Today we must spare a thought for Philemon Otieno. He is one hell of a player who has scaled the heights slowly and surely.
His career, just like that of many Kenyan players, is shrouded in mystery. Just where did he come from? Where did he hone his footballing talent? Who cares?
Nobody really seems to care about footballers at all in this country. Those tasked with this duty are wavering and to say the least we can even use four letter words to describe their filthy actions. Why bother with football management if you do not care about footballers? What are you managing? You do not know where footballers are made and thus you start thinking there is a glut of these people — perhaps they are fools to you.
Otieno got into our hearts while he plied his trade with Kenya Revenue Authority team known as Ushuru. He was one hell of a midfielder. He warmed our hearts at the touchline and we all fell for him. He then got to play for Gor Mahia and was instrumental in winning the league.
For a club that enjoys giving nicknames to all their players, we must confess that he is still a baffle. No name has yet been pinned on him.
This move to Gor gave him a broader view and he was seen by the powers that be. He got a position in the national team Harambee Stars and we all saw his abilities during the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. He had a sterling performance despite the petty critics feeling he gave away a needless penalty to Senegal that led to Kenya’s heavy defeat.
That is infancy in thought! He did his part with all the energy required from him and for that, we thank him.
Well, a few weeks ago he had the “misfortune” to feature for the Stars in the Chan qualifier against Tanzania. He got injured and needs knee surgery or else his career will come to an end.
To play for Harambee Stars these days is a curse that many may not comprehend. It is a curse that cannot be stemmed. There is apparently no insurance for the players and as soon as they are injured, they should go back to their mothers and fathers to be treated. This reminds us of those whose necks broke while serving this sorry country — Japheth Waweru comes to mind.
The big problem for Otieno is that both Gor Mahia and the Football Kenya Federation are not ready to treat him. The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) through one Barry Otieno put the nail in the coffin thus: “We don’t have money to help Philemon to undergo a knee operation. You know very well KRA just reopened our bank accounts the other day and it is now we want to make the accounts full (sic) operational and get our activities going.”
K’Ogalo on the other hand have also taken a back seat and expect FKF to foot the bill.
So for the time being Otieno must just fade away. A sad state of affairs for elite sports in Kenya.