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Kenyans are transferring entire teams

What is a transfer market when it comes to professional football?

It’s a window of time where teams can tweak their squads so that they can be more competitive at the start of a season or for the second leg of a season. It’s a time when managers can shed players who aren’t performing and recruit players they feel will change their fortunes.

The market is expected to be busiest at the beginning of the season when managers are planning for the task ahead and you would expect these managers to have an idea of who they are buying and selling. The mid-term market window is when managers, or should I say coaches in our case, should tweak their squads because one or two of the players they started the season with aren’t quite working.

I question the way the process is handled in Kenya.

This wasn’t the first mid-season transfer window where we have seen clubs shedding and signing up more than ten players at a go. Let’s look at the teams who were busy during the transfer market.

KCB and City Stars were the least busy, signing on three new players each. In City Stars’ case two of the players were taken on board for no fee at all. Apart from their three signings, KCB let Kaleb Adola go to Sony Sugar and that was the only business they did. Now this is what I would imagine the mid-term window to be dominated with, because it is about tweaking and not creating.

AFC Leopards didn’t do bad business in Kenyan terms, as they recruited four new players and renewed contracts for some existing players.

Sony Sugar signed five new players, including one from their youth team, so that isn’t too bad either. Ulinzi Stars added five.

Then we move to the sides that transferred teams not players. When you are recruiting 15 new players, as was the case in Muhoroni Youth, then I worry. I know they are languishing in the relegation zone so the recruitments are perfectly in order but what was the coach thinking at the start of the season. Alfred Imonje’s reasoning now is that he must survive the cut and remain in the KPL next season but shouldn’t that have been part of his strategy in January during the last window.

Muhoroni Youth was part of the KPL last season so the level of competition in the top flight should not have been a surprise.

Kakamega Homeboyz have also just recruited a team, 13 players to be exact. In their case I would excuse them a little though since they were not in the KPL last season and somehow trusted that the team that got them promoted last term would be good enough to compete in the KPL. Half a season down the line and having cemented the bottom spot, they are wiser now, so they have recruited a team that hopefully will save them the drop. I excuse them.

I do not excuse Karuturi Sports for letting their star striker Andrew Murunga, Allan Otindo and Titus Shikuku leave only to bring in six new faces. They too have a relegation battle on their hands but letting some of the best players leave wasn’t wise in my book.

What was also strange in my book was how Tusker FC, under Coach Robert Matano, sold striker Andrew Murunga to Karuturi Sports at the beginning of the season, only to buy him back last month. Eh? Along with Murunga, Matano brought in 10 other players last month, which is a team in itself. Matano then went on to scoop players that had been dropped by their sides like Ali Abondo and Moses Otieno from Gor Mahia, and Kevin Oliech from Mathare. That wasn’t unwise because they came cheap but hopefully Matano will make them do what their former coaches couldn’t.

Oh Gor Mahia! Dropping several players and then signing on seven new players seems like a lack of planning. Did you not plan in January when you were buying players without your then coach present in the country? Will the new players change your fortunes, I wonder?

I also wonder about Bandari signing nine new players and Mathare United bringing in eight new faces.

All the above is not “beefing up your squad”, it’s creating a new team. Most of these players will take time to settle in their squads and coaches will have to begin from scratch with a bunch of players who come from different backgrounds.

Judging by the “smart” way in which these clubs recruited in January, my bet is that they don’t know half the players they are bringing in and it appears to be some sort of trial and error.

I guess the consolation for teams in the Kenyan Premier League, is that just about every club has the same peculiar transfer habits. So all is fair at the end of the day.

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