A game of second chances, the future is for Amrouche to correct his past

If there is a myth that constantly impregnates Kenyan Football powers, it’s an obsession that there is always a plot against ‘us’ in the politics of the game. That we are not so important in the eyes of the authorities and that we are constantly subjected to unwanted negatives- those of which we share minimal or no relation at all.

This idea in the past few days has gained lots of currency and weight in the wake of the unprecedented one-year ban on the national football coach Adel Amrouche by Africa’s governing body CAF. This, coming at a time when Kenya is on ‘the verge’ of another AFCON Qualifier Group stage appearance- one that they halfway trail 0-1 after a loss to Lesotho last weekend.

Suspended Kenya Coach Adel Amrouche. Image via Goal.com

Suspended Kenya Coach Adel Amrouche. Image via Goal.com


Thus, the reaction to Amrouche’s offense by several quarters of football that an urgent appeal- needs to be made.

For starts, let’s accept it- spitting was not a thing many expected, when it did happen, our eyes were all hugged to a whole new sense of the man we have as a coach of the National Team.

Forgive the current predicament he finds himself in, majority of the media personalities will feel nothing for the coach after what they perceive to be an intentional ‘blackout’ just before the Lesotho game. Along some corridor’s, they will tell youwe feel nothing.’ I guess that’s what happens when your darling suddenly decides to abandon you; you walk the lone road towards the opposite side of the tunnel.

All this is not meant really to debate Amrouche’s results or behaviour on the touchline or off it without raising a flag and defending ‘our’ guy (I’m trying so hard not to use the word adoption) from what is a case of aggression and unfair campaign from ‘CAF’ to derail the work of a good coach.

But spitting, even if not captured by the cameras or witnessed by a cathedral of soccer fans like Suarez biting or even Mike Tyson’s famous dig to the ear of an opponent surely has no place in football.

Most of the attributes that create a great coach/athlete are those tiny things that make them hard to understand for mere mortals, but in this case there stands to be more.

From that first day in Calabar, Amrouche showed us a side of him some were quick to applaud, others, just stared in disbelief and hoped it was a one-off and a mere outpouring of passion. In a cold, materialistic world that was one of the qualities we ‘Kenyans’ needed in a coach, one that previous men like Ghost, Kheri or even Lama and Michel lacked.

But does the sudden perception that ‘Football is improvingcoupled by a coincided parachute in FIFA rankings mean we forgive Amrouche for his sins? And if not just with our teeth and claws, in disgust with our sputum- since saliva is now too mainstream?

We have created and splashed around in the myth that football is all about winning- the latter has evaded us in the recent past, perhaps explaining our obsession with the former. Against all odds, a CECAFA win is too great a moment to move away from, a FIFA World Cup final appearance at the stands a banquet to behold worthy of a Local League impromptu break and to crown it all the influx of stars outside the borders of this country a source of a sudden surge in confidence.

Football is all about winning. This however does not mean that it’s acceptable to stump on a rival on your way to scoring a 90+3-minute winner, but it implies that when you walk onto it or stand at the side- a whole new set of moral rules come into place. Those that might not be anchored on the chaotic confusion that steer the world, but more the often supported by laws, self-control and common sense.

With all the above notwithstanding, it’s hard to assume the impact of Amrouche’s antics versus results on the Kenyan population. You either love him or hate him, those ‘in between’ or want to imagine, ‘I don’t know him’ are few if not any.

However for this one act, Amrouche opens up himself for perhaps the worst one year of his managerial life. While such an incident live with him for so long, every man deserves to rise again after a fall- doesn’t necessarily have to be on the same spot, sometimes you crawl away and rise when no one else is noticing.

Dropping Oliech welcomes us all to Amrouche’s unexplored world

Kenya approaches the second leg of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations first round qualifications desperate to avoid elimination more than ever. It might not seem so going into this game with a 1-0 advantage, however the margin’s minimal.

Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee- the man largely responsible for Kenya’s last exploits at the continental stage – is no longer in charge of the Harambee Stars (he is however at a higher level), with Algerian Adel Amrouche now in the hot seat.

However, will the 46 year old be able to succeed where a decuple of other coaches have failed?

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Unlike his predecessor (forget Nandwa), Henri, a widely travelled man- Amrouche’s mileage all over Africa isn’t anything to talk about but something to admire over the little span of time. Yet, the respect the squad Henri commanded was outweighed by egos of certain individuals.

The decision to omit Dennis Oliech (ahead of Comoros) for something the media has well documented as ‘unprofessional and disrespectful’ has been coming some time now, bad for him it’s come at another critical time.

For starts, let’s applaud Amrouche for trying to construct a squad in his own image, without having to sacrifice too much in the way of quality. This move goes a long way in rubber stamping his ambition to have a team modelled in the mentality of his own- with more of interest in collective success rather than that of individual without showing a dislike the latter.

Basically in Amrouche’s world skewing on matters progress- when it comes to the National team, the world has only one time zone- Harambee Stars GMT.

Dennis being the oldest member of the squad however must learn this in haste.

….if one does not come for training, he simply can’t play it doesn’t matter who you are and it’s not because you have a name, all the players are also good.

It therefore must be this reason why, while in the past a player in the model of Wanyama and Mariga would have bullied their way into being the ‘head of the pack’, they now just act the pack. The former holds the arm band even as the injury concerns of the latter seem to have perfectly played into Amrouche’s hands considering the growing tension that once was present between Mariga and Oliech.

When he planned on pulling out Oliech with the Harambee Stars on the edge of a memorable 1-0 win in Calabar, many of us thought “What the hell is this man up to.”

Sent off to the stands and a right decision made at the horrible time by his assistant saw Nigeria equalize. Satisfied by the result and discontent at the referee; Amrouche had just sowed the seeds of discrete decision-making going into the future.

Months have since passed and the realisation that Amrouche is not going to be toyed around with has brought results in good measure. A CECAFA trophy to his name, Amrouche doesn’t look like someone satisfied with just that, forgive his employers who are certainly not his cash bank like expected. (don’t worry how he makes his money)

With the dropping of Oliech amongst other firm stances Amrouche has made in the past (all which we don’t agree with), it’s absolutely possible to see why failure to qualify for the 2015 AFCON will see him labelled in the same light as his predecessors. The absolute turn however is- a qualification means, the man with the toughest job under horrendous circumstances certainly becomes the hero.

And that’s the shame in being Amrouche at this moment in time.

“Many distractions are avoided by living a simple life.” Herm Edwards one of NFL’s most successful cornerbacks, coaches and man behind ‘The Miracle of the Meadowlands’ noted in one of his many ESPN FC analysis, Amrouche certainly either in ignorance or arrogance must have been a good student of him.

Image credits, www.goal.com