Déjà vu all over again: the FKF, KPL saga


Once again Kenyan football is making a whole bunch of negative headlines for itself. It seemed like a not-so-big-a-deal difference of opinion between the governing Football Kenya Federation, and the Kenya Premier League ltd, through which participating clubs manage the affairs of the Kenya Premier League.

Then it became a massive crisis threatening to grind domestic football to a halt, and putting Kenya’s football teams banned from FIFA activities again.

Sam Nyamweya, FKF’s supremo (Source: Michezoafrika)

On the one hand Football Kenya Federation wants an additional 2 teams added to the Kenyan Premier League. Perhaps it is to help get more fans involved, perhaps it’s a gimmick to shore up support ahead of October’s elections, or perhaps it’s something else.

KPL declined the ‘request’ because they felt it would mess the financial arrangements that they had with the sponsors. In any case such decisions ought to originate from the KPL itself.

FIFA came in to mediate, commissioned a report with recommendations, which it handed over to FKF, what with them being the body FIFA recognized. They were probably hoping that this report would guide a reconciliation that would allow them to go and worry about something else. Word on the street (nothing official has been released) indicate the recommendations side with KPL. That has not happened.

FKF then went ahead and launched the FKF Premier League, complete with a list of 18 teams, of. They then went and started tossing fines and suspensions at anyone working with KPL’s attempts to carry on regardless.

Here are some things that at I haven’t seen explored in the mainstream coverage of this saga

1. Bad Blood? The personalities in the center of this dispute are not colliding for the first time. When Kenya was last banned from FIFA activities, it was because KFF, then led by present FKF chief, Sam Nyamweya was at center of the crisis. Among other things, FIFA, backed by personalities now in KPL, was attempting to change the face of football administration in Kenya through the now dead Football Kenya Limited. Now the shoe appears to be on the other foot, as FKF appears hell bent on steamrolling over the KPL and anyone who sides with them

2. Bad Precedents? Over its tenure, in charge FKF has made a bad habit of intervening and overruling decisions of various bodies, in spite of their mandate to actually make those decisions. From overturning KPL, and IDAC decisions on disciplinary issues, to going over team the heads of national team coaches on squad selections. Could FKF’s decision making be the culmination of the contempt it shows the institutions it is supposed to be nurturing?

3. Bad Campaigning? Did i mention that the board of the FKF is up for re-election this October?. Maybe this is just a cynical mover to emasculate the only organization with the capacity to mobilize and follow through on the removal of Nyamweya’s team.

Whatever the real motivations for this crisis, it  certainly stinks of a  kind of brinkmanship that will take Kenyan football nowhere.

World Cricket League Division II: Where Kenya Stand


The grind of the International Cricket Council’s elaborate and extensive World Cricket League tournament system was back in action over the past week. Kenya was in Namibia, for Division II of the ODI side of the World Cricket League.

Up for grabs were two slots in Division I of the World Cricket League, two slots in the next round of the Intercontinental Cup (which will be a qualifier for a shot at test cricket) and generally getting a little bit closer to qualification in the 2019 ODI World Cup. For the worst two, relegation down to Division III, and generally making the path to World Cup qualification that much more complicated.

There were 6 teams who played each other over that week. Namibia, who were hosting the tournament, and Netherlands promoted, Uganda and Canada were relegated, while Nepal and Kenya will wait for the next round of World Cricket League Division II matches.

On the one hand Kenya finished the tournament as the 3rd best team overall by beating Nepal in the 3rd v. 4th place playoff. On the other hand, Kenya only narrowly escaped relegation by a net run rate differential of approximately 0.2, again as a result of beating Nepal on the last day of round robin matches.

It’s hard to say whether one should be happy that Kenya were resilient enough to dodge the bullet of relegation and even grab 3rd place overall, or sad that they were never really good enough to bounce straight back into Division I of the WCL, having only just been relegated into Division II.

Kenya looked very good dispatching Uganda and Nepal twice. Their bowling unit (led by Nelson Odhiambo’s 15 wickets at 17 apiece) was able to pretty much out smart and outplay their opposing batsmen, while the Kenya batsmen were savvy enough to collectively chase down totals, or score enough runs to win.

Nelson Odhiambo is quietly making himself a pillar for team Kenya (Source: espncricinfo)

On the flip side, in their losses against Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands, the batting either proved too brittle to withstand the pressure from the opponents bowling, or the bowling unit was unable to react appropriately to the aggression of the opposing batsmen.

Case in point being the Netherlands game, where only some late hitting from Nehemiah Odhiambo got Kenya to a total of 212/9, which the Dutch promptly chased down in 31 overs.

Kenya now moves their attention to the process of qualifying for the T20 World Cup. This will involve first making it out of the Africa Qualifier tournament and qualifying for a global qualifier tournament, whose qualifiers will go to a preliminary round before they qualify for the World Cup proper.

Previewing the World Cricket League


This year in world Cricket the finest exponents of the ODI format will be in Australia and New Zealand, to contest the ICC 50 Overs World Cup. The 10 full members of the ICC will be joined by 4 associates, of which for the first time in 19 years Kenya will not be among them.

Kenya must instead focus on the long journey of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup (assuming that the rug isn’t pulled out from under associates), and that journey begins in Namibia on the 17th of January 2015.

The 2nd Division of the World Cricket League kicks off with: Kenya, Namibia (hosts), Uganda, Netherlands, Nepal, and Canada. These teams will be contesting two promotion slots to Division 1 of the WCL, and a slot in the final round of World Cup Qualifying, (assuming no dramatic changes) for the 2019 World Cup.

The final two slots in the next round of intercontinental Cup First Class league, and a shot at qualifying for a test match in 2019, will also be at stake at this tournament.

Three of Kenya’s 5 opponents in this tournament have previous World Cup experience, and Uganda, our local rivals; have proven a stubborn opponent in recent times. Nepal is also on the up and should be taken very seriously. In terms of history, this is probably the toughest WCL Division 2 tournament that has come together in the history of the World Cricket League.

Irfan Karim’s form will be key to Kenya’s chances (Source:ulizalinks.co.ke)

This tournament will not be won on past reputation but on which teams bring their A game to the actual games. A less than full strength team, team exposed by Pakistan A, in the team’s last outing. With the Kanbis duo of Rakep and Narendra Patel, Collins Obuya, and Irfan Karim back in the fold, there will be lots more fire power in the batting than the team which went to visit Pakistan.

Most of the team will also have been part of the group which visited Namibia late last year, and will be very familiar with the conditions, as well as most of the opponents they will be facing.

*Kenya squad for ICC World Cricket League Division 2:
Rakep Patel (c), Elijah Otieno, Alex Obanda, Jadavji Bhimji, **Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim(wk), Lucas Oluoch, James Ngoche, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Shem Obado Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Narendra Patel, Gurdeep Singh.

Notes:
* There is quite a bit of contradictory information regarding Kenya’s squad to the WCL Div II on multiple credible cricket websites
*Injured on club duty and replaced by James Kamande (Daily nation report)

Reflecting on Kenya and Pakistan’s recent Cricket games.


Over the past few weeks, Kenya and Pakistan engaged one another in a series of cricket matches. Kenya’s u19 boys’ team hosted their counterparts for a 5 match ODI series in Nairobi, whereas the men’s senior team traveled to Pakistan to play their ‘A’ team in a series. Both series resulted in hopelessly one sided white washes for the Pakistan teams

A poster for the Kenya v. Pakistan A matches (source:Todaynews pakistan)

On the side of the u19 games, the one sidedness of the results was to be expected, given the huge difference in class between the two countries’ youth development systems. For those not in the know, Pakistan’s u19 team’s world cup record reads as follows: World Champions twice (2004, 2006) losing finalists thrice (2014, 2010, 1988) and semifinalists twice (2008, 2000). They have NEVER missed a World Cup and their worst ever placing is 8th overall.

Kenya’s u19 team on the other hand have not qualified for the sport’s world cup since 2002, and their best placing was when a group with led by the young Collins Obuya, Morris Ouma and Kalpesh Patel managed to finish 5th in the plate competition in 2000.

Basically, the games were not likely to be close contests, and they were not. As the boys set out to break Kenya’s 12 year duck at World Cup Appearances my hope is that they looked what the Pakistani boys were doing right and borrowed some of their methods.

This blogger also hopes that the administrators also used the opportunity to pick the brains of the Pakistani management on how to build a world class cricket development system.

On the side of the senior mens’ team, the nature of the defeats was a lot more disappointing. Some numbers to put the scope of the performance in perspective. Kenya’s leading run scorer was Nelson Odhiambo, with a total of 84 runs across his 5 innings, not in one innings but for the whole tour. By the way he was also the team’s leading wicket taker with 5 wickets across the 5 games.

Kenya missed most of their top order batsmen (Rakep Patel, Irfan Karim, Collins Obuya, among others were not available). The only ‘seasoned’ batsmen who traveled were Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma. Unfortunately neither was able to fire, and the other batsmen, on their first exposure to cricket at this level couldn’t pick up the slack.

The bowlers were significantly better at competing with the Pakistan ‘A’ team batting, but when push came to shove it just seemed that the hosts always had an extra gear, they could switch into and just take the game away from the Kenyans.

This blogger speculates that this difference is partly down to the competitive edge that the Pakistanis have developed in their players from the competitiveness of the cricket in Pakistan as a whole.

In the immediate future, Kenya might not have to play such difficult opposition in the upcoming World Cricket League matches, plus they will have a full complement of players.

However, Cricket Kenya must look at the results as a reminder that the game in Kenya just isn’t mobilizing the kind of player resource needed to take us back to the ‘glory days,’ of regular upsets, world cup qualifications.

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.

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