German Antoine Hey has been named as the new coach for Kenya's Harambee Stars after a search lasting one month.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced his appointment on Wednesday where he was flanked by a Minister of State in the German government, Gernot Erler, Football Kenya Limited chairman, Mohammed Hatimy and senior vice-chairman, Titus Kasuve.
“We have been having lengthy discussions with the Minister of State from Germany and he has been very instrumental in helping us settle for this coach,” said Odinga.
“He is a footballer by profession, having played for several teams in Germany as well as coaching several others, among them Liberia and Lesotho (national teams) and we hope that his expertise will help us achieve our desire to be at the 2010 World Cup,” added the Premier.
Raila had on several occasions stated that he was working with friends to get a foreign coach to handle the Harambee Stars, his latest promise being to bring in a tactician from Germany.
The 39-year-old Hey secured the job defeating six other applicants in a closely contested interview reportedly held in Germany.
The coach’s immediate mandate will be to guide Kenya to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola in 2010 as well as aim at making a World Cup debut in South Africa. Hey was recently in charge of the Liberian national side and is expected to start his assignment by the end of February after being with the “Lone Stars” for close to a year.
In his maiden speech, Hey said that it was a big honour for him to be appointed as the coach and was optimistic that the Kenya national team would produce positive results in the forthcoming qualifiers.
“Football is as important as other issues in any country and that is the reason these big people (Prime Minister and the Minister of State) are here. I know we will do all possible to have good results,” said the 39-year-old coach.
Hatimy said Hey will show them the way forward for the national team once he returns to Kenya. He leaves for Germany on Monday.
“The coach will present us with a comprehensive plan for the national team. And we will want to immediately start work as time is running out,” said the chairman. Hey will be deputised by a German coach, yet to be named.
Concerns over money
Hey began his management career in Germany with VfR Neumünster before moving to Africa to manage Lesotho. He was also manager of Gambia from September 2006 until March 2007 but his spell was marred by concerns over money.
As the new coach prepares to take on the hot seat, much will be expected of the local football administrators, going by their past treatment of coaches. Since the abrupt departure of Frenchman Bernard Lama in September 2006, the KFF has not professionally contracted a national coach, with the latest case being Kimanzi’s abrupt dismissal.
Previous coaches including Nigerian Christian Chukwu and the late Reinhardt Fabisch of Germany, who were fully contracted by KFF to handle Harambee Stars during their tenure, also left without being paid all their dues.
Previous teams managed by Hey: 2003–2004 (VfR Neumünster), 2004–2006 (Lesotho), 2006–2007 (Gambia), 2007-2008 (US Monastir), 2008–2009 (Liberia).