OPINION: What Williamson’s exit means for Kenyan football
The appointment of the youthful Stanley Okumbi as Harambee Stars coach brought the curtains down on the era of Scot, Bobby Williamson, who steered the team for 16 months.
Williamson, 54, a former head coach with Kenyan Premier League giants Gor Mahia and Uganda Cranes, took over the stewardship of the national team in August 2014 after an underwhelming performance with K’Ogalo at the Cecafa Club Championship in Kigali, Rwanda where the glamour club was tossed out at the preliminaries without winning a single match.
His first assignment at Harambee Stars dug out was a slender 0-1 loss to Egyptian Pharaohs in an international friendly in Egypt on August 30, 2014.
This was followed with a crushing 3-0 defeat to the Atlas Lions of Morocco on October 13, 2014 in yet another build up match in Morocco.
In total, Williamson oversaw 14 matches registering four wins, five draws and five losses.
His most remarkable result was a 1-1 draw against Congo’s Red Devils in an African Cup of Nations qualifier away on June 14, 2015 and, of course, the 1-0 home win over a highly rated Cape Verde in a World Cup preliminary qualifier at the Nyayo National Stadium on November 13 , 2015.
However, Williamson’s major undoing was failing to guide Harambee Stars to defend the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last year.
Though the Scot was critical of the media blaming them for having rocked his camp hence their ouster at the quarter finals, Stars went to the competition unprepared.
From poor preparations, bickering between the federation and the government in the wake of the team’s bungled trip to Cape Verde for a crucial World Cup qualifier, Stars were never really ready to defend the crown. Add that to a demotivated playing unit and poor fielding then one gets why Stars never rose to the occasion.
During his 16 month stint, Williamson was also accused on not taking a keen interest in the local league by not attending league matches to assess the development of local players. However, he was always quick to dismiss the claims.
“I might not be available to attend all matches, but when I’m away, Moses (Musa Otieno) or David (Ouma) are always there. They monitor and give me updates so I don’t see what the fuss is about. On the contrary, I’m very much in touch with what happens,” he was once quoted saying.
His critics also point out that he failed to embrace dynamism sticking to a 4-4-2 formation and long balls, which made Stars’ playing style quite predictable.
That aside, his sacking coincides with coming into office of a new federation which has given him a vote of no confidence if the remark by the FKF chief, Nick Mwendwa, is anything to go by.
“There is a specific way through which we want to play. We want to have an identity and I’m passionate about working with the youth and giving them a chance,” Mwendwa, 36, said when he unveiled Okumbi as the new head coach of Stars.
Whichever way one looks at it, the exit of the Scot, who masterminded four Cecafa titles for Uganda Cranes, heralds a a new chapter for Harambee Stars with the untried Okumbi, 35, now having a tough task to prove his worth.