The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) on Monday announced that they had parted ways with Harambee Stars coach Sébastien Migné on mutual grounds.
It marked an end to the Frenchman’s 14-month tenure at the helm of Kenya’s most loved team, which was laced with loud cries of biased or influenced player selection.
The former Congo Brazzaville manager is largely credited with guiding the Stars back to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a 15-year drought, however, some observers reckon that the expansion of the biggest continetal showpiece from 16 to 24 teams may have aided this return.
Others point out that the banning of Sierra Leone, one of the Harambee Stars’ opponents in the 2019 AFCON Group F qualifiers, by FIFA for government interference also played a role.
The peace so far enjoyed in football administration in Kenya under the current FKF president Nick Mwendwa and government support were also a contributor to the big return to the table of men by Stars, according to some pundits.
Migné’s last assignment before his low key departure was the 2020 CHAN qualifiers where he failed to go past Tanzania in the first round after being eliminated on penalties two weeks ago.
During his stay, the dark cloud of biased or influenced player selection hovered over his head. Grapevine was rife that Migné only offered call ups and fielded players who he intended to sell in future, whether true or not, the cries from fans were ever so loud after every squad announcement and as the cliché goes, where there’s smoke there is fire.
Particularly, the axing of veteran striker Allan Wanga of Kakamega Homeboyz, who was the Kenyan Premier League second best scorer with 17 goals last season and Zambian-based utility player Anthony Akumu from the AFCON team, left a bitter taste on many mouths. Kenyans were equally vexed that Akumu’s teammate at Zesco United Jesse Were, a proven goal poacher at continental level, was totally ignored and instead unattached forward made the trip to Egypt.
The unattached player and another late call up to the AFCON 2019 squad have made moves to North Africa after the tournament.
Failure to field Gor Mahia striker Nicholas Kipkirui, a prolific marksman with international repute, in the 2020 CHAN qualifiers only added salt to injury as those who were trusted with the job did not score a single goal in normal time in the two legged encounter against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
The accusations of bias in player selection were equally common place under Migné’s predecessor Stanley Okumbi, a local coach. The former Mathare United gaffer mostly came under fire for allegedly favoring players from KPL side Kariobangi Sharks, a team whose former chairman, Nick Mwendwa, is the current FKF boss.
Which begs the question does it really matter whether the next Harambee Stars coach is a foreigner or a local? This has been the center of debate since Migné’s departure on Monday.
Should the FKF look for specific qualities in the next man to occupy the hot seat rather than focus on where he hails from as some observers want it? Certainly yes if you ask me.
Frenchman Claudé Le Roy is one of the most revered coaches on the continent. He boasts a glittering resume dotted with great success stories including an AFCON title.
Before picking any coaching job, the White Witch, as he is nicknamed, makes it crystal clear to authorities that there shall be NO interference in his work, most specifically team selection, failure to which he resigns instantly.
Harambee Stars need such a tough and independent manager to ward off real or imagined vultures, who are constantly looking for an opening to earn that important national cap for their players.
Djamel Belmadi of Algeria and Senegal’s Aliou Cissé were deservedly hailed as true examples of the immense talents Africa have in terms of coaching after guiding their national sides to the 2019 AFCON final. However, a deeper look into their backgrounds reveal top men who played at the highest level for both club and country and are professionals at what they do, they are not just people given the responsibilities based on their skin colors or the fact that they are Africans.
The same can can be said of former DRC and the current AS Vita Club manager Florent Ikwange Ibenge,who has even coached in China, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and many others.