KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 20 – Furious Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi was left red faced on the final day of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda, lamenting on among other things the tight schedule of the competition with a thin squad.
Kimanzi lambasted the organizers for insisting that teams should bring in only 20 players, while they were forced to play a match every two days with little time for recovery, complains that were also shared by Tanzania’s coach Juma Mgunda.
“We are grateful for finishing third and the only sad part is that I go back home to return injured players to their clubs, players who I received fully fit,” Kimanzi said.
“The result is always important but the process is even more important. This tournament is organized when most leagues are on, so we have to beg clubs for players. Then we come here and we have the pressure of playing within short time,”
“We have to play on artificial turf everyday and I don’t know whether the organizers know the effect of this turf. Even FIFA wants to ban it because it is not polite on players. You look at players running and it’s like they are being held back by gum. When you play on thus turf you use a lot of energy and you need a minimum of 72 hours to recover,”
“Then you give us a small number of players and you cannot rotate much. If you are inviting teams then you need to give them 23 players. Like against Tanzania I only had three players on the bench because of injuries. We are not helping teams,” the tactician fumed.
Kimanzi was so incensed and he even wanted to take the players back to the hotel room after the game, not wanting to wait until the final game to receive their bronze medals.
“These players ate at 9am, we have finished the game at 3pm and you want to hold on to us until 6:30pm; they are tired and on an empty stomach. They can’t even provide some refreshments for them or even a tent to sit in. It’s such a shame,” Kimanzi further lamented.
The team ultimately stayed behind as their bus was packed deep in the lot and couldn’t leave.
Due to the effects of fatigue, Kimanzi said he had specifically instructed his players to slow down the game and be passive to ensure they remained fresh and didn’t have to push themselves too much.
The same sentiments were shared by Tanzania’s coach Mgunda.
“The number of players in this tournament pushes us a lot because we don’t have depth. I had two injuries heading into the last game and that reduced my optins. What I would like to ask is that in the next tournament, we do like CAF and FIFA and allow teams to have 23 players. That will give coaches more options,” the Tanzanian averred.
Meanwhile, Kimanzi was still fuming at his two match ban after protesting against some Tanzanian players during the first match because they didn’t have passports, a requisite of any tournament involving different member associations.
“To me this is not a tournament, this is something Jua Kali,” Kimanzi fumed.
“They need to have some standard rules that apply to everyone. Not when your Team Manager questions something you are suspended. Why was I suspended for something administrative and my work is technical on the pitch,” Kimanzi, red with anger opined.
The tactician has now warned that if the tournament remains the same next year, he might be forced to take a younger team especially if it falls in the middle of the season again.
The tactician also fumed about training times, saying they were given a very small pitch with little time and no escort to take them through traffic.
Stars were forced to train at a local pitch in Namugongo, the outskirts of Kampala which was a few minutes’ drive from their hotel which minimized the time they spent on traffic.