What you need to know:
- Kenyan football fans including the fiercely loyal Gor followers, may not outwardly show it, but are tired of being the wiping boys in African club competitions. They are tired of the humiliation, and the pain.
- The one-year break would give Kenyan clubs time to rethink and re-strategize their existence. No one will miss us.
When Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa unilaterally ended the season last year and illegally declared Gor Mahia the champions I criticized his decisions in this very column.
The details are in the public domain, but suffice to say that the federation was then embroiled in an election stalemate and did not have a legally constituted National Executive Committee.
The “king without a crown” then had no powers to make weighty pronouncements for the federation such as declaring a league winner outside the field of play.
A few clubs, reeling from the effects of Covid-19 containment measures, halfheartedly protested the FKF boss’ decision. The normally noisy Gor Mahia were understandably quiet.
They were the sole beneficiary of the unjust decision that in the end brought them more grief than gain as I will demonstrate shortly.
The federation was at it again last month. It announced on May 17, without even consulting the clubs, that to meet the deadline of June 30 of submitting Kenya’s representatives to the CAF club competitions it had resolved that the team on top of the FKF Premier League table as at June 30, will be given the honours.
I have spoken out against many decisions made by this federation to the point of fatigue. I certainly was not keen on belabouring the unfairness of the latest decision, but the more I think about it the more I feel offended as a purist sports fan.
And the fact that there are infatuated fans urging their sides to fight on and stand atop the league table on June 30 to get the African nod rather than protest the absurd ruling has pushed me out of my self-censorship.
How can you declare the leader of a race at the halfway stage as the most deserving to be awarded the top prize!?
In cricket they use the widely accepted Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method, a mathematical formula that calculates the target score for the team batting second in a limited overs cricket match interrupted by weather or other circumstances to determine a winner.
In the absence of a similar mathematical formulation in football, I think the best the federation should have done was to declare that they would not submit the name of any Kenyan club to compete in the 2021-2022 CAF Champions League.
This would not only be fair to all the Kenyan Premier League clubs but also to Kenyan football. We have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.
For a start, Kenyan clubs’ participation in Africa in recent years has been a national embarrassment.
The travails of Gor Mahia this season are a case in point. The severely broke club struggled to fund its tours in Africa.
Most of the stories coming from the club’s camp were about players going on strike over pay, management struggling to raise money to fund their trips, the team on the brink of failing to secure air tickets, a stranded squad held up at a hotel in a foreign land for failure to clear the accommodation bill, ad nauseam.
It was a sad reflection of the state of football management in the country. Mercifully, Gor Mahia were kicked out of the Champions League, 8-2 on aggregate by Belouizdad of Algeria in the first round, and did not make it beyond the Confederation Cup play-offs.
The financial upheavals at Gor, easily Kenya’s top club in recent years, are an indictment of the unhealthy state of our teams that begs the question, why do we bother to compete in Africa.
The question has added significance if one looks at Kenyan clubs’ performance in CAF club tournaments this past decade. Woeful.
None has made it to the group stage of the Champions League in this period, and in the modern era of the competition for that matter.
The best performance is a lowly second round appearance by Gor Mahia in 2015 where they were knocked out 2-0 on aggregate by Leopards de Dolisie of Republic of Congo.
The denouement of all other outings has been inglorious preliminary or first round exits. Let me enumerate. Gor were eliminated 3-1 on aggregate by Caisse Nationale de Prevoyance Sociale Sport – Disciples FC of Madagascar in the 2016 preliminary round while Tusker bowed out at the same modest stage a year later, 3-2 on aggregate to AS Port Louis of Mauritius.
Poor Gor Mahia were knocked out in the first round of the 2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 competitions, 1-0 by Esperance (Tunisia), 3-3 away goal rule by Lobi Stars (Nigeria), 6-1 by USM Alger (Algeria) and 8-2 by Belouizdad (Algeria) respectively.
Kenya’s official representatives in the Confederation Cup have fared even worse, all dropping off like flies in the preliminary or first round save for 2011 when Sofapaka fell 4-3 on aggregate to Club Africain of Tunisia in the play-offs for the group stage.
We just make the numbers. I say again, FKF should rescind its decision and not send the name of any Kenyan club to CAF for the 2021-2022 Champions League.
Kenyan football fans including the fiercely loyal Gor followers, may not outwardly show it, but are tired of being the wiping boys in African club competitions. They are tired of the humiliation, and the pain.
The one-year break would give Kenyan clubs time to rethink and re-strategize their existence. No one will miss us.