• KPL Coaches:A game of musical chairs

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May 21, 2011-

At a post-match press conference during Robert Matano’s first assignment as AFC Leopards coach this season, one journalist posed a very curious question.

“You have once been quoted referring to yourself as the lion, what should we expect from you?”, the writer shot it out straight. 

At the time, Leopards was embroiled in administrative squabbles that threatened to tear the club right down the middle.

The boardroom wrangles were obviously distracting players’ performance on the pitch as was evident in their 2-0 loss to Tusker in the season opening fixture. Then newly appointed Belgian coach Robert Bollen had gone absent without leave (AWOL).

Enter Matano and Ingwe has conjured their first win of the season – a comprehensive 3-1 win over Rangers.

After briefly digesting the question and with a slight smirk, Matano roared back: “Yes, I am the Lion. From now henceforth things will be done differently.”

All journalists present in the room burst into a hearty mirth. Six weeks later Matano was fired. The lion was gone.

Matano’s departure closely followed that of Gideon Ochieng’s bizarre dismissal from Congo United via SMS. Francis Baraza (Sony), and Nick Yakhama were soon to follower suit through the revolving club doors.

Ezekiel Akwana (Sofapaka) and Oliver “Bango” Musengo (Bandari) are the latest entrants into this club of jobless coaches. 

Barely elven weeks into the new season and Kenyan Premier League coaches are already beginning to feel the heat.

Unlike like last season, when the six-month suspension of Sammy Simiyu (Ulinzi) and Francis Kimanzi (Mathare United) by the Independent Disciplinary Committee (IDAC)  raised eyebrows, this time it’s the clubs that are exerting the pressure on the coaches.

Six down, just how many more to go? By all indicators by the end of the season, atleast half of the clubs in the league will have parted ways with their coaches.

Why? Because in coaching there is never a security of tenure. Binding contracts can be revoked at any moment under mutual consent and an underperforming coach told to hit the road. 

Perhaps that explains why Gor Mahia’s Zedekiah “Zico” Otieno, Kimanzi (Sofapaka)and his successor at Mathare United Salim Ali are visibly fidgety on their hot seats.

Good news is that they don’t really have to worry so much if they are unseated. An empty seat will pop up somewhere else. 

Three weeks ago Yakhama was kicked out by Chemelil Sugar in acrimony and hey presto! Within days he was seating pretty at his old club Leopards. It’s a real life enactment of the musical chairs game.

With this high turn of coaches, expect to see the recycling of tacticians in the coming days, given the small pool of trained personnel we have around.


Steven Omondi

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