What you need to know:
- Team's poor run has killed Kenya’s hopes of playing at next year’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
- Harambee Stars has had three coaches in the past 18 months.
Our national football teams’ dwindling fortunes in recent times is a cause for concern. The senior men’s team, Harambee Stars, were thrashed 5-0 by Mali in a 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification match played in Morocco on October 7. This result, coupled with draws with Uganda and Rwanda in Nairobi and Kigali, respectively, last month has all but killed Kenya’s hopes of playing at next year’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
These results come a year after Harambee Stars, which has had three coaches in the past 18 months, failed to qualify for both the 2021 African Nations Championship (Chan) in Cameroon and 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) set for next year.
Kenya lost the Chan ticket to Tanzania in July and was pipped by a lowly Comoros for the Afcon ticket.
And in a related development, the women Under-20 team, Rising Starlets, was thumped 10-2 by Uganda on aggregate in Nairobi and Kampala on October 1 and 8, respectively, results that put paid to their World Cup dream.
The shuffling of coaches, questionable team selection and deteriorating relationship between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and stakeholders — including journalists, corporate bodies and fans — are cited as some of the reasons for the under-par results by the men’s team.
FKF president Nick Mwendwa fired Jacob Mulee as Harambee Stars coach on September 15, less than 16 months after he had been handed the role following the sacking of Francis Kimanzi, who was sacked despite encouraging results. Mulee has been replaced by Engin Firat on a two-month contract, deemed by analysts as too short a period to have an impact.
FKF should embrace professionalism and proper planning to turn around these results. The government, too, must intervene and be the gatekeeper of the country’s football interests.