What you need to know:
- Kenya, as usual, continued to struggle against accomplished sides on the continent.
- However, the various national teams for once exhibited a more professional outlook when conducting their businesses both in private and public.
- This was attributed to the change of guard on the administrative front.
Kenya, as usual, continued to struggle against accomplished sides on the continent.
However, the various national teams for once exhibited a more professional outlook when conducting their businesses both in private and public.
This was attributed to the change of guard on the administrative front.
The season started with perhaps the most important political assignment in February, one that would climax with the election of the youthful Nick Mwendwa as Football Kenya Federation president.
Mwendwa secured the hot seat at the expense of among others incumbent Sam Nyamweya who didn’t defend his seat, seasoned administrator and Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier and Ssemi Aina.
Mwenda, who runs an Informations Technology firm garnered about 70 percent of the votes cast by the 78 delegates during elections.
“I have said for long that we would win this and we did it today. We now have a new federation and the aim is to begin with youth football, get the national team to prepare adequately for the next game and also change the people’s attitude on the game,” said Mwendwa in his victory speech.
By the time Mwendwa and his team assumed office, Kenya under the captaincy of Tottenham Hotspur midfield powerhouse Victor Wanyama, had played two of their six Group E games of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The campaign had started with an encouraging 1-1 draw away to the Republic of Congo followed by a disappointing a 1-2 loss at home to Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
Mwendwa would quickly do away with then Stars coach Bobby Williamson, replacing him with a youthful set up consisting Stanley Okumbi as head coach, with Musa Otieno and Frank Ouna assisting him.
Okumbi’s first two assignments ended in defeats, at home and away to unfancied Guinea Bissau in the same competition - results that ended Kenya’s hopes of qualifying for the Nations Cup slated for Gabon in January and February.
Guinea Bissau surprisingly grabbed the single qualification berth from the group, with Zambia and Congo settling for second and third place, while Kenya finished last.
Okumbi recovered from that setback in breathtaking fashion and has remained unbeaten in 11 matches since. His memorable run include a 2-1 home win over the Republic of Congo in the Nations Cup qualifiers, plus a 1-0 triumph away to a star-studded Democratic Republic of Congo in Lubumbashi.
On youth matters, FKF appointed Andreas Spier as the Technical Director on a two year contract.
The Kenyan authorities would later confess of their wish for the German to replicate the successes he attained during an earlier stint in Rwanda while working in the same capacity.
Spiers first assignment ended in a heavy defeat at the hands of Cameroon, during the qualification games for the U-17 Africa Nations Cup. He also endured a series of losses with the U-17s at the Cosafa Youth Cup in Zambia where they appeared as guests.
Kenya Under-20 side exited at the group stage of the African qualifiers, and in controversial fashion in April.
The side was banned by the Confederation of African Football for fielding overage players against Sudan in Khartoum. The match had ended 1-1.
Condemnations were swift. In fact, Mwendwa and his team received a tongue lashing from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyatta said; “It is deeply regrettable that the actions of the federation led to the disqualification of our team from the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“This kind of issue is simply unacceptable for a federation of its calibre, and let us not sugar-coat it - it is cheating. It is breaking the rules. And if the federation does not know the rules, then that is carelessness.”
Still, there were positive development in the way national team affairs were handled.
For the first time in a long time, fans witnessed foreign players arrive for international assignments in time, the various teams put up at decent facilities, kitted well and paid allowances - and on time.
“It was a learning process but I believe overall, we did well. I am also confident that from next year we will keep improving and perform much better now that we have found our feet,"Mwendwa said.
Despite the on pitch struggles, a couple of players impressed in the Kenya shirt.
Among them was Harambee Stars captain Wanyama and Jesse Were who made the nomination list for the Caf Africa Player of the Year, and Caf Africa-based Player of the Year awards respectively.
Wanyama also grabbed the headlines following a whooping Sh1.6 billion move from Southampton to Tottenham in the English Premier League.
“I am honoured by the achievement and it inspires me to work harder because I now know that people are following my work. It also shows the potential in Kenyan football.” Were, who was instrumental in Zesco United’s march to Caf Africa Champions League semis, noted.
Twenty-two year old Michael Olunga had a sublime season in Sweden following a slow start. He finished among the top scorers in the country’s top flight league with 12 goals and was nominated among the best players in Sweden.