What is ailing Kenyan junior football? - Daily Nation

What is ailing Kenyan junior football?

Friday August 24 2018

Kenya's Nicholas Ochieng (right) dribbles past a Djibouti player during their Cecafa U17 match in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 9, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY |

Kenya's Nicholas Ochieng (right) dribbles past a Djibouti player during their Cecafa U17 match in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 9, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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For the second time in four months, the national Under-17 football team has shown it is not among the best in East Africa.

This follows Wednesday’s elimination from the nine-nation Cecafa region qualifiers for the 2019 Under-17 Africa Nations Championships in Dar es Salaam.

The team’s coach Mike Amenga, who doubles up as a technical director at Football Kenya Federation (FKF), has, however, vowed the side will eventually deliver and perform its role as a feeder to the senior national team.

He also blamed the early exit from the Dar tournament on the loss of three dependable players who were disqualified from competing at this youth competition after failing a medical examination by the Confederation of African Football.

“I was left with a squad of 15 players to choose from for the whole tournament. It is not easy for 16-year-olds to play a 90-minute game after every three days and perform at the same level,” moaned Amenga.

In the competition, the "Rising Stars" won two matches, by four unanswered goals against South Sudan in their opening game, followed by another 9-0 drubbing over lowly Djibouti.

The Kenyans then went on to lose twice, 3-1 to Uganda and 4-2 to Ethiopia. The results ensued they were eliminated at the first hurdle. This exit also means Kenya has missed out on an opportunity to play at next year Under-17 Africa Nations Championships in Tanzania for the first time ever.

Against Ethiopia on Wednesday, Amenga’s charges were underdone by a hat-trick from captain Beyene Baisse coming after Alphone Iminja’s opener.

The defeat to Uganda was also difficult to take in, coming twice in a row after another 1-0 loss to the same side at the Cecafa Junior Championships in Bujumbura in March.

But it is not all gloom for team Kenya with keeper, Bixente Lizarazu, named after the former French international, and teammates Matthew Mwendwa, Keith Imbali, Emmanuel Bolo and of course Iminja impressing during the tournament.

"The Kenyans have some quality lads but they need to calm down and try regulate their conditioning and tempo of the game," Uganda coach Patrick Onen commented.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s inability to conquer the region on the football pitch should come as a wake-up call to Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa.

Last month, the national women team also performed dismally at the Cecafa Championships in Rwanda finishing second from bottom at the five team tournament.

Meanwhile Ethiopia will play Rwanda while Uganda line up against hosts Tanzania in the semis of the Under-17 championship. The top two teams will qualify to feature at the continental championships.