Kempes speaks out on aborted AGM, CHAN preps

Sammy Owino and Sammy Shollei

Former Harambee Stars players Sammy Owino "Kempes" (left), Samy Shollei (right), and former Harambee Starlets player, Charity Wangoma, Director of Bondeni Football Women Club men and women teams, and other football officials from Rift Valley Region, during a meeting held in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on May 29, 2023. Owino donated footballs and training kits to 14 football teams.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kempes, a respected football coach based in the US, says he is not surprised by the move by the court to halt the AGM.
  • Besides Kempes, Hussein Mohammed, Twaha Mbarak, Sam Nyamweya, and ex-footballers Macdonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech are eyeing the FKF presidency.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) presidential aspirant Sammy ‘Kempes’ Owino suggests it would be “a good thing” if the current FKF administration is kept off preparations for the 2024 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).

Co-hosting rights

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has awarded Kenya the co-hosting rights for this continental championship which takes place in September alongside Uganda and Tanzania and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba recently announced matches will be staged in Nairobi and Kakamega.

But then, there has been a push and shove within football circles ahead of the FKF polls in October 2024, with a court case filed in Mombasa by sports journalist Milton Nyakundi at the weekend halting the eagerly anticipated Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Before the court intervened, FKF had attempted to block both Extreme Sports Chief Executive Hussein Mohammed and Bandari FC Vice Chairman Twaha Mbarak from attending the AGM on the premise that they were not eligible.

Not surprised

Kempes, a respected football coach based in the US, says he is not surprised by these developments.

“I have never looked at the AGM as an organ that will resolve our football problems,” the former footballer, who was named after Argentine great Mario Kempes, owing to his heroics during his time at Gor Mahia, told Nation Sport.

Manipulate delegates

“The reason is because the federation always manipulates delegates to drive their agenda.  Unfortunately with intimidation and bribery, they (the federation) have found a formula that works for them.

 I am happy the courts stopped the AGM, but only because I want them to appreciate accountability.  Beyond that, the stoppage does not accomplish much unless FIFA or the government gets involved.  My take is that the sooner we get to a free and fair election, the better.”

Kempes further argues that the consistent court cases halting important football functions such as the AGM is a “symptom of our problems”.

Lack of leadership at the highest level

He added: “I have spent a lot of my time visiting stakeholders across the country.  What I have found out is that the sport of football is very popular regardless of where you go.  The biggest issue we have is a lack of leadership at the highest level.  People are left on their own.  If anything, the federation makes their job more difficult.  There are no infrastructures that connect the grassroots to the national level.  They get no support from the federation.  I am very encouraged with what I see when I travel because I meet a lot of people who truly love football and yearning for a partner in the federation that cares and works hard to make things better for them.”

“For the moment, the biggest impediment to hosting CHAN would be a lack of physical infrastructure readiness.  The government is taking care of that part so the issues with the federation are not impacting that.  The national team preparation for CHAN is a different issue, but given that the government is the one financing that as well, the impact is minimal. Maybe the federation not getting involved is a good thing given how they run things.  When you are as bad as the federation, their absence is most likely a blessing.”

Sam Nyamweya

Besides Kempes, Mohammed, Mbarak, former FKF president Sam Nyamweya, and ex-footballers Macdonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech are also said to be in the running for the FKF presidency.
Current FKF president Nick Mwendwa has served two terms and has been barred by the government, in writing, from contesting.