Of CECAFA 2012 , Issa Hayatou’s tightening CAF Presidency fist

Last Saturday opened this year’s account for the continent’s oldest footballing tournament. The opening game as aptly the one of hosts Uganda and their major protagonists Kenya. In what has become one of the most fearsome derbies in the region, the Cranes pipped the Stars by 1-0.


CECAFA wobbles along
This year though the tournament has managed to bring together almost all the Eastern and Central African teams with Malawi coming in as guests from the Southern part of Africa. After having had brief tiffs between the CECAFA Secretary-General Nicholas Musonye and the FKF Chair Sam Nyamweya, the tournament has gotten on without any hitches and with the added boon of being screened live on SuperSport (EA-9). Away from the pitch though, there was the annual congress held before the tournament as is tradition with most major football tournaments across the world. In that meeting, CECAFA chiefs (among them Kenya’s FKF) decided to back Issa Hayatou to another term at the helm of CAF – he’s been at it for 25 years and counting.
And as if not caring for the votes from this part of the world, Issa Hayatou admonished the CECAFA countries for not doing enough to host continental tournaments. None of the countries have ever hosted the Africa Cup of Nations ( the closest they ever came was when Kenya bid for the tourney in 1996 but bulked out before any ball was kicked). This is also seen in the fact that only Ethiopia is playing the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after the rest missed qualification. Rwanda is the only country which came under positive light for having hosted the CAF under-17, under-20 and also bidding to host the CECAFA Senior Cup in 2015.
This says a lot about the countries from the region and the state of football therein. Compared to the Western, Northern and Southern countries, football is still under-performed in this region. From the lack of continental champions ( Uganda came closest, being losing finalists in 1978 to Ghana) and also for club championships where teams are routinely eliminated even before getting to the group stages ( the only club to have won continental honours is Kenya’s Gor Mahia before the Champions League format was introduced).
This may have informed the rather loud comment from Kenya’s new head coach Henri Michel of CECAFA tournament being ‘useless’ ( or maybe the words were lost in translation)…
Nonetheless as the tournament continues, football chiefs in the region need to find a way of raising the standards of the game. Both government and private enterprises will play a greater role in the realisation of this. But we should also call to account respective football associations/federations which need to get their act together and move from mere lip service and dependency on FIFA grants and blueprints and have an agenda for their own leagues.
Nicholas Musonye as Sec-General has managed to keep the various tournaments going and even attracting major sponsors every so often. But one man cannot manage a game of such magnitude. He would also need to build greater consensus across the federations. Also pushing CECAFA’s agenda across the continent and challenging to continental honours will be another role to be seen.

All the same, root for your favourite team as we here at SportsKenya might be doing for the Harambee Stars however rickety their form is!

Quick Facts:

  • CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup came up in 1973 though its forerunner is the Gossage Cup started in 1926 between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
  • The Gossage Cup was sponsored by soap manufacturers’ of the same name under the Lever brothers- which is now Unilever plc (British-owned)
  • The 2012 CECAFA tournament is sponsored by Tusker under East Africa Breweries Limited ( Diageo-owned company).
  • Uganda has won the tournament 12 times since 1973, Kenya 5 times (including a 3-peat in 1981,82,83), Ethiopia 4 times (last time being 2005)
  • Only Ethiopia from the CECAFA region is playing in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Issa Hayatou’s Iron Grip

Learn from the Best – Blatter (l) and Hayatou (r)
Image courtesy of www.caughtoffside.com   

As mentioned above, CAF President Issa Hayatou is in Kampala, Uganda to oversee the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup which ends in little over one week. It may seem that the respective football associations and federations have not made much of an impression to the longest serving football honcho on the continent.
Even then, our football officials have decided to back him up once again when the CAF elections come up in January 2013 in South Africa just before the kick-off of the continent’s biggest football showpiece.
And in what seems to be an effort to maintain the status quo, CAF underlings in September amended the constitution to bar any major competition to this Cameroonian-born sports official. The amend effectively barred anyone who is not serving at the CAF Executive Committtee from running for any top job.
This effectively ended any chance of highly favoured Danny Joordan from South Africa ( who led a successful bid and hosting of the 2012 World Cup). It also knocked out Jacques Anouma- Ivory Coast born was also going to throw his hat into the ring for the top job. Read this interesting post here about African football officials oblivious to changes around them.

Before Mohammed bin Hammamm in 2011, the only other person to have opposed Sepp Blatter’s FIFA reign was Issa Hayatou in 2002. But unlike bin Hammamm who was hounded out even before he got his name on the ballot, Hayatou did manage to save face and ended up mending fences albeit conveniently with Sepp. He currently sits as one of FIFA’s Vice-President. He also managed to become a member of the IOC representing FIFA though was shrouded in controversy late last year on corruption claims which were later dropped, but the damage had already been done. FIFA and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) had to drop his involvement in the Games football discipline. But this has not stopped him learning from Blatter, managing to run CAF’s show almost as a one-man show. It is also rumoured that he is not in the best shape and suffers from some undisclosed condition. Wonder what new ideas he would have that have not been seen in the last 25 years of his reign.

On Monday 26th November, Liberian football authorities challenged CAF’s amendment in the Court of Appeal for Sport (CAS) hoping to reverse the changes made in September. This is a far shot but still one of the many measures football authorities will need to come up to see a fair election. And while it remains to be seen if there will be any other worthy challengers to Hayatou’s long reign, it will be important that the game remains the primary goal for seeking to head the organisation. But with the largess and political connections that comes with these positions, it will continue attracting more vested parties than those out to help the growth and sustenance of the football game.

For more on Issa Hayatou, check his link here and also read this piece from World Soccer’s Mark Gleeson.

Kenya v/s Togo :- Harambee Stars & Football Kenya Federation; who’s fooling who?

Togo is in town and Kenya’s national team is still not stable to the extent of playing their hearts out. In an earlier post this year, Can Kenya find its place in 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, we gave albeit brief notes of what it would take to ensure we’re on track to qualifying for the biggest tournament on the continent. Maybe we weren’t clear enough;

1. Technical Bench – the national coach and his team are still without contracts and there seems to be a perception that since there are not many fixtures within the year, the Federation can get away with appointing an active team manager from the Kenya Premier League to hold forte for the time being. WRONG! As we witnessed last year, dividing time for national and club assignments becomes very tricky when those fixtures fall close to each other. What’s more, preparing a national team is usually the sum of many clubs’ teams so the national coach ought to have travelled and watched his players enough times to warrant their selection to the national team. In the same breadth, sought out the pay issues and remunerate the bench accordingly.
2. Club versus National appearances – while the technical bench will insist on a player having been active at least for the last 3 months before a national team game, it is ought to help when the players have had a semblance of residential training together for at least 5 days. FKF has been trying but not hard enough and as if that is not enough, they have not been facilitating the travel arrangements of national team players especially those from abroad. Why wouldn’t it be resolved each at a time instead of waiting for scenarios of players refusing to report for national duty thanks to unpaid allowances and refunds?
3. Harambee Stars Management Board – since most of the officials who were on the Board seem to be hoping to run for this or that public office, it is only fair that the Board is disbanded and a new team reconstituted. It would also be good for fair share of representation for both ladies and youth percentile in future.
4. Stadium and hosting facilities – the renovation at Kasarani sports complex is taking way too long. While we have enjoyed easy access at the Nyayo National Stadium, the venue’s still in need of better facilities for parking, warm-up for teams playing and general security as well as capacity-wise. On this one, FKF its beyond your call but you can hasten the work by Sports Stadia Management Board.
As you address this, let’s all meet at the Nyayo National Stadium at 1700hours to cheer on our boys against Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor as they start the long journey to South Africa’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.


Probable Squads:
Togo (nickname The Sparrow Hawks)
Goal-keeper: Mawugbe Atsou  Defenders: Dare Nibombe, Senah Mango, Abdoul Gafar Mamah, Serge Akapko; Midfielders: Komlan Amewou, Alaiyxis Romao, Floyd Ayite and Razak Boukari, Strikers: Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor, Serge Gakpe

Kenya (nickname Harambee Stars)
Goalkeeper: Duncan Ochieng Defenders: Eric Masika, James Situma, Brian Mandela, Pascal Ochieng Midfielders: Victor Mugubi, Jamal Mohammed, Titus Mulama and Humphrey Mieno Strikers: Dennis Oliech, Allan Wanga.

Final Update on Scores: Kenya 2 ( James Situma, Allan Wanga) – Togo 1 ( Razak Boukari)

After 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, can Kenya find its place in 2013 ?

As the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations reaches its penultimate stages this weekend, Kenya will be once again ruing its chances of having not qualified for the continent’s biggest football showpiece. While much aplomb came towards the end of the qualifiers as the country faced off with its fierce neighbour Uganda, the die had already been cast and not much of a miracle was going to happen anyway.

Football Kenyaimage courtesy of  Football Kenya Limited

Well, the first Africa Cup of Nations in an odd year will be back next year hopefully landing at South Africa in less than 20 years. What gives?

a) First the top football body in Kenya finally held elections and new officials have fresh mandate and endorsement from majority of the game’s stakeholders. This goodwill ought to be exploited and trickled down to the national team.

b) With the Football Kenya Federation, indicating its willingness to work with the Harambee Stars Management Board, structures ought to be in place to ensure the team has maximum corporate support and technical support to see the team through the qualifiers.

c) Address branding and sponsorship issues as early as possible. In December 2011, a new uniform kit was launched to reflect the country’s colours and though not all of us like it, it ought to be more stable than we’ve had in the past. Full disclosure too ought to be made to avoid situations of missing kits and mismatching uniforms for international fixtures.

d) Technical bench – One major flaw that was made in the last 1 year was having a technical bench which was led by a coach who also managed a top club. Given the demands of both jobs, we could even say he gave it a good shot but well we won’t remember missed opportunities. Give the bench their contracts and ensure their pay’s on time to avoid Antoine Hey’s scenarios and such shenanigans.

e) Stadium facilities – With the biggest stadium in the country coming to completion from repairs, it’s about time the national team got used to this venue as the hunting ground for valuable home points. This venue has been a good motivator to the boys maybe its the softer ground or maybe its the 60,000 + fans that would flock it at its maximum…

f)  Club versus country – this problem cropped up during the 2011 season where some clubs felt aggrieved that the national team kept requesting for their players and some usually came back with serious injuries. Case in point is Arnold Origi – one of Kenya’s best goal-keepers who’s called it quits on the national team due such incidences. The calendar should indicate ample time for players to adjust from club to national team engagements.

g) Government engagement – Its about time the Government became a little more proactive in rallying support for national teams representing the country in any sport. Football a sport for the larger majority is the greatest unifier in this respect. We all saw the vibe it created when Kenya played its last qualification game against Uganda in Kampala last year. We can muster the same support albeit on a continuous basis. Kenyan people, its about time you elected a sports-crazed head of state….

 29th of February is a little over 2 weeks, FKF and all you who ought to make Kenyan football happen, the journey to 2013 Africa Cup of Nations starts NOW!

2012 – Great Sporting Year Ahead

Well the Mayans seemed to have worked their calendar to say that 2012 would be the end of the world. In the entertainment circles there’s even a movie titled 2012. Others have said that this is bound to be a ground-shaking, earth-moving and all those big words for the rest of humanity in the world. We at SportsKenya say this is going to be one helluva an year thanks to some big sporting events in addition to the usual sporting events held annually taking place.

Image courtesy of www.psdgraphics.com



#AFCON
First up we have the Africa Cup of Nations which is currently going on in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The continental challenge may be without the big-wigs ( Kenya too) but there is always bound to be one shining star and new talent shining for Africa’s own. Sadly this will be the last time the event is held on an even-year since CAF and FIFA agreed to change this to an even year, starting with 2013 (which originally meant to be hosted by Libya but South Africa seem to have sneaked this one easily).

UEFA European Football Cup
Well this is when the national teams from Europe congregate to crown the best in footballing talent from there. With some of the players nursing injury and with their clubs hoping not to aggravate it further, Europe will hope to see if current holders Spain still have it takes to retain the title. The usual pre-tournament favourites will be named but competitive as it is, suprises NEVER CEASE.
Football lovers across the world will be rubbing their hands with glee for the offering of not one but two contiental tournaments ( of course with the usual Champions League, domestic leagues to name but a few).

Olympics & Paralympics 2012
This is the big one! Coming to you from London, land of the British empire and home to the most pretigious monarchy in our living times. Yes Kenya being a former colony of the British are relishing a chance to show their former masters with matters to be taken on the tracks, pools and fields. The Britons will be hoping to outdo the Chinese is staging one of the best Games in a long time which is a tough call given the current economic crisis still shadowing most of the Europe as well as security risks which have become part and parcel of our every day life in the recent past.
The lucky charm though is the 60th anniversary of their beloved monarch in the name of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd ( who also shares some special heritage with Kenya having ascended into being Queen while on holiday in some nice recluse in the Central part of Kenya).

Well whichever sport it is that you follow, be rest assured we’ll try our best to keep you abreast with what will happen, behind-the-scenes issues, facts as they ought to be and enjoying it while at it! Happy 2012!

Kenya Football Federation – Officials from the Past to Present

We shall seek to understand the history of football management in Kenya. This sees a chronology of previous office holders and a brief history of the football game in Kenya. (Originally known as Kenya Football Association, it metamorphosised to Kenya Football Federation and is currently split between KFF and Football Kenya Limited  )


{Dislaimer: Some of the information may not be factual as some of the details are not provided and efforts were made to that effect without much success.}

The previous office holders are as follows:
1.Isaac Lugonzo 1963 :- One of the fathers of sport in Kenya who was instrumental in the setting up of clubs with Kenyan natives. He was elected into office as Kenya welcomed her independence but he would oscillate between this and the National Olympics Committee which was becoming more active and involving.

2. John Kasyoka 1964-70 :- Had a rather nondescript term in office but the emergence of top clubs like Gor Mahia and Nakuru FC would be some of the hallmarks of his reign.

3. Martin Shikuku 1970-72 :- Known more for his firebrand in politics, he managed the game for only two years, his term marked Kenya’s entry into the continental scene playing at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1972.
His office was disbanded after claims of corruption were raised.

4. Bill Martins, Williams Ngaah & Dan Owino 1972 -1974 :- B. Martins managed a caretaker committee before passing the buck to William & Dan respectively.

5. Kenneth Matiba – 1974-80 :- Credited with bringing in some form of business acumen into football management then after helping manage Kenya Breweries into a force to reckon with on the local . Under his reign Kenya won the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in 1975 along with 3 consecutive years 81-83. In his term, saw the rise of Kenyan clubs AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia and Kenya Breweries made an impact in continental club football. Youth development was also a hallmark of his term under German tactician Bernard Zgoll.

6.Clement Gachanja – 1981-84 :- He inherited a wealth of experience from Ken Matiba and didn’t disappoint either. Kenyan clubs continued dominating the regional scene and challenge for continental honours. Under his team’s term, Gor Mahia managed to win the Africa Cup Winners Cup in 1987. The same year Kenya’s Harambee Stars settled for silver in the All-Africa Games held in Nairobi, managed by Reinherdt Fabisch as well as qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations for the 2nd time.

7. Joab Omino 1984-1991; 1993-1996:- Under his term, the ‘beautiful game‘ in Kenya started stuttering and encountering management problems. He’s known for the infamous term, “…coaches come in their dozens” after sacking arguably then Kenya’s most successful tactician R.Fabisch for criticising their style of handling the national team. The government of the day also started interfering with the game and disbanded Omino’s team indefinitely.
His second stint though was modestly successful after winning the bid to host Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 only for the Government to rescind on the claim of ‘lack of funds’.  Dismal performances from Kenyan clubs except for Kenya Breweries (now renamed Tusker FC) who came close in 1994 losing to DRC’s Motemo Pembe. Kenya also managed to have among its first professional footballers in the likes of Peter Dawo (who came from Gor Mahia to sign for Egypt’s Arab Contractors & Al Seeb in Oman); Mike Okoth ( Boshar in Oman then KV Oostende and Racing Genk in Belgium).

8. Adams Matthew Karauri 1991-92:– With Kenya qualifying in 1990 and 1992 consecutively, the Government put into place a caretaker committee headed by Mr. Karauri but that was all to write home about. The national team performed dismally in both occasions never getting past the first round (scoring only one goal courtesy of a Mickey Weche penalty in 1992 and soaking in 8 goals in total). The technical bench of the national team changed hands over 3 times in that period.

9. Peter Kenneth 1996-2000:- Taking the reigns in what would be one of the toughest times in Kenyan football after CAF banned the national team for 2 years for Kenya’s failure to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996, he managed to avoid controversy that had riddled the game. This though was built on quicksand as would eventually manifest itself in Kenya’s non-qualification. Here the clubs would decline both at the local and regional level with nothing much to show for honours

9. Maina Kariuki 2001-2004:- He had one of the most promising campaigns of a present-day official but his term in office marked the genesis of the current problems in the local game both at national or international level. Consolation though is qualification to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations. This exposed Kenya’s talent to European scouts and the likes of Dennis Oliech secured signatures in Europe.
The Kenya Premier League was registered as private company under his tenure.

(Normalisation Committee under Kipchoge Keino between June – December 2004)

10. Alfred Sambu 2004- 2007:- He came in after football enthusiasts settled on his candidature in a view of having experienced hands in football management managing the national office. But right from the word go, his team was plagued by court cases, disagreements and boardroom wars. They were unceremoniously bundled out of office as the country braced for the controversial political elections.
The country was also banned indefinitely due to these battles but often these orders were rescinded.

11. Mohammed Hatimy 2007-2011:- Initially attempted throwing Sambu out of office but didn’t manage. He was suspended for 3 months in 2005 by FIFA operatives only to go back into their good books rather fast. After orchestrating a boardroom coup, this man and his minions have run the game with duress at every corner. From the splitting KFF and opening up shop at FKL ( Football Kenya Limited), to running under FIFA’s wings, this period has seen the country totter along rudderless.
Their only consolation is the blossoming Kenya Premier League which has seen the fans slowly stream back into the national stadiums and local clubs enjoy followership and lucrative corporate sponsorship. But let this not blind them as their success at all.
Most recently the country was bundled out of 2012 AFCON qualifiers and also had two of its best stadiums banned for non-compliance on security and crowd management issues.

Shall we find redemption after tomorrow’s elections? Pray Kenyan Football that we will!

SOURCES: Foul Play – The Crisis of Football Management in Kenya, Kenya Football Federation, Wikipedia and KenyaPage, KenyaFootball

Kenya v/s Uganda …Who has the last laugh?

If you are from the two neighbouring countries, by now you have heard and seen the hype around this game and in the next 24hours, we shall know who has the bragging rights. From planned bus-rides to Kampala to students studying the many higher learning institutions in the Uganda, this tie must be one of the biggest ever between the two countries in recent history.

There is much at stake for both countries and especially so for Kenya which had lorded over the other East African countries and qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations 5 times compared with Uganda’s 5 appearances (their performance has been better though finishing 2nd in 1978 behind Ghana) ; Tanzania and Rwanda have each qualified once previously.
But this Africa Cup of Nations qualifier carries not just the sporting side but some heavy political connotations given the diplomatic brush the two countries have had recently due to the Lake Victoria islands of Migingo and Ugingo as well as the bombings on July 2010 in Kampala ( after Al-Shabaab militia were said to have launched their attacks from Kenya and the ensuing renditions of Kenyan suspects). It has also been Uganda’s Pres. Yoweri Museveni toying with various Kenyan potential Presidential candidates as each tries to outdo the other in matters regional.

Back to the game though, recent history is clearly in favour of Uganda. They are the highest ranked country on the FIFA rankings at 76 compared to Kenya’s 133. The last 5 games between the two teams have seen Uganda win 4 and draw 1. And of course there is the 12th man advantage with the Ugandans sensing a return to continental glory since 1978 ( which was their best showing ever at 2nd place).

In our VERY HUMBLE OPINION, we would love to be patriotic and root for our team BUT in a way this is pushing our luck a bit too far. We have had such a mixed bag of performances in these qualifiers and this last game would have been avoided if Kenyan football authorities had made their arrangements once the games started. We have a fair share of professionals plying their trade in European leagues but that has never deterred other teams showing us how its done when it comes to wearing national colours (ask Guinea Bissau).
We have also national bodies running football at the mercies of some unscrupulous and incompetent national officials. With the national elections finally announced, we wait to see what comes of this long-awaited process.

And while we have been running all over like headless hens, our neighbours have sorted their national leagues and made much progress. What Kenyans saw in the first game against Uganda left many in shock at the level of co-ordination, passion and support from the highest offices in their land that the team had and continues to enjoy. Our Kenyan politicians have tried replicating this but albeit a bit late in the process. It would be good for Kenya’s Harambee Stars to miss the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations BUT start in earnest preparing for the 2013 one in South Africa as well as World Cup qualifiers in Brazil. It would also serve the new office (if elections come through on October 29th) to start a fresh slate to ensure there is a better strategy for the game in the country.

Qualifying for the 2012 AFCON would give us a false impression that all is good on our game and soon we’re back to business as usual. Let’s sort our domestic issues once and for all and seek a fresh page to write our footnotes in the game in the next one year. All the same, for those who make it to Kampala, enjoy the roast chicken, bananas and waragi from the ‘Pearl of Africa’ and AVOID any passions beyond the game’s. For you back in Kenya, the time is 1700hours on your national broadcaster KBC ( no confirmation yet from SuperSport)

Prediction: Uganda 3- Kenya 1

Kenya v/s Angola – Africa Cup of Nations : Last Nail in the Coffin ???

Its great to be patriotic and all but reality slaps you right back. This weekend international outings see Kenya hosting Angola at the jaded Nyayo National Stadium ( which shall have its sitting capacity ceiling at 20,000 for security and logistical reasons) for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifications.
Pulling the tail at the other end of Group J after 2 games, Kenya’s qualifications chances look like they might either be done or be revived. Pitting the team against Guinea-Bissau, Uganda and Angola looked almost a battle between the latter for topping the group. But playing away to Guinea and losing ; drawing to Uganda at home shows the frustration and tough road ahead for the team.
Plagued also by the typical Kenyan management issues meaning that the team has played 2 games and a 3rd one under different coaches, along with a blunt front-line means it is not an easy outing. The pedigree from the Angola team cannot be overlooked but let’s hope our Kenyan boys are not over-awed (Uganda handed them a comfortable 3-0 outing at home in Sept 2010.
With the Kenyan squad being  full-house on the day, there are no more excuses to hide behind. Get out, play your hearts out or this will be the last chance of making the continental challenge!
USE(FUL/LESS) FACTS:
– Nyayo National Stadium has never been a favourite hunting ground for the national team. The venue seems to be jinxed, from fans and security issues to the often uneven playing field. The last good result being against Zimbabwe winning 2-0 in 2008.
– Which colour of jerseys shall the team be wearing this time? That has also been quite inconsistent though there’s the white with red trimmings from Adidas ( we’ve never known the value of the sponsorship deal).
– Kenya fans have never had a rallying call for their national team in football. They’ve always aped their rugby ones and lack some identity. Anyone out there with some ideas? (& not the nonsense of …mapambano,mapambano…)

Kenya v/s Uganda 0-0 :12th man doesn’t get his money’s worth

It was to be a clash of monumental proportions, a decisive tie for Kenya but the show never happened. Well for those of us who braved the scorching sun to make our way into the stadium, lots of disappointment and unmet expectations.
The Ugandans had promised to come in their bus loads and they did. By last count there were twenty 49-seater buses with more minibuses (some parked in town due to heavy traffic on Uhuru Highway) and numerous personal vehicles. Oh by the way it was Independence Day today and maybe that’s why they should up in their numbers.
They said that it was the 12th man who would make victory ours. That we did and the droves of fans had streamed in from 10 a.m. As we made our way into the stadium, some not interesting sights of Kenyans ‘cutting queues’ and security hired for the day (G4S…Ponyoka na $$$) and regular police kept allowing impatient & irritating guys who almost faced the wrath of fans who filed along well.
Onto the game and our boys looked a bit rusty and the Ugandans looked more technically able. They kept our defence on the back seat for the first 15min with good use of the flanks. We took time to get the game back and Mariga started lording it over the midfield but most of the other players around him kept waiting for him to make his move.
The best chance of the 1st half was the dead ball situation which Mariga cut down through the wall but straight into the hands of the able goalkeeper who plays for SuperSport in South Africa.  Much of the action in the first half was not all that to write home about.
2nd half and the game Kenyans had gone to watch almost came to pass. With Mariga now making some nice exchanges with the rest of the players in the mould of  Edgar Ochieng, Victor Mugabe and Dennis Oliech.The worst bit was the fact that we didn’t quite utilize those chances. Another deadball situation and Mariga’s kick hit the post again.
Mid-way into the 2nd half and the Ugandas were back to their flanks and the right one looked like their favourite side. They saw more of the ball and they seemed content to cross them past our goal mouth. By the 80th minute, it looked like ours was a lost cause.
Man of the Match : Without a doubt, MacDonald Mariga – we qualify him as our captain, not because he is playing Inter or Europe but he has the calmness and ability to make the other players dig themselves in.
Plusses:
  •  Fans did come in their numbers without a doubt and the stadium was almost filled to capacity.
  • Ticketing was almost on point – no need of walking to the gates & monies collection points
  • Ban of bottled substances – we know what is usually in the bottles is not the stuff meant to be in those bottles. They also serve as missiles when fans when they get discontented with play on the field.
  • Fair security – Fair because their presence kept the crowd in check
  • Weather – beyond our control but yes it was nice to have the sun shining on our brows
Drawbacks:
  • The fans who were to be the 12th man at times kept mum only coming back when the Ugandans cheered along their team. We don’t seem to have a song or chant that unites the fans and no those political songs are so 2007. We should hire the rugby crowd next time.
  • Shall we see reciprocity of sorts from our Kenyan politicians and businessmen? The Ugandans travelled in true sports fans passion and their presence strengthened their team. Mike ‘Sonko’ , Mr. PM anyone?
  • Ticketing – while they insisted on not selling tickets at the venue, no arrangements were made for the visiting team fans. Even the VIP ones were totally sold out and the spaces filled out – disappointing if you paid that slight amount for money.
  • Lack of merchandise – The flags and wraps were good but since we don’t usually know the national colours worn at any particular time, we can’t stock up on the team shirts.
  • Security – Meant to help maintain law and order, they also were the part of the loopholes of people coming in without tickets. We counted over 10 people who ‘sneaked in’ even after we alerted them.
  • Parking- If the stadium is to maintain its international status; the Stadia Management Board must find some better space of parking for fans. International standards demand that only team vehicles, ambulances and fire engines and security vehicles should be anywhere close to the ground. Seeing the loads of buses too close to the stadium was a major concern. Thank God the score was as it was, Lord have mercy had Uganda won the game.
  • Technical expertise – the technical bench at times looked like they were waiting for reactions from the fans. Still on the same, please get a new captain, the current one didn’t seem to rally the players up even when the game was getting out of reach.
  • TV/Media Rights – the circus is truly NOT out of town when it comes to Football Kenya Limited and on Saturday they ensured that no media house screened the game thanks to the greed in selling the media rights. Our own media houses are not without blame for imagining that they can wait till the last minute to make a compromise bid. We hope both parties learned and moreso the Football Kenya who’s term is really living on borrowed time. 

Now that we have made life difficult for ourselves in qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, the rest of group games we MUST WIN (almost impossible) given we have an away game in Angola and another in Uganda- Kampala. Back to square one!

Africa Cup of Nations 2012 Qualification – Decisive Clash for Kenya

After the usual circus that is Kenyan national football, this weekend we welcome our neighbours Uganda who are riding high on their chances after beating Angola in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualification ties. With the fixture looking all more important for Kenya it is being rumoured that none other than the Head of State Pres Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is expected to grace the match – to show allegiance and support to his side.

With the countries currently enjoying a hot-cold relationship with the rather peculiar controversy of ‘some rock’ on Lake Victoria and the renditions of Kenyan Muslim human rights over the Kampala bombings in July 2010, the temperatures are rising by the day. Also controversial is the fact that Kenya has changed tacticians once again bringing back Mr. Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee who though we respect his work might just end up as his predecessor Twahir Muhiddin.
Group J has Angola and Guinea-Bissau as the other teams. Let’s see what the game holds for us;

Strengths:
– Home ground – Being played before the home fans who have been streaming back to the stadiums to watch the local teams, there is bound to be overwhelming support for the Harambee Stars. What is lacking is the right ‘hype’ to fill the stadium and promote the fixture. By asking the top Government offficials, Mr Titus Kasuve is not enough.
– Professionals – Having the Oliechs and Marigas on the team who have been enjoying playing time on their respective European leagues is also a boon to the team. This though needs to translate to goals with at least 3 looking to ‘charge’ the team and fans to cloud 9.

Weaknesses:
– Nyayo National Stadium capacity – while it will be played at this ground, the capacity of the ground is limited to a little over 30,000 and any more than that is a crisis in waiting. We know what happens when the crowd is larger and passions up there. We can’t afford to be banned hosting future games on the grounds not now not ever!
– Team spirit- Losing to the minnows of the group dropped the team morale to a new low and there were media reports of team disunity. We also question the coach’s choice of Dennis Oliech ( all respects to him as a player). You need a more unifying factor in the team.
– Uganda’s flying start – Beating Angola who hosted the last Cup of Nations and were in the 2006 World Cup is no mean feat. The Ugandans have less than 5 players playing in the European leagues so they have something else inspiring their play.
– Consistency on the technical bench – if we have to win future games, there has to be some consistency on who sits on the technical bench. (We’re made to understand they appointed an assistant coach who’s currently in Europe studying, pray the head coach doesn’t get red-carded anytime soon….). If the FKL officials or whoever is in charge wants to do the country a favour, get the right people for the job or at least give them ample time to prove themselves. Create the right working environment and please get some contracts done and no playing with allowances or other financial obligations. You have more than enough funds from FIFA to bankroll this.

Our Uganda brothers are really excited about this fixture as you can see here and yes let’s keep it on the pitch (as written by Daily Monitor’s Mark Ssali) Come 9th October and let’s see the boys put on a good show and get 2012 preparations back on the road. Haraaambeee !

Football Broadcasts – Another Radio Station joins the Circus

Those of you who make time with your favourite radio presenters and stations will notice that there has been an increased occurrence of stations broadcasting live football games.
Commendable it would be BUT I can’t emphasise the fact that most of these focus mostly on the English Premier League and Champions League on weekdays. A great departure was the Africa Cup of Nations and of course we have the World Cup coming up in June which the national broadcaster and Radio Africa Group are hoping to reap handsomely.
On Saturday, yet another local radio station , Milele FM (specialising in playing rhumba music) broadcast the English Premiership games in partnership with BBC ( Idhaa ya Kiswahili) – great for your average football fan but disastrously to the growth of local game.
With the interest in the local game rising, we are bound to have fans starting to tune into the stations to find their favourite presenters as they make-believe and blow themselves hoarse as they bring the games.
Though it seems like a conspiracy by the media companies especially TV,I think they can serve our state of the game better by reducing these channels. For their business model it will work in the short term but for the local and continental game, no way.
While we all remember during the Africa Cup of Nations especially the final games, we know how Egypt v/s Ghana’s game was beamed albeit to a reduced audience across it as most people preferred watching the EPL’s Arsenal v/s Man U !!!
The dilemma first for the Kenyan football authorities is to sort out the first few problems of an unattractive game which needs to be worked on to impress upon fans to make their way into the stadiums. This will in turn become an attraction for the fans to come watch these fixtures. The incentives are coming through with sponsorship packages as corporate companies make their way into the game, KDN, Sofapaka and others thank you !
Ultimately, the local radio stations will have no option to give the local game preference over the other leagues. No illusions about this, we need to build our OWN!