Kenya: Mwendwa’s ‘No Talent’ Sentiments Divides Football Opinion in Kenya

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa’s recent statement that the country did not have the talent to compete at the top level continues to draw mixed reaction from a cross section of stake holders.

“Kenya has some of the best talent in this continent. There is no doubt about it. What we are lacking is the structures to nurture this abundant talent,” said Kenya Football Coaches Association (Kefoca) secretary general Bob Oyugi.

“Mwendwa did not know what he was talking about. This was a very unfortunate statement from a person who is supposed to set up the structures to develop our talent and skills.”

Twaha Mbarak, a coast football administrator and former federation vice president called for the removal of Mwendwa from office for “destroying Kenyan football”.

“It beggars belief that Mwendwa, despite being in charge of the team, has turned against the players, going as far as suggesting that Kenya suffers from deficiency of football talent. This is an insult to the Kenyan people and a stone-faced, shameless justification of the failures he has presided over since coming into office,” said Mbarak.

In an interview with NTV on Monday night Mwendwa said that the local game cannot grow even if the best coach in the world are hired unless talent is nurtured.

“Even if you bring Jose Mourinho, even if you bring Mikel Arteta, the world that needs to be done is that we need to bring talent to the tbale. For you to win, you, you need quality players,” he said.

His sentiments came hot on the heels of Harambee Stars’ back-to-back 2022 World Cup qualifying defeats to Mali. The first was a 5-0 drubbing in Morocco last Thursday followed by a 1-0 loss in Nairobi on Sunday that all but ended Stars hopes of advancing to the final round of qualifiers.

“The federation has failed to develop the game. You bring in a new coach with a poor track record, who fields players he does not know, makes poor selection and has no tactical plan whatsoever. Hiring him was a joke,” said Oyugi.

But Nick Musonye, who was secretary general of Cecafa for close to two decades, supported Mwendwa’s views.

“I have been in football long enough to know our talent is very limited. It is wanting. The truth is we cannot compete at the highest level,” said Musonye.

He continued: “Tell me how many good quality players do we have playing in Europe. We do not have the structures to develop men’s and women’s football in this country. We need at least five years to develop good talent.”

He blamed the federation for failure to develop the game.

A section of former Harambee Stars players told FKF to stop shifting blame over Harambee Stars’ failure.

A statement signed by 15 football legends including Josephat Murila, Tobias Ocholla, Peter Lichungu and Mike Amwayi, called for urgent measures to be taken immediately, including forcing the current FKF leadership out of office and an interim committee constituted to stabilise the game and oversee a free and fair election.

The retired players said the Kenyan game was bedevilled by widespread mismanagement, gross incompetency, ethical shortfalls, poor officiating and embezzlement of funds.

Kenya failed to qualify for the 24-team 2021 Africa Cup of Nations that will be held in Cameroon next year.


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