm inclined to start booking my accommodation in the USA to cheer the Harambee Stars at the 2026 finals.
For it will now take little convincing to demonstrate to our leaders how important football, and sport, is to a nation.
I wasn’t in Qatar, but I’ve been following the latter stages of the World Cup from the USA, feeling the urge to start making bookings for the 2026 finals here.
Because Kenya will qualify!
Are you willing to place a bet on this, @MamaRachelRuto, @WilliamsRuto?
Makori is the Managing Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group.