It was beyond despicable what the national football team endured in the build-up to Tuesday’ night’s World Cup qualifier return leg against Cape Verde in Praia.
There is no way the public can blame Harambee Stars for the laboured performance after arriving just two hours before the match. The government and the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) should be ashamed of themselves! Why did it take a last minute intervention by President Uhuru Kenyatta for Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario to be jolted into action? I’ve said it before in this column and I’ll say it again: Wario is a disgrace to the sports fraternity, and needs to exit his post and hand it over to someone who cares more about what is a very important pillar in this country.
As for the FKF, the money was released by the government in good time – enough for the team to leave and acclimatise for a game they could have certainly challenged the hosts. So why allegedly try to save money on a charter flight and put people’s lives at risk? The Fokker aircraft the team went on is designed for short-haul flights.
It made three stops to fuel and had to travel through some of the most turbulent skies in the world. Not only that, Southampton must have been biting their fingernails as they followed the saga surrounding one of their star players Victor Wanyama. What would the federation have done had something happened to their players on what was clearly the wrong type of plane?
The public is fed up of the ineptitude of the FKF and the Cabinet Secretary for Sports. It’s time for them to pack up and leave. Let us have some fresh blood. Kenya has plenty of competent individuals who can bring back the glory days of football and rein in out-of-control, corrupt sports officials. We the public are fed up of seeing our sports stars being mistreated.
Compare what happened at Wembley on Tuesday night in the England/France international, which was attended by Prince William, with that of our national team who arrived back on Thursday to a low key welcome with no senior government official present following their ordeal.
Our team proved on Friday how much potential there is, and all that is needed is proper preparation and the resources provided with no strings attached. It is disgraceful that the squad has to beg for what is rightfully theirs, with the officials in charge wallowing in their ill-gotten gains. It is a sign of the times when you look at what is happening in our society today.
It’s also interesting to note that you hardly ever hear good news out of the FKF apart from bribery, corruption and mismanagement of the sport. Nothing about development and other meaningful subjects surrounding the sport.
In the meantime, I am pleading once again with the government to consider separating sports from culture and social services and let it be headed by someone who truly has a passion for it.
KENYA QUALIFY FOR OLYMPICS
Congratulations to Benjamin Ayimba and his boys on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, following a dramatic final against Zimbabwe.
Dennis “Ghost Worker” Ombachi’s last second scorcher saved Kenya what would have been a humiliating flight back from Johannesburg, and the focus will now be on the forthcoming World Rugby series, which gets underway in Dubai in a fortnight.
So this means that Kenya and South Africa have qualified from Africa so far, while Australia won the Oceania tournament in Auckland last weekend, after crushing Tonga 50-0 in the final, to join New Zealand and Fiji.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Cup kicks off today with a different format to previous seasons. There will be 14 teams split into two pools of seven teams each, playing home and away fixtures within the pools, as well as a cross-over fixture with teams from the other pool prior to the playoffs.
Defending champions KCB are in Pool A with Pan Africa Strathmore Leos, Mwamba, Menengai Cream Homeboyz, Western Bulls, Mean Machine and Thika, while Pool B features last year’s runners up Kabras Sugar, Top Fry Nakuru, Resolution Impala Saracens, Total Nondies, Kenya Harlequin, Blak Blad and Kenya Sharks.
NEW CYCLING WORLD RECORD
Thirty-eight Days ago in Cairo, Egypt, five cyclists set out on an incredible endeavour to cross the length of the African continent in a world record time. Last Sunday in Cape Town, at 6:36pm local time and 10,600km later, they achieved it.
South African Mark Blewett, Englishman Nicolas Bourne and Zimbabwean David Martin finished the epic ride in 38 days, 12 hours and 16 minutes, beating Mark Beaumont’s record of 41 days 10 hours and 22 minutes.
Blewett is the founder of SwiftCarbon bicycles, and not only sponsored the Swift Carbon Ultravox Ti road frames for the journey, but also rode the entire way too. Blewett raced at a professional level and once captained the South Africa cycling team.
Kenyan legend David Kinjah was part of the team, but was forced to retire on the Tanzania/Zambia highway due to injury and illness.
To prove how difficult the ride was, this is what Kinjah had to say about his retirement: “This is it guys! This is the ride that actually cracked me! It’s amazing how much the human body can endure, but the sores on my bum cannot be patched with just bandages any more. The crash in the rain on the Tan-Zam highway left my knee and hip in too much pain … last night when we arrived, I could not unclip my right foot off the pedal, so I removed my shoe instead.”
Well done to Kinjah for being part of history and let’s hope you have better luck next time.