Frenchman Michel bows out leaving Kenya to hang and dry

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-12-20 9:52:18

Kenya football is at cross head yet again. It is not the first time that the country is finding itself faced with a bleak future following the acrimonious resignation of French coach Henri Michel.

Michel was the country's 36th coach ever since Kenya joined the international football community.

Like many of his predecessors, the Frenchman arrived without an entourage, immersed himself in the murky of Kenyan football and has emerged greatly tainted as one of the coaches who has served a short stint.

Appointed in August, Michel has only overseen two Harambee Stars matches against South Africa in Nairobi, where Harambee Stars lost 2-1, and against Tanzania away in Dar es Salaam. Kenya was beaten 1-0.

Speaking hours after Michel announced his resignation, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairman Sam Nyamweya took issue with the coach's decision to send his resignation letter through the French Embassy.

"As a federation we kept our part of the agreement and paid him fully for the two months he worked. As far as we are concerned, we gave him all the support he needed.

"We are therefore not aware of his resignation because we have not received any letter to that effect. Furthermore it would not be in order for him to use the French Embassy to send us such a letter. For now we are treating it as a mere speculation until such a time that we get the letter which we understand he has sent by registered mail," said Nyamweya.

Michel issued his resignation letter on Monday weeks after he had been embroiled in a stand off with the federation over non-payment of his salary.

In his statement, the Frenchman said he would not discuss more on the matter unless by available legal means.

Nyamweya said the federation had a lot of faith in Michel and believes he had what it takes to lead Harambee Stars to the highest level.

"He came to us as a coach with a huge pedigree and we knew that with time he could turn around our football. We were willing to give him more time even after losing his two matches against South Africa and Tanzania," Nyamweya told Xinhua on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Michel was in Kenya with two assistants. But matter looked sour when he twice declined to take the national team on international duty at Regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and Africa Nations Championships against Burundi. Instead, Kenyan assistant coach James Nandwa was in charge.

When being employed, Michel was tasked with helping resuscitate Kenya's dwindling hopes of making it through to its first ever World Cup show in Brazil in 2014.

Michel was the second Frenchman to lead Harambee Stars after Bernard Lama, a 2008 World Cup winning goalkeeper with the Les Bleus. He beat 10 other foreign coach candidates who had applied for the job.

Michel, 64, replaced Ajax Amsterdam trained Francis Kimanzi, who was sacked in June over dismal show.

Kimanzi was number 35 in the pecking of the men, who since 1961 have led Harambee Stars, though his name is repeated on three occasions.

Among the top names that have been unable to guide Harambee Stars to the Promised Land include the Late Reinhard Fabisch (Germany 2001-02), Frenchman Bernard Lama (2006) and Antoine Hey (Germany 2009).

Among the locals who have been in the seat are Tom Olaba (2006), Twahir Muhiddin (2009-10) and Zedekiah Otieno (2010-11).

Only three locals have led Kenya to the Africa Nations Cup Jacob "Ghost" Mulee, Mohammed Kheri and Marshall Mulwa.

Mulee, a protege of former Kenya coach, Reinhardt Fabisch (now deceased) was arguably one of Kenya's most successful coaches having led Stars to their last Africa National Cup finals in Tunisia in 2004.

Kimanzi, the most qualified of Kenyan coaches, had lost touch with the playing unit as some players boycotted the national assignment asking for his sacking. His former striker at Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Sofapaka John Barasa led them.

But his campaign was stuck in the turbulent waters after several elite players opted out citing reasons not linked to the playing but usage of their image for endorsement and promotions without their authority.

They included Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech of Auxerre in France. That not withstanding, the yardstick for measuring success of a coach is on the number of titles and wins achieved. Kimanzi had none.

Appointed in November 2011, Kimanzi was tasked with helping Kenya win a ticket to the 2013 Africa Nations Cup finals in South Africa, but he failed to deliver as his side was eliminated in June in Lome by 1-0 loss against their host Togo.

The aggregate score was a 2-2 draw, with Togo going through on away goal rule having lost 2-1 in Nairobi in March.

In June alone Kenya lost 1-0 to Togo in Lome, drew 0-0 with Malawi in Nairobi and lost 1-0 to Namibia in Windhoek. Both Namibia and Malawi game are for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria is also in the group and will be visiting Kenya in March. Apart from the World Cup qualifiers, Michel had also have the task of helping Stars rediscover their winning touch in the region, a job he skipped saying the tournament was too junior for him.

Michel beat compatriot Raymond Domenech to the job. Domenech, who last posting was with France national team at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, made it to the last four together with Michel, Belgians Adel Amrouche and Tom Saintfeit.

At that time, Nyamweya said the country seeks to reclaim its lost glory in the sport and Michel will guide Harambee Stars to stardom.

Michel was first shortlisted among the final 10 finalists late July for the post of Kenyan national football coach. Over 60 applicants had made their application before it was cut down to just 10.

They were Ratomir Djukovic (Serbia), Luc Eyamel (Belgium), Adel Amrouche- (Belgium), Claude Leroy (France), Otto Pfister (German), Tom Saintfiet (Belgium), Miodrag Dujkovic (Serbia), Henri Michel (France), Raymond Domenech (France), Kikovic Milenko (Serbia). He was meant to be the man to build the country football structures.

"The main focus will be on building on sound structures and frameworks that will help develop football in Kenya. Management of Harambee Stars will be also crucial, especially in the World Cup campaign. All the finalists were coaches of international stature, they have proven record," said Nyamweya.

The last coach to manage Kenya from abroad was Germany Antoine Hey and France's Bernard Lama. Both left after failing to get the government backing and sabotage by the local coaches and failure to get paid.

Michel coached France at the Mexico World Cup in 1986 where Les Bleus finished third. He coached Cameroon in 1994, was with Morocco at the 1998 World Cup and Cote d'Ivoire in 2006 at the Africa Nations Cup in Egypt.

Kenya is pooled together with Namibia, Nigeria and Malawi in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

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