It has taken me time to put my thoughts together after watching Kenya draw with an average Ethiopia national team to bow out CHAN (Championship of African Nations) a tournament reserved for local based players. One word kept ringing in my mind average.
From Saturday the 11th July to the 2nd August this year, the East and Central Africa region football bigwigs will be in Tanzania. The country was chosen as the hosts of this years CECAFA Club Cup popularly known as Kagame Cup. Despite Kenya being one of nations who wanted to host the showpiece, the media buzz has been of a low key and no one has come out boldly to question the decision.
I recently had a spat with colleagues from mainstream media houses regarding poor coverage of Kenyan football in the print media. I will mention that things are better on the TV side of things. Two main media houses tried to push independent Sports Weekly magazines which wound up before they could fly. This is often cited as the reason why the local print media will prioritize foreign football leagues to KPL.
It is not the quality of matches that bring out KPL, look between the matches to know where Kenyan football is headed. One season to catch the real situation in KPL is during the mid season break, and the just ended had more drama to swing my pen into action. When one time promising talent like Victor Ochieng’ and Obadiah Ndege are now languishing behind KPL news, there is a problem that needs to be sorted.
Visions change, but if there is one thing I would love to be even for one season is a professional football player. I love the game like many others but my recent interaction with the ‘Kenyan version’ of the beautiful game has left me thanking God that I never took football seriously.
“When you see a toad out at noon, know that someone is after its life.” That is one of Chinua Achebe’s literary gems. The state of the Kenyan football scene lacks lustre that one may think you cannot get a polished gem from it. That is far from truth, if you look again you will notice some unique stuff in the Kenyan football mire. Hooliganism is said to be a thorn in the flesh of Kenyan football.
The recently concluded KPL Footballer of The Year Award (FOYA) brought out the place statistics that Kenyan football has avoided for long. On social media, people started to bring up figures to prove why a certain player deserved an award and not the other. Others rubbished statistics as a basis of judging performance in sports. Statistics experts will tell you that figures do not lie, and you can explain everything using numbers. So why has KPL not taken data analysis seriously?
Sofapaka’s good run in the 2014 KPL season is not complete without mentioning Anthony Ekaliane Ndolo and Maurice Odipo; the twins of Sofapaka midfield. They form the twin piston engine at the centre of the club’s good run despite financial constraints. The exit of Humphery Mieno to AFC Leopards’ meant that the two players had more playing time together, and sooner they formed a partnership that won matches for Batoto ba Mungu.
KPL is coming to an end this Saturday, where focus is in Kisumu Stadium and Ruaraka. Gor Mahia is hosting Ushuru FC in Kisumu while Tusker FC will entertain Sofapaka FC at Ruaraka. Everyone believes Sofapaka will beat Tusker; every social media space is focusing on the Kisumu match. It does not matter which side you stand on, Ushuru FC tactician Ken Kenyatta and Francis Kimanzi ‘have the trophy’ under their arm pits. The irony is they cannot lift it up, they will either hand it to Gor, or by denying Gor, passing it on to Sofapaka by default. They are the men in the arena, the men of the moment.
For a long time football has been associated with the academically challenged. My Mathematics teacher Mr. Otieno Masai once asked us in class who said all footballers are fools. It was a known fact that most football players went to school in heart and soul only during football season, after which they would hang around and wait for the next season.