By Mathew Ottamax
Just before Afcon 2019 in Egypt, all eyes and gabs were on and about our National soccer team Harambee Stars
Our dormant government when it comes to football was this time actively involved in ensuring the team got all the cushions it needed, the fans and the media also played their part in hyping the tenacity of our boys in order to match the temerity of the other big names they were going to meet at the extravaganza, the coaches too came up with the squad they deemed the 99.9th percentile Kenyans in that industry, the creme de la creme were chosen and also for future assignments.
This is but history now, the tournament was played and won by the best country in terms of preparedness, personnel and performance on the pitch…it went to Algeria!
Back home things are different, we have a new head coach, gradually things are changing, and we don’t know if it’s for better or worse, but I have a strong feeling that it’s for worse.
Why worse? With only a few months to Qatar 2022 qualifying matches, our national office is deeply interred in the campaign dungeons working dirty and mostly concentrating on cleaning its image whereas other nations are busy planning ahead for World Cup duels.
It was reported in some section of the media quoting FKF supremo claiming that the Federation does not owe players any allowances or bonuses despite the financial strait jacket within the national office, but on the ground things are different.
There is a strong rumor going around that some players who stood up to ask for their rights in regard to Afcon bonuses had their names omitted from the squad that played against Mozambique at home losing 0-1.
Some of these players had stellar performances in Afcon qualifiers and also in the actual tournament in Egypt and it came as a surprise when their names were missing in the recently named team by Francis Kimanzi.
To them, it is normal and sportsmanship to pave way for young able blood because they strongly believe in giving youth a sporting chance, that’s is if the system feels like their sporting time is up, but they are against being bundled out simply because they raised their voices against oppression.
Just when we thought we’d finally put up a team that will challenge Africa and maybe the world, we’ve resorted to the same old wrong method of trial and error selection of untested raw players just because the ones who were previously there are owed loads of money in bonuses, and the best way to pay them is to slam the bank door in their faces!
The same is also happening to the women’s national soccer team the Harambee Starlets.
We all know it’s campaign time, we don’t know where the campaign money will come from, am really afraid it shouldn’t be done at the expense of players sweat, I just pray no one will be found with his hand in the cookie jar, but I highly doubt, I see very many hands stuck in it!
I urge our government to step in and help the Wailing Souls of our footballers, both male and female. This culture by our federation officials of refusing to pay national team players should be put to an end once and for all. Some of us hate the game we dearly loved just because we endured endless mistreatment by soccer authorities in Kenya.
Qatar 2022 is not a dream but a reality, only if the office get the selections right and stop the many vendettas including gluttony that has made our National team look like a busy bank door whereby people come in and out, but most disheartening with NOTHING!
Matthews Ottamax is a former Kenyan international soccer player and a former goalkeeping coach for Harambee Stars also worked at Gor Mahia and Afc Leopards