Countdown: Wazito are here and they want a KPL party
- There isn't a club owner as swanky as Ricardo Badoer, the billionaire businessman changing Kenya's football landscape
- The Badoer Investments founder and CEO became the President of Wazito FC last year in November after officially taking over the club
Analysis, Matthews Mutai
There isn’t a club owner as swanky as Ricardo Badoer, the billionaire businessman changing Kenya’s football landscape.
The Badoer Investments founder and CEO became the President of Wazito FC last year in November after officially taking over the club.
His ruthless ambition is manifesting in the speed at which he is assembling a team that can challenge the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) top dogs for the title straight off promotion from the second-tier.
Wazito won the National Super League (NSL) in style, winning games with an exciting brand of attacking football as they made a swift return to the top-flight a year after they were relegated. They scored a whopping 75 goals.
There have been massive personnel changes, both in the technical bench and squad, over the past six months as the club sets itself up for life back in the KPL with eyes on the title.
Head coach Ahmed Muhammed Mchulla and his assistant Hussein Mohammed were shown the door early March for ‘unsatisfactory results’ with their sacking coming days after Wazito had suffered a shock 3-1 NSL loss to Talanta.
Fred Ambani was appointed to take with Hamisi Muhammed taking up the role of assistant coach. Former Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi was hired as the Technical Director. Wazito were second on the NSL table at the time.
A massive player recruitment has followed, with some high-profile players including Burundi international and former Gor Mahia FC defender Karim Nzigiyimana and Rwandan defender Abouba Sibomana, also a former Gor player.
They also beat Gor for the signature of former Sony Sugar hitman Otanga, signed Elvis Rupia from Zambia Super League side Power Dynamos and have also unveiled Ali Hassan Abondo as their player after signing from Bloemfontein Celtic FC in a loan deal.
Gor have enjoyed unprecedented success over the last decade, winning six of the last 10 championships with all those coming in the last seven seasons. Wazito want to change this.
“We’ve had a terrific season and the boys look ready for the task ahead of them. The league has been a bit one-sided and everyone else has to ask what Gor is doing right.
“We’ve come with one objective; to win the league. People are going to think we’re being too ambitious or just crazy but that’s the ambition,” Hamisi told Citizen Digital.
The assistant coach was quick to point out that he believes their player recruitment is not ‘excessive’ and will not change how they play.
“This level (KPL) requires more quality and that’s what we’re bringing on board. The philosophy remains the same and the challenge is to fit the new guys into the system.
“The truth of football is that sometimes you can’t always stay in one club forever. We felt some players needed to go and wanted specific type of players who can adapt to our style.
“Some of the players we had in the NSL did a terrific job but unfortunately some can no longer fit it.”
Asked whether the project could take time before manifesting, Hamisi said; “I don’t believe in this thing that you have to wait. If a team has the right coaches and quality players why should they not deliver titles?”
Wazito FC was formed in 2011 and mainly consisted of University of Nairobi alumni. The following year they club joined the Nairobi County League in the fifth tier and went on to win it.
It earned them promotion to the fourth tier where they also won the title to enter the third tier, finishing second in 2014. They featured in the NSL for three years before being promoted to the KPL in 2018 and were relegated the same season.
One To Watch: Joseph Irungu
The talented winger raised eyebrows last year when he ditched Mount Kenya United (then Nakumatt FC) after helping them retain their KPL status to return to Wazito who would be playing in the NSL.
He had scored a brace against Ushuru FC and in the promotion/relegation clash to help Mount Kenya stay up and his moved had made no sense for a player who had been one of brightest attacking talents in the KPL that year.
It turned out to well for him as Mount Kenya endured extreme financial challenges, eventually got relegated from the KPL and he had become part of a special project at Wazito.
Joe has quick feet, is happy to take on his man and has an incredible turn of pace. With more quality around him, Joe’s full potential could finally be on show for the KPL.
Club Name: Wazito FC
Year Founded: 2011
Homeground: Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos
Head Coach: Fred Ambani
In: Karim Niyizigimana, Johnston Omurwa, Benard Ochieng, Brian Musa, Elvis Rupia, Joshua Otieno, Derrick Otanga, Kevin Omondi, Ali Hassan Abondo
Out: Wilson Anekeya, Oliver Kilonzo, Samson Ndegwa, Collins Neto, Eugine Ambulwa, Vincent Misikhu
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