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Kenya - everlasting spectators

It hurts! It really hurts when I think of how millions of people in my country Kenya love football and yet we never feature anywhere that matters when great footballing nations are being discussed. I ask myself whether Kenya is cursed when it comes to football.

Last Sunday I was devastated but not surprised that the Harambee Stars were thrown out of the CHAN qualifiers by Burundi. The reason I wasn’t surprised was because we haven’t, as a country, invested properly in developing football and success won’t come by chance. It has to be designed.

We must plan better and a lot of money must be poured into the sport if we are to get proper results. Somehow we keep forgetting that. We keep not investing in football but we still expect good results – somehow. It is not going to happen by magic.

Watching Harambee Stars battle to score against Burundi, in vain, made me sad. We were technically inferior to Burundi and looked as if what we were doing was trial and error. We actually played as if we had no coach; with no clear set out plan or co-ordination. It was a very poor display but what else could we have done, given how we prepared.

From the time the Stars were split into two, with one team going for Cecafa and the other being reserved for Burundi, it was clear that little would come out of the CHAN qualifiers.

Had we tried to put one solid team together that would tackle Cecafa and then move on to take on Burundi, I believe we would have done much better. Apart from very few players, like Mike Barasa, the joint Cecafa and CHAN qualifier squads were relatively young. These are players that could thrive under proper management.

Where is that proper management? As far as I’m concerned Harambee Stars doesn’t have a head coach and I put that blame squarely on FKF chairman Sam Nyamwea. After Cecafa I was the first to write here how our achievement in Uganda was a “good accident”. Reaching the Cecafa final was a fluke and I have always said that James Nandwa isn’t ripe to take on the management of the national team. He is a talented coach but he needs a lot more coaching experience before he can take on a national side.

So once again Kenya will become spectators as international football is played over the next few years. Even though we are not quite out of World Cup 2014, I insist that we be realistic and acknowledge that without proper management, we aren’t developing at all.

If we can’t even make it to CHAN, should we really be seeing ourselves in Brazil? Our international players haven’ t been performing either for the national team. Yes we’re all showering praise on Celtic defensive midfielder/defender Victor Wanyama. He is yet to replicate that form for Kenya.

Next weekend Africa’s most prestigious continental competition will be kicking off in South Africa and, just like last year, Kenyans will be doing what we do best – watching.

As countries like Cape Verde and Niger make their citizens proud at Afcon 2013, Kenyans will be watching. There was a time the two countries could not be mentioned in the same sentence as Kenya when discussing continental football. Because they have done a lot right, their football is going places. Even a country like Botswana can speak of having represented their nation at a recent Afcon tournament.

Kenya hasn’t qualified since Tunisia 2004 and I am ashamed of that. It’s been downhill since then.

I find it so sad that most Kenyan football fans support at least five football teams religiously. Few support a local league side. We all support Harambee Stars, then we have our English premier league side (mine is Arsenal). Then we all have a team we support at the World Cup and that’s usually teams like Brazil, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and so on and finally we pick a team to support at Afcon.

Sadly we should be supporting our very own Harambee Stars at Afcon but that doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon unless things change. So right now we’re all deciding whether it will be Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria or another country that we will shout about during Afcon 2013.


Kenya need better brains running FKF and, as we go to the polls in March to elect our national leaders, we need to insist on representatives who have a solid agenda for football development.

If I sound angry today, it’s because I am! Very angry!

As it stands now, we are doomed to being everlasting spectators and I’m sick of it!

In order to cool off for the next month or so, my focus will move to Afcon. Since Harambee Stars isn’t there, let me go and ponder who I’ll put my money on.

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