Rough tackle: Mzungu coaches should flee from Kenyan clubs

By Bethuel Oduo: Friday, October 12th 2018 at 10:04 GMT +3 | Football
Former Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards coaches Frank Nutall and Rodolfo Zapata [Courtesy]

After the recent sacking of Argentine Adolfo Zapata, the Kenyan football grapevine has it that Ingwe (AFC Leopards) is hunting for coach Frank Nuttal.

I was confused when I heard this. I did not know whether to cry or laugh. I wondered why Ingwe are fond of inheriting K’Ogalo (Gor Mahia) coaches only for them to copy paste official frustrations.

The swapping of coaches just doesn’t work for any coach who defects to either of the bitter rivals. Indeed, any coach who has handled a club here should know there is no big difference in their management style. Kenyan club problems remain the same because they are run by ‘mob justice cartels.’

For starters, recruitment of coaches is normally the work of a few people, if not the club chairman or secretary through some shadowy broker. There is no recruitment panel or consultant involved in shortlisting, vetting and selection. The reason is that quite often, the clubs work at the wishes of the chair, a perceived Mr Money Bags.

They recruit a coach before begging for money to pay the guy, mostly a foreigner. No wonder within a short time, Mr Coaches has no salary. Of course, he is a victim of poor planning or failure to align strategy with the budget, assuming one exists.

Sebastian Migne, the Frenchman now coaching the national team, Harambee Stars, is a vivid example of such a coach. When he was recruited, we all assumed he was part of an elaborate plan as Football Kenya Federation (FKF) shouted itself hoarse how Migne was tasked to take Harambee Stars to ‘Canaan’.

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Rodolfo Zapata was the latest AFC Leopards coach to be sacked [Courtesy]

His job description included; taking Kenya to the next AFCON and World Cup, developing youth soccer, giving technical advice to our women soccer team and conducting coaching clinics. It looks good on paper until the tactician is ambushed by a now unpredictable and elusive CECAFA tournament whose venue keeps on shifting as we cross our fingers hoping President Paul Kagame of Rwanda will save us once more.

A foreign coach soon realises how poor we are at planning. He discovers that where he comes from, club fixtures are often cast in stone. Take the English Premier League (EPL) for example where Frank Nuttal, Bobby Williamson or Dylan Kerr come from. Fixtures are never interfered with unless it is unavoidable.

When these trainers come to Kenya, they encounter peculiar situations where, for example, Gor Mahia is scheduled to play four matches in 10 days, which is how it has always been for 50 years.  

Interestingly these coaches hop from one club to another without regard to the weaknesses our local clubs have. The great Dane, Jack Johnson served both AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia. He was surprised to encounter the same unreliable and dishonest officials in both clubs. He left the country unceremoniously for his native Denmark where he eventually died.

German Reinhard Fabisch had two stints with Harambee Stars, each time assuming our soccer officials had changed. He was wrong. Croatian Zdravko Logarusic disagreed with K’Ogalo officials and thought Ingwe would embrace him with kisses and hugs. He was dead wrong. He quit the den after realising wembe ni ule ule. As they say, the forest had changed but the monkeys were still the same. Kenyan soccer fans have even lost track of his whereabouts.

Former Gor Mahia coach Frank Nutall is also a victim of the sack [Courtesy]

If and when Frank Nuttal joins Ingwe, he will be shell-shocked that the den has seen more than four mzungu coaches while he was away.

With the Internet at their disposal, one wonders why a normal-headed and licensed coach would pack his bags and leave his job in say, South Africa, for a chance to suffer at the hands of Kenyan club officials whose escapades are all over the Internet.

Is it that they want to feather their CVs or are simply running away from European winter? After some of these coaches part ways with their clubs, they continue staying around sometimes downgrading from Kilimani to Nairobi West then Buruburu which is ironically near the airport.

If I were them, I would do my homework thoroughly before joining any Kenyan outfit. I would visit all search engines looking for individual names and see what the media said about them.

Although what I am saying sounds too obvious, I think these guys get so excited about leaving their cold winters that they only care about that work permit that gives them temporary relief and an opportunity to say ‘I have been to Kenya, climbed Mt Kenya, been to the Masai Mara in Safari Boots’.

Otherwise what else lures these coaches to work with clubs that do not pay salaries? If it is not witchcraft, tell me another!

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