Kuwait 5 Kenya 0
You can rub your eyes again and again, but the above scoreline stands. And though this was just a friendly clash, the alarms bells are now ringing at Football Kenya Limited headquarters regarding Harambee Stars’ recent performances.
FKL has ordered Stars head coach, Antoine Hey, to immediately reinstate Kenya ace striker Dennis Oliech to the national team for their forthcoming 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria on November 14.
The football company has also ordered the recall of Mathare United defender Edgar ‘Fighter’ Ochieng and midfielders Emmanual Ake of Danish side Herfolge and unattached Jamal Mohammed.
“This is national duty and all these players must be on the team. The public also wants them on the team. The coach (Hey) has been informed accordingly. The players must be called to the team,” FKL acting secretary Mohammed Thabit said on Wednesday, adding the decision was reached last week following consultation within the FKL executive, and Hey must implement them or resign.
Oliech was dropped from the team in September after a string of poor performances with the national team while Ochieng lost favour with Hey in March this year after opting for his club Mathare United in a row with the national team over his availability.
There has been growing public demand for the re-inclusion of Oliech, who is the Kenya’s top scorer in the qualifiers with five goals, and Ochieng, considered the best central defender based in the country at the moment. Hey has, however, adamantly refused to recall any of the players even with the glaring shortcomings of Harambee Stars without them.
“We are not supposed to interfere with the technical bench but if the worst comes to the worst we have to step in. This is a big match and we need all our internationals in it,” said FKL second vice chairman, Erustus Okul.
Jamal Mohammed has not featured in the qualifiers since September last year when he shone and scored in Kenya’s 1-0 victory against Namibia in Nairobi. Ake’s re-inclusion is surprising. He last played for Kenya in the 2004 African finals in Tunisia.
Little has been said of his professional career largely plied in Denmark. He was called up to the national team, rather fortuitously, in December 2003 when the then coach Jacob Mulee saw him in a practice match between a coast combined side and Harambee Stars.
Harambee Stars re-assemble on Sunday for their do-or-die final qualifier. A Stars outfit, made up of mainly home-based players, returned to the country yesterday from Cairo where they were crushed 5-0 by Kuwait in a build-up match on Tuesday. The Arabs led 1-0 at half time.
“We like our players to get exposure and build confidence. Every game is a learning process for the players,” Harambee Stars assistant coach Twahir Muhiddin said.
Okul who accompanied the team to Cairo said people should not read a lot into the dismal results.
“This was a practice match where the coach was just trying out different players. It was not a full international. We even played in an open field and there were no charges for spectators to watch the match,” Okul said.