NAIROBI, November 25- Sam Nyamweya will officially face five rivals to retain his seat as the president of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) at the national polls set for December 14.
The FKF Electoral Board cleared six candidates to vie for the top seat and an equal number to contest for the vice-presidency currently held by Robert Asembo, who was appointed by Nyamweya when elected holder and former international, Sammy Sholei, was suspended from the game a few months after the October 28, 2011 elections.
Gor Mahia and SportPesa Premier League (SPL) chairman Ambrose Rachier, Sholei; former chairman of the Youth Fund and Re-Union FC boss, Gor Semelang’o and Semi Aina, the Rift Valley United chief, are the men out to oust the sitting football chief through the ballot.
Clad in an-official dark FIFA-branded suit when he was presented his papers in Nairobi as a symbol of his status as the country’s football top-dog Nyamweya, a veteran football administrator is under mounting pressure to relinquish or to be removed from the position.
This follows the bitter public aftermath of the furore surrounding Harambee Stars nightmare trip to Cape Verde last week for the return leg of their second round CAF pre-qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia that has gained currency in mainstream and social media to date.
Stars, who are playing at the regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Ethiopia, crashed out of the Mundial after losing 2-1 on aggregate when their 1-0 home leg advantage was overturned by a 2-0 defeat in Praia where the team arrived three hours from kick-off after a grueling 22-hour journey on juice and biscuits on a chartered propeller plane.
However, the Donald Kipkorir led Electoral Board cleared him to run on Wednesday, paving way for the first leader of the remodelled local football governing body to go for another four year mandate.
The former chairman and before secretary general of the defunct Kenya Football Federation waged a six-year battle with the rival body, Football Kenya Limited, led by Mohammed Hatimy; who were ultimately recognised as the bona fide authority from late 2000s until the last polls; has weathered many storms in his inaugural term to once again enter the race for the coveted post.
Nyamweya has been accused of corruption and was named as one of the public officials in the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission list of shame released in March besides being detained for six hours and then released by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Nairobi last week over the Stars debacle.
He is however, yet to face any formal charges on recent allegations and has pending cases in court but his adherent supporters brand the harsh criticism -especially on social media- the work of his opponents and their hatchet-men who are out to discredit him and scuttle his cherished dream of a second tenure.
In his first term, Kenya is yet to break into the top 100 of the Coca-Cola Fifa World Rankings, peaking at 116 and fading to 134 with the present position of 125, way off the peak of 68 it reached in 2008.
Stars did win last year’s Cecafa title in Nairobi on Jamhuri Day (December 12) in the finest hour of his first term after a dozen-year wait but did not qualify for the 2012, 13 and 15 Africa Cup of Nations, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as well as the second-ladder continental showpiece, CHAN meant for home grown players.
The age men and women’s national teams failed to qualify for the Africa Youth Championships, FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and recently, the Rio 2016 Olympics in the period of his first rule.
There was a botched bid to step in for Libya for the 2017 AFCON although Kenya is interested in vying to host the 2019 CHAN with a number of sponsors fleeing from the game amid allegations of financial impropriety, lack of prudent management and misrepresentation.
The rank main contender and Nyamweya’s erstwhile working partner, IT specialist, Mwendwa, was cleared on Tuesday and comes into the elections under the platform of ‘Team Change’ having been at the helm of the second-tier FKF-Premier League as its chairman.
The youthful Kariobangi Sharks chairman has been tainted by accusations he supplied an IT system to the federation that did not work in a deal worth millions while the manner he took over the FKF-PL side based in Nairobi is also rocked by scandal.
He is also yet to be formally quizzed by law enforcement or charged over the claims he defiantly rejects as an attempt to derail his reform agenda having run a league beset by financial woes when broadcast rights partners, MP and Silva, pulled the plug in June.
Rachier, who is set to lead the top-flight management company for a third-straight year in 2016, vied and finished last at the 2011 elections and is said to enjoy the backing of the KPL top management and some of the 16-member clubs.
Regardless of taking cash-strapped Gor, the most popular club on the land; from the doldrums to become record -setting three-peat SPL champions as well as the losing finalists of this year’s Cecafa Club Championships; Rachier does not draw popular support across the voting constituency of club delegates.
Under his watch, Gor have also bagged a trove of domestic cups but are still negotiating for a title-sponsor after going for the second successive campaign without one following the withdrawal of SpinKnit Dairies (Tuzo Milk) after reclaiming the title in 2013.
They are strongly linked with brewers Keroche Industries for next season having entered into unprecedented agreement with two bakeries to brand and sell Gor Bread this season.
Having been the running-mate to presidential runner-up Mohammed Hussein in 2011, the former Tusker FC stalwart and Stars player, Shollei, has opted to go for the top job this time round.
He has hinged his campaigns on being given the chance he was robbed to serve and implement his vision for the game by the suspension that was finally lifted at the October FKF Annual General Meeting following a protracted court battle.
Shollei has good command of the voting bloc having been involved in Kenyan football when players earned peanuts towards the end of the golden age in the late 90s and together with ex-internationals propping him such as Eric Obura and elected Nairobi NEC Member, Dr. Dan Shikanda, he has built a vast grassroots network among the voting delegates.
Semelang’o and Aina are rated outsiders in the race with the well-heeled former having a well-oiled machinery in the vote hunting process but struggles to build a rich street credibility in football.
He was sacked from his plum State job by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April last year on allegations he withheld the Youth Funds that he strenuously denied and no action has been brought against him related to the matter.
His Re-Union side was a mainstay of the top-flight until their relegation in mid 2000s when flamboyant former chair, Mark Ageng’ a wily football operative, passed on.
Aina was caught up in the tussle for control of the country’s second largest supported-side, AFC Leopards in 2012 when he was charged with trying to destabilise the club by obtaining a court order to bar the then Nairobi County Speaker, Alex Ole Magelo-led National Executive from running the club.
For the number two job, FKF Coast NEC Member, Hussein Swaleh aka Hussein Terry who was also suspended by Nyamweya when he went against his boss after filing a case accusing FKF of corruption in 2011 was given his papers by the poll’s Board in Tuesday alongside Nyanza NEC Member, Doris Petra, who is embedded in Mwendwa’s camp.
Twaha Mbarak, who served in the Hatimy administration and is the running mate for Ambrose Rachier also from Coast, Robert Asembo, Western Branch chairman Andrew Amukowa and Shikanda who is vying on an independent ticket also got the nod.
Clearance of all candidates for the top jobs was confirmed by Board member Professor Edwin Wamukoya.
The national polls were pushed from December 10 and remain clouded since FKF has until December 4 to conform to the Sports Act of 2013 or the exercise will not be legal.
Nick Mwendwa, Sam Nyamweya, Semi Aina, Gor Semelang’o, Sammy Sholei, Ambrose Rachier
Doris Petra, Hussein Swaleh aka Hussein Terry, Twaha Mbarak, Robert Asembo, Dr. Dan Shikanda, Andrew Amukowa