Coach Kimanzi lashes out at Cecafa officials

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Friday, December 20th 2019 at 12:38 GMT +3 | Football
Emerging Stars coach Francis Kimanzi during training of the upcoming Africa U23 Cup of Nations Qualifiers at Kasarani Stadium, March 25, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has taken a jibe at the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association officials over what he termed as poor organisation and use of artificial turf at the just concluded Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, Uganda.

Kimanzi was in the dug-out for the third time in the tournament yesterday with a lean squad due to injuries as the deposed regional champions saw off Tanzania in the third place-off encounter at the Lugogo Stadium.

Hosts Uganda won the tournament after beating Eritrea 3-0 in the final also played yesterday.

Gor Mahia captain Kenneth Muguna and Bandari forward Abdallah Hassan scored a goal each in the first half as the deposed regional champions redeemed themselves from a humiliating 4-1 semi-final defeat to Eritrea’s Red Sea Boys.

Tanzania’s goal came in the 85th minute when Gadiel Michael scored from the spot after Johnstone Omurwa handled the ball in the box while trying to clear Hassan Dilunga’s cross.

This was Kenya’s second victory against the Tanzanians after they beat them by a solitary goal in their opening Group B match of the tournament.

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Though the Dutch-trained coach, who had earlier on served a two-match suspension imposed by the tournament organisers for unsporting behavior, was pleased with his team’s show yesterday, he blamed the artificial turf at Lugogo for players’ injuries. The team is expected back in the country today.

“We have to be grateful for finishing third. The only sad part is that I have to go back home with injured players yet I received them when fit," said Kimanzi.

“But then it was so difficult because for one we’ve to complain we had very few players and we couldn’t rotate them. Today we wanted to be very passive because we don’t have that energy and enough depth in terms of substitution. We threw everything against Eritrea.”

The coach said the result of the game was always important, even though the process was more important than the result.

"The bad thing about this is tournament is that it is organised when most of our leagues are on and you put us under a lot of pressure to win. I don’t know if the organisers know the effects of this artificial turf especially when it is hot?”

“You put us in an artificial turf, something that Fifa themselves are planning to ban because it is not good to players. It is really difficult for players to express themselves on such surfaces. Within 30 minutes the energy is out and you need more than 72 hours recovery before you step on this pitch again.

“Five matches on this turf, scientifically, you kill the muscles of these players. Today, I only had three fit substitutes.”

He further took a swipe at the regional body for staging the tournament while their domestic leagues are on as well as limiting the number of participating players (20).

“The other thing is, if you are inviting Cecafa teams that will be featuring in Chan, that tournament will not have 20 players but 23 players. Give us that opportunity so that those who will be in Chan can test all their players,” said Kimanzi.

“The organisation of the tournament is on when the leagues are on. We have to humble ourselves to borrow players from clubs because we have no rights. In addition, we have a small number of players and the coaches back home know their players will come back burned out or with injuries. We need an extended number of players so that we can rotate them.

“Competition is about work and resting, nothing else. That rest is recovery, unfortunately, we don’t get that time to recover.”

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