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Kenya paying heavily for another 'failed' foreign football coach

by Kimathi Kamau NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Football Kenya Federation (FKF) rolled out the red carpet for Frenchman Sebastien Migne on May 3, 2018 as he took the reins of the senior national team Harambee Stars as well as the overall technical boss of the country’s age group sides.

On Monday, FKF announced the inglorious exit of Migne, barely 15 months into his tenure after his relationship with the federation, players and critical local fans reached its nadir.

Coming after his stint as the head coach of the Republic of Congo, Migne used to be labeled as the man to fulfill FKF’s cherished vision of establishing Kenya as a continental force by the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Last year, Migne was unveiled at a major news conference in Nairobi that received wide coverage.

"I’m ready to start.

"We have a big challenge with Ghana and also other teams and I’m really happy to be here but also pragmatic because it depends on your team.

"I don’t want to play on the back foot; I want to try to build something and to play for winning," Migne said then.

"I want to wait and know the quality of local players because I know the quality of professional players," Migne added.

"I think we have got the right person for the job.

"We want to grow from here; he has signed a three year contract that ends after the AFCON of 2021.

"I’m glad to say we have put in a lot of work to get here, it wasn’t easy to convince Migne to come to Kenya," said FKF president Nick Mwendwa at that time.

Only 10 days earlier, Migne dared the local governing body to sack him, wondering whether the cash-strapped organization had enough to pay out the remainder of his contract in a package said to be more than 50 million Kenyan shillings (50,000 U.S. dollars).

"If the federation wants to fire me, let them fire me.

"But again, if paying my salary is an issue, will they manage to pay out my contract," the Frenchman posed following the backlash that followed his team’s exit from the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers from Tanzania.

Migne was the third foreigner to be in charge of the Kenyan national team since 2016 with Scotsman Bobby Williamson losing his job when Mwendwa took over and Belgian Paul Put resigning in February 2018 barely three months into his tenure.

Migne’s finest hour came incidentally in his first official game in charge when Kenya stunned four-time African champions Ghana 1-0 in a 2019 AFCON qualifier in Nairobi in September 2018.

Following a barrage of criticism over his squad selection for the Egypt finals, a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Tanzania in their second Group C clash earned the Frenchman some reprieve before a 3-0 loss to Senegal confirmed their exit in the preliminary round of the competition.

The government allocated over 2.4 million dollars of taxpayers’ money for their AFCON campaign and the first round exit sparked uproar with many calling for his head.

At the time, FKF bosses stood by the man but time ran out on what is now emerging as a fractious relationship when Harambee Stars were bundled out of the 2020 CHAN 1-4 on penalties after a barren stalemate over two legs of their qualifier.

A damning unconfirmed report published by a local online blog on the eve of his sacking accused Migne’s representatives One Goal Agency of working behind the scenes to unduly profit from the team.

Local tactician, Francis Kimanzi, has been appointed to take over in what will be his third stint with the team having been at the helm from 2008-09 and 2011-12.

He will be assisted by another former Harambee Stars boss, Zedekiah Otieno.

"Let us come in and help our team.

"I have faith with the federation attempts for the country to succeed and the way they cover all the details.

"I promise to finish what I started," Kimanzi who deputized Migne during Kenya’s 2019 AFCON campaign told Xinhua on Wednesday.

As Kimanzi who led Kenya to the final round of joint qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and 2010 AFCON prepares to lead the team, the sacking of Migne will go down as the latest expensive foreign failure for a cash-strapped federation.

Back in 2008, Kimanzi was unceremoniously replaced as head coach with German national Antoine Hey as Kenya went on to lose five of six qualifying matches that saw their dream of playing at the South Africa 2010 World Cup and Angola 2010 AFCON end in disaster.

After pocketing big cash, Hey was succeeded by local tactician Twahir Muhiddin before Jacob Mulee who led the team to the 2004 AFCON finals (2010), Otieno (2010-11) and Kimanzi (2011-12) took over.

Following his election as then FKF president, Sam Nyamweya, hired the late widely travelled Frenchman, Henri Michel but he lasted for only 120 days before he resigned in a huff and later sued the federation at FIFA and was awarded over 44,000 dollars in compensation.

Kenyan coach James Nandwa (2012-13) came in as caretaker before fiery Belgian Adel Amrouche (2013-14) was hired only to be sacked when he was suspended by African body CAF for two matches over an incident where he confronted match officials in the return leg of the 2015 AFCON qualifier against Comoros on May 2014.

Bob Williamson (2014-16) was drafted in before the current FKF office plucked Stanley Okumbi from local club management and gave him the role complaining his pay package was too costly for them.

Both Amrouche and Williamson sued FKF with the former demanding 1.2 million dollars for breach of contract whilst the latter claimed over 1.4 million dollars for the same reasons.

After Okumbi proved to be unsuitable for the big role, having been chosen over more qualified Kenyan coaches, Put and now Migne came and went.

Whilst Put’s resignation saw Guinea pay out his contract with FKF, the Frenchman will add his name to the list of foreign coaches who are in line for a huge pay out despite not leading Kenya to football’s Promised Land.


New Kenya football coach Francis Kimanzi hopes to repair stained relations

by Kimathi Kamau NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi on Wednesday promised to build a team that will make local fans proud after he succeeds Frenchman Sebastien Migne at the helm of the national football team.

Speaking to Xinhua ahead of his scheduled unveiling on Friday, Kimanzi who will serve a third stint with the side, disclosed he agreed to take charge after being convinced by plans laid out for the team by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

"They have decided to give me this role and I have accepted to help out our national team.

"I have more experience now and I will use it to improve this team and we might pull out something," said Kimanzi who was previously in charge during May 2008-January 2009 and November 2011-June 2012.

FKF turned to Kimanzi after sacking Migne on Monday, 15 months into his three-year contract after a turbulent period that saw Kenya crash out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in the group stages in July before their exit from the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers a fortnight ago.

The 43-year-old who won the 2008 domestic league title with Mathare United was the favorite to land the role after resigning from the team earlier this month having served as an assistant to Migne during the Egypt 2019 AFCON finals.

Kimanzi, who holds a UEFA ‘A’ license making him the most qualified Kenyan coach on paper and an outspoken critic of foreign coaches taking over African teams, underlined his mission is to complete the job that was taken out of his hands in 2008.

Having led the national team Harambee Stars to the third and final round of the joint qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup and 2010 AFCON, he was replaced by German Antoine Hey.

The team went on to miss out of both tournaments after finishing bottom of a group that had Nigeria, Tunisia and Mozambique.

"I have been so unlucky.

"In 2008, we had good organization with the Kenyan Premier League running the national team and we were able to build a side that could compete well.

"During Sam (Nyamweya)’s time, it was difficult because the then football president was not serious and had no program to succeed.

"This time, I’m convinced we have a federation that has plan that I can work with," Kimanzi narrated on his two previous spells.

His immediate task will be to repair a fractious side that was deeply divided under the Frenchman who was accused of high-handedness and "difficult" to work besides alienating fans from the team.

"What we need now is a team that has the support of the players, federation and fans.

"We can only get to where we want to be by taking a single step at a time," the new coach said.

Kimanzi will begin preparing for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers with a tough opener against Egypt in November, marking his first competitive game in charge.

"Across the world, we are seeing English and Spanish teams going back to their local coaches with good results.

"The two AFCON finalists, Algeria and Senegal were led by coaches from those countries," Kimanzi said.

"Local coaches are closer to their people and can get the best from them since they understand them better," he noted.



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