Whither, whether, or what for CECAFA Challenge Cup?


Two months ago a certain African football federation was thrown into turmoil when the host of their show piece event suddenly withdrew. While CAF moved with speed to save the Africa Cup of Nations, the body I’m talking about is the Confederation and East and Central African Football Associations, and the event in question is the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.

Born as the Gossage Cup in the 1920s, the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup is the oldest running international football tournament on the African Continent, was due to be hosted in Ethiopia in its traditional November-December window.

Kenya’s Harambee Stars are the current defending champions, having won the 2013 edition as hosts. That year’s tournament had its own problems as FKF, struggled to mobilize funds to ensure all th hosting costs were met in good time. There was the embarrassment of a national team detained in a city hotel over unpaid bills.

Harambee Stars fans follow the action in a past Senior Challenge Cup (Source:Nation.co.ke)

After a number of behind the scenes efforts, CECAFA finally gave up (at least for this year) and the tournament was called off. Word spreading on several sports sites indicates that the tournament long overdue an overhaul and that nation were increasingly averse to hosting the show in its current format.

Apparently, some of CECAFA’s members want a home and away league system (like in the UEFA Champions League) with finalists playing each other at a neutral venue at the end of the year. Or something like that

If this reform carries through, it will pretty much eliminate the burden of one country having to host several teams and the delegations and fans, that apparently was the beef behind most of the CECAFA members dislike for the once off tournament format.

However, spreading the CECAFA tournament will have its draw backs. For instance, given that most of the time the players are involved in club football (home and abroad) and when that is not going on, World Cup and CAN Qualifiers, when will these matches be held?

Will there not likely be resistance from those clubs whose plates are already full with local league, and continental commitments? Asking them to allow their start players to commit to an additional ~22 (11 opponents x 2 games) during the competitive season might a bitter pi8ll to swallow. Not to mention issues of security, in countries like Somalia in particular. Will they host their won matches?

That being said, no actual changes have been announced, yet and in all likelihood, the promoters of change might not get the numbers to force anything at all through. Nonetheless, with this years’ Challenge Cup tournament off the books, and potential host showing cold feet, clearly things cannot go on as is.

Of Backs Mutually Scratched: Kenya v. Pakistan 2014


Tomorrow (Sunday the 7th of December) is the first of five matches between Kenya’s u19  cricket team, and their counterparts from the proud cricketing nation of Pakistan.

The Pakistan u19 team, are in Nairobi all of this week for a series of one day matches to help our boys find the level to break a 12 year duck, of qualifying for the u19 Cricket World Cup.

The publicity poster for the u19 matches (from Kenyacricket.com)

After that our own senior national team will jet out to Pakistan, to face Pakistan ‘A’ team, in a series of matches, ostensibly to help the Kenya men team prepare for the World Cricket league. The matches will be ‘45’ overs aside matches, but that’s not the crux of the issue.

That one of the leading nations in the sport, and home of some of the most gifted, exciting, even controversial players that the game of cricket has ever known, has suddenly felt sufficiently philanthropic enough to feel they have to schedule loads of fixtures against some down on their luck, drifting into obscurity associate country got me wondering. What’s the angle?

Tell us Madam Chair, How did you pull this off? (picture from The Standard)

Consider this, even during Kenya’s heyday in the early to mid 2000s, they only actually managed two invitations, to play against test nations not named either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

Since 2007 they have only managed 2 matches (of any kind) against a major cricketing power (South Africa), outside of actual World Cup matches. Even then it was only after Cricket Kenya had to ‘cost-share’ the expenses with the hosts.

Since 2007, Kenya have only managed 2 T20 matches against Bangladesh, who up to that point were our most consistent rival on the field.

One thing that these two cricketing nations, Kenya and Pakistan, have in common is their games are suffering from the insecurity in their respective countries. This insecurity is as a direct result of the war on terror.

Just as Kenya shares a lengthy, hard to police border with Somalia, a nation rife with Islamic extremism, Pakistan has a very long border with Afghanistan,  across which dangerous extremists have operated. Both nations also have native populations of disaffected youths, ripe for radicalization into extremism. The consequence for both is noth get severely targeted by these extremist groups’ terror attacks.

Pakistan’s national team has not been able to play so much as a single game in front of their own fans, since an incident in 2009, where their visitors, Sri Lanka, were ambushed by armed gun men allied to extremist Islam.

Similarly, with the spike in terror attacks in Kenya (many claimed by Al Shabaab), our own national team has had to deal with the ICC shifting several key World Cup Qualifying, and Intercontinental Cup home matches to neutral venues, due to security concerns.

The need to  ease a few concerns with the ICC, over the safety of cricketers in the two countries, is clearly something which would be boosted by the two nations, actually successfully hosting a national team without any kind of incident. Perhaps it is this confluence of needs that made all this possible. Maybe I’m reading too much into a pair of simple routine tours, between to cricketing nations, like any other.

 

 

Kenya tour to Namibia: A Few Reflections


Kenya’s men’s national team should be back in the country from a tour of Namibia any day now. The official purpose of the tour was Kenya Select XI v. Namibia ‘A’ in a 4 match ODI series. The final result was a 2-2 split between Kenya Select and Namibia ‘A’, with the 4th match being a comprehensive 125 run victory over a tired Kenya team.

That match aside the guys were pretty competitive throughout the series. Rakep Patel and Alex Obanda in particular were in top form on the side of the batsmen, while the bowlers were generally able to keep the team in the game in all 4 contests.

Rakep Patel batting in a practice session . (Source: sporton.co.ke)

One of the key aims of this tour, one presumes would be to gauge, the strength of Kenya against one of their key rivals for promotion out of the World Cricket League Division II.

On the whole, the Kenya team selected were very competitive, against a Namibia team, that tend to blow hot and cold at WCL leagues, so I wouldn’t read too much into how this reflects on Kenya’s own preparations for the same.

The team will not call it a day just yet. They will now head out to Pakistan, to take on a Pakistan ‘A’ team in a series of one day matches in that country (more on that later).Pakistan ‘A’ should provide a sterner test of Kenya’s performance levels, given the probability that the teams Kenya will face will be full of players, on the fringes of Pakistan’s World Cup plans, who will be desperate to prove a point to their national selectors.

“Every supplement we used was batch tested” says Friday and Brown


kimemiamaina:

The stand off between KRU and GoK oer doping allegations continues to rumble, as Michelle katami writes

Originally posted on katamiwrites:

Kenya rugby 7s is in the news again, and not because of the current stalemate between the senior players, technical bench and Kenya Rugby union but claims that the national rugby players for the 7s and 15s teams are using supplements that contain steroids. These are claims made by the Taskforce led by Prof. Moni Wekesa throwing accusation against former coach Mike Friday, Chris Brown, Felix Ochieng and current coach Paul Treu, Graham Bentz and 15s coach Jerome Paarwater amongst others. This is the second time the Task Force is making the claims.

While they say where is smoke, there is fire, and this ‘steroid’ smoke is just it – smoke. One cannot deny the fact the Kenya 7s and 15s players became physical huge and strong when Mike Friday and Chris Brown took over. That physique came mainly with the conditioning and from the 2012-2013 season, our boys looked…

View original 568 more words

Kenya tour to Namibia: A quick Preview


Kenya’s men’s national cricket team is in Namibia this week for a brief warm up tour.  The tour is the first major cricket action for the boys, as they prepare fro next year’s World Cricket League Division II, a tournament which is the first of many hurdles which the team will have to clear, as they set about recovering their lost ODI status and the prestige that came with it.

Kenya’s Nehemiah Odhiambo, bowls in a previous match against Namibia (Source: The Namibian)

 

The World Cricket League, for those of you not in the know, is a series of tournaments managed by the International Cricket Council, as a means of stratifying the various associates, and affiliate members (the teams which don’t have Test Status) , based on the strength of their national teams.  They also double up as a (very convoluted) World Cup Qualifying system.

Since they were launched in 2007, up until very recently, Kenya was in the top division of the World Cricket League, and will need to finish among the to two of the upcoming Division II tournament, to bounce back at the first time of asking.

Back to the tour in question. Initially, Kenya were supposed to have worked out a deal to visit Pakistan and play their ‘A’ team, but that had to be postponed  due to security concerns.

Be that as it may, now that they are playing Namibia instead, this will be a good opportunity to get a feel of the WCL Div II host’s strengths, and  the conditions ahead of the actual tournament. Absolutely nothing should be taken for granted, given how stiff the competition will be once the main tournament actually happens.

As the team gets ready to play, here is hoping them success and that the feed back they get proves useful to winning the WCL DIV II next year.

14 Years and Counting


I don’t normally post on Provincial (or county)level tournaments, on account of the fact that I prefer national level domestic competitions as a measure of the strength of the game in question. However with this post I make an exception.

Over the weekend Kanbis Sports Club defeated Sikh Union to win the Nairobi Province Super League for the 14th time in a row.  In the absence of an East Africa Premier League, or Cup this year (or for the immediate near future), this makes them the best domestic cricket club in the country right now.

A Kanbis Wicket-keeper showing the kind of focus that makes champions (Source:Sporton.nation.co.ke)

Given that the nations team captain as, well as the bulk of players turning out for Kenya’s youth teams over the past few years are Kanbis players, it further shows how much more dependent the game is dependent on them than ever before.

Before them, Swamibapa (Kanbis’s most fierce rivals by the way) had made similar run of dominance of the game, and it was through their scouting programme that the bulk of Kenya’s legendary team at the 2003 World Cup was scouted and introduced to the game.

Is this kind of one team domination a good thing or not for the game? Well it depends with what the dominant team chooses to do with that dominance. Swamibapa, as I stated made their prominence into a platfo0rm to fuel a ‘golden age’ for Kenyan Cricket as a whole. During Kanbis’ reign however (mostly due to things they can’t be blamed for) Kenya’s cricket  as a sport has suffered a crisis.

What can Kanbis’ success teach the rest of the game? Will the likes of Swamibapa, Sikh Union, Premier, Stray Lions or a new entity that has not come to the fore yet take this challnege to catch up with and overtake Kanbis? Will their model be studied and applied by aspiring sport organisations in and outside of Nairobi? Will their winning culture translated to whichever national teams their players get called up to?

I am hoping the answer to most of these questions is yes, because, Kenyan cricket at all levels needs it

Kenya 2014 Cricket Tour to S0uth Africa: A Review


It has been a good week for Kenya’s men’s’ national team. In fact it has been a very good week. In my previous post I previewed the participation of the men’s national team in the Africa 6s challenge and the ACA cup. So now it only makes sense to review their performance in said tournaments.

Kenya made it to the final of the 6s challenge, after beating Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda, only tome up short against South Africa in the final. In the round robin Africa Cup, their three wins, tied match (there are no draws in limited overs cricket), and one loss were enough to win the tournament ahead of Uganda and a Zimbabwe Invitation XI.

The successes of the tour were built on the fine form of the batting line up. Collins Obuya’s 127 against South Africa’s Invitation XI, was the cherry on the cake, as he Rakep Patel, Narendra Patel, Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma, all managed 50+ scores at some point in the ACA cup and the 6s challenge. On the whole the batting unit showed a resolve and determination which has not always been there in the past two or three years for Kenya.

The most encouraging thing was Alex Obanda bullied most of the attacks he faced while opening Kenya’s batting (Source:Streamjunction.blogspot.com)

The bowlers were also, for the most part incisive. Except for the ‘death overs’ when, it seems a slight lack of execution meant opponent like South Africa and Namibia were able to force the pace, despite being down to their last two batsmen. The Ngoche brothers (Nehemiah, Shem and James were the star performers in this regard)

Nonetheless on the whole the tour was on the whole, a plus for the men’s team, and bodes well for the World Cricket league Division II matches in February next year. The competition will be stronger, as in addition to Namibia, Netherland and Canada (teams with recent World Cup exposure) will be there and they will be contesting two promotion slots to get back into Division I, and the Intercontinental Cup.

Kenya Cricket Tour to South Africa 2014 Preview


Well, in all the hub bub about the changes, or no changes at the top, it almost escaped this blogger that the Kenya national Cricket team will be in South Africa for the Inaugural Africa sixes challenge, and the re-launched Africa Cricket Cup. Kenya will face South Africa, as well as Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The 6s challenge is a 6-a-side (5 overs an innings) format game, while the Africa Cricket Cup will be the standard 50 overs a side games.The sixes challenge will run over the course of the weekend (6-7th September 2014) and the Cricket Cup will run the week after (8-13th September 2014). These tournaments for all intents and purposes should be considered as a stepping stone in preparing for the Division II World Cricket League tournament, set for Namibia in February next year.

Aside from Captaining, Rakep Patel’s Batting will be crucial to Kenya’s success (Source: thestar.co.ke)

The 6s challenge is organised by Global Softech (a South African corporate), while the Africa Cricket Association is in charge of the Cricket Cup. The Cricket Cup has been brought back (Possibly) in light of how similar tournaments in Asia and Europe have been so successful in stimulating cricket growth in hitherto weak associate countries like: Ireland, Netherlands, Nepal, Afghanistan and even Hong Kong, whether or not it will catch on is the big test.

From the squad, Kenya will be sending what appears to be a full strength squad to contest the two tournaments. Narendra Patel is the only brand new cap, while Dhiren Ghondaria and Gurdeep Singh hang on to their slots, having both joined the national team in the last year.Also of note is the return of left arm pace bowlers Lucas Oluoch, while the highest profile absences are that of Tanmay Mishra and Irfan Karim.

As for the opposition, the information I can dig up indicates that for the most part Uganda, and probably Tanzania, and Namibia will be fielding the full national team, while I have no idea what the South Africa and Zimbabwe teams (who are currently in Zimbabwe for a tri-series with Australia) will look like. Either way, given the relative depth of the game in these two countries relative to the rest of the competition, whatever squad they field will definitely be very strong.

The Kenya team: Rakep Patel (c), Shem Obado Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Narendra Patel, Morris Ouma (wk.), Elijah Otieno, Hiren Varaiya, James Ngoche, Dhiren Ghondaria, Lucas Oluoch, Gurdeep Singh,

Coach: Steve Tikolo
Strength & Conditioning/Manager: Joseph Asichi,
Assistant Coach: Thomas Odoyo,
Physiotherapist: Joseph Mutisya

Jackie Returns and other stories


Having rushed to do a piece on the reports that Jackie Jan Mohammed was stepping down as chairperson of Cricket Kenya, I am now rushing to do a piece indicating that said resignation has been withdrawn. Strictly speaking, this is just a ‘rumour’ on social media as neither the mainstream press, not Cricket Kenya has published confirmation of the event on the public domain through any of their official channels.

Guess who’s back! (picture from: gulf news)

It seems that the board simple was not ready to move on without Mrs Mohammed and persuaded her to hand in in there for the time being. The decision is said to have been confirmed at a full board meeting in Mombasa a few days ago.

While all this was happening (or not happening) we are now into the month of September without any communication (even of the rumour variety) as to what the fate of the East Africa Premier League and Cup. Over the past few years, they have normally been held in the August-September period, following the conclusion of the provincial leagues.

It is through these competitions that the likes of Irfan Karim, and Lucas Oluoch really burst on to the limelight. Have they been postponed? Cancelled? Or are they being staged, as you read this, in secret at an undisclosed location? What is going on?

Anyway, be that as it may be, the ICC has finalised structure of the new World Cricket Leagues, through which Kenya will begin the path back to relevance on the world stage. The men’s team will play Namibia, Canada, the Netherlands, and two promoted teams from Division 3 in Namibia, in February next year.

The top two teams will be promoted to Division One, from whence the qualification for various World Cups will be contested, as well as becoming party of the newly restructured Intercontinental Cup, from whence they should get a shot at test cricket.

I’m not going to dwell so much on previewing this upcoming tournament, except to say that on recent head to head records against the opposition at this tournament, Kenya are not the favourites to come through.

Anyway, that is the latest in Cricket in Kenya, maybe some of the question raised will be answered, maybe they won’t. That’s life

The Merry Go Round, she turns and turns


On Sunday Afternoon on the 2nd of August 2014, Kenya Harambee Stars were due to face Lesotho needing to win by 2 clear goals, to stave off elimination from Africa Cup of Nations qualification at the preliminary round. They were unable to do so. The match ended goalless. The only way Harambee Stars will be at the 2015 Africa Cup of nations it seems, will be as ‘observers.’
Within minutes of the game, Football Kenya Federation had dismissed the team’s entire technical bench, and ‘disbanded’ the playing squad. Within days they had grabbed, the very well reputed Bobby Williamson, winner of 4 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup trophies, and the man who ended Gor Mahia’s 18 year Premier League title drought, as Harambee Stars new head coach.
And so the merry-go-round called head coach of Harambee Stars continues to roll. Though there are likely promises that have been made to Mr. Williamson over Job security and a bunch of other things, this blogger doubts there will be much seriousness in keeping them.

Bobby Williamson , takes the hot seat (Source: in2eastafrica.net)

The man himself is clearly qualified for the job, but is the employer ready to deal with him long enough for his ability to make a difference? Does it matter how good the man in the head coach’s role is, if the rest of the structure (youth development and scouting, logistics and friendly matches planning etc) is virtually non-existent? Harambee Stars have been through an inordinate amount coaches over the past decade with only marginal variation in the outcomes on the pitch. As far as I believe the head coach’s position is hardly where the problems Harambee Stars have lie.
CV aside there not is much difference between this appointment, and that of the last man shown the door, Adel Amrouche. A big name, that’s hired on hype of recent success, to single-handedly be the magic pill that ends all of Harambee Stars woes. Sprinkle in some token local management and apparently you have a winning formula.
Granted Bobby Williamson, as I stated earlier in the post has an amazing resume, and reputation, the cynic in me reckons, that when push comes to shove his appointment is simply more window dressing on FKF’s part.
Without real substantive changes to the way FKF runs football in Kenya, then most likely outcome is, Bobby Williamson will struggle to get any more out of Harambee Stars than Adel Amrouche did.
At the end of the day either he will resign in a huff, or get made the scapegoat for all of Harambee Stars shortcomings, and some other high-profile ‘miracle worker’ will take over and the cycle will start again. That is how FKF rolls!

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