Tag Archives: Kenya Premier League

EMBRACING WHAT IS OURS

We are inching closer to the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup, and the competition is getting juicier. This is definitely one for the memory books considering how many great teams have fallen along the way (wink wink Portugal; wink wink Argentina; sad wink wink Germany).

Count yourself lucky if your favorite team has at least made it into the quarters of the World Cup. Mine didn’t; they did not even make it past the group stages. For a minute, okay, let’s be honest, for some time now, I have been suffering from an internal paralysis. Don’t be alarmed! My organs are not failing. But, I feel a deep sense of loss, a deep sense of mourning, and an even deeper sense of stunned motionlessness. ‘Where did they go wrong?’ is a question that keeps ringing in my head. It actually feels like a small part of my heart is broken. These changes in the world order are too monumental, you cannot ignore them.

That is how much emotion I had invested in the German national team going all the way to the finals of this tournament. Their football, their passion, their lust for glory has beguiled me for years, and it was like a kick in the stomach when they could not meet my expectations this time around. I probably should have seen the signs when they lost to Brazil in that international friendly match three months ago. I ignored those warnings!!

I craved and yearned to see them play at their best. My body and mind needed that fix I get whenever they play. I was looking forward to that excitement, to the numerous goals, to the un-ending action. But it all came to a sudden stop, and now my drug of choice isn’t flowing anymore.

For some time after they were knocked out, by South Korea no less (you can check out my short commentary on how devastating this loss was here), the World Cup for me felt empty. At least until I caught the Belgian bug.

I’m better now, thanks for asking. I am beginning to enjoy the WC  a little bit more, so that’s a ray of sunshine.

I am still very disappointed though, but my disappointment is not only directed towards Die Nationalmannschaft. They sucked, and that is on them, but I also feel a bit disappointed in myself.

Why?

I just came to the sad realization that I am putting too much effort into deifying another country’s football team whereas I can barely remember eight names from the Harambee Stars’ starting line up. That is so sad!

Sure, the love of football should transcend all borders, but how comes I do not feel the same commitment, and loyalty to our national team?

Why don’t I get thoroughly depressed when they lose? Why do I dismiss them so easily, and only take the time to watch just a few of their matches annually?

Why is it that I do not feel connected to Harambee Stars as I do another country’s national football team?

Fifa currently ranks our national football team at position 112, which is a bit embarrassing I have to say. I also think we have the worst football management in the history of football management. There are so many reasons to not pay attention to Kenyan football, to Kenyan sports for that matter.

But, I feel like a traitor. Whether they suck or not, there are tens of men and women all over this country who are playing football at a professional or semi-professional capacity for many months every year. We see the sacrifice our brothers and sisters are putting into playing in this toxic, depressing environment that is Kenyan football, and they do not stop. That’s their love for the game. There’s a resilience about being a Kenyan football player; about being a Kenyan sportsperson that you just cannot find anywhere else.

We, scratch that, I need to honor this sacrifice (you have to do it as an individual before we can achieve the desired collective action).

Our standards, techniques, coaching, or management may not be anywhere close to professional standards, but the sacrifice these players are making has to count for something.

And, I am all about embracing everything that is Kenyan, including that which is inherently wrong with us, football included.

Maybe if we paid more attention to it, like serious attention to it, and own this process of understanding the intricacies (problems and all) of Kenyan football, we can start revitalizing it; correcting the mistakes one by one.

Maybe that’s how I (and hopefully you) will learn to feel more connected to it.

It’s ours; love it or hate it, it’s always going to be ours, and we might as well find the gems hidden in the cow dung that is our sports fraternity.

We have a national football team. It is not the best but it is ours. We have to give it a little more love.

Enjoy the rest of the WC!

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NAKUMATT’S FINANCIAL TROUBLES CONTINUE TO SPILL INTO THE FIELD

We had some mid-week afternoon action in the KPL with Mathare United (strong title contenders) taking on Nakumatt FC (a team that is so close to disappearing from the league, it is even shocking that they are still playing). Obviously, Mathare was the stronger team, and was expected to carry the game, which they did. What I didn’t expect was for Nakumatt to give them a run for their money. Impressed!

When it comes to spirit and fighting against all odds, this Nakumatt side has it down to a T. To give you a bit of perspective here, Nakumatt were the underdogs coming into this game not only because they are on the other end of the KPL table, but also because they have been facing serious financial hurdles especially this season.

This is a KPL team that does not have money for training, for salaries, and all the other expenses that a normal team in our league incurs within a season. Shocking! I know other KPL teams are struggling but Nakumatt’s case is just over the top in my opinion. And, it seems like this problem is not getting solved soon. Just last month it was announced that the club was up for sale, and I quote ‘…to anyone, including those who would like to change the club’s name!!!!’

For me this is scary (mainly because I’m an alarmist and I blow everything out of proportion). But seriously, what would new management for Nakumatt FC look like? What would be their prerogative when taking over the club? I, for one, would not like to see a money-hungry corporation take over and destroy the FABRIC of that team by selling some of their best players or eroding the culture the players have built around each other especially during this tough season.

I also would not want a company with a risky financial outlook to get their hands on the team. I know it is so difficult to get credible sponsors in the local football scene (something that needs to change btw), but I would not want the current management to just settle for any buyer. Like, please do a background check first, otherwise, the current team will keep bouncing from buyer to buyer, and that will have serious ramifications on their quality, their output, long-term careers, and their contribution (both individual and collective) to our local leagues.

To be honest, this is a riches to rags story in our local football scenery. There was a time when Nakumatt was considered one of the richest teams in Kenya. YES! Back when they could afford foreign coaches with names that sounded like a mixture of expensive chocolate and men designer wear, but whose faces, demeanor and body structure lacked the same exquisiteness. I’m talking about the time before Nakumatt had been upgraded to the KPL, and they were playing in the National Super League. That time we (just the media) used to refer to them as the ‘money bags’ team, and they were thrashing people left, right and center! Ai!

Sadly, those days are over, with the currently financially strapped Nakumatt only being able to manage one win this season, and their loss to Mathare this week continues to lower the morale of these boys. I don’t know for how long these guys can keep fighting, but, I’m proud of them regardless.

You can check out my other comments on the game here (and don’t forget to subscribe!!)

EASTER MONDAY RUINED FOR AFC LEOPARDS

The Kenyan Premier League continues to heat up with two round 8 matches being played on Easter Monday. Wazito FC was playing against Zoo FC, while Tusker FC vs AFC Leopards. The latter one was the main event, and the result was a shock for me. Watching the game, I could not believe this was Ingwe losing to Tusker (you can catch my comments about the game on youtube)

I went into the game believing that the Leopards had this game in the bag! Boy, was I wrong! However, it was still entertaining to watch Tusker try to redeem themselves from their dismal form this season. Going into the match, Tusker was at No 14, and I swear, I have never watched a season where the Breweries team has performed so poorly. Luckily, they won this game and were able to go up the table a few spots.

So, what exactly went wrong for the Leopards on this beautiful Easter Monday?

For starters, I would say Andika (their goalkeeper) was not in his best form, and that had catastrophic effects for the rest of the game. The last time we saw Andika play was during the second leg of the CAF Confederations Cup where Ingwe was unable to beat the Fosa Juniors. Consequently, they missed their opportunity to proceed in the continental tournament, and Andika (as well as other teammates) received a lot of criticism (you can catch my views on this game here).

Fast forward to this current game, and he is making rookie mistakes that cost his team the match. He misjudged a backpass from one of his cohorts (Kibwage), only for Timothy Otieno to come lurching forward, block that attempt, and see the ball going into the net. There was nothing Andika could do to stop it. AFC went down 1 goal thanks to Otieno’s initiative and Andika’s lackluster attempt at clearing the ball. This was in the opening minutes of the first half.

When the clock hit the 30-minute mark, Andika makes another blunder that sees his team going down another goal. He intentionally sweeps Otieno off his feet, without even attempting to make contact with the ball. Result: Andika is shown a red card and a penalty is awarded to Tusker. Now, AFC is down two goals to Tusker within the first thirty minutes of the game!

Other than that, AFC’s defensive prowess was literally unheard of the entire match. Their ineptitude to deal with the likes of Otieno and Wahome is what put their goalkeeper in trouble in the first place, as well as enable both of these players to score a brace each for their team. For instance, they were unable to mark the dangerous Wahome effectively when he was near the goal, which resulted in his two goals. In the case of the Otieno goals, an improperly timed and weak backpass from the defender (Kibwage for the first instance; Kamura for the second) was to blame.

There were also several missed chances from both sides but most notably from the AFC camp. All their frantic attempts were for naught until Isuza caught a lucky break and was able to whizz one past David Okello. Clinical finishes from the other Ingwe strikers would have ensured that they won the game or at least managed a draw, but alas, they ended up throwing those chances away.

Final result: Tusker 4 Leopards 2.