Football Kenya Federation (FKF) are set to unveil a new Harambee Stars coach today barely 24 hours after parting ways with Francis Kimanzi.
Former national team coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee has been highly linked with the empty Stars dugout.
The former Tusker tactician-cum TV pundit has been out in the cold for almost a decade with his last national team assignment coming way back in 2010 at the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania.
Mulee is best remembered for guiding Stars to the 2004 AFCON finals in Tunisia.
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The changes on Stars’ technical bench comes barely five days after Nick Mwendwa was re-elected as FKF president. This will be Kenya’s third coach in less than two years after Kimanzi replaced Sebastian Migne in August 2019.
Kimanzi succeeded his boss barely two months after the Frenchman guided Stars to the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
But there will be no time to rest for the new coach as he is expected to start preparing for next month’s (November 11/15) two-legged AFCON qualifiers tie against Group G leaders Comoros Islands.
Kimanzi’s dreams of guiding Stars to AFCON 2021 are now shattered. FKF through a statement revealed Kimanzi, assistant coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno and goalkeeper trainer Lawrence Webo had been relieved of their duties, a divorce they said was “mutual”.
This comes barely two weeks after Stars saw off Zambia’s Chipolopolo 2-1 in an international friendly match at Nyayo Stadium. It is not the type of news Kenyans were expecting ahead of next month’s two-legged 2021 AFCON qualifiers tie against Group G leaders Comoros Island.
This is the third time Kimanzi is leaving the reins of power at Stars, this time, quite in unclear and confusing circumstances. Kimanzi, who succeeded his former boss Sebastian Migne in August last year, was in charge of the National team in 2008 and 2011 years.
Having secured a famous away draw against Egypt before holding Togo at Kasarani Stadium last year, Kimanzi was continuing with his rebuilding process as he aimed returning to continental finals before receiving the Mashujaa Day shocker.
This was Kimanzi’s longest stint as Stars head coach, a grueling 14-month period that has seen Kenya rise to position 106 in the latest Fifa rankings. The first time in 2008, he led the team to the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup final, losing narrowly to Uganda. During this time, Stars got their best-ever position in the Fifa rankings – 68th. He was fired the following year after disputes between administrators and his coaching staff.
Kimanzi was appointed as Stars head coach again in November 2011, a return that did not last long. Following Kenya’s elimination from the 2013 AFCON Qualifier by Togo and dismal performances in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, he had to be replaced.
Following Migne’s dismissal in August last year, due to disappointing displays in the 2019 AFCON and the African Nations Championship (CHAN) Qualifiers, FKF once again called on Kimanzi. After identical 1-1 draws against Togo and Egypt in the AFCON 2022 qualifiers, a decent run in the CECAFA Cup followed by a win against Zambia, Kimanzi’s time, again, is over.
What’s next for Harambee Stars?
The National football team, however, will have no time to ponder Kimanzi’s sudden departure. They welcome Comoros in three weeks. Four days later they play ‘Les Coelacantes’ again, hoping to get the job at least half done before their Group G closing match away to Togo in March next year.
Just like any other Kenyan, former Harambee Stars coach Twahir Muhiddin could not hide his shock following news of Kimanzi’s dismissal, saying he had full confidence in the ex-Mathare man following the 2-1 victory against Zambia. Muhiddin argued Kimanzi showed his capabilities by beating former AFCON champions Zambia with a team devoid of seasoned professionals.
“It is very shocking. After the result against Zambia, Kimanzi showed his level by beating a top team, considering his Harambee Stars side did not have seasoned professionals. I cannot understand why they have let him go,” said Muhiddin.