Friday, September 3, 2010

The mesmerising attraction of a very thankless job

By CHARLES NYENDE

Sometimes you need more than just a thick skin to be a coach. Something beyond what the human spirit can endure. A calling perhaps.

Look at the situation of our current national football coach, Twahir Muhiddin, a simple man said to be deeply religious but with an unbridled passion for the beautiful game.

To start with, his engagement is unclear. Of course Football Kenya Limited officials say he was formally appointed together with his technical bench.

Some officials have shown reluctance to support Muhiddin while many fans have questioned his credentials, charging that he has never won anything with Harambee Stars.

But Muhiddin has kept a dignified coolness over the hullabaloo. The former multiple Kenyan league winner has been in this up-and-down football business for close to two decades.

He was first appointed Stars head coach in 2004 but was kicked out the following year following a poor run in the 2006 Africa cup of Nations qualification.

No matter, Muhiddin was to enthusiastically return to the hot seat last year. His team suffered the indignity of a quarter-final elimination at the Senior Challenge Cup last December here in Kenya.

In May, the Stars were knocked out by Uganda in the African Nations Championship qualifiers as the uncaring public trashed him and the entire team.

Seemingly unruffled, his riposte was to draw 1-1 away to Tanzania and beat Ethiopia 3-1 in Addis Ababa last month.

Still, many have given Muhiddin little chance of success even as he confidently talks about Harambee Stars going for nothing less than a top finish in their pool and a rare appearance at the African finals in 2012.

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The situation appears worse for England’s Italian coach Fabio Capello though. Following a meek performance by England at the recent World Cup, the English Media went for the highly rated Capello.

One newspaper recently depicted him with donkey ears under the headline, “Jackass”. A furious Capello is now considering not attending press conferences. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has built an air of invincibility around him.

Superb Champions League-winning spells with FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan have certainly helped.

He is now trying his Midas touch with Real Madrid. So much expectations, but should he flop his reputation will tumble like dominoes. You bet he is not thinking of that.

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