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Francis Kimanzi: Harambee Stars' old friend returns

Thursday August 15 2019

Kenya Under-23 coach Francis Kimanzi follows proceedings during their 019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations cum 2020 Olympic qualifier match against Sudan on March 26, 2019 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya Under-23 coach Francis Kimanzi follows proceedings during their 019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations cum 2020 Olympic qualifier match against Sudan on March 26, 2019 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID KWALIMWA
By DAVID KWALIMWA
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Former Harambee Stars forward Boniface Ambani has backed the impending appointment of Francis Kimanzi and Zedekiah 'Zico' Otieno as coaches of the men's national football team.

It could prove to be third time lucky for Kimanzi whom Nation Sport has established will be unveiled as Harambee Stars coach anytime from now.

Kimanzi has been drafted to replace Frenchman Sebastien Migne whom he deputized for six months but was sacked on Monday.

Belgian Adel Amrouche, former Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr and former Ghana's Black Stars coach Maxwell Konadu are the other coaches who were considered for this job.

The ex-Mathare United coach refused to comment on this development when Nation Sport contacted him on Wednesday but then, multiple sources at Football Kenya Federation's Kasarani based secretariat confirmed he has accepted this role for the third time in the decade.

His appointment has reportedly been ratified by the decision and policymakers at the Kencom House-based Ministry of Sports.

In a nutshell, Kimanzi is considered an old hand, experienced coach, and low-risk appointment coming at a time when FKF is licking its wounds in the wake of the fallout and below-par returns by former coach Migne.

His demands should not be a problem for both FKF and the government will in fact help in balancing the books considering Migne's severance package - believed to be worth tens of millions of shillings - has to be paid.

Former Harambee Stars coach Zedekiah 'Zico' Otieno, currently in charge of top-flight side KCB FC, has been lined up to deputise Kimanzi.

"I think these two (coaches) are the best available local coaches at the moment and I see no reason why they will not deliver," said Ambani who donned national team colours between 2006 and 2009.

"We have seen local coaches perform in Algeria and Senegal. Kimanzi and Zico will require all the support. In Kenya, administrators tend to support foreign coaches more. I will also urge them to be fair in team selection."

This will be the third time Kimanzi - a Uefa 'A' licence holder - is handling Harambee Stars.

He led the national team to the final of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in 2008 where Kenya narrowly lost to hosts Uganda in Kampala.

That same year, he won the Kenyan Premier League title while in charge of Mathare United.

He also enjoyed a decent run in the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualification matches, leading Kenya to position 68 on the Fifa rankings.

This is Kenya's best position at the global tally to date. His second stint at the hot seat in 2011/12 wasn't as successful and he was sacked after a few months at the helm after Kenya were bundled out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers by Togo and started poorly in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

A 'professor' of attacking football, Kimanzi is also credited with nurturing the likes of striker Jesse Were, Eric Johanna, Cliff Nyakeya and David 'Messi' Owino.

His immediate task is to steer Kenya in a tough-looking 2021 Afcon qualifiers which also consists of Togo, Egypt, and Comoros, plus 2022 World Cup qualifiers and of course, the 2019 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala.

It remains to be seen whether he will maintain the same team that Migne worked with, or make some radical changes.

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