John “Bobby Ogolla” - the Harambee Stars’ newly appointed stand-in coach - on Sunday said the news of his appointment came to him as a surprise.
The former Kenyan international, nicknamed “The Six Million Dollar Man” in his playing days, coached Premier League club World Hope last season before joining newly promoted Sofapaka this season.
The 50-year-old former Harambee Stars and Gor Mahia defender said that he has accepted the offer to take charge of a makeshift squad due to play the Egyptian “Pharaohs” in an international friendly in Cairo next weekend where he will be deputised by Sony Sugar coach Francis Baraza.
“I was approached by Football Kenya Limited on Saturday night but I declined to take the appointment until an explanation on why they were sidelining Francis Kimanzi was clearly put to Kenyans and after the facts were made public, I accepted the job because it is wrong to leave a vacuum in the national team just because of differences between federation officials and the coaching staff,” he said.
“I know it will be an uphill task especially for this match against Egypt due to the short time available for preparation but I’m appealing to clubs to release the players selected.”
“It is also wrong to play politics with the national team and it’s a duty for any patriotic Kenyan to assist the team by offering his football experience.”
This will be Ogolla’s fourth stint with the national team after serving under the late Gerry Saurer as an assistant coach for the Stars in 1990 and also as an assistant to Mohammed Kheri in I994.
He also deputised for the later German Reinhardt Fabisch in 1997 and 2001/02
The new coach said that the former technical bench had set high standards in the national team and he hopes to continue in the same spirit.
But in Kericho, fans and officials opposed the move by FKL to sack Kimanzi.
FKL’s South Rift branch chairman Abdullahi Kiptonui, his secretary Ezekiel Chumo, Kericho sub-branch officials Elijah Kipsalat Ruto and Fred Osubo, coaches Abdul Ali, Ibrahim Muganda and Samuel Khamadi all said that the move was in bad taste now that the coach had understood the players.
They said that the coach has brought up a good team even without being given any assistance by the FKL.
They said FKL had no interest in Harambee Stars proceeding to the World Cup finals.
“What FKL should be doing is to boost the technical bench headed by Kimanzi to overcome the uphill task in their campaign for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup finals instead of placing bottlenecks which will not help football in the country,” coach Ali said.
Speaking separately in Kericho town, the officials said that FKL has a sinister motive in the country and are not in office to promote the game in the country but to finish it.
They said that Harambee Stars had better chance of qualifying if all stakeholders joined hands by supporting the team.
The officials said that the time left ahead of the qualifying matches was too short and that what was need was to give full support to the national team so that they could perform and qualify for the World Cup and Africa Nations Cup.