Why are they leaving?
The red flag was raised with immediate effect after yet another important player, captain Dennis Oliech, quit the national team.
His move came just weeks after MacDonald Mariga said he would not play for the team till his travelling expenses were paid and three months after keeper Arnold Origi quit the national team.
The drama surrounding our top players is worrying and I believe it should be tackled more soberly and quickly if we are to mount any meaningful challenge in the forthcoming African Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers.
A player of Oliech’s calibre does not come by year in year out and, without mincing words; this is a player who is still needed by Kenya. Anybody out there who claims to be okay with his early retirement does not know what they are talking about.
Oliech is a brand that has been built over the years; a player who has given his best for the country in good and bad times, making it to the top league of quality strikers who are revered and respected.
My question is, what is going on that has led our top players to walk out of the team in a huff?
Some people may label Oliech and Mariga as rebels but I say that no one has the right to question their patriotism, which has been very impressive, as they have always delivered whenever called upon.
In 2004 Oliech had the chance to be one of the richest players in the world when Qatar offered him a chance to change his citizenship in a mega deal that would see him get over Ksh200 million.
He declined the offer as the nation sighed in relief, so why would we question his patriotism?
I completely understand what makes up the sponsorship deal signed for the national team but I still believe there was a communication breakdown somewhere down the line that, if fixed, could have sorted all this underlying issues and avoided all this unnecessary drama that has put the national team in jeopardy.
I still believe the right move was that players in the national team should have been properly briefed on what was expected of them once the deal was signed.
For Oliech, I don’t think his problem is money because he makes enough at Auxerre where he plies his trade but one of his confidants told me that he feels he is not being respected and is being taken for a ride whenever he wants answers to his questions.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has a role to play in making our players feel appreciated, instead of looking for avenues to rebuke them.
The professionals, led by Oliech, have been in top teams where the players’ welfare is at the apex of the team; a situation that does not replicate itself at home. That is why they are fighting hard to bring the changes that will eventually benefit all the players now and in the future.
Some people have even intimated that, with Oliech’s retirement we might eventually get his replacement but I want to ask, who has managed to reach his heights for the past ten years?
This is not to mean that we do not have talent but it takes time to nurture a player to reach the level of Oliech or even Mariga and it’s not a move that can happen out of the blues.
I believe all the concerned stakeholders, whether right or wrong, should immediately embark on a master plan to correct the situation to avoid further drama that will only be detrimental to our chances for Afcon and the World cup qualifiers.
Kenya still needs Dennis Oliech, MacDonald Mariga, Arnold Origi and all the players who have been in this campaign for the good of the beautiful game in our beloved.
FKF should not take a back seat but should be proactive by looking for ways to solve this impasse once and for all to avoid regret and backlash from the fans. I rest my case, hoping for the best out of this quagmire.
Find me on Twitter: @bedjosessien