Former Mathare United winger Cliff Nyakeya is settling well in Egypt.
The youngster joined Egyptian top-tier side FC Masr from Mathare United early July and has so far featured in three friendly matches for the team as they prepare for the league kick off.
He says he is happy and comfortable and eagerly awaiting to make his professional debut with the team. All was not rosy for the exciting winger, however, on the onset when he moved to Egypt as he found it tough adapting to the hot weather and the language barrier as well since almost everyone speaks Arabic in Egypt.
“It is never easy when you travel for the first time outside the country. It was very tough for from the first day since they speak Arabic and nothing was working for me in the first few weeks. I really wanted to go back home but I am glad I held on,” Nyakeya revealed.
“After sometime, things changed for the better. We have several players who can speak English and that eased things and the club is also taking good care of me. I am settling in very well and I am happy," he added.
“I have so far played in three friendly matches and I am getting better physically. Most recently, we played against the Sudan Under-23 national team and I scored one goal as we won 3-0. I am happy with the progress and my target is to hit top form before the league kicks off in October.”
The youngster also thanked Gor Mahia Youth and Mathare United for providing the platforms for him to nurture his talent.
“The two teams gave me a good platform to develop as a young player despite the obvious challenges and I am really grateful and wish them well. It is because of the two teams that I am now playing in a professional club and I hope more young players can pass through the two teams and develop into better players,” he said.
Nyakeya has been called up to the national team several times but is yet to debut. He was also in the provisional Chan squad before he moved to Egypt, hence rendering him ineligible.
“I have been called into the national team severally but I’m yet to feature. Of course it is very disappointing and painful, but it encourages me to work harder and wait for my time to come. My target is to do well in Egypt, become a regular in the senior national team and hopefully move to even a better team in the near future.”
Nyakeya is also impressed with the level of professionalism in Egyptian football as compared to Kenya.
“Here things are done professionally and I am loving it. From the way players, coaches and the management conduct themselves, you can tell it is a totally different level. The pitches we train in are world class, everything you need is available at club level and that really means everything to me as a young player,”
“Second division teams here (in Egypt) have youth teams and that is unheard of in Kenya, maybe just Kariobangi Sharks. Even the top team, Gor Mahia, really doesn’t run their youth team, but I saw that they recently promoted several players to the top team and that is a good start. There is a lot to be done in Kenya, from clubs being run professionally, to upgrading facilities and also paying the players what they deserve.”
He also challenged the government to up their game in sports development.
“I think it is high time the government understands that football and sports in general is a big industry because at the moment, I don’t think they understand that. They also lament that the youth need to create opportunities but I don’t see any opportunities, the only solution is to nurture the talent, not only in football but all sports.
There are talented youth in the grassroots but they are languishing in the villages since they can’t get to the top level since they don’t have godfathers and the facilities required for them to train and improve themselves. The only solution to unemployment in Kenya is to support and nurturing the talent of the young people in Kenya.”
Nyakeya’s FC Masr is based in Cairo, Egypt and was founded in 2009.
They play their matches at the Maadi Olympic Center and will be making their debut in the Egyptian Premier League this year after gaining promotion from the second-tier.