From being strong favourites to defend the title to being bundled out at the semifinal stage 4-1 by minnows Ethiopia the story of Kenya has had its ups and downs at the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
And Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has hit out at the organisers accusing them of presiding over a ‘Jua Kali’ tournament after his side’s 2-1 win over Tanzania to finish third at the competition hosted by Uganda.
Kimanzi guided Kenya to their first win of the competition when they defeated Tanzania 1-0 but he was suspended for the next group games against Sudan and Zanzibar which the side won comfortably.
His crime; for allegedly delaying the game by 10 minutes because three Tanzanian players didn’t have passports.
“This is a tournament where the standard rules do not even apply,” Kimanzi told Nairobi News on Thursday, December 19th, 2019.
“We come here to play and the opposing team players do not have passports when my team manager asks why I am banned. I am mad kabisa. This is a Jua kali tournament.”
“We are then forced to play a game every two days on an artificial turf which is a hazard that Fifa is trying to ban. You need 72 hours to recover after every game.”
“We are given a small training ground to play and spend two hours in the traffic. Most of my players are injured at the moment. It is a shame,” he lamented.
Much as the organisers had their shortcomings, Kimanzi was also quick to highlight the inadequate preparations from his side as one of the reasons his team wasn’t able to last the distance.
“The results we have posted here are important, but the process of achieving them is more important,” Kimanzi noted.
“This tournament doesn’t fall within the FIFA calendar so our clubs back at home are not compelled to release players. I had to literally persuade the clubs to give me players.”
“Then the tournament organisers only allowed us to come with 20 players (instead of 23). I was not in a position to rotate them,” he lamented.
He will consider himself unlucky since this is the third time he has come short of winning regional silverware after he finished third in 2008, and fourth while in charge of Mathare United at the Kagame Cup in Sudan a year later.