Okumbi back with a bang as mediocrity ruin sports in Kenya

By Clay Muganda: Sunday, March 11th 2018 at 00:32 GMT +3 | Football
Former Harambee Stars coach Paul Put (L) and current one (R), Stanley Okumbi. [Photo: Courtesy]

Stanley Okumbi is back at the helm of Harambee Stars, the national team whose prospects keep getting dimmer.

When Paul Put left after a short three months, it was automatic that Okumbi, the King of Draws will be in-charge.

The only thing Kenyans did not know is that such a soft-spoken tactician, the man some people think is colourless and uninspiring, would announce his comeback so loudly.

And on Friday, his presence was felt — his voice reverberated through lakes, rivers and seas, from Nairobi all the way to Spain, to a town called Oviedo where the local football club, Real Oviedo plies its trade in the second tier Segunda B or LaLiga 123 which is the younger cousin to Primera División or LaLiga Santander.

In Oviedo, Okumbi decided to call McDonald Mariga to national duty; to join his team of players who will help Harambee Stars get its act together and, as Kenyans are wont to say, make the country proud.

His act was noticed, just as it was supposed to be, and people have been asking why the King of Draws picked on a young 30-year-old “former” player yet there is a gaggle of youngins who not only need more exposure but also need to be nurtured so that Kenya’s prospects can improve.

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Unlike other football lovers who have reacted to Okumbi’s latest decision, I don’t want to have no opinion, but people can only guess that his decision was informed by the fact that he (Okumbi) needs an experienced hand, okay feet, to give his gaggle of youngins an extra push and not only guide them, but show them on how things are done at the national level.

Of course Mariga has lots of experience considering that between August 26 last year and February 17 this year, Oviedo’s manager, Juan Antonio Anquela has fielded him in nine games, playing a full ninety minutes in four of them.

In total, he has played for 463 minutes, and in the last three matches in which he got a combined 12 minutes of play time, Oviedo won one and drew two. As of Friday, Mariga’s club was placed seventh on the log of the 22-team Segunda B.

Should they finish at that position, they will have no chance of being promoted to Primera División or LaLiga Santander and if the ever-young 30-year-old Mariga stays with them, he will continue gaining footballing experience in Segunda B — and Okumbi will still find him young enough for a national side that needs to be nurtured so that they can improve Kenya’s prospects.

Of course people will question Okumbi’s rationale but it would be unfair to castigate him because in Kenyan footballing, or generally sporting circles, peculiarity, nay, mediocrity is the norm.

If mediocrity was shunned upon, then management of football clubs would always strive to do things the right way, and not always get their clothing items in a twist when the situation demands of them to treat their assets, their resources — the players — well.

Many a time, one hopes that they would see how disastrous their actions are, and that they would change their ways, but they are only not ready to change their wicked, wicked ways but are also incorrigible.

And so it came to pass, that last week, Gor Mahia FC players spent several hours between Nairobi and Machakos where they were playing Esperance of Tunisia because the players did not want to leave before they were paid their allowances.

You would have thought that this was a big match for the club and management would do everything right so the players would be in the right state of mind, but no, mediocrity is the name of the game. At all levels. From clubs to the national team whose coach does not want to let go of the past and embrace the future.