Sepp Blatter & FIFA retinue to visit Kenya ( East Africa) soon

With Federation of Kenya Football having conducted a relatively smooth election to merge Football Kenya with Kenya Football Federation, FIFA powers that-be had to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new office holders. The new chair, mercurial Sam Nyamweya  managed to hold audience with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in November 2011 a few days after the elections and the latter promised to make good the new office’s endorsement by paying a visit to the region with Kenya being part of the circuit visit.

FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatterimage courtesy of http://dadoubd.canalblog.com/

Work on another of the sites for the FIFA Goal Projects is said to start soon in the lakeside town of Kisumu. So while FIFA prepares another whistle-stop trip around Eastern Africa, we thought of a few things they ought to consider as they throw in some sun-bathing lotion, safari/khaki trousers and designer sun-glasses;
1. FIFA Goal Project in Kenya – though this has been touted as one of the biggest FIFA projects to get football from lower levels and under-priviledged areas, in Kenya we are well below expectations. Initial work at the Kasarani Sports Centre stalled and though there is commitment from the Government to continue with the project, FKF officials have not put any structures in place to ensure the same doesn’t happen in future.

2. Non-partisanship  – in the past, FIFA honchos have been seen to take sides when any sort of crisis plagues the local game. This has seen the local football scene deteriorate considerably over the past 15 or so years. It doesn’t help that your organisation broods no interference or nonsense from national Governments but that doesn’t mean that the game should be sacrificed for a few ego bruises.

3. Women’s Football – while the Kenyan male counter-part has had a warm-cold representation at international circles, the women’s game seems to be spurred by some form of inspiration and is fast taking root among Kenyan urban poor. Does your office have any developmental agenda for their game? They just might be what Kenyan football needs to spur it to international fame.

Image courtesy of www.picturesdeposit.com

4. Transparency – many analysts have talked and commented about the secrecy that shrouds your books and other financial statements – the jury’s still out there on how transparent the overall body is run. This should not be the case for national federations. We’ve seen too many shady merchants running the game and getting away with it. Don’t fault them, they only take orders from above …

5. Africa’s agenda – beyond the voting rights that African states have enjoyed, and yes we (South Africa) did host a World Cup. What’s your agenda for African football going forward? Your on-and-off tiffs with CAF top-dog Issa Hayatou have been well documented. Well ours is to hoping that in your last few years of the final term, the game of football can be of great pride to the African citizenry in the near future. Continental sports media house SuperSport has taken the initiative to develop local leagues across many African states, maybe you can take a cue from them. The resources that your organisation enjoys are enourmous and a little bite on the cherry won’t hurt will it?

Thus said, we hope that your visit will be worth the while and as we say in Swahili… Karibu Sana!   

Harambee Stars Official Kit – How do we Source these?

Yesterday the new Football Kenya Federation made their first major undertaking by unveiling the team’s kit at a Nairobi hotel. Well it was an honourable thing but it brings to question how we source these kits and why the frequent changes in the same. We have lost count of the number of times the kit has been changed. It also makes it hard for the fans to keep track of these jerseys which we have been trying to don for the games both local and regional.

Harambee Stars new kitImage courtesy of www.capitalfm.co.ke

Asking FKF officials,
– What are the procedures of securing the team jerseys?
– Does it attract competitive tendering or is it a private arrangement of the Federation?
– How do you qualify whether to give it to one brand and not the other? Adidas, Nike or the other?
– How much does the Federation get for donning on that particular brand?
– How come we have not had any official shirt sponsor for the last couple of years?

These questions come in the bane that shirt sponsorships across the world are some of the main revenue drivers for major teams both clubs and national teams. Some have used it to leverage on their brand and won handsomely ( like the recently signed deal of Barcelona first-ever commercial shirt sponsorship deal). It also helps a country’s citizenry identify with the team.
We have CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup and now we have to buy some new shirts again …pray it doesn’t change once the World Cup 2014 qualifiers start…

Kshs. 110million for Harambee Stars – Too Little Too Late?

The sceptics in us always bring out the other side of the story. We applaud the efforts the Government through the Harambee Stars Management Board is engaging in. Yesterday they managed to secure KShs. 110 million 3-year sponsorship if the Premier is to be believed from the EABL – one of the region’s most profitable companies.
(Image courtesy of www.cafepress.com)

All good thus far, but why did we have to wait till when we’re hanging on the edge of the cliff where the national team is threatened with elimination from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)?
Well, one can argue that our football authorities (or non-existence of the same) have never had any agenda for the national team. The dismal crowd that showed up for the Kenya v/s Guinea Bissau game is clear testimony ( the crowd watching the KPL’s Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards attracted almost three times the number…).

  • OK post 2012, we have the 2013 AFCON to think about. This was occasioned by the concern that having this continental championship along with the World Cup in the same year sort of drains the players from the continent who have to play for their national teams. The whole commercialisation aspect for FIFA also played into the hands of CAF officials having not option than to change this to an odd year tournament.
  • Thus the 2014 World Cup qualifiers come into play too.
  • Such stop-gap measures that we have often adopted for the national team need be a thing of the past. Does it have to take Government officials to rescue the team when we ought to have a federation pitching their case to the Kenyan corporate firms?
  • We have a shirt deal which was never made public and the ever-changing colour of the strip makes such a hard-buy for fans willing to don these during national team fixtures. Shouldn’t it be considered as one of the revenue streams for the national team kitty?
  • Can we also engage a full-time national coach? Not that we’re against Zedekiah Otieno but managing one of the top ( and more demanding) teams in the KPL and the national team is no walk in the park. Having Musa Otieno as an assistant coach was a smart move but can we transition fast and either give him the job or decide to recruit a proper tactician for Harambee Stars?
  • We may also need to decide who runs the national team, the Management Board, KPL or FKL…whichever body feels sufficiently able should be left to handle the team with little interference.

All we shall be doing is ruing missed chances which we ought to have taken from the word go. Let’s hope our boys came find the magic to outplay and outmanoeuvre Uganda Cranes at their hunting backyard. After October let’s compare notes…

{Talking of which when the HELL are the Kenyan Football Elections??? We’re tired of shifting goal-posts, changing dates to suit some candidates and all those shenanigans…have a bad feeling about the whole process or the charade that it might be}

AFC Leopards v/s Gor Mahia – Kenya’s Celebrated Football Derby

This football derby never ceases to excite the slightest of football enthusiast in the country. You can even ask SuperSport which bulked from the pressure of these old foes. Ironically the two teams fans have been some of more indisciplined ones in the Kenya Premier League in the 2011 season.
Well another lingering issue was the postponement of the game twice once due to the Super 8 games and the second due to the rugby game featuring Zimbabwe and Kenya at the Nyayo National Stadium. It was also a blessing in disguise for the teams since now they both get a chance to woe their ardent fans & potential ones back to the stadiums.
It has been a mixed bag again with both teams not performing to their bet and AFC Leopards suffering more and currently languishing in 12th position while Gor Mahia lies mid-table at 5th position. A win for Gor would place them at 3rd while a win for Leopards would jump them to 8th position.
All the same, it will be another of the major highlights of a sporting fan’s weekend. Make way to your nearest G4S centre and buy your ticket. The security concerns and the logistics in place are to ensure there is no repeat of a stampede or fracas of any kind.
May the best team win!

Football : KFF & FIFA-Let’s not have the charade

The world of football was treated to some very interesting times in May and the run-up to the 1st June at the behemoth that is FIFA. Sepp Blatter fighting ( well not that the only other candidate Mohammed bin Hammamm) for the top post for a fourth consecutive term really opened up a can of worms and somehow wiggle himself free to emerge as the only candidate and win this post till 2015.
Well while he may want to wish away the whole charade whether the claims against Jack Warner and Mohammed bin Hammamm are proved or not; there is going to be lots of ín-house cleaning and PR as well as trying to keep the two gagged for the next couple of years if FIFA is to hold its own. Some disquiet has come from some of the major sponsors but nothing serious yet ( some had argued that they would withdraw their 2014,2018 and 2022 tournaments…)
Back to Kenyan football, we had our joke of a football official from FKL representing Kenya’s vote. Hoping they do not want to replicate a similar situation, it is about time the Independent Elections Board announced a date for the elections which are now becoming quite an obstacle for the local scene.
The whole scenario is not helped by the fact that the IEB seems to be reading from FIFA’s script and had to wait for the elections of the highest office to end before making any move. For the interests of our country and for us to save face, please do not let the fiefdoms from FIFA trickle down to our levels. Mr. Paul Otuoma kindly hold forte for the people of Kenya and if we shall be suspended for your cobbled coalition Government coming to our rescue then let be it.
IEB announce a date and save us all this hassle, let the best man win!

African Football Executive Summit – A First of its Kind !

African Football Executive Summit

This premiere event is scheduled to be held in Accra, Ghana from 26th-27th May 2011. The theme is ’21st Century Marketing Strategies, Branding and Leadership for the Development of the Game on the African Continent’.
The organisers, Pinnacle Group (UK & Ghana) in association with the Chartered Institute of Marketing-Ghana are hoping to address good effective leadership and innovative marketing solutions to the African football game. These two can then be harnessed to become a catalyst for sustained development to achieve immense potential in a football and economic sense as has been achieved elsewhere in the world.
For more details check their link here. Wonder who will represent Kenya in this ground-breaking event…

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 Fanaticism…let’s not take it too far

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Over the weekend during a local Kenya Premier League game between Gor-KCB ( one which I thought of attending but some family issues made it otherwise) a local fan lost his life . Our heartfelt condolences go to the family and the friends as well as football fans of the famed club.

This not withstanding, the same club has a game tomorrow pitting it with last year’s winners Sofapaka . The week-day games have become great crowd pullers and as such it would be a great way for the city football fans to make their way to the stadium. The game is expected to be a thriller though some fans are throwing their protestations too loud for the others.

Now I win the $10,000 bet – Football fan runs onto Nemanja Vidic 

But a worrying trend is emerging especially with some of the clubs and their fans taking their antics both on and off the field too far. Early this year, some fans harassed others from rival clubs if they had any vuvuzelas saying that they held the ‘rights for these new additions to football fan’. While it serves the club well to have their 12th man to help them win  their games, it does not serve any good to the game taking the passions to other levels.
It doesn’t make one a bigger fan by shouting and harassing the opposing team even before the ball is kicked. So what happens if the teams can’t make it to the pitch thanks to the clashes that fans may have? We all know how harsh the penalties become with teams asked to play without their fans. We can all avoid this if we conducted ourselves with just a bit of decorum even on the stands.
It will also serve the stadia management well, if the necessary security is in place to ensure that the fans do not get a chance to throw whatever burbs they have at each other. It is about time we matured in our fanaticism and not jeopardise
Interestingly how come rugby fans do not end up clashing even with all the alcohol and ‘other incentives’ involved?

Harambee Stars Woes, are we surprised?

It baffles the way Kenyan football fans are quick to put blame on one or the other for the team’s poor performance in recent times. Are we surprised by that? Not from our brief here.
It is always going to be tricky affair translating good league fixture games to national team performances. That FKL has always been joking when it comes to the national team is something that needs to end. How can a team train for 4 days and then leave on the actual day to play a fixture which is more than 6 hours away? And you expected to win?
You must also have read The Daily Nation’s- Macharia Gaitho’s story about our team draping in all sorts of colours thus no consistency there too!

Harambee Stars A.Makacha  in a Weird colour – (Courtesy of www.kenyafootball.com

Not even the presence of famed duo of MacDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech could save the blushes the team suffered. What is amusing is that the technical bench found it fair to play Oliech as the captain for the day ( though Robert Mambo remains the captain) even though he hadn’t trained with the team. If players decided to have a go-slow on the pitch and thus lose the game, well they did just that and now complicate their qualification chances in a group featuring Angola, Uganda and Guinea-Bissau (who were labelled the under-dogs). The next fixture has Kenya facing Uganda in a month’s time (Oct 8th at Kasarani)…should be an interesting fixture…
But if we are to make a difference in the qualifications, the rot starts from the top and needs to be pruned soonest possible. No need to blame the Twahirs, Oliechs, or other excuses that we’ve sought. Or else we shall remain non-starters on the continental-stage!