Sports / In-Depth
Thursday, 17 Nov 2016 17:21 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
Harambee stars under Coach Stanley Okumbi has registered very impressive results. Some of this results are ones which will be forever in our memories as the national side overpowered some of Africa’s footballing giants. However, a majority of this results are either friendlies or the penultimate matches in qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) or the World Cup. This is a key indication of areas where the national side need to improve on.
As any football fan would expect of his team, Kenya, on a number of occasions has been expected to start brightly in qualifiers, but the fact that they always entirely start on a poor note means that they always leave themselves with a larger task of surpassing the insurmountable ties or what critics term ‘important matches’. Recent results has seen the Harambee stars beat the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique while drawing with the Chipolopolo.
These results were posted in both penultimate qualifiers and friendlies, and should be a key area of interest for the tactical and technical bench of our national side. If Kenya can replicate the same run of results witnessed in the matches, we can indeed go beyond elimination in qualifiers for major tournaments to actually being participants in these tournaments. Thus, if we are to realize our nation’s dream of taking part in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar then surely we must make tremendous efforts to actually be there
Kenya not being a serious footballing nation is also a major factor as to why we have never ever qualified for the World Cup. The last time Harambee Stars took part in the Afcon was back in 2004 and even then we were eliminated in the group stages of the continental showpiece. In fact Kenya is more serious in athletics as compared to football. The fact that our very own premier league lacks a competitive edge regionally as well as at the continental levels in club competitions such as the CAF Champions League, is a sure indication that Kenyan football is not as serious as we need it to be. This is inspite of its growth over the years.
Narrow 1-0 margin wins or scoreless draws may be a good result for the team for now but we need to post better results especially in qualifiers. We need to commence qualifying campaigns with the determination of making it to the end. Laxity in the early stages in the qualifiers has let us down so much on many occasions. A late surge in confidence in the penultimate matches won’t help if we don’t make good our intentions to be there in the early stages of qualifying. I am not disapproving Okumbi’s recent record but we need to be better as a footballing nation than we already are.
First, Kenya needs to strategize. A severe and well planned strategy on how best to approach qualifying matches will play its part on determining whether we qualify to participate in major football tournaments or not. Second, Football pundits from all walks of life need to be involved in the building up of the team. Exchange of ideas between these experts will ultimately aid both the tactical and technical benches of the national football team with a wide range of ideas which can be put to use and can be executed on the football pitches.
Third, incentives need to be given to the players to encourage them as well as build their confidence. Like many sports, football is also a profession and these players ought to be well rewarded for their performances which will boost confidence and morale in the team. Fourth, we must post relevant results in crucial qualifiers. A team high in confidence and full of morale will definitely post better results as compared to one whose morale and confidence is low. Last and by far not least our players should be patriotic when playing in the national colors. Each individual player should wear the national jersey with pride and thus, should play selflessly during any matches be it qualifiers or friendlies.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.