Archive for August, 2012

THE RULE OF KNOWNS

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A 3 way dilemma. That’s what has led FKF to Henri. Michel Simply put, would you rather the known-known, known unknown or unknown unknowns? After witnessing the Harambee stars struggle to strike lustre in the beautiful game, stakeholders have been touting names foreign to the Kenyan tongue for the national team’s top job. The dilemma therein. Others have been tried and tested in the recent past, and not many have impressed: Francis Kimanzi, “Ghost” Mulee, Antoine Hey and Zico, didn’t quite cut it. So Sam Nyamweya and Football Kenya Federation opted to chance with the known-unknowns, Raymond Domenech (yes, him), Claude Leroy, Oto Pfister, Adel Amrouche and Frenchman Michel from a more extensive shortlist. Many boast noteworthy success under their managerial careers and therefore felt equal to the task. Put in mind our football team is a wild card. Has been for a while now. In a minute way, VERY MINUTE, our position is similar to England’s, currently bossed by Roy Hodgson. Bags of potential, no actual results. Admittedly, we should be thankful for the national coaches we have had, but life goes on, and it has, with Frenchman Henri Michel. Our known unknown.

 You wonder how most of us have our noses in English football, and yet know kaput of our own. Tidbits of Gor-Mahia- Ingwe knowledge don’t apply. Not by a long shot and Chengafunga isn’t any different. Guilty as charged! So, possibly, we all need something new. Different.  A learning process.  A known unknown. The prospect of a new tactician within our ranks is refreshing. Someone with a different experience but open to new challenges, a Kenyan challenge. ” What’s in store for us?” you might think. Give it time. It’s worth a try but whether it is wise to let go of local instructors for foreign, remains our unknown-unknown. So we wait with bated breath on what our new man has in store. But hold! Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman. And what with the new constitution on matters gender? Hmmm… imagine the feel, a female manager as boss?

 In happier days, not long ago, Reinhard Fabisch (rest his soul) was alright. Antoine Hey ??… Hey, I don’t know, but in faith with keeping up to the learning process, did you know, Kenya has appeared in five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and has never secured a second round berth? The team entered its first FIFA World Cup qualificationin 1974 and as of 2012, has never qualified to the final tournament. Even then, the bad comes with the good. Ying and yang. The team has been 5 Times, Cecafa  Champion (1975, 1981, 1982, 1983, 2002) and 4 times Runners-up. Point in hand, these historical football treasures of ours can be realized with planned change.

 Correcting our fatal mistakes and rediscovering paths to these previous successes are doubtlessly, ways to upgrade our football. The new tactician, Michel, should be a man who knows some things can change, others can’t. Like getting old and dying. Mind you, integrating change is no mean feat. Therefore 64 year old Michel should be allowed his choice for a backroom staff, but integrated with a couple of local, old school tacticians. Michel has the African experience managing Cameroon (‘94), Morocco (’95-2000, 2007), Tunisia (2001-02) and Cote D’Ivoire (04-06). With blue, dreamy eyes and a pinch of naivety, most would go for the more familiar Domenech…Well only imagine what hefty pay the former Les Bleus boss would command and take back to France? The kind of money you’d by a fishing boat with in your 60’s. Not many Kenyans do that in their 60’s. Perhaps the young, technical Belgian Tom Saintfiet (39) is a better pick vis a vis the experienced Oto Pfister (74)? Or the man with big African names under his belt-Leroy? All in the unknown-unknowns basket, so leave it.

 Transition is key; stakeholders need a moment to let it all sink in before any rabbits start hopping out of the hat. Maybe Michel needs either Kimanzi, Ghost and Zico as a consultant and whether that should be financially worked, is of concern. No, not concern, but advisable if brought in the fold. In similar fashion to athletics, proper preparation is required, and since football is more technical than running or sprinting, even more is necessary. Successful football nations invest heavily in intensive coaching for their young players, relying on football associations to effectively coordinate the training of several thousand coaches. So in retrospect, this job isn’t necessarily a one man show. The contribution of local premier clubs, trainers and school competitions should direct more wind to the smooth sailing of our football ship.

Football needs to be run like an organization, and we can look no further than Ghana for governance lessons. It is no coincidence that Africa’s best performing team at the last World Cup was Ghana, a country which has some of the highest scores in Africa on world governance indicators. In organizations’ management, firms are at fault for complete changes and overhaul of their internal systems e.g. marketing strategies, machinery and equipment, all the while expecting improved, better output. However, they forget that transforming their current employees’ mindset, skills and cultures to suit those new changes is most important. Michel should be willing to learn as well as teach and realize that there are already decent players here: Celtic’s Wanyama, Oliech, Mariga, Mugalia, Blackberry, Oboya, Asike and others in the local premier league.

Change is welcome, but like it’s often asked, would you rather the devil you know or the devil you don’t? Answer-you never know but start with the rule of knowns.  

 

 

WAR IS COMING!

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Having heard it all, from newly dropped albums ( liquor involved), getting a job, growing an afro to marrying a florist or a wedding planner, we decided to let you in on casual talk that Chengafunga and his gang of scallywags ( Kim, Frank-Einstein, Ali, Ras and Shaddie)  had to say on the premier league’s first game week. The setting, chill spot, Play Station on-FIFA 2012. Ali takes on Kim. It’s Arsenal vs. Chelsea. Meanwhile, the other goons are fooling around.

“Check out this Miguna video”  Shaddie tells Frank, as he passes him the laptop.

“Come baby, come!” Kim directs it at Ali, after scoring in the first five minutes already!

“Fala (fool)… shut up! Ntakusot..(I’ll still beat you)” Ali quips.

Ras, the Chelsea fan finally gets going.  “Eden Hazardous!”

“Oh he’s baaad!” Shaddie retorts. “He’s a wild one.” Chengafunga  continues.

Hazard starred in Chelsea’s 7 minute quick fire against Wigan that ensured Roman’s boys grabbed the first three points of the season. The Belgian put Ivanovic through for the opener and won a penalty that Lampard registered home with aplomb. Ras then takes a look at Ali vs. Kim’s game and rips into Ali.

“You are much better doing laundry than playing FIFA. We huchapwa! (You always lose) I don’t know why we even let you play.”

“Peleka  ujinga  mbali!”  Ali tells Ras to take his load of bunkum elsewhere. Ali is two goals down. He looks frustrated and everybody knows it.

“Cazorla!” Shaddie lets out minutes later after some good play by Ali. Like everyone else he’s following that game. Ali is putting up a fight as his effort from Cazorla rolls just wide.

“I had that covered. With JT…my defence is MEEAAN” Kim says even though deep down he barely survived.  Meanwhile, Ali is all business. He’s not losing this one. Not to Kim.

Cazorla put in a decent debut against a resolute Black Cats defence. The Spaniard almost grabbed one  and delightfully teed up Giroud only for the forward to blast wide.  So Just like Monsieur Wenger said, he could be one to look out for.

“Today, the Devil lurks” Kim a ManUtd fan casually states referring to tonight’s game. Ali has pulled one back in their game, but Kim isn’t one to be easily shaken.

Having seen City struggle to grab a winner, Kim’s confidence in United’s chances might just be true. Rightly so. Who would completely negate that, after the recent shocking capture of the Flying Dutch Man? Coincidentally, he scored the winning goals in all of Arsenal’s games against Everton.

“Everton nil-United 3.” Kim continues “With RVP and Rooney…war is coming!” he adds.

‘RVP is just another Na$ri…a football mercenary.” Ali quickly jumps in. The RVP hangover still agonizes him. Understandable for an Arsenal fan.

“Left footed bastard!” he mumbles on as he tries to seek an equalizer in the game. Time is running out.  

“Sour grapes dude.” Frank laughs off Ali. He and Kim enjoy troubling Ali. It’s double ecstasy for them, since Ali is losing.

Ali tries to make late subs in his team hoping for a comeback.  Arshavin , Gervinho and Ramsey for Walcott, Diaby and Mertesacker. He can’t stand being the whipping boy in the crew, so he tries everything . Anything!

United could send an emphatic message with a stylish win to their local rivals tonight. Considering that City stuttered against Southampton, The Red Devils will be keen to atone for the goal difference that cost them the league. Silva seemed to be on holiday but lucky for him, Nasri reported for duty and was very meticulous in yesterdays’ office work.

Meanwhile, Ali just lost the game to Kim and he’s already demanding for a rematch as Chengafunga and Shaddie try to wrestle him off the pad. They know Ali all too well to grant him his rematch.

 “Nipe rematch( I need a rematch)!” Ali keeps on.

“Ha ha.In your dreams…I’ll still beat you because you lack confidence, and ate bacon for breakfast.” Kim retorts.

“ Instead of a rematch, how about we lend you some self esteem?” Chengafunga tells Ali as everyone bursts out laughing.

“ Uko na ( You got )some Quan-chi skills though,” Frank offers Ali (Quan-chi meaning mad dribbling skills) “and potential too.” He adds.

“But we don’t deal with potential here. We deal with credentials!” Frank finishes off, and Ali can afford a wry smile.

Shaddie then goes on and on about the Tottenham game and how he fancies Ben Arfa for big things this season amidst interruption from the other guys. Names such as RvP, Podolski, Oscar, Vidic, Dempsey and Suarez are floated around before Kim points to the other pad and yells…

“Who’s next?” (referring to the next challenger) “He better show some skills. I don’t want to win easy like I did. Child play!”

That’s when it hits us, the new season is on, and if you look closely, every team has their war paint on. Indeed, war  is coming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

ONLY AT ARSENAL

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Bosman ruling was an important decision on the free movement of labor and had a profound effect on the transfers of football players within the EU. It banned the existing restrictions of foreign EU members within their football leagues allowing professional footballers to move freely to another club at the end of their terms of contract with their present team. This was after a protracted legal tussle between Jean-Marc Bosman and his club at the time- RFC Liege and prospective buyer Dunkerque. While that was a significant highlight of transformation in football, lately, the Bosman ruling has ghosted player power, unchallenged, over the roof to not so honorable heights. Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and now Robin van Persie. Arsenal are in the same melee that occasioned their calamitous start to the season in 58 years. However, understand that Arsenal are seasoned in the art of churning raw dynamite potential to world beaters, and certainly the Dutchman isn’t the last. Not at all. Departures of Henry, Cesc, Nasri left a void that the likes of RVP himself, Wilshere and Song have filled.  Even Koscielny has made a sizeable number of people eat humble pie with regard to his overall improvement. So, would it be wise if Arsenal let go their star striker? Is The Flying Dutchman expendable at the Emirates? Yes, he is, and in matters football, it’s generally accepted that “Strikers win you games, defenders win you titles.”  Let me indulge you in random but valid viewpoints.

Arsene can be-grudgingly let RVP go, albeit not to either Manchester clubs.  Why? You might ask. Well, aren’t both sides lethal in front of goal already? RVP was immense last season but that doesn’t mean he made dazzling Messi-esque runs to land him the PFA’s player of the season. Clubs of Arsenal and United’s stature have the necessary infrastructure to replace exiting stars-Beckham, Ronaldo, Henry et cetera. Even without RVP’s contribution in past seasons due to perennial niggling injuries, Arsenal have always swung it with the big boys. Adebayor did well, Eduardo likewise before the Birmingham-fatale and not so long ago, when Chamakh couldn’t find his feet, Cesc Fabregas was unstoppable-19 goals, 19 assists. Not to undermine the skill ingrained in both his ‘cultured-left and right-chocolate feet’, but unlike Messi, the Dutchman wholesomely relied on cumulative team effort (Walcott, Song, Gervinho, Ramsey)  unlike Leo who many at times single handedly lands the Blaugrana their victories. Undeniably, losing the Flying Dutchman will be costly but only to an extent that Prince Poldi, Cazorla and Giroud will allow. Podolski is more than a proven goal threat, and is at his prime and with bags of experience. The promotion of Steve Bould and Neil Banfield to first team coaches might see change in tact, especially in defense where Bould is a thorough bred and perhaps an indicator for a step up in the Gunners’ kamikaze defending. Certainly, with TV5 as skipper in waiting, more responsibilities fall to Arsenal’s defensive numbers who should be Arsene’s cornerstone for forging a title-contending team. Rather than pre-occupy ourselves with the RVP trivia, why not ask, “What if the Verminator was in a similar situation, or Sagna?”  Bearing in mind their good run of form only happened with a fully fit back four. So, in comparison, it would definitely be a bigger blow as Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel (defense) would be at the mercy of the likes of City, United and Chelsea, yet it needs its consistent performers for sanity .So yes, RVP is expendable.

The Invincibles record for AFC is largely credited with a mean defense (back four), Cole, Lauren, Toure and Campbell (Lehmann, Viera and Gilberto). Whereas the likes of Pires, Bergkamp, Ljunberg and Henry lit up the league with exquisite finishing and forming a potent attacking fulcrum, Arsenals defensive line was fullproof. With Lauren, Cole and Campbell and Viera making it to the team of the season after conceding 26 goals is sufficient testament even with Arsenal’s impressive return of 73 goals.  In 05-06 season, Chelsea were champions winning 29, drawing 4 and losing 5, scoring 72 and conceding 22, and amassing 91 points. These numbers were slightly better than United’s (runners up) who won 25 drew 8, and lost 5, scored 72 and conceded 34 totaling 83 points.

With an equal tally of goals scored, United’s undoing was the number of goals conceded. In a scenario where Chelsea, encapsulate a similar performance and United leak fewer goals, therefore winning an extra 4 games, with say 1-0 margins, the Red Devils would be “scenario champions” with 29 won, 4 lost, 5 drawn and 30 conceded. The significance shows from the games drawn.  Even Liverpool snatched a top three finish over Arsenal, despite the latter’s superior goal difference on account of goals scored! Similarly, in the 08-09 season United beat Liverpool to the title despite The Red’s superior goal difference of +6, after scoring 9 more, courtesy to a one time, red hot El Ninho. Surprisingly, United lost more games, 4, compared to Liverpool’s 2, yet they were crowned champions. So the latter’s undoing was in the number of games drawn, which most likely were not goalless. Point in case-the 4-4 classic against Arshavin…umm Arsenal.  In the same season, Chelsea equaled United’s number of goals scored, conceded and consequently, goal difference, yet they ranked third. How so? In the three games that won United the league, Chelsea drew 2 and lost 1.  Further, United had more clean sheets at home, 13, compared to Chelsea’s 10. They even bettered this by keeping 2 more clean sheets, 11, to Chelsea’s 9 in away games. Runners up, Liverpool had fewer clean sheets compared to United 11- home, 8-away.

Even with Messi clinching the pichichi after an astonishing 73 goals last season, Madrid lifted the trophy. You would point out that Madrid scored goals galore. True. I insist that Barca’s lack of good defending particularly in away games ( Sociedad, Espanyol, Valencia, Bilbao) cost them the title. True again. For emphasis, what really won Chelsea their maiden Champions league? Is it Mata’s exquisite passes? Lampard’s deft through balls? Or the backline that put their lives on the line for 180 minutes? And what won City their maiden Premiership? Goal difference. United would have won the league had they not gifted bizarre goals to Everton (in a 4-4 encounter), Newcastle and (Phil Jones). The Terry-Carvalho, Vidic-Rio and Campbell-Lauren pairings are what title-winning sides are made of. The same way the Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci and Caceres backline earned The Old Lady her unbeaten scudetto. Arsenal are arguably the most creative side in the premiership, and Podolski assuming Wenger prefers him to Giroud, could well handle RVP’s duties, if chances come his way.  So, RVP is expendable at a cost that can be covered and if Wenger refurbishes his back line adequately, a Vermaelen-Metesacker/Koscielny partnership could be one for the future. So all Gooners should stop asking themselves where Van Persie’s loyalty dissipated to and channel their energy to players ready to end the trophy doubt in red North London.