The highs and lows of coach Migne’s restless stay in Kenya
Sebastian Migne will probably be remembered in the Kenyan football circles more for his countless public outbursts than contribution towards developing the sport.
Strangely, however, he elected to remain in Kenya following his sacking as Harambee Stars coach on Monday.
A majority of those who were close to the man expected a “fed up” Migne to board the next available flight to his hometown of Le Roche after losing his job, considering the whining and moaning that characterised his time at the helm.
Instead, he confirmed in an interview with a local publication that he will be sticking around for a while because his family “loves it in Nairobi”.
His love for Kenya could well be the windward side of his outspoken public remarks.
One such outburst was on September 8 last year, moments after he had masterminded a 1-0 win over fancied Ghana in a 2019 Africa Nations Cup qualification match at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
“If you think because tonight we beat Ghana now you are on the same level, it’s not true, it’s not reality. I am not a liar and I am not happy at all,” he said.
“It was a missing of respect (by the government) with this team during the week when I saw Cameroon (national team) training in this (Kasarani) field and not us, who were (training) at Monetary School.”
The Sunday Nation would later find out that the outburst was an indirect way of venting out after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the government delayed remitting his monthly dues.
Reports suggest he and his backroom staff of four pocketed Sh2.5 million each month.
Put simply, Migne’s character seems at par with that of most European coaches who arrive in Kenya with suitcases full of promises, only to change a few months later.
For example, Paul Put, Migne’s predecessor, followed this very script only to quit after three months at the helm.
He moved to take charge of Guinea’s Syli Stars soon after, only to quit after an underwhelming sequence of results.
Migne, meanwhile, arrived in Kenya in May 2018, a week after resigning in a similar role as coach of the Republic of Congo citing poor working conditions — as quoted by the BBC.
With that background, one is tempted to believe his demeanour towards African football was already formed by the time FKF president Nick Mwendwa unveiled him at Safari Park Hotel.
“We needed someone who would understand the challenges we face as a team; someone who will understand if there is no training pitch, or if the lights went off,” a smiling Mwendwa said at Migne’s unveiling.
Migne turned out not to be that man.
Instead and in turns, he aimed barbs at team captain Victor Wanyama, his critics, fellow coaches, his employer, the fans, and any other person who would dare cross his path.
This behaviour was to be tolerated by the Kenyan faithful for as long as the man delivered where it mattered most — on the pitch.
As such, leading Kenya to secure qualification to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 15 years made the coach some sort of a cult hero.
This also led to the not-so-reliable government literally bowing down to his demands of a lavish preparation mode ahead of the continental tournament proper in Egypt in June.
A training camp was organised in France and Spain with international friendly matches against Madagascar and the Congo DR in tow.
Millions of shillings were paid to each player and members of the technical bench in allowances and bonuses and, for once, it seemed Migne was satisfied.
But the team failed to perform and the pressure crept in.
Acres of media space was dedicated towards questioning his team selection and tactics in the three matches Kenya played against Algeria, Senegal and Tanzania.
Then reports that he fallen out with a majority of the players filled the airwaves.
The defeat to Tanzania in a 2020 Africa Nations Championship qualifier on August 4 was the final straw. In his last outburst, he dared Mwendwa to sack him.
“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?” he posed.
A few days later, he was gone, but not without issuing a final warning that failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of the severance package would bring “consequences”.