the #harambeestars merry go round

Football kenya federation are looking to hire yet anothher coacj for our harambee Stars national team. this is just two months into the interim reign of James Nandwa, whoo took over After Henry michel walked out after foru? months in charge. Michel replaced Francis Kimanzi, who himself had hardly finished 6 months on the job, after taking over from…err at this point I lose track.

Harambee stars haven’t had a head coach finish a calendar year in charge since 2009? and in the last decade i’m only aware of the phenomenon happening twice more. In all that Time the teams on field results have been in steady decline.

Maybe, just maybe, the problem lies somewhere other than the guy who happens to be head coach at that point in time. after all if you keep giving a patient the same medicine and they aren’t healing then clearly that’s the wrong medicine for the disease in question yes?

Sure a new coach might get us one or two positive results in the short term, but what happens when we eventually lose a game? (yeah teams lose games sometimes) Do we hire a new coash or do we realize that he’s just one wheel in the cog called a national team?

I’m still impressed with #HarambeeStars

Despite going down to a soft goal, on a bad free kick, to dreaded rivals Uganda Cranes in the last minute of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup final, I am impressed with the overall showing that Kenya’s national team put in over the course of the tournament. Having gone out at the group stage, in the previous two events, and without a tournament win since 2002, this showing is a nice change of tune for long suffering fans. They generally operated as a team, overcame most of the adversities thrown up at them and even in the pressure cooker of a penalty shoot out, they had the composure to score all their 4 to knock out a stubborn Zanzibar team. Is it no wonder the man contracted to coach the team to the event, former Tusker Coach James Nandwa, has been made assistant to full time head coach, Henri Michel?

Now its on to the bigger issue of CHAN qualifiers. Kenya face Burundi over two legs, in the first sound of qualifiers. Probably a much softer challenge than Uganda, yet still good enough to take advantage, if Kenya don’t take the the seriously enough. All the best to them.

Who isn’t impressed with #HarambeeStars?

I know I am. Coming off the back of two straight group stage eliminations, and at least 2 coaching changes in the last 2 years, Kenya’s national football team have certainly come together impressively this CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup. Now one step away from winning the title for the 1st time since 2002, it is certainly a massive change of fortunes in a very short time.

They now face a very familiar foe Uganda in a stadium where they haven’t lost to anyone in 8 years. This is the same Uganda team that beat Kenya 1-0 in the opening match, but based on the performances I’ve seen it will not be the same Harambee Stars that walk out onto the field in the final. They bounced back admirably to dispatch South Sudan 2-0, and then Ethiopia, on a nightmare pitch, 3-1, to qualify for the quarterfinals. There they edged out Malawi 1-0, and then came from behind twice (the 2nd time after a really dubious penalty) to edge out Zanzibar on penalties in the semifinals. In doing so they showed a level of resilience that hasn’t often been associated with the Harambee Stars over the past decade. This time around there has been alot of the ‘Harambee’ spirit of pulling together. So far this tournament there has been star quality, with veterans like Mike Baraza, coming strong against Zanzibar, and newcomers like Rama Salim playing with confidence and verve throughout. Save for the ‘loin-soothing’ antics of Paul Were and Kevin Omondi, team discipline and morale are reportedly good.

Uganda, on the other hand, have been imperious. They have won pretty much every hand they have played so far. Over the past 4 or so years they have been the polar opposite of Kenya. Stability, where we’ve had chaos, direction where we’ve been all over the place. Most importantly dominance in the CECAFA Cup where we have struggled to make an impact. No doubt there will be alot of Kenyans making the trip to Namboole, so the good advantage thing might be dulled. Nonetheless Kenya will really be up against it versus Uganda. Not just because it is a cup final, but because it is a local derby with decades of history behind it and this blogger hopes that our boys can come out victorious. Either way it has been a very good showing.

Much ado about nothing…well almost nothing #Harambeestars

Its now about one week to Harambee Stars scheduled World Cup Qualifying match against Malawi. Kenya’s most recognizable players, Dennis Oliech, and MacDonald Mariga, are unavailable. The former is ‘retired’ over a much publicized marketing row and the latter is healing from knee ligament damage suffered playing for Parma in the Italian Serie A. In spite of the unavoidable fact Kenya are so much stronger with both, from the build up one would get the impression that Kenya are doomed without them. This is not th case. True in the last round of World Cup and Cup of Nations qualifiers Kenya’s midfield ran through him, the emergence of his younger brother, Victor Wanyama should give Kenya enough cover. Based on his role in Glasgcow Celtic’s league triumph, this blogger reckons that should Kimanzi give him defensive lynchpin responsibilities in tandem with one or two creative outlets, then Kenya’s midfield should be fine. As for Oliech’s absence, this might actually be a blessing in disguise for any one of 3 locally based strikers in form. Kepha Aswani especially has blossomed with Thika United’s attacking style this half of the 2012 season. He is among the top scorers this half of the season and his predatory instincts could be a welcome addition to a strike force that has off late lacked for goals. However to get that chance he’ll have to get Kimanzi to promote him ahead of the AFC Leopards duo of Allan Wanga and Mike Baraza, not to mention Sofapaka’s veteran John Baraza. All in all Kenya has more depth than we give ourselves credit for, so come June 1, this blogger has no fear about Kenya’s midfield or striking even without Mariga or Oliech.

CECAFA Draw Out!

Francis Kimanzi’s first major task back in charge of Harambee Stars is the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania from the end of November. Kenya have been drawn in Group C of the 12 team competition alongside Sudan, Eritrea, and guest team, Malawi. Kenya have suffered bad times in the reign and the continent’s oldest football tournament since Kimanzi was last in charge. Things came to a head last year when, poor defending on the field and constant rows over unpaid wages off it, saw Kenya bundled out of the tournament at the group stages. Kenya now return to the scene of the crime, backed by a unified governing body for the first time since 2004 and led by probably the most qualified Kenyan football coach in the business, looking to set things straight and reassert their authority as a regional powerhouse. Kimanzi’s star, on the other hand has continued to rise. After earning a UEFA coaching badge in Holland, he came back to steer Sofapaka into the fourth round of the CAF Confederations Cup (the best showing by a Kenyan club since Tusker FC in 1997) and into the final of the 2011 FKL Cup. Though the circumstances are not the most ideal, indeed with the KPL season hardly over before the CECAFA tourney kicks off, Kenyan footbal fans are crying out for some good football and it is imperative for Kimanzi to set th ball rolling in Tanzania.

Win or Die: What’s at stake v. Uganda

Thanks to CAF’s unique cleverness Kenya only have to win in Kampala come the 8th of October to save Zedekiah Otieno’s hide or at least half of it, paper over FKL’s continued inability to run a credible anything, KPL’s (over)dependence on tv to set their schedules and before I forget….Harambee Stars featuring at their first Africa Cup of nations in 8 years. According to Football Kenya 5000 match tickets are available to fans keen on trooping over to cheer our boys on. So can Kenya do it? Recent history is not on our side but what’s to lose. Aside from the usual round of scapegoating and recrimination can we expect real changes to the way Harambee Stars is run? Personally I’m not sure, so from that end my hope is that we win and at least that one or two players user the Cup of Nations as a platform to get into a lucrative European league somewhere. But like I said before, he we do who all that won’t matter, at least not for a while so COME ON HARAMBEE STARS!

Kenya v. Angola

Right, less that 24 hrs to a match that could kick start or completely kill off Harambee Star’s hopes to be part of The Africa cup of Nations in 2012. Kenya is currently stuck at the bottom of Group j with just a single point (from a 0-0 draw against Uganda) from 2 games. Here is this blog’s attempt at a preview of the match. 
The Scenario
     Kenya will be encouraged by the fact that the Angolans last visit to East Africa saw them hammered by Uganda. They will also be buoyed by their reputation for strong home performances in front of what (I hope) will be a large and vocal crowd at Nyayo Stadium. A win for Kenya takes them up to four points, which would be enough to overhaul at least one of the other teams in the group and give the team a massive confidence boost, going into game four in Luanda. This post is my attempt to preview Kenya’s preparations for this game.
   Kenya is pretty much a full house, with the exception of the unfortunate Patrick Oboya (missed last available flight after the traditional club v. country row with his club in the Czech Republic). The biggest profile returnees to Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno are midfielder Jamal Mohammed and goalkeeper Arnold Origi.Thus there are really no excuses on the squad front.
The Ground
  Nyayo stadium has an unsavoury record of crowd control ‘accidents’ and this match is the biggest match to be hosted there since the tragic incident in which 7 Gor Mahia fans lost their lives trying to get in to catch the  infamous Nairobi derby between Gor and AFC Leopards.  Match organizers have expressed a lot of confidence that this time they have got things under control. Whislt I hope that they are right, only match day can we be certain of the strength of their plans.

Overall this mat6ch is Zedekiah Otieno’s opportunity to make an impact where Harambee stars really need it. By winning this match he re-ignites what faint hopes we still have in making the Cup of nations next year . Anything else, and the campaign is almost as good as dead

AFCON 2013 Can We make it?

In a few weeks time Kenya will embark on their first attempt to quality for the Africa Cup of nations since the disastrous tenure of one Antoine Hey.

Our First match is away to Guinea Bissau and whilst preparations have been, well more than usual, there it is still hard to tell whether Harambee Stars are ready to reach heights last seen in 2004.

For that 1st time (more out of luck than their own efforts) harambee stars actually had a Friendly on the official date set aside for these things. a 1-1 draw away draw v. Tanzania was followed up by a 3-0 unofficial win over Ethopia. The win being with Locally based players exclusively(Sofapaka’s Allan Wanga scoring twice).

The most interesting thing so far is the acrimony suurounding the confirmation of Twahir Muhhidin as full time coach for the team. He deputized for Antoine Hey, and was left holding the peices when an acrimoniuos fall out between the German and FKL led to the former walking out on the team with over an year left on his contract. its been reported in the press that the board agreed on a different head coach at a full meeting only for ‘some individuals’ (a their critics put it) to hand Muhhidin the job.

Though I personally feel he’s not the best local option available. Since winning 3? league titles with the now defunct Oserian Fastac in the early noughties, he has not done anything of note as a coach. Nonetheless, he is blessed with the best selection of local talent for many years and i think that he can get Kenya to the Cup of nations should he be given the space to run the team his way.

Guinea Bissau, though not as illustrious as other West African teams, will still not be a walk over, given kenya are not a very good travelling team. Kenya’s other opponents in the qualifying group are Uganda and Angola.

Antoine Hey

Kenya’s new football coach. Paid for by the German Government and answerrable directly to Right Honourable CGH, Prime Minister of The Republic Of Kenya Mr Raila Amollo Odinga . According to the press the German coach will be taking over national eam duities from the beginning of March and will be charged with steering Kenya’s challenge to make the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

-Picture from Daily nation editorial (23/02/2009)

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Having looked up Mr Hey’s football career career on a nifty little gadget called Google news, the only managerial experience Antoine Hey has outside his brief stints in charge of Gambia and Liberia is one season in charge of a regional football team in Germany

Google translated profile