NAIROBI, Kenya, March 17 – Antoine Hey made his debut as Harambee Stars coach in a low key friendly losing 1-0 to Iran last Saturday.
It was a good showing as they faced a team ranked 42nd in the world and cam eout with their pride intact.
The national team played well or so we are told with the referee supposedly denying Stars a penalty. If anything, Hey was suitably impressed by the standards of the team adding that the pros will have to work really hard to dislodge the local lads.
However all the good stuff ends there.
The trip was another case study of how to not handle a national team or any team for that matter.
The players’ allowances were paid at the airport with those who failed to make the trip having to wait until the team came back on Sunday to get theirs.
Then the team’s attire. Dressed in an assortment of T shirts, the players looked nothing like a national team. No national colours, no flags, nothing.
Whatever happened to the neatly dressed team that left for Guinea and Namibia last year? Then they were dressed in track suit and even immaculate black suits but this was missing.
Coach Hey may have been in the country for only three weeks but already he is coming to terms with the way Stars is run.
He did not want the friendly he says, but it was arranged without his input and he had to honour it. There was even talk of Kenya playing Malawi in a midweek friendly!!!
This would have put the team on a collision course with the Kenya Premier League which would have had to cancel live matches to accommodate the friendly.
Thankfully, the Flames of Malawi saw the sense and will now play Uganda instead.
Hey also bemoaned lack of playing kit, tracksuits. All I can say is welcome to Kenya Mr Hey.
Former coach Bernard Lama was the first coach to complain about the team’s inability to dress as a team as well as hurriedly pre arranged friendlies.
Lama had to go play Ethiopia a week after joining the team. Of course he didn’t last. Then most recently Francis Kimanzi was shown the door for refusing to honour another Mickey Mouse friendly.
The world football governing body Fifa has allocated dates for internationals but curiously, all Kenyan friendlies never take place on the said dates.
While Kenya needs friendlies against top teams like Egypt and Iran, it does not make sense why they have to play them on dates not allocated by Fifa.
But our very good football administrators do not seem cognizance to this fact. Either that or they simply have no regard for what is best for the national team.
One gets the feeling it’s the latter.