Why I made a comeback
Gilbert Wandera spoke to Musa Otieno in Cape Town South Africa this week.
QUESTION: Your comeback to the national team was a bit of a surprise to many. What made you change your mind?
ANSWER: When the new coach (Antoine Hey) took over he personally called me in South Africa. I felt honoured by the gesture because it showed there was someone who really cared about me and what I have done for the team. I felt I still have something to offer this country and that is why I accepted to comeback.
QUESTION: But you had retired and left the scene for younger players?
ANSWER: That is not true. I have always desired to continue playing for the team even during the last qualifiers I was available. The truth is I was unexpectedly dropped and without any explanation after we lost 2-1 to Eritrea two years ago in Nairobi. After that no one called me though I was still willing to represent my country. Rather than complain, I preferred to remain silent. I did not like the treatment considering what I have done for the country.
QUESTION: Did the prospect of playing in the World Cup play any role in your comeback?
ANSWER: Certainly. It is my dream to be in next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The highest honour I have ever had was featuring in the Africa Cup of Nations finals five years ago in Tunisia. It would be great to finish my career with a World Cup appearance with my country’s colours.
QUESTION: We have had a good defence since you went into retirement. Do you think you have a chance of getting a first choice position?
ANSWER: Its up to the coach to pick the best players to start in any position but I believe in myself and will work hard to be chosen. I am currently in top with my club having scored four goals so far and doing well also in defence. Also, this is a marathon and there are many more matches to come up so I don’t have to play against Tunisia.
QUESTION: What do you say to those who believe you have nothing to offer the team?
ANSWER: I am not really bothered so much what people think. My concern is to fight for my country. I have a job to do and I am determined to do it no matter what people think. It’s all about patriotism. The country is going to war and they need me so I avail myself.
QUESTION: What effect do you think the recent changes in the technical bench will have on the team’s performance?
ANSWER: This is not just a Kenyan problem but an African challenge. One disadvantage is that it means a fresh start. The football managers should give the current coach four to five years in charge and see what he can achieve within that period.
QUESTION: Realistically, what are our chances of playing in next year’s World Cup?
ANSWER: We have a chance just like all the other teams in our group. There are no longer minnows in African football. Look at Angola. Who would have thought they could qualify for the World Cup in 2006? But through good preparations they did. We need the same thing for Kenya. We must prepare well and be united and every Kenyan to rally behind the team.
QUESTION: Your current contract at Santos runs out early next year. Are you going to renew it?
ANSWER: I don’t have any plans yet after my contract lapses with Santos but I am seriously considering hanging up my boots. I am not getting any younger and its time for me to do something else.
QUESTION: Any hope of coaching the national team in the near future?
ANSWER: That will come with time but my passion is to work with the youth through my foundation (Musa Otieno Foundation). This is my focus now. It’s my way of giving back to the community.
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