Muhiddin has it right on foreign players

Of late there has been a lot of clamour regarding the place of foreign players in Kenya. Many including former Harambee stars coach Francis Kimanzi, Ulinzi coach Robert Matano  and FKF chair Sam Nyamweya have suggested that the number of foreign players should be reduced supposedly to raise the standards of the national team.

Today former Stars coach Twahir Muhiddin who coaches Bandari has refuted those comments. According to Muhiddin, foreign players add quality to the league.

“No club signs a foreign player for the sake of it. The clubs have an interest in excelling and winning the league title and they will sign players they feel will help them achieve their goals. And they have sponsors whose interest must be catered for. That means performing,” Muhiddin, who currently coaches Bandari, said.

“I can mention a dozen of the foreign players who are doing well in our league and are helping their respective clubs. Gor Mahia is an example. Almost half their team is made up of foreign players who are doing very well at the moment,” he said to the KPL site.

Where Muhiddin is spot on is when he says that the remedy for poor Harambee stars performance is not to reduce the number of foreigners but to invest in youth structures.

“We have to go back to having youth structures so that we can build our own home grown talent that can compete and surpass any foreign talent that comes to the country. We have to create our own talent and that does not come by preventing foreign players from playing in our leagues” he continued.

Germany are the current world champions. According to statistics , foreign players represent 45% of the Bundesliga. In the Bayern Munich squad for example foreign players represent 14 out of 28( 50%). This has not stopped Germany from being perennial world powers.

Germany succeeds not by blocking foreigners but by forcing all Bundesliga 1 and 2 teams to have age group youth structures.

In the 1980s, the Italian Serie A had all the best foreigners. It did not stop Italy from winning the world cup in 1982 and almost winning in 1990 and 1994. In fact it is said that the reason Italy had the best defenders because they had to play against the best strikers every weekend. This sharpened them. During this era all the best strikers played in Italy including Maradona, Platini, Rummenigge, Paolo Rossi, Gullit, Van Basten et al.

But Italian strikers also benefited by learning from these top tier strikers and watching them train. In the same manner that Olunga can learn from a veteran like Kagere. The impact of foreign arrivals has caused Musa Mohamed to raise his standards as he was in danger of losing his place in the starting XI.

In Kenya, each team is allowed a maximum of 5 foreigners under the latest rule. Which means that at most, foreign players will be 20% of the league. Yet some coaches are complaining. Kimanzi himself has 5 foreigners in his squad. Perhaps he is unhappy because his foreigners are ineffective and he is looking for a way to level the playing field. Matano is in even worse shape because Ulinzi would have a difficult time enlisting foreign players.

Even KPL chair Jack Oguda thinks the number of foreigners should be reduced. Perhaps he thinks television audiences and fans would rather watch lower calibre local. He need only remember the high quality goal that Meddie Kagere scored against Nakuru All stars that wowed TV audiences.

This is the point that coach Frank Nuttall made:
“We must not settle for mediocrity. The foreign players have brought some value to KPL. Maybe what needs to be done is to come up with rules that will ensure only the best are allowed in. At the same time, focus should be made to revive youth structures so that we have players who can replace the foreigners when they go,” he said to the Standard.

Nuttall has also called for a re-look at who is really a foreign player considering that the East African charter allows for free movement of players in the region.

Rather than restrict foreigners, Oguda should encourage the creation of permanent youth structures among KPL teams.

Weighing in on the same issue, Sofapaka chairman Elly Kalekwa argued that players from the region should not be considered as foreigners as they are not required to pay for work permits. “They are not foreigners in the eyes of the Government since they do not pay for work permits, and so we should not consider them as such in the KPL. Let us allow as many as possible to come and play here without restrictions,” said Kalekwa.

Wild allegations by Ulinzi players concerning referee

Referees in the 2015 Kenya premier league have been under the microscope for their poor performance of late. Even coach Frank Nuttall has expressed his displeasure at the officiating.

Daily Nation recently revealed that none of the 16 center referees, 24 assistant referees and 16 match commissioners drafted to officiate this year’s KPL matches are accredited by FIFA. This is in part due to the spat between KPL and FKF at the beginning of the season.

Sam Nyamweya  called for a round table discussion with the KPL Limited chairman Ambrose Rachier to discuss modalities of reactivating the Referees Appointment Board. However, the Nation Sport has since established reveals  that the meeting, is yet to occur. It is not clear why the two parties cannot just come to an agreement for the good of the game.

Now a story on suggests that the referee from this past weekend’s match players that he could not award the team two penalties because ‘He feared for his life’. This is according to an Ulinzi player who spoke to“  It is true that they are genuine penalties but I don’t want to lose my life or get stoned here,” the referee told Ulinzi Stars players while the match was going on.

Whereas it is true that the referees have been below par, this Ulinzi player who revealed this story appears to be making things up.

Gor Mahia warming up for Ulinzi

Gor Mahia will take on Ulinzi stars on Saturday in what promises to be a difficult encounter. Ulinzi are in good form and are third in the table.

On Monday Gor Mahia warmed up for the encounter by beating Nairobi Stima 3-0. The match was an opportunity to give players who did not play over the weekend an opportunity to stay sharp and play their way into the starting line-up.

“They played very well against Nairobi Stima, it was good to give them game time because they did not feature over the weekend. Our policy is for each and every player to have some game time each week and so the friendly match was important for those who did not play over the weekend.” said Frank Ouna to

Ouna (middle) pictured upon arrival in Gabon in 2014

Having a strong bench is good for the club because as the league proceeds, players will start to miss matches due to injuries.

“As a Technical bench we were impressed with their performance, they give us much options in the league which is important for us as the league progresses” continued Ouna

Gor Mahia won 3-0 with goals from George Odhiambo, Timothy Otieno and Bernard Odhiambo.

But Frank Ouna knows that Ulinzi will be a difficult proposition and the team is preparing accordingly.

““It will be a massive match for us in our bid to retain the league title, but it will also pose a threat on our unbeaten run. They are unbeaten in five matches meaning they already have the momentum. But it is a great side which will give us problem” said Ouna to

And coach Frank Matano is always heavily motivated to play against Gor Mahia, something Ouna is well aware of.

““Matano [Robert] has a well-balanced squad with good offensive and defensive players. We will just aim to be disciplined and be very cautious. Our main objective will be to frustrate them, keep possession and try and penetrate their rear guard,”

KPL Player of the Month to receive cash awards

KPL players will now be doubly motivated to play well.  Sports Journalists Association of Kenya and betting company SportsPesa on Tuesday launched a monthly KPL player motivation programme that will see performers earn cash prize of 50,000 shillings, a 42 inch Television and a special trophy.
The partnership, which will be renewed annually and is aimed encouraging competition and hard work amongst players in the top tier Kenyan league.

“We have been in the local market for one and a half years and it is now time to engage in some Corporate Social Responsibility ventures in football and boxing. We are going to put more money next year and we look forward to a good partnership,” said Kester Shimonyo to the Standard. Shimonyo is the chief marketing officer of Sportpesa.

According to SJAK secretary General Mike Okinyi, a special panel of judges will be picked from football writers who will also rely on statistics from the governing body KPL to make meritocratic judgments.

Judging who is the best player in the league will require a keen eye among journalists. The lazy journalists ones or the ones who are not knowledgeable enough will only go by who is scoring. But as Chairman Ambrose Rachier said during the occasion, there is more to being a good player than pure statistics.

“This is a good initiative that will impact positively in the field. It is not about the scores but the performance, work rate and the contribution of the players in the league. It will go a long way in improving the standards of football in the country,” said Rachier.

Coach Nuttall not carried away with good start

When Gor Mahia were registering poor results during pre-season friendlies, coach Frank Nuttall told fans to be patient. Many did not listen. Matters came to a head when Gor Mahia lost to Bandari in Mombasa and fans unhappy at the poor display expressed unhappiness resulting in a bitter exchange between fans and some players. But coach Nuttall stuck to his guns trying various combinations while telling fans that the team was still gelling.

Now Gor Mahia has gotten off to a brilliant start. Three league wins in three matches is the best start Gor Mahia has had in recent years. In 2013, Gor Mahia started with 2 draws. And in 2014 it was 2 wins and a draw.

Coach Nuttall says he is happy with the good start. “I am also amazed at how the new players have settled in very fast. It is as if they have been around all that time,”  he said to

But Nuttall knows that there is still a long way to go and players must remain focused.

“We are all happy we are winning, but we must go step by step. We should not be carried away but the wins. The fans can savour the wins, but for the players, it is important to remain focused. Immediately we are done with one match, we shift attention to the next. All I can tell my players is not to get carried away. Let us celebrate when we ultimately finish the job.” ” he added.

Porous Defence

The porous defence is worrisome. Consider that in 2013, Gor Mahia played the first four games without conceding a goal. This was thanks to a no nonsense defence with players like Calabar, Mosoti, Musa, Jerim among others.

In 2014 they conceded only one goal in the first five matches. Yet this season they have conceded four goals in three matches. But Nuttall is unperturbed and sees opportunity for improvement.

“All we are looking for is a win and that is what we are getting. As for the conceding of goals, I am not very particularly disturbed but I know we will improve,” he said.

It is also worth noting that though Gor Mahia were not conceding goals in 2013, they were also not scoring. In 2013, it took a while before new signing Kiongera gelled with Rama Salim, Lavatsa et al. And in 2014, the strike force was so dependent on Sserunkuma that some Gor Mahia fans dubbed it the “Patia Sserunkuma tactic“. It looked like Gor Mahia midfielders had one mission which is to find Sserunkuma whether it was via long balls or short passes. This was detrimental as Blackberry often appeared lost.

Nuttall’s re-entry breathed some life into Blackberry who found his role, as well as Timothy Otieno. Nuttall is now working on creating a multi-dimensional attack that can worry opposing defences from all angles. The net result is that Gor Mahia have scored 9 goals in three matches.

Contrast this with 2014, where they scored 9 goals after 8 league matches. And in 2013 they scored 9 goals at the 10th league match. It has taken the team less than half the time to reach 9 goals this time around.

Ali Hassan Abondo

One player who has been instrumental in Gor Mahia’s brilliant start is Ali Abondo. The Kisumu lad has found the back of the net 8 times in all competitions. His ability to make astute and well timed runs and then calmly plant the net is reminiscent of the legendary Hezborn Omollo who scored over 20 goals in the leagues of 1983 and 1984 and scored 15 goals in 1985 and is likely the most prolific striker ever to don the Kogalo jersey.

This is the same Abondo who was jettisoned in 2013 with technical bench members accusing him of not working hard enough. Abondo has learned from the past.

“All seasons cannot be the same; last season was a bit different unlike this time round. What is important is to learn from previous mistakes and work towards rectifying them the following season, with hard work and prayer it pays off. I work hard every day to have that confidence thanks to my family also for their support.” says Abondo to

This is the same Abondo whom first questioned his return to the squad with some saying that Gor Mahia should have brought back Kevin Omondi “Ade” instead.

Remaining Grounded.

But no Gor Mahia player nor fan will get carried away. Only three matches have been played so far. And even a prolific striker like Sserunkuma cannot be expected to continue the breakneck pace that Abondo is scoring goals. But the newly focused Abondo with guidance from coach Nuttall will find ways to contribute whether he is scoring goals or tenaciously defending and putting in timely tackles as he did back in 2013. A player can be called upon to play different roles in each game.

And Gor Mahia will remain grounded and humility will prevail knowing that all is not perfect.

Continental Encounter

Speaking of humility, two encounters that gave Kogalo a dose of humility is the matches against CNaPs where Gor Mahia barely scraped through and the match against AC Leopards whom Gor Mahia will face in the return leg.

Gor Mahia will be looking for a miraculous 2-1 win in the second leg. The fact that the Wednesday night match against SoNy Sugar has been postponed will only help by giving Gor Mahia more time to prepare and to avoid injuries. Also, fewer midweek matches and more weekend matches is good for the club’s financial coffers.

Whatever the score is in Congo, Gor Mahia players will gain experience. And the continental sojourn has sharpened Gor Mahia players leaving Chemelil Sugar coach Mike Mururi to lament.

““Lack of competitive games in a long time also played a part in our defeat. Gor Mahia has been playing continental matches as opposed to us. They looked fitter than us and were ruthless.” he said to


FKF and KPL finally reach an agreement

Peace will finally prevail in the Kenya football scene. A three man delegation has been sent by FIFA to resolve the standoff that has lasted four months. : Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi who also sits in FIFA’s Associations Committee, Ashford Mamelodi ,Fifa’s development officer of  Southern and Eastern region  and Italian Primio Carvalao, who is head of Fifa Football Associations. The FIFA delegation has finally gotten the two warring sides to come to an agreement.

Under the agreement, the KPL will continue as currently constituted with 16 teams in 2015 and will be considered the top tier league. KPL will also be allowed to fulfill its contractual obligations with sponsors. The league shall however be renamed the FKF Premier League to emphasize the fact that it is still run under the auspices of FKF.

FKF shall also continue to run their league now renamed the National Super League.

In June the two warring sides will sign an MoU under which the league shall transition into an 18 team format. Under the current plan, four teams will be relegated and 6 teams promoted.

Azam TV deal

FKF chair Sam Nyamweya had taken his opponents by surprise when he announced a lucrative deal Tanzanian TV giant Azam. The deal worth Ksh 207 million over three years is to see each club paid Ksh 1 million per month for 10 months. It gave Nyamweya a strong bargaining chip and put him in prime position to be re-elected in October since he now controls the purse strings of many clubs.

Nyamweya now says the two leagues will be harmonized in 2016.

The entry of Azam into the Kenyan market is a good thing as it forces Supersport to pull up their socks by offering better deals to club, by making matches accesible to more fans via free to air TV and by enhancing mobile and online services, all of which Azam currently does much better than Supersport. And unlike Supersport, the terms of Azam TV deals are not shrouded in secrecy. Nobody quite knows what the current deal between KPL and Supersport is. It has supposedly been leaked to the media but the sources are unverified.

Return to normalcy

With peace now prevailing at least for another year, clubs are now free to focus on their respective league campaigns. Chairman Ambrose Rachier can now return to running the club instead of shuttling back and forth from his office to Milimani law courts to address Nyamweya’s latest salvo. he can now resume the task of shoring up the club’s finances and resume the search for a sponsor.

The return of normalcy and certainty should also see a return by many fans who had abandoned the league and perhaps even draw sponsors to the league and individual clubs.

The biggest losers in this arrangement are probably Posta Rangers who had rightfully earned a place in the top tier league but are now stuck in the second tier. As for Nakuru All Stars, this standoff has benefited them as they were due to be relegated. But going by their current performance, they never learned from last year’s debacle.

Nuttall lauds players as Mururi admits defeat

Gor Mahia coach Frank Nuttall has lauded his players for shrugging aside the congested fixtures and winning their third successive match in the Kenya Premier League.

“We had a very tough match against Bandari on Thursday and we knew we were coming to another tough match in a very short time with congested fixtures but I feel we did well. We played well on an overall and we got the three points and that is a very good thing for the team.”

“The players were well motivated and we gave 100% in the game and it is now three wins in three matches but we will not get over ourselves. We want to take one match at a time and now we shift focus to our next game on Wednesday,” he said to

Nuttall lauded Khalid Auch for his goal saying he has been working with Aucho on shooting during training and it has paid off.

“Since he joined us, he has been taking shots from five or ten yards out and scoring in training and we have been encouraging him to do so. Today he gave us the lead from something he has been doing regularly in training and I must admit, it was a good strike”, he added

Gor Mahia were ruthless says Mururi

Chemelil coach Mike Mururi has admitted that his side were beaten by a fitter more efficient side. He blames the lack of competitive games.

“Lack of competitive games in a long time also played a part in our defeat. Gor Mahia has been playing continental matches as opposed to us. They looked fitter than us and were ruthless. It was obvious something was wrong with my boys.” he said to

Fans will remember that this is the same Mururi who last season said Gor Mahia only won because they are helped by referees.

Gor Mahia 3 Chemelil Sugar 1

Goal-scorer: Aucho

courtesy of
Khalid Aucho opened his scoring account for Gor Mahia as they beat Chemelil Sugar 3-1 in a Kenyan Premier Match played on Sunday 22 March at the Nyayo Stadium from 1615hours.

Aucho, Ali Abondo and Meddie Kagere scored Gor’s goals while Meshack Karani scored Chemelil’s consolations goal.

Scare for Chemelil’s Onyango

Gor hit the ground running and in the third minute were awarded a corner that was brought in by Abondo but it was too wide. In the 11th minute, Fredrick Onyango punched the ball back into the field of play and it was picked by Michael Olunga who managed to hold off two Chemelil players before setting up Abondo who handled the ball before he could shoot and the whistle was blown.

There was a scare for Chemelil in the 12th minute when Onyango rushed out of the box to try and prevent Olunga from racing into the box but he missed the ball before fouling Olunga. He however was not sent off and was given a yellow card. The resulting free-kick was brought in by Abouba Sibomana and forced Onyango to tip the ball over the bar for a corner that was fruitless.

Aucho, Abondo score

In the 26th minute, Chemelil missed a chance to score after Karani was disposed in the box and the clearance found Stephen Wakhanya outside the box but he shot over the bar. In the 36th minute, Gor breathed a sigh of relief after Harun Shakava made a last minute tackle to deny Wakhanya a shooting chance inside the box. In the 41st minute, Kagere won a free kick that was brought in by Sibomana before it was cleared by Chemelil, it however found Aucho who exchanged passes with Olunga before he released a hard shot into the back of the net. Two minutes later, Olunga scored but the flag was already up.

When play resumed in the second half, Onyango was forced to make a finger tip save from a Sibomana free kick. A minute later, Gor doubled their lead through Abondo. This followed the subsequent corner that found Olunga in the box but his shot was blocked only for the rebound to fall on Abondo who made no mistake from the right side to give Gor their second goal.

Karani, Kagere score

In the 67th minute, Aucho missed a chance to hit a brace after a good Olunga found him in the box but his shot went wide. In the 80th minute, Olunga crossed in the box but with Onyango already out of his line, no Gor player could connect with the cross.

With four minutes to the final whistle, Chemelil pulled one back through Karani. This was after a Chemelil free kick that was brought in by Collins Kisuya and Boniface Oluah came off his line to try and pick the ball but Dennis Onkangi beat him to it before the latter pulled the ball back for Karani to put into the empty net.

Any hopes Chemeili may have had of a comeback were killed when Kagere scored his second goal and Gor’s third goal. Godfrey Walusimbi played a one-two with Olunga before the former made a run into the box but he was disposed by Kisuya with a sliding tackle only for the ball to find Kagere who made no mistake from close range.

The win means Gor now have nine points from three games while Chemelil have a single point, gained from their barren draw with AFC Leopards.

Gor Starting XI:23. Bonface Oluoch. 5. Musa Mohamed. 14. Karim Nizigiyimana. 3. Abouba Sibomana. 2. Godfrey Walusimbi. 10. Khalid Aucho. 6. Collins Okoth (20. Ernest Wendo 90′). 18. Harun Shakava. 22. Meddie Kagere. 30. Ali Abondo (25. George Odhiambo 89′). 19. Michael Olunga.

Unused Subs: 1. Jerim Onyango. 15. Bernard Odhiambo. 7. Ronald Otieno. 17. Eric Ochieng. 9. Timothy Otieno

Chemelil Starting XI: 30. Fredrick Onyango, 3. Samuel Oluande ( 19. Jonathan Mwaniki 78′) 15. Collins Kisuya, 5. Omino James, 9. Charles Odero (c), 2. David Ojwang (27. Dennis Onkangi 70′), 26. Smith Ouko,12. Murage Daniel, 14. Maxwell Onyango (17. Tony Opondo 50′), 18. Steven Wakhanya, 24. Meshack Karani

Unused Subs: 1. John Waw, 23. Kevin Migunde, 20. David Oriki, 7. Alloys Mangi,

Starting Line-Up
Bonface Oluoch – Musa Mohamed – Karim Nizigiyimana – Abouba Sibomana – Godfrey Walusimbi – Khalid Aucho – Collins Okoth – Harun Shakava – Meddie Kagere – Ali Abondo – Michael Olunga.

Subs: Jerim Onyango – Ernest Wendo – Bernard Odhiambo – George Odhiambo – Ronald Otieno – Eric Ochieng – Timothy Otieno

Gor Mahia 2 Bandari 1

courtesy of

Gor Mahia beat Bandari 2-1 in a Kenyan Premier League match played on Thursday 19 March at the Nairobi City Stadium to move three pints clear at the top of the Kenyan Premier League table.

Gor was the better side from the start with Abondo, Kagere, and Olunga having attempts on Bandari goal early in the match but they could not find a breakthrough in the opening minutes.

Kagere goal

Gor’s persistent pressure finally paid off after 23 minutes of play as striker Michael Olunga fed his strike partner Meddie Kagere who calmly slotted past Bandari goalkeeper Wilson Obungu on his full debut to give Gor a much deserved lead.

Kenga goal

The hosts’ lead however lasted for only five minutes as former Nairobi City Stars midfileder Lawrence Kasadha drew the Dockers level from a set piece curling the ball from the edge of the area past Boniface Onyango on Gor Mahia goal.

The two sides left for a breather with scores level in a half that Gor would have scored more goals had they been more clinical in front of goal.

Abondo goal

Gor started stronger after the break making inroads into Bandari penalty area the pressure paid off once again on 62nd as Michael Olunga was brought down in the area and Ali Hassan Abondo stepped up to restore Gor’s lead from the spot.

The defending champions pressed on after the goal but could not find another goal a result that saw them bag three vital points and they sit comfortably at the apex of the Kenyan Premier League table.
Starting Line-up

Bonface Oluoch – Musa Mohamed – Karim Nizigiyimana – Abouba Sibomana – Godfrey Walusimbi – Khalid Aucho – Collins Okoth – Harun Shakava – Meddie Kagere – Ali Abondo – Michael Olunga.

Jerim Onyango – Kevin Oluoch – Bernard Odhiambo – George Odhiambo – Ronald Otieno – Eric Ochieng – Timothy Otieno

Gor Mahia take on Bandari as players complain

Following the decision by the high court to lift the ban on KPL matches, the league has resumed play. KPL CEO Jack Oguda has announced that the league will try to schedule a number of midweek matches in order to reduce the backlog of fixtures.

“Right now, we are trying to see if we can arrange for mid-week fixtures and will make an announcement shortly. Our programme had fallen behind following the injunction and we need to get things back to normal service,”he said to

In that vain, Gor Mahia will take on Bandari on Thursday at City stadium.

The return of KPL fixtures is a relief to fans of local football who have become exasperated by the antics of Sam Nyamweya and FKF. Coaches are relieved as well because the lack of fixtures was demotivating certai players.

“It is difficult for a coach to train the players yet not knowing who or when they were going to play next. It looked more like a pre-season training. The morale was beginning to fade among the players,” Matano told Goal.

“A lot of sponsors have invested so much in teams this year and were beginning to feel cheated due to the stand-off which had began to have far-reaching consequences on everyone involved,” added Muhiddin.

Players complain of unpaid salaries

Some Gor Mahia players are up in arms due to non payment of allowances and salaries. According to players received on Ksh 300 each after the match against AC Leopards. This is the amount players used to be paid per game back in the 1980s.

An anonymous players has revealed to, the tribulations that the team is experiencing.

Against Sofapaka in season’s curtain raiser, we received nothing but only Sh300 which was part of our daily training allowance. Nobody spoke about our bonuses afterwards.

“When we won against Madagascar champions CNaPs in preliminary round of Caf Champons League at home, we just received daily training allowance which cannot even cater for our lunch and fare back home.

“The only ‘big money’ we have received was (85000 Malagasy Ariary), which when converted to local currency is roughly Sh2, 580, which the club provided for drinks.

“Up to date, we have not been paid our bonuses; I have never seen a disorganized team like this. How can we fight hard for the team only to get Sh300 on material day? Like on Sunday against AC Leopards, I can reveal that some players were very hungry, it was an insult to give them peanuts.”

However club EC member David Kilo has denied the reports.

“It is true we gave them Sh300, but that is our routine. It is our daily training rate. The team has its policy of paying players there bonuses; every player received his right in respect to rankings. The information you have is false.” he said to

Kilo also said that the club Chairman is meeting some of the club’s expenses out of his own pocket.

“And concerning salaries, as a club we don’t owe players. The team is financially struggling with no sponsor on board but many a times the chairman has dug deep into his pockets to pay the players. As officials we are concerned with welfare of our players’ and in no way can we mistreat them.”


Minister Wario could do more to help clubs

The Cabinet secretary in Charge of sports Hassan Wario, has come out strongly to warn fans that they would not be allowed to converge at the Tom Mboya statue anymore.  According to Minister Wario, any fans who converge at the statue will be arrested.

Gor Mahia fans are typically converge at the monument before matches.  Dr. Wario, in an address to the media ahead of the Mashujaa Day celebrations, called on the fans to keep off the monument or risk arrest.

“It has come to our notice that hooligans target the Tom Mboya statue and we are telling them to keep off because this is a monument of a hero yet they have been vandalizing it. It is very sad that this is happening and as a ministry we are keen to ensure that we stop this. We will repair the damaged ones but we will not hesitate to take action on people seen to deface such monuments, he said.”

Several months ago, Minister Wario also lamented about hooliganism. In an agitated speech, Wario blamed clubs saying they should do more to stop the hooligans. According to him, the government provides stadiums while club fans damage the stadia.

“Clubs should take responsibility and deal with their fans. It is impossible to have a special police force to deal with that and I have talked to inspector general about it. It hasn’t happened anywhere else in the world and there is nothing special about Kenya. We give you a stadium to use so ensure we get it back in good shape, he said.”

We noted at the time that Mr. Wario was wrong. Clubs cannot control hooligans by themselves. They do not have the capacity to end hooliganism. It is the government, specifically the police that must deal with hooligans. This is how England dealt with its hooligan problem in the 1980s. It was not the clubs. It is the government that came up with rules on how stadia should be built, procedures for police and specific training for police. Known hooligans were banned from stadia and banned from traveling overseas to attend matches.

With regard to the Tom Mboya statue, it is indeed timely for the minister to act upon it. Fans absolutely do need to be prevented from defacing a monument of a respectable person or from defacing any public property.  However it leaves us wondering if Mr. Wario thinks hooliganism is the only problem afflicting clubs in Kenya.

Hooliganism is not the only problem facing clubs

The first thing Mr. Wario should understand is that clubs are the bedrock on which any national team is built. Without a strong club system, no country can thrive. Clubs provide the means by which young players are discovered, nurtured and developed into quality players. They provide the incentive for the youth to strive to become better players.  If the youth believe they can earn a living playing football locally, they will work harder at their game. The net result is that Kenya will have higher calibre players.  The most successful countries are those where the clubs have strong infrastructure including training grounds on which they can develop their youth systems. In Germany for example, the Federation has ensured that every club in the top tier league and in the second tier has sound youth systems in which players are scouted and nurtured from U-13 to U-16 and U19. It is no accident that Germany are consistently among the best teams.

If Wario really wants football in Kenya to thrive then he should start by getting clubs the assistance they need. Lets start at Gor Mahia. Earlier this year, Gor Mahia was slapped with a malicious KES 118 million fine by the Kenya Revenue Authority which even went as far as freezing all the club’s accounts. It is true that Gor Mahia like many Kenyan businesses does owe the KRA money. But slapping the club with a KES 118m fine smacks of malice aimed at crippling the club.Virtuallu every sports organization in Kenya that pays salaries owes the KRA money. Even the Kenya Rugby Union owes tax remittances from from salaries that have been paid to Kenya rugby sevens players over the past few years. But only Gor Mahia was singled out for harsh treatment.

Crippling a club that is going to represent the country in the African champions league and the CECAFA cup is no good for football in the country. There should have been some assistance, perhaps mediation between the Ministry of sports and KRA.  Minister Wario can take the lead in harmonizing the way sports organizations remit taxes to the KRA and prevent malicious attacks.

Minister Wario can further help clubs by providing land to the top teams in Kenya. Who better than the government to assist both Gor Mahia and AFC to reclaim land they own in Embakassi. The availability of this land can make operating the club much cheaper. Gor Mahia pays KES 10,000 a day to use City Stadium whether its for the senior team or the U-19 team. In fact few clubs in Kenya have their own training ground, with the exception of corporate clubs like Bandari and Tusker.

With land of their own, clubs could also build gyms and it would make it easier to run youth development schemes which often requires multiple fields and even classrooms.

Wario can do a lot more to promote football clubs

As has been mentioned above, the only time Minister Wario ever mentions Gor Mahia or AFC leopards it is when condemning hooliganism. The only time Wario ever said publicly that he would meet club officials was when he wanted to discuss hooliganism. Far from promoting the club’s Wario has done a lot to discourage fans from attending matches. Since all he says is about hooliganism, he has done a lot to discourage sponsors from wanting to associate with football.

Most fans who attend matches are peaceful. Most football matches are peaceful. Gor Mahia and AFC are not just about hooliganism. These are the points that need to be highlighted.

What he ought to be doing is personally attending football matches. Then telling fans that most football matches are actually peaceful. Only a few matches end in acts of hooliganism. He ought to be highlighting the positive aspects of club football in Kenya of which there are a lot. He ought to be highlighting the rich history and successes that club’s in Kenya have accomplished. He ought to be outlining the steps the government to make stadia more peaceful so as to attract more fans to the stadia. Making stadia safer is not just about reducing hooliganism. Seating, security fences, security personnel, ticketing etc can all be improved by the government.

As former Gor Mahia official Faiz Magak once said of Wario, “His statements at the event was ill advised and ill timed – that was a national and international event thus portraying Gor Mahia and Kenya in bad light; as a leader he should be careful when addressing the public – he should use sport to promote peace not incite. It would have been better for him to call the stakeholders and talk to them as a leader rather than using the event to soil others’ reputations ” said Magak to at the time.

On balance, Wario has not had a positive impact on the Kenya Premier league so far. His mere presence at several local matches would encourage fans to attend.

This column is not saying that hooliganism is not a serious issue that needs to be addressed. In fact Minister Wario is doing a good thing by highlighting behaviour of certain fans and warning them. This column is trying to encourage the sports minister to be more active in making club football better.More active in promoting local football.  It is a fact that the standards of club football in Kenya are currently below par. A significant reason is because many clubs are merely struggling to survive.  A stronger club system will making the results of the national team better in the long run.  The government and the sports ministry can help in this regard.