On Wednesday 23rd March 2016, I watched the match between Guinea Bissau and Kenya which forced me to write this piece before the return match this Sunday in Nairobi. A lot can be deduced from the match, so I will do my best to outline each point with the gist and gest it deserves.
The new president of FKF Mr. Nick Mwendwa’s passion for football is evident in his voice, dress code and gait. I have had a chat with Nick once in the company of Sammy “Pamzo” Omollo and his passion for every aspect of football oozes out of the many words Nick says with his husky voice. Someone said that he should work on changing his voice to a more presidential tone, I object. Let us not think dwell on his voice but results.
Passion is good, and is the most basic ingredient for success in any role. One thing Nick should learn and learn very quickly is that passion has raised him to the top of FKF, but it will not make him succeed or keep him at the top. He must change his game plan to a more practical and empirical based approach to management.
There are people who supported him to the top, very good of them. He must know that Team Change gave him the office but may not be the right team to run the show in that office. If he can spare some cash, he can pay some of these people for their services and drop them like hot potato. The top is always lonely so he must prepare himself for the cold.
I know other countries go for international matches abroad with a larger travelling party than the team of eighteen people who accompanied Harambee Stars players to Bissau. What I would have preferred to see is one or two chaplains, a nutritionist and a psychologist instead of logistics officers and others. We were made to believe Team Change is taking over to bring change, let us see it in the simple stuff first.
I am an admirer of Stanley Okumbi and I will always vouch for ‘Stano’ even if I hear people are calling him ‘Oku’. I once surprised him in a post-match press conference when I asked him why his team likes to create circular patterns on the pitch when in possession of the ball. He became uncomfortable and took his time to answer and I moved on to another question because I felt he did not want to reveal his secret. He is one of the few if not the only philosophical coach in Kenya.
When Nick Mwendwa gave him the national team job, a fight erupted between my heart and mind. My heart was in support but my mind was opposed to the decision. If I was Nick, I would appoint Okumbi the U20 or U23 team coach and grant him more support than the senior team. I will give another good and more experienced local coach the national team and let Okumbi deputize him. This will be done with Okumbi well aware that he is crafting his team that will be ready in the next three years.
Now that the decision has been made, I just pray Nick has not handed Okumbi a rope with Patilla Omoto and OvellaOchieng’ as the Gordian knots and the national team as the scaffolding for the soft spoken coach to hang himself. If Okumbi fails, the blame should fall squarely at the feet of Nick and not Stano.
If you watched the match against Guinea Bissau keenly you must have realized the improvement in confidence in our boys especially when playing away. What is still prevalent is our players’ lack of passionate love for the ball. No one has fallen in love with the ball to levels which we can guarantee creativity and attracting opponents into tactical mistakes.
Our players technical abilities are still average. This is where Okumbi could have gone to the grassroots and unearthed some young and raw talents then polish them into some serious talents. What we saw inOvellaOchieng’ in Bissau vindicates Okumbi but he can nurture the young star at a different level with less scrutiny and pressure.
Come Sunday, I will go for the match with a pragmatic lens. Our football problems are deeper than Okumbi and Mwendwa but Team Change should not take us down a road we have been to before in the past. As much as we do not expect instant results, we will appreciate efforts that are focused on giving us results.
Nick Mwendwa came in the nick of time, but time is relative when results are at stake. What you do with the time is what makes the difference.