Devolving Football? What Sofapaka and Tusker FC’s moves portend


Kenya’s 2014 premier league season starts imminently and aside from the usual ins and out, there have been two moves, or rather two incidences of a move that have struck as different. Over the Sofapaka Football Club, Mathare United and Tusker FC will be opening the season in new locations. The  formely Nairobi based,  Mathare United, Sofapaka, a shifted base to Machakos , and Tusker set out to move to Meru. The Tusker Move not beingwithout its controversies. The Stadium move being stalled first of all by KPL declaring the proposed Kinoru Stadium venue unfit to host premier League matches, only for FKF to interfere and muddy the waters further

Why did these clubs make (or set out to make)there moves? This post won’t attempt to give a ‘comprehensive’ answer to this but here are some hypotheses. Firstly, Its likely the two clubs did this because of market forces. Over the part decade, Tusker and Sofapaka have between them won more trophies than pretty much everybody else in the Kenya Premier League, yet in hue crowded field of Nairobi football, hearts and minds still very much belong to to Ingwe and K’Ogalo.

What do these moves mean for Kenyan football?  Without pretending to offer a ‘comprehensive’ answer here are a bunch of hypotheses that I figured come into play.

Firstly, the two clubs are seeking new markets to grow their brands. Tusker FC is the third most successful football club in Kenya outright, and in the past decade or so and could very well have  closed out other teams in terms of success on the field had a revival of corporate interest in the tow big community clubs (AFC and Gor) not happened when it did. Yet what do they have to show in terms of a fan base.  To the best of this blogger’s knowledge their games continue to get minimal gate attendances and for an institution with all the financial backing that Tusker has, that just ain’t right!

Sofapaka, and Mathare United on the other hand are new kids on the block. Sofapaka backed by the flamboyant Elly Kalekwa, and Mathare Unieted by the MYSA. They have taken the league by storm, and though they have better crowds than Tusker, they too seem to have found that,  the hearts and minds of most Nairobi football fans seemingly belong firmly to either Ingwe or K’Ogalo. So what do these teams do? Move I suppose.

What is the way forward For Tusker and Sofapaka?
What is the way forward For Tusker, Mathare and Sofapaka?

On the other hand why Machakos and  Meru and not say…Uasin Gishu and Murang’a ( hoe county of Kenneth Matiba, the founder of Tusker FC)? This blogger understands that the county governments in question were more than passive participants in the football clubs’ respective moves? What is in it for them

This blogger reckons that its not just prestige, but the possibility of drawing attention to use the teams as a centre-point to develop sports and cultural activities is what convinced Governor Mutua of Machakos, and Governor Munya of Meru to act on this opportunity.

Which benefits to they intend to harvest from this? Will the football clubs start developing local footballers for use their Premier League and continental assignments? Will the exposure on Super Sport TV draw interest to the wider opportunities that these counties have to offer?This blogger certainly hopes so.

NB: This post has been updated to reflect the controversy revolving around the Kinoru Stadium in Meru.

The New Rage in Kenyan Football!


Its FOREIGN COACHES! Well maybe its not so new but since, a Dutchman named Jan Koops brought total football to AFC Leopards leading the much storied club the top of the Kenya Premier League table, the demand for foreign coaches has spiked. I’m not just saying coaches who’s passports aren’t Kenyan, but non African, European wherever possible coaches. Let’s put aside the fact that over the past two seasons Ingwe have shelled out more money in revamping their squad and technical bench than pretty much the any single club in the rest of the league. Let’s put aside the fact that, together with their rivals Gor Mahia, they have been the best two clubs at turning the renaissance of Kenyan club football into massive gate receipts. Since the arrival of Koops, Gor Mahia, and the national team, Harambee Stars, have gone for foreign coaches and according to press reports Tusker FC and Sofapaka, both who recently sacked Kenyan coaches, will be looking abroad for replacement tacticians. The thing that strikes this blogger is that all these clubs have considerable financial clout, relative to the rest of the league. Sofapaka are backed by the personal fortune of Elly Kalekwa Gor and Ingwe have their massive fan bases and millions of shillings of corporate advertising it draws, whilst Tusker are literally owned by East Africa Breweries Limited, one of the largest corporations in the East Africa region. They unlike other teams in the league have the muscle to actually pursue foreign coaches and the attendant costs of sustaining them. Also these teams either have lengthy traditions of success (see Tusker, Ingwe and Gor winning 33? out 48? Kenya Premier League Titles between them) or have very imposed very high standards for success in the case of Sofapaka. The question now remains is that will these coaches bring the desired success to ties clubs through their sheer foreign-ness or is their something about the way coaches are developed out there that makes them worth the extra investment for clubs that can afford it?

Acid test


 Its almost February 2011 and almost time for Kenyan clubs to set off and attempt, one again to knock over the last frontier of Club football on the African continent.

Ulinzi Stars will be  representing Kenya in the Champions League. The opponents Egyptian powerhouse team Zamalek FC. They host the first leg at Nyayo Stadium on Saturday. This being the first opportunity Ulinzi have had to play in Continental Club Competition in 6 years. 

Sofapaka  on the other hand are in Angola to face Aviacao on the first leag of their maiden CAF Confederations Cup. The big spending ‘Batoto ba Mungu’ have invested in plenty of experience for this one (stalwarts such as Titus Mulama) signed during the off season to bolster their midfield attacking options. However the real test is whether last season’s big signings have finally gelled into the kind of frce that a lijne up with 9 Kenyan internationals can be.

On thye whole this blogger expects that these games will be really tugh going for bth our teams so I am hoping that Sofapaka can get a draw away and Ulinzi on the other hand can keep the away gals to a minimum. 0-0 wuld be Okay but  a win would be great.

W