National football team now under gov’t management

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The Kenya government has officially taken over the management and running of the senior national soccer team, Harambee Stars, well-placed sources confirmed Sunday.

The government is taking over from a private company – Kenya Premier League Company (KPL) – which was managing the national squad on behalf of the often-cash-strapped Kenya Football Federation (KFF).

KPL, a company recognised by FIFA, was formed by Kenyan teams participating in the league after expressing their disappointment at the way the KFF was managing the league.

The company was formed primarily to manage the league, but the clubs too did not like the way the national federation was handling the national team.

Enjoying the support of both FIFA and the government, the company requested that it be allowed to manage the national team.

Both the government and KFF agreed and the firm went on to secure attractive sponsorship packages for the national team from the corporate world.

However, the government wants to take full charge of the team, according to the sources.

Sports analysts said the Harambee Stars’ good run in the 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifier may have caught the government’s attention.

Kenya, already through to the second round of the World Cup qualifiers, is perched atop Group Two with 10 points, followed by Guinea with 8.

Zimbabwe is third with six points, while Namibia is languishing at the bottom with three points.

Kenya’s match against Guinea in Conakry on 10 October will be a mere formality, Win, draw or lose in Conakry, the east Africans are through to the next round.

According to the sources, the national technical bench headed by coach Francis Kimanzi is aware of the impending change.

“In fact members of the technical bench have been briefed on the changes at the Youth and Sports Ministry headquarters and are ready for the transition,” the sources said.

A South African firm has been identified to take over the running of the national squad on behalf of the government, according to the sources.

The firm will be accorded all rights, including the identification and appointment of a national coach.

Officials of the company were in the country last week and met Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Sports Ministry officials, including the minister, Prof Hellen Sambili.

KFF chair Mohammed Hatimy and KPL chair Bob Munro are said to have been informed of the decision, and both pledged total support.

The source said the government was disturbed by the bad blood between KFF and KPL which has seen the two bodies trade accusations.

In a most recent spat, KFF accused KPL of overstepping its mandate in the management of the national team.

The move does not come as a surprise to Kenyans, as earlier in the year, sports-loving Prime Minister Odinga announced that the South African Government had agreed to help Kenya revamp the national team, and had even identified a national coach.

This will be the first time a professional sports management firm is contracted by the government to manage the national soccer team.

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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