Strategy or a great accident?
Listening to the Football Kenya Limited chairman, Sam Nyamwea, going on about how great a coach James Nandwa is, following Kenya’s achievements at the Cecafa Challenge Cup, you would think that Nandwa had all the support in the world going into the tournament.
You would think that Nandwa had been given his choice of players and you would think that all allowances had been paid. You would think that what happened in Kampala over the past two weeks was strategised.
Ironically, the road to the Cecafa final was anything but designed.
It started in July when the tournament was moved from Kenya to Uganda, sparking off a war of words between Nyamwea and Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye. That war of words caused Kenya to threaten to back out of the tournament all together.
When FKF hired Henri Michel in August, the disagreement between Nyamwea and Musonye was at an all-time high. When the CHAN fixtures were announced and the match against Burundi was set for 1 December, it gave Nyamwea the perfect reason to say Kenya wouldn’t be participating in the Cecafa tournament.
We have heavily criticised Coach Henri Michel for calling Cecafa a “useless” tournament but where do we think Michel got the impression of the tournament. I doubt whether he knew much about Cecafa before running into our dear chairman.
Despite the fact that CHAN dates were moved to allow Kenya to participate in both tournaments, Nyamwea still refused to budge. In fact Kenya confirmed, at the 11th hour, that we would be sending a team to the regional tournament but not with Head Coach Michel.
As if to show how little we valued Cecafa; local-based players were divided into the more “valued” players, who would stay in Kenya and train for the 15 December clash with Burundi, while “less experienced” players would be sent just to honour our Cecafa obligations.
Expectations from Cecafa were low. Here was a team of players, some of whom had never been called up to play for the national team, while others would often make the 30-strong team and be dropped when the shortlist would be released. Others, like Mike Barasa, had played for Harambee Stars but had not been called up in long time.
Most of these players, I must say, are players I felt ought to have been recalled to the national team or called up to be given a chance to play for their country long before Cecafa.
The fact is little was expected out of the quickly assembled team and that’s probably why they did so well. There was no pressure, at least at the start.
Kenyans are so predictable. The minute we start doing well in any sport in any tournament, regardless of how little support we have given them until then, suddenly the country expects even more.
The disheartening comments on social media on how Kenya lost the final were uncalled for. Even the best players in the world have bad days in the office where they score own goals and give away free kicks, but its all part of football. Considering we only gave them support after they beat the odds to reach the final, it wasn’t really fair on the players who slipped up.
The morning of the final, the players were on strike over unpaid allowances. Another fact of how little support the boys were being given.
So did Kenya get to the final because we had a clear strategy or was it just a really great accident?
Imagine, if we can achieve what we did in Kampala without design, what could we achieve with good planning, training and support for the national team and coach, even if that coach is James Nandwa.