OPINION: Let’s give Okumbi and company a chance
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa on Saturday handed three local youthful coaches the sensitive task of managing the national football team in the interim.
The trio, namely Stanley Okumbi, Musa Otieno and Frank Ouna, were installed as coach, first and second assistant coaches respectively, in one of the most curious decisions of recent times in the industry.
The appointments mark a significant shift from the past, where big foreign name have in turn assumed the coaching role at the helm of Kenya’s most popular team – with little success.
Additionally, this decision implies that Bobby Williamson’s services as Harambee Stars coach have been done away with.
Williamson, formerly in charge of Gor Mahia and the Uganda Cranes, could however hang around, as Mwendwa and company run around town seeking some Sh30 million to clear his salary arrears.
Okumbi and Ouna are highly thought of in the local coaching circles, although both lack a crucial component required in any job – experience.
The former has handled top flight club Mathare United to consecutive mid table finishes in the Kenyan Premier League. Initially, he had been at the helm of Kariobangi Sharks, a team owned by Mwendwa.
Ouna has been part of the successful current Gor Mahia technical bench set up. He is credited with identifying current K’Ogalo right back Karim Nziyigimana.
Otieno, meanwhile, is one of the most decorated and experienced ex-Kenya internationals. He is also widely respected in Africa and especially South Africa, where he featured prominently in the Premier Soccer League as player and coach.
This trio is expected to come up with a relatively fresh set of players, most of them aged below 23, to form a new look Harambee Stars in time for the team’s next assignment away to Guinea Bissau in a month’s time.
Word also has it that the trio will soon be joined by an established coach most probably from Germany. The European tactician will be forwarded to Kenya as part of a technical agreement between the two countries of which negotiations are already underway.
The new coach will then be tasked with giving all national teams, senior, junior and women an identity in playing style, formation and tactics, while instilling some useful tips to Okumbi and Co.
This set up resembles what Bernhard Zgoll and the late Reinhardt Fabisch – incidentally both Germans – attempted in the late 80s and at the start of this century, with some success.
What this in essence means and as Mwendwa and his team have emphasised on several occasions in the recent past, the present and immediate future doesn’t matter much. The immediate future in this case means Kenya’s ongoing Africa Nations Cup qualifiers against Guinea Bissau, the Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The operation currently underway is akin to a total engine overhaul of a motor vehicle. This will take time. In fact more time in circumstances where your vehicle is in far flung areas such as Cherang’any hills, and some of the spare parts are to be fetched from Nairobi.
In the meantime, the current FKF office plus Okumbi and Co., just like current Zesco United and Zambia coach George “Chicken” Lwamdamina, and Rwanda coach Johnny Mckinstry deserve a chance, time and support to prove their worth.
After all, what’s the worst that can happen that hasn’t already happened?