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French Coach Appointed to Change Kenyan Football Fortunes

On 29 August, 2012, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Chairman Sam Nyamweya announced that former French footballer and coach Henri Michel has been appointed national team coach. After a string of bad results from the national team and missing out on two consecutive Africa Cup of Nations, as well as failing to reach the finals of regional football tournaments, FKF officials are feeling the pressure to find a way to get results.

Bloggers in Kenya had their own views about Henri Michel's appointment. Chenga Funga states this in his post ‘The Rule of Knowns‘:

A 3 way dilemma. That’s what has led FKF to Henri. Michel Simply put, would you rather the known-known, known unknown or unknown unknowns? After witnessing the Harambee stars struggle to strike lustre in the beautiful game, stakeholders have been touting names foreign to the Kenyan tongue for the national team’s top job. The dilemma therein. Others have been tried and tested in the recent past, and not many have impressed: Francis Kimanzi, “Ghost” Mulee, Antoine Hey and Zico, didn’t quite cut it. So Sam Nyamweya and Football Kenya Federation opted to chance with the known-unknowns, Raymond Domenech (yes, him), Claude Leroy, Oto Pfister, Adel Amrouche and Frenchman Michel from a more extensive shortlist. Many boast noteworthy success under their managerial careers and therefore felt equal to the task. Put in mind our football team is a wild card. Has been for a while now. In a minute way, VERY MINUTE, our position is similar to England’s, currently bossed by Roy Hodgson. Bags of potential, no actual results. Admittedly, we should be thankful for the national coaches we have had, but life goes on, and it has, with Frenchman Henri Michel. Our known unknown.

MutuaMaundu‘s blog also played down the expectations put on Monsieur Michel:

The whole country has almost gone hysterical about it. To many, Henri Michel is the much-needed messiah to the Kenyan soccer that has literally seen the worst. The French-man may have unrivalled feathers to his cap, but as a nation that has suffered heartbreaks and anguish due to an under-performing national team, let us tone down our expectations. It will be prudent not to expect too much.

Frenchman Henri Michel, a reputed tactician has enjoyed great success at the game’s pinnacle. As a player and coach, he led the Les Bleus, France’s national team, to third place in Mexico 1986 and became a household name in Morocco, after guiding the Atlas Lions to France 1998 World Cup. He went on to steer the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia to the 2002 World Cup in Japan/ Korea and was Ivory Coast’s coach during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
However, bearing in mind that football administration has been deplorable, laden with corruption and all manner of ills, it will be wise not to expect too much from the new Stars tactician. There are no proper structures to develop and nature talent in readiness for national duty.
The Kenyan premier league had to form its own independent body in 2003, Kenya Premier League, KPL. This was after the then Kenya Football Federation, KFF almost threw the game to the dogs. Despite the newly elected Football Kenya Federation, FKF, there is no respite in sight for Kenyan soccer. Power games have almost washed away the hope that that had engulfed the Kenyan football fraternity. Only the Late Reinhardt Fabisch had a successful tenure at the helm of the national team, besides renowned German Bernard Zgoll in the 80s. Apart from the two, foreigners Bernard Lama of France and German Antoine Hey had short, trouble-laden tenures. They consequently left acrimoniously. These were all precipitated by unfulfilled promises by the football administrators.
These incidents should have taught us not to over- blow with optimism with regard to Michel’s appointment. We should trend carefully and give the Frenchman the necessary support to produce the desired results. But we ought to ask ourselves if there are any long-term measures to get Kenyan soccer on track. Henri Michel’s appointment and success if any will only be short-term, the long walk awaits us. Good people and football- loving Kenyans, great expectations may make us frustrated and bitter if the football does not change for the better under Monsieur Le Bon!
AllTimesNews had earlier predicted Henri Michel's appointment and also posted his successes and previous postings:
In Summary
  • Ex-France tactician, to be unveiled on Tuesday, seen as Kenya’s vehicle to football success
  • 64-year-old Michel beat other top international coaches, among them Adel Amrouche, Tom Saintfiet and Raymond Domenech, to the job
  • The Frenchman knows the rugged terrain of African football, having been in the continent for two decades since he first coached Cameroon in 1994
Former France coach Henri Michel will next week be named coach of the national football team, Harambee Stars. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairman Sam Nyamweya confirmed to theNation on Tuesday that Michel has accepted to take over the reins at the national team and will be unveiled by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Michel, who was in the country last month for negotiations, beat more than 60 foreign coaches who had applied for the position which became vacant after Francis Kimanzi was redeployed to become the technical director at FKF.
This appointment will prompt various views and Michel's job is full on from the word go. The dismal performance that Kenya's national football team, Harambee Stars, has shown over the past four years is something the country's football fans hope to put behind them.With 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and 2014 World Cup pre-qualifiers coming up soon, Kenyan football authorities wait to see see what difference Henri Michel may make.

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