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Kenya must keep our coach

As Kenyans we’ve known for a while that we wouldn’t be sending our national team Harambee Stars to the World Cup in Brazil next year. We started the round of qualifiers poorly without an experienced national team coach and that is where we lost it.

After drawing with Malawi here in Nairobi and then going on to lose to Namibia in Windhoek, our fate was largely sealed. Knowing that our luck depended heavily on two matches against Nigeria wasn’t encouraging at all.

One good thing did happen; but way too close to our first match against Nigeria in Calabar; the Football Kenya Federation employed the services of Coach Adel Amrouche. Now, several months down the line, it appears that Kenya’s partnership with Amrouche is what we have needed all along.

Kenya needed a coach who was patient, who knew what he was doing in Africa, who could share in our problems and look to the future. More importantly, they needed a coach that couldn’t be bullied by the federation.

Someone asked me on Facebook on Monday whether Kenya will ever qualify for a major tournament. After engaging him for a while he lamented about how Ethiopia were moving to the next round of qualifiers and how Botswana had not only made it to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations but had beaten Kenya at the Cosafa tournament in July.

If you look at this 2014 World Cup campaign in terms of results achieved, it appears as if it has been an exercise in futility. If you look at progress made in the playing outfit itself and how new players have been included at various stages of preparation, then you will see this as progress.

What has stalled the development of our national team in my view is consistency in the management of the squad.

Firstly, we have not been able to hold onto a national team coach for much more than a year, let alone through one round of qualifiers. Football Kenya Limited has not shown goodwill when it comes to holding onto a coach, until now. Yet even now I am worried.

I know that FKF shares the views of Amrouche when it comes to the long term goals of Harambee Stars but already we are having money problems, kit problems and problems in terms of player allowances. This is likely to ruin our relationship with the national team coach and some of the players.

Word has it that Amrouche’s salary is being delayed and that some players are yet to receive their allowances for the Namibia game. Word has it that Amrouche had to import the kit used in the Namibia game from France at the last minute. The coach is being made to take on responsibilities that should be handled by members of the federation. He should be concentrating on players and the game only; but evidently if he wants things to be well organised, he needs to do more.

I don’t think former Stars’ coach Henri Michel was a bad coach but he was working in a challenging environment.

To look to the future: I find it commendable that the players were able to rise above all odds and finish the 2014 World Cup campaign on a high. I only imagine how better it could have been if Amrouche had been hired at the start of the campaign.

With the Cecafa Senior Championship just around the corner and being hosted in Kenya, I guess the overall challenge for the national team and the federation, is to ensure we hold onto Amrouche to ensure we have some consistency in the way the national team is managed.

I admire Amrouche because he appears to be able to work in the challenging environment but we shouldn’t push him too far.

It’s time for us to build on the small strides that Amrouche has made with a talented group of players so that finally we can begin to qualify for important tournaments again.

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