•The last time the nation ever felt proud of being associated with Harambee Stars was when they qualified for the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, the achievement momentarily serving as a break from another sequence of daunting results.
•The famous Reinhardt Fabisch squad that successfully flexed muscles with continental giants such as Nigeria is a clear testimony that fairness in player recruitment can lead to a satisfactory outcome.
The men’s national soccer team, Harambee Stars pitched camp on Monday to prepare for two friendly matches as well as the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt and Togo later this month.
Coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee has roped in 19 local-based players to take up national duty with their foreign-based counterparts expected to link up with the squad at a later date.
The Stars will face South Sudan in their first friendly on March 13 before hosting Tanzania on March 15, 2021, and March 18, 2021, in Nairobi.
Next will be a date with Egypt in Nairobi on March 22, before they travel to Togo on March 30 for the final qualifying rounds of the 2020 Africa Cup of Nations. These matches will be used as a build-up towards the upcoming 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers that kick off in June.
As the squad fly the country’s flag high in the battlefield, one fact can’t be contested: Kenyans have grown tired of disappointing results.
In fact, the last time the nation ever felt proud of being associated with Harambee Stars was when they qualified for the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, the achievement momentarily serving as a break from another sequence of daunting results.
Thereafter, Stars reverted to their traditional mode of stringing together a series of disappointing outcomes, the worst feeling coming when they crashed to the Comoros in the Afcon double-header after being held 1-1 at home and then losing 2-1 at Moroni.
Kenyan fans have floated all manner of theories to explain the team’s poor run. There have been allegations of biased selection, player intimidation, interference from the federation and failure to pay allowances.
Such are the issues that need to be redressed urgently and effectively if any meaningful results are to be achieved going forward.
Team selection should strictly be based on merit. The famous Reinhardt Fabisch squad that successfully flexed muscles with continental giants such as Nigeria is a clear testimony that fairness in player recruitment can lead to a satisfactory outcome.
National team coach Mulee has gone on record in the past saying that the system always has a way of sieving players and the country’s top tier automatically presents the best in the industry.
Whereas his statement contains some element of truth, there have been isolated cases of exceptional brilliance outside the league that need special consideration.
Players must get their allowances right on time to boost their morale. As much as nature dictates that players should be driven by patriotism while discharging national duty, incentives have been known to conjure up miracles.
Squad members should also feel at liberty to speak out their grievances and vent out their frustrations without fear of victimisation.
Lastly, the government should always chip in where necessary to plug any holes that may be occasioned by financial constraints, thus compromising performance.