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September 20, 2018

Will Stanley Okumbi Really Take Harambee Stars To the Next Level?

Harambee Stars head Coach Stanley Okumbi address the press during Football Kenya Federation unveiling of the New Technical Bench held at Pan Afric Hotel in Nairobi on February 20 2016.
Harambee Stars head Coach Stanley Okumbi address the press during Football Kenya Federation unveiling of the New Technical Bench held at Pan Afric Hotel in Nairobi on February 20 2016.

Today I put my big guns aside to discuss what is on everyone’s mind following Harambee Stars defeat to Guinea Bissau in the first leg of our AFCON qualifier on Wednesday.

What is happening to Kenyan football?

There are many theories though I do fault some fans and critics for not fully understanding the situation and only wanting to criticise and not offer any constructive criticism.

Let me start by telling you where my beef with FKF President Nick Mwendwa is. Yes he probably speaks a lot more than he should but for me that’s neither here nor there as he is eager to communicate with fans and critics alike.

My beef with him; which is sadly something that happens after every election; is that of having to pay back favours at any cost. Every human being does it once they get into government or positions of leadership.

There are those who helped you get elected and once in that position of power; you owe them. We have incompetent people in our national government who are there as favours to either a community or an individual.

What I ask is that as you pay back those favours; don’t compromise the quality of delivery of services; which is what has happened to our football.

Stanley Okumbi is a humble and pleasant person. I have interviewed him many times in the past and I know that. But he is not a coach, able to steer Kenya to international success just yet.

He could be in future if he is put in the right position to grow. He isn’t there yet. Mwendwa didn’t need to reward him with that high level job. He could have given him something else to do.

There were obvious errors in our game on Wednesday; an unnatural right back being put in that position when we had a natural right back on the bench. Patillah Omotto has very little experience in club football so it was strange for him to be in the Harambee Stars squad but even stranger that he started ahead of an experienced player like Anthony Okumu.

A player like Jesse Were has also been in great form for his club Zesco; so why we didn’t play two strikers upfront in a game where getting at least one goal was so important, beats me!

I know that Mwendwa said a couple of weeks ago that his mandate was much bigger than Harambee Stars and that to have a successful national team would have to start with grassroot development of the game and I agree with him.

But in the meantime, we should try and achieve what we can. This won’t be a popular statement but the fact is that this crop of Stars players will unlikely get us to a World Cup because they were not part of an organised system when they were in their early teens.

That said: there is good talent out there that can do better than what we saw in Bissau. A lot of that talent was even in Bissau but didn’t start or didn’t play at all; and for that I fault the coach and in turn my friend Nick who appointed him.

This doesn’t mean though that I will stop supporting the current administration because I do whole-heartedly. I have no choice. I want to see my country’s football develop and I’d rather have a voice in it; than stand back and criticize without offering solutions.

I trust that Mwendwa is a man who will listen to suggestions and steer us in the right direction. He’s only been in that seat for minutes so let’s give him the benefit of doubt for now.

The FKF President will be on my radio show tomorrow and I’ve put up a post on my facebook page where you can post your questions to him. Make use of it please. @CarolRadull on twitter or www.facebook.com/CarolRadull

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