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The hard part starts after home CAF wins

Union Sportiff de Bitam head coach Omam Biyik was wary of Gor Mahia striker Dan Sserunkuma in the run up to the teams’ first leg CAF Africa Champions League preliminary match.

“That stocky, dreadlocked player is the pulse of that team,” said the former Cameroonian international hours before the match that Gor won 1-0.

The Ugandan scored the only goal after converting a penalty in the 75th minute.

The other Kenyan club in a continental championship AFC Leopards defeated Ethiopia’s Defence 2-0.

The win gave Ingwe a significant advantage and bolstered the team’s hopes of qualifying for the first round of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Gor, too, also got off to a good ahead of their return leg in Bitam on February 16. The 1-0 win is no doubt a morale boost, but K’Ogalo has to work extra hard in Gabon.

“We had hoped for a better score line but this is what we have, we now need to plan how to hold onto this when we face Bitam in the return leg,” said Gor coach Bobby Williamson. 

But Biyik maintains his team has the ammunition to turn tables on the Kenyan team.

“We have a good chance of qualifying for the next phase,” said the former striker.

Bitam were unmoved by the near capacity at Nyayo National Stadium. The team was technically and tactically impressive.

Initially, the West Africans appeared content to just sit back and let Williamson’s charges attack for the better part of the first half. But their guard was up, and some sporadic raids on the opponents’ goal almost bore fruit.

 In the 35th minute, defender Kobe Freddy thought he had scored a header from an immaculate Emmanuel Ndong free kick, only for Gor goalkeeper and captain Jerim Onyango to tip the ball over the bar.

The visiting team was the main culprit in time-wasting tactics. After the hour mark, Bitam custodian Yves Stephane was sent off for handling the ball outside the box.

Need for harmony

Biyik, who previously played for Cameroon’s Canon Yaounde, Olympic Marseille and Cannes in France, was forced to sacrifice David Masamba for second choice keeper Owono Fabien.

Gor’s new signings Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito, Shaban Kenga, George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Jared Obwoge have a bit of polishing to work on.

Gor’s game needs to be faster and have more harmony for them to achieve their goal of progressing to the first round for a thriller against Tunisian giants Esperance.

Leopards’ Martin Imbalambala and the 2013 Footballer of the Year Jacob Keli grabbed goals for the team.

This is not an excuse to relax because together with Gor, AFC Leopards have a huge task of improving Kenyan clubs’ continental image.

Listening to Biyik’s opinion about Cameroon FA’s management style and the challenges facing their national team left me wondering who cursed sports leadership in Africa?

Biyik, who scored the only goal that ensured the indomitable lions beatDiego Maradona’s Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 Fifa World Cup in Italy, knows more about what ails Cameroonian football than most of us do.

“The Cameroon FA officials are mismanaging the sport. They do not want to involve former players in any technical or administrative position,” he said.

“Our national team is disjointed. Big egos, back-stabbing and selfishness take centre stage. I have reservations about the team’s World Cup chances, having been pooled alongside hosts Brazil, Mexico and Croatia. It will be an achievement for Cameroon to score a goal, let alone win a match,” said Biyik.

While some of these views may sound unbelievable, they are not entirely far-fetched. What strikes one though, is the glaring similarities with our situation in Kenya.

And matters seem to be worse in neighbouring Uganda, where players of a top-flight football team were forced to train barefoot last week, owing to lack of resources and wrangling between the body’s administrators that has split the sport down the middle.

Though Africa has got potential, poor management will always remain a drawback.