•Weche reckons a fine and carefully contemplated blend of youth and experience can help solve the situation.
•Weche is advising the Kenyan technical bench to consider roping in gifted players who possess the mojo to influence the pace and direction of any game.
As the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages end tonight, the amount of interest the premier biennial continental showpiece has attracted in the country attests to its popularity across the continent. a
Sadly, Kenya has been reduced to a mere spectator with local football enthusiasts being forced to rally behind foreign teams given the Kenyan national team, Harambee Stars fell short of the threshold.
The last time Kenya featured in the competition was in 2019 in Cairo Egypt, where the national team, Harambee Stars posted a dismal result.
But this year was worse for after they were forced to sit out of the qualifiers due to a Fifa ban.
Tanzania’s Taifa Stars are the only East African team that made it to Ivory Coast after Harambee Stars missed out on the final list.
We need to go back to the drawing board and find out where the rain started beating us.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has reiterated the government’s desire to steer the national team to victory in 2027 when Kenya will be co-hosting the competition alongside Uganda and Tanzania.
It is encouraging to note that authorities have begun collaborating with the local football association to lay a firm groundwork for a successful competition. This includes closing down all the stadia earmarked for rehabilitation.
However, a lot more needs to be done to get us ready for the tournament especially if we are serious about celebrating a historic maiden victory.
We are grateful to have landed the hosting rights but that was only the first step. There is completely no guarantee that Kenya will perform well simply by hosting the competition.
Local football stakeholders reckon there are pertinent lessons Kenya can derive from the ongoing competition.
For example, ex-Kenyan international Mickey Weche who also turned out for AFC Leopards draws attention to the struggles the host nation Ivory Coast underwent in their backyard before sneaking in the quarters.
Weche reckons a fine and carefully contemplated blend of youth and experience can help solve the situation.
Weche is advising the Kenyan technical bench to consider roping in gifted players who possess the mojo to influence the pace and direction of any game.
“Every coach must always equip his squad with a highly-skilled player who possesses the mojo to change the tide in favour of his team when push comes to shove — the likes of Messi and Ronaldo.”
Tusker FC head coach Robert Matano believes the Ivory Coast situation presents some lessons to Kenya as it prepares to host the 2027 Afcon alongside neighbours Uganda and Tanzania.
“There are some pertinent lessons Kenya can glean from Ivory Coast’s catastrophe as the East African nation sets the stage to co-host the 2027 Afcon alongside neighbours Uganda and Tanzania,” Matano remarked.
Matano stated that the economic benefits of hosting such a premier continental football showpiece aside, nothing massages the ego more than laying claim to the coveted silverware.
“The reality of being turned into minced meat by opponents in our backyard could have prolonged devastating effects and it could take centuries before we smart from the agony,” Matano remarked.
“We need to start preparing our team early enough for the task ahead. Tanzania will have an edge over Kenya and Uganda in terms of preparations given they are part of the ongoing competition,” he added.
Veteran Kenyan gaffer Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee called for frequent build-up matches that have the potential to help Harambee Stars sharpen their talons adequately.
“We require more high-profile international friendly matches to sharpen the talons of our charges for the highly-anticipated biennial tournament,” Mulee said.
“Most importantly, we need a well-informed gaffer with the right credentials and tactical prowess to steer us to the ultimate glory that has eluded us over the years,” he added.
While echoing Mulee’s sentiments, Bandari FC vice-chairman Twaha Mbarak said the importance of such matches cannot be underestimated.
“We have seen the number of benefits Harambee Stars have derived from their international friendliness against the likes of Qatar, Iran, and Russia,” Mbarak remarked.
“Those who have been following the team’s performance will agree there has been a great improvement in performance compared to when such friendlies were not organized.”
“It is equally important for us to assemble a squad early enough to afford the coaches sufficient time to mould a winning team. We have witnessed a disturbing trend whereby the technical bench tinkers with the lineup from time to time.
Mbarak says such a move could prove costly and deny us favourable results, owing to inconsistency in assembling the team.
“We must also hire a quality coach who has the right credentials to steer us to the desired results. The hiring process must be done above the board and a committee of experts constituted to preside over it.
“We need a coach who will spend time in the country and transverse all the counties while rummaging through a wide array of competitions for quality talent.”
Mbarak called on all those involved in managing football in the country must shove their vested interests aside for the sake of the entire nation.
“We are glad that CS Namwamba has hinted at plans to arrange high-profile build-up matches that will sharpen the talons of the national team in readiness for unprecedented victory at the upcoming Afcon.”
Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat has been following the matches meticulously given Kenya is in the same group of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers as hosts Ivory Coast and Gambia.
Stars will flex muscles with the Ivorians in June in round four of the qualifiers before locking horns with Gambia later on.
Firat believes his charges possess the aptitude to turn the tables on Ivory Coast.
“I believe we can easily beat Ivory Coast if we prepare well enough and get our strategy right. I have followed them keenly and noted their weakness,” he said.
Firat says Kenya should find appropriate ways of shipping their best talent abroad so that they can learn the tricks behind the success of nations that dominate the football terrain.
“This is the best Afcon competition so far because we have about 200 players plying their trade in the top five leagues in the world.
“We must find ways of pushing our players to such heights. We should strive to get a significant number of players into the top five leagues in Europe,” he added.
Harambee Starlets head coach Beldine Odemba says the secret is in nurturing budding talent early enough to prepare them for the task ahead.
“A lot of exceptional talent abounds in our country but these young players never get to display their prowess beyond secondary school. There is a need to provide them with the right platform and guidance,” Odemba stated.
She singled out Kenya Under-18 midfielder Tyron Kariuki who amazed the nation with his exceptional dribbling skills during the Cecafa U18 boys’ football tournament in December last year.
“Tyron Kariuki is a rare talent. I spotted him even before he joined the school, and saw his potential to attain greatness,” Odemba added.
Kenya Under-18 boys’ national team head coach Salim Babu believes there is a need to establish comprehensive youth development structures to steer the country to the desired heights.
“We need to get our steps right and one way is by ensuring we lay the ground for a successful future by nurturing the next generation of footballers,” Babu remarked.