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Driving force behind Nandwa’s rising star

AFC Leopards coach James Nyende Nandwa is a tactician with vast experience.

He started his coaching career in the early 1990s after playing as a striker for local giants Ingwe.

Nandwa led Leopards to the GOtv Shield title after beating bitter rivals Gor Mahia last year. The team finished second during the 2013 Kenyan Premier league season.

Nandwa is one of the most reputable coaches in Kenya. He has guided a number of clubs from the lower tier to the Premier League and given the big boys a run for their money.

At one time, he coached Karuturi Sports, Rangers Football Club (technical director) and 2012 league champions Tusker.

Nandwa has been the assistant Harambee Stars coach since 2008.

He was forced to step into the big shoes of former Harambee Stars tactician Frenchman Henri Michel when left the team under controversial circumstances in December 2012.

That year, Nandwa helped Stars clinch a second place finish after going down 0-1 to Uganda Cranes during the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala.

Fighting spirit

Last month, it was sweet victory for Nandwa and Stars head coach Adel Amrouche when Kenya won its first Cecafa title after an 11-year-wait.

In spite of the difficulties that threatened to derail their campaign, Stars rose to the occasion and gave football lovers a pleasant Kenya @50 Jubilee celebrations present.

Nandwa, also the national Under 23 coach, admits Kenyan football faces a lot of challenges but the players’ strong will to succeed has helped them cope with the setbacks.

He said lack of funding is a major hurdle in developing the sport.

“We had no sponsors during the Cecafa Tournament. The finals were delayed, but when the boys stepped onto the pitch they made us proud,” said Nandwa.

He added that leadership wrangles in clubs have a negative impact on the players.

“A team requires a conducive environment for it to be motivated to perform well. Managers must find conflict resolution mechanisms that are swift so that players do not suffer as a result of the ensuing confusion,” said Nandwa.

“While it is true that ambition for leadership is human nature, the unbridled scramble for seats hurts clubs. When officials are on the warpath, systems fail and subsequently, players do not perform well because their needs are not catered for,” he added.

Strong relationships

Nandwa said over the years he has learnt to build personal relationships with individual players to encourage healthy team spirit. He said the greater the team spirit, the greater the team and the greater the success.

The father of four wants to take up new challenges. Having risen to highest possible ranks of coaching in Kenya, Nandwa feels it’s time to venture into the continent.

Although his preferred destination is Europe, Nandwa said he would be content with a coaching job in Africa and believes he has what it takes to deliver.

In 2010 while coaching Tusker, he miraculously escaped from a fire that razed Nakumatt Downtown store and claimed over 27 lives. His friend and former brewers’ Chief Executive Officer Peter Serry perished in the inferno.

“God has a reason for saving my life. I don’t know how He did it, but I am grateful to be alive,” he was quoted as saying after the incident.

Nandwa said he brings two things to any team he coaches – professionalism and success.