Tuesday, 26 January 2010

AFC Leopards Spotless for now ???

It seems symptomatic of Kenyan sports ( no pun intended for the Leopards FC fans) that anytime there is a semblance of success, all hell breaks loose.
According to media reports, AFC Leopards one of Kenyan's football club with a rich heritage has been having 2 camps training separately and under different management. As a keen supporter of the development of the local game, consultations with reliable sources managing the team's affair indicate that this was a case of blown egos from the past season.

While it is any fans wish that some of these problems would stop manifesting themselves just before the team engages in its first continental challenge in the last 13 years, it cannot escape the usual infighting that comes with success and promises expected. A causary look at most of the Kenyan teams and the sponsorship they are attracting gives credence to this.
In addition to this, we have seen KFF or whatever body runs the game serve as the template for most clubs where chaos and underhand dealings run the game. FIFA has not helped matters either as they have come up with all sorts of reasons to save their underlings managing the local scene.
If my sources are correct, the 2 camps have buried the hatchet and decided to merge the teams and also the management. One of the opposing camps has been raising the issue of legitimacy of the elections held, but we all know the price of 'democracy' especially when you decide to boycott the polls. As such the official management team is as follows;

Chairman - Julius Ochiel
Executive Director - Micah Luvutse
Logistics Manager - Gilbert Selebwa
Chief Steward - Edward Mulanda
Technical bench comprises of ;
Technical Director – Chris Makokha
Team Manager – Tony Lidonde
Head Coach – Jean Marie Abeels from Belgium
First Assistant Coach – Roberto Bollen from Brazil
Second Assistant Coach – Charles Bushira
Physiotherapist – Aggrey Omune

As for Nick Yakhama, the axe seems to have landed on him heavily and especially because of the taking of sides when things almost got out of hand. It doesn't bode well for any technician to start voicing your opinion rather too loudly. You can ask the English Premiership League and other European Leagues managers.

- The ongoing imbroglio seems to have raised the profile of the SuperCup game between AFC Leopards {winners of Kenya (formerly President's) Cup 2009} & Sofapaka (Kenya Premier League winners 2009) to be played on February 6th 2010 and to be screened on SuperSport.
- There is also the small matter of the continental challenge starting with the Ethiopians on February 14th.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Stadia Renovations - Are we that blind to opportunities?

Reading from the Press reports, initially I thought it was a joke but our Sports Stadia Management Board chair one Benjamin Sogomo ( guy always looks shifty from back in the days of the Kenyan education crises), confirmed my fears.
In a year when we shall witness a myriad of sporting activities across the continent and even expected to host some in our own backyard, the Board has decided to shut down the Kasarani complex for renovations. OK, there are some places that needed urgent works but that's why we needed to have planned for these like 2 years ago and sort this by last year.
With the 2010 World Cup coming, this would have been a perfect pitch for selling the venue to at least one or two qualified nations to use for their residential training before proceeding down South. Gold-mine !
There are also continental championships coming up such as the junior athletics and continental volleyball games in July & August and swimming championships in the last quarter of the year. What do they say? "...they will have to held elsewhere". I remember with bitterness how we missed out hosting the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations (I'd a free 2-months planned for it only for the Kenyan government to claim 'they didn't have enough money to host it,losing out to eventual winners South Africa - the words of then Minister for Culture & Social Affairs one Maalim Mohammed still ring in my ears ****!!!!)
If we look at the other possibilities that we'd have to host any meaningful championships, they can't out-number the fingers of my hand...thanks again to our own internal wars in early 2008 (Afraha Stadium - Nakuru & Eldoret's Keino Stadium) and sheer neglect coupled with the grabbing culture (such as is at Ruringu Stadium -Nyeri)
Is it that we have such myopic leadership in some of these ministries or is just a Kenyan thing to shoot ourselves in the foot every so often? It really hurts to see some sports generate some positive light and make huge strides only for the Government-managed bodies to stifle these developments and stagger our progress. At this rate we should explore possibilities of privatising the Sports Stadia Management Board. Remember the Nyayo Stadium & Coca-Cola fiasco? All the more we should hasten this...

Africa Cup of Nations 2010 - Boys to Men

Starting on the wrong footing, Africa's first major sporting milestone this year has seen some interest from football enthusiasts across the continent. Of course we can't rule out the critics such as Hull City's Phil Brown who even started criticizing the 2010 World Cup while he can't place where some countries are at on the African map.
True the tournament's seen its share of mis-steps again due to the fragile nature of Angola's infrastructure and security arrangements. But as they say, this is Africa ! (my fairy tale one though!)
Getting into the games proper, we were treated to a goal fest in the opening match and though the underdogs seemed to have stepped up their game, the usual suspects are quickly getting back the order of things. Thursday's games shall see the final 2 teams qualify for the quarter-finals.
The main concern though has been the poor show by the continent's World Cup representatives with 1 nation on the verge of elimination - Cameroon unless they win against Tunisia today. Another concern, is there seems to be less talent coming from the other country's - maybe they are getting warmed up for the quarters & semis but from what we've seen, we don't have as much world-beaters as we portend.
Crowds watching the games- South Africa should be taking notes. During the Angola - Algeria game, there were parts of the upper stadium that were almost empty. Serious concerns if you are to make any revenues from the ticketing.
Ad campaigns and sponsorships - some of the major apparel companies seem to have shunned the continent leaving Puma to hold forte in almost all the top teams. Maybe it's a lack of confidence in the teams' abilities or Puma has offered lucrative deals. Only Nigeria's wearing another company's outfit. Still on this, the media campaigns have the usual African colourful works but don't quite inspire (me) into thinking Pan-African.
All in all, the next one week will see out the finals of this tournament which FIFA & CAF ought to seriously think about. The 2-year cycle's too monotonous and maybe that's why it can't attract major sponsors. It also destabilises clubs not just in the African leagues but also the European ones -where some of the managers have made quite a critique as well. It will also help host nation's prepare and avoid fiascos of building fancy stadiums only for these to remain empty and decrepit on the tournaments' ending.
Keep watching your favourite team though and may the best Kings of Africa win !
For your reading pleasure, check this too, soccer wars !

Friday, 8 January 2010


Don't you like the way this year just rolls out the tongue? Methinks we are upto something good (unless of course we keep seeing headlines like what the funny Kenyan MPs may receive if the recommendations go through).
Sporting activities and opportunities are already in the pipeline and of course have the big one in June-July. Kenya shall also host a few events and though we might not reap as much boon from the World Cup and its crumbs, we shall feature prominently as is the case in the rugby 7s, swimming, continental club football (that's if we can move beyond the 1st & 2nd round to Africa Club Champions League proper) among others.
We shall hope to give you the best of our insights and keep you posted on the whys and wherefores of some of the happenings. Watch out too for live coverage (unless technical issues challenge us like it happened last year during the SOYA Awards at KICC).

Great year , shouldn't it be ?