I was intending to do a piece on the new kids on the blockin terms of live sports broadcasting, not just in Kenya, but in Africa. Asi ii is the company in question, GTV, has gone bust.
According to this pieceon the BBC, they have had to call in the liquidators after they were unable to recoup the 200 million USD they invested in their endevours.
For us in East Afrcica as well as losing what was a significantly cheaper portal to English Premier League football, there is also the small issue of who will fill in for the now defunct sposorship deals GTV signed with FUFA (Uganda’s Football administrator)and the recently concluded CECAFA tournament.
2008 looks to e a ig year for Kenyan sportsmen and women all over the world and although our beloved Harambee Stars will be missing out on the premier event on the African Continent, The Africa Cup of Nations, there action on the domestic season will hopefully give the die hard fans who still attend these matches reason enough that there is enough talent on the local scene to change that. The rugby and cricket teams on the other hand will have quite a bit on their own plates with both looking for success which for, while for rugby will be unprecedented, will have been long overdue for the cricket team.
First up will be Th Intercontinental cup in cricket which see the best Non-test teams face each other in a league from whence the best two teams face of in a final in a neutral venue to decide which one of them is the best at First Class cricket. The current tournament which started way back in June currently has Kenya on top of the table before there two matches in January against UAE and Namibia, Kenya will need to cash in on these winnable matches before they head of to face more adept opposition in the form Of the Dutch and the Scots. Outside of that if things work out well Kenya will also face Test nations South Africa in two One day matches, and the possibility of hosting Zimbabwe for a full blown tour including a number of First Class matches and One Day internationals. Also in th pipeline is a possible forur nation tournament involving immediate rivals in the Cricket world rankings Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Rugby returns in a big way in February when the Rugby sevens tournament returns in early February and with Kenya having made such a strong statement in the first two legs in Dubai and George making the main up quarter finals on both occasions and winning the plate in George knocking over such traditional rugby powerhouses such as England on the way, the rugby team will be looking to build on this platform and finishing well in the top ten, maybe even the top five, who knows ? Sky is the limit.
However the biggest event on the 2008 Kenyan sports calendar is undoubtedly the Olympics in Beijing where Kenya’s athletics will be wanting to extend their revival at the recent World Athletics World Championships in Osaka with another huge medal haul. Also looking to get in amongst the medal winners will be the boxers and maybe if things go really positively there might be one or two Kenyan swimmers lining up at the finals of one or two strokes.
On the Domestic front there will be the KFF Premier league which is looking to run uninterrupted for the second successive season in a few years and will be available to view all over the continent on Supersprt following a multimillion shilling 4 year television deal. Also on the agenda will be the usual rugby sevens circuit peaking in mid year with the Safari Sevens and if nothing goes worong for the first time Kenya will be witnessing the best cricketing talent on offer playing each other in a proposed national league.
Kenya’s considerably unspectacular display at the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup was brought to an end on Tuesday when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals, by fierce local rivals Uganda, 4-2 on penalties after The Harambee Stars had fought back from an early first half goal to take tha match into extra time at one a piece. Having not quite dazzled at the tournament Kenya may well consider themselves somewhat fortunate to have mad the knock-out stages of the tournament having lost both their first two matches in the group stages even if they went out through the relative lottery that is the penalty shoot out, a number of issues both on and off the pitch will, and probably should raise concerns with the footballing fraternity back home.
First of all the lack of a full time manager which has perennially plagued the team since 2004 with numerous different coaches, both local and foreign, coming in and out of the job with various levels of acrimony and generally very little long term success. Even the current incumbent, who is also the reigning premier league champions Tusker’s head coach Jacob Mulee is not certain to stay with the side citing club commitments and the KFF will need to look at establishing some kind of continuity in the position of head coach if they are to build a Harambee Stars dynasty that the fans can enjoy.
Being that this is the first time in two or three years Kenya actually got to the stage of kicking the football around against their opponents on the field in their attempts to win back the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that they only just scraped through into the quarter-finals on the back of finishing third in a group of four and recording their sole victory over a Somalia team that were never really more than the whipping boys of the group should again raise a few questions about where Kenyan football has been headed ever since the heady heights of winning their first ever match on Africa’s highest stage at the Africa Cup Nations back in 2004. despite coming into the tournament one of the favourites and generally recognised as one of the strongest squads at the tournament even without most of their European based stars, the Harambee Stars first fell 2-1 to the hosts, Tanzania in a game they had a number of chances of winning and were then stunned 1-0 by a previously unfancied Burundi side before they made some effort at compensating for the previous matches by beating Somalia 2-0 in a match which saw their first goals to result from open play (the consolation against Tanzania being as a result of a penalty)
Kenya now find themselves facing a quarter-final clash against Uganda, who have been in considerably better form not only in this tournament but over the past few years, and will be definitely have to raise their game for this match lest they risk elimination from the tournament now that there is no more room for error left in the tournament. Bigger performances on the pitch from the Likes of Allan Wanga in attacking and relative veterans in the squad Andrew Oyombe in defence to name just a few to get into the semi-fials.
Although it may be easy to heap the blame on the coaching when the going gets tough one has to remember that while the current head coach Jacob ‘ghost’ Mulee may not Alex Ferguson, or Jose Mourinho, he certainly is not solely responsible for less than perfect results from the boys considering that he had only a fortnight at most to work with the squad and two hastily arranged friendly matches against Oman in the week before arriving in Tanzania one can see some of the symptoms of a rather undercooked squad starting the tournament performing at less than one hundred percent and with the usual troubles of allowance payments rearing their head even as Kenya prepared for their do or die clash with Somalia a number of questions have to be answered by the board which is still fighting with rebel factions over its legitimacy to run Kenyan Football ,an issue that not only was at the centre of the bungled preparations for the regional U17 football tournament but was cited as a key factor in their missing out on a potentially luctrative sponsorship deal from EABL on how serious they are on taking Kenyan football into the future and until these questions are decidedly answered there is only so far Kenay as a footballing nation can expect to go.
Tanzania host this years edition of the tournament and as nothing has gone spectacularly wrong jut as yet it seems Kenya might actually take part which would be the first time in two? years and following a combination of their unholy tradition of last minute preparation and Kenya’s lowly World ranking, the only preparation the have done since the end of the domestic campaign is one week tour of Oman in which they played 2 matches against the Omani national team getting drawing both games 2-2 and 1-1 before the boys go to Tanzania for the December tournament.
Having been place in group A alongside hosts Tanzania, Somalia and Burundi, the Kenya team, which comprises almost entirely players from local leagues, will hope to re-establish their reputation as the regional Football superpower with a win or at least make their presence felt witha a strong showing. Hopefully with ‘Ghost’ Mulee back at the helm and some sense of sanity and stability in the football fraternity in comparison to the years that followed Kenya’s last participation at a major football competition in 2004 the Harambee Stars will give us something to smile about.
NEWS UPDATE: Premier League top scorer Allan Wanga has been able to link up with the rest of the squad after returning from closing out his move to Petro Atletico In Angola,