Okumbi, Mwendwa see bigger picture in All Stars defeat
Harambee Stars First Coach Stanley Okumbi admitted the gulf in class between Kenyan football and the world’s top leagues remains clear as daylight but even so, bridging it is a realistic dream.
Okumbi who led a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) All Stars side to Spain for a couple friendly clashes said that long-term goal is within sight and asked local football enthusiasts not to expect their stars to start churning out quick positive results.
The All Stars ended their groundbreaking tour without victory after they were handed a 4-0 drubbing by LaLiga 123 side Cordoba CF and went on lose to Sevilla Atletico albeit by a narrower margin (1-0).
In conceding the defeats at a luncheon/reception organized by Kenyan Premier League (KPL) sponsors who made the trip possible thanks to their partnership with LaLiga, Okumbi said the biggest takeoff is a bag of lessons that will help them improve.
“A team like Cordoba is playing next level football and has in fact played in Spain’s top flight. They’ve faced sides the likes of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid and that is basically as big as it gets when it comes to club football.
“I can give a good account of myself because a quick look at results from there some teams end up conceding double figures. We had trained for only two days and faced a team that has bonded as a team for years; for me even losing 10-0 would have been acceptable,” Okumbi said.
The All Stars were taken through classroom and on-field training by Malaga CF coaches after their clash against Cordoba and improved markedly in the match that followed.
Okumbi sampled their better showing against Sevilla Atletico – the reserve team of LaLiga giants Sevilla FC – as Kenyan players’ adaptability and willingness to learn.
“We movement on and off the ball was off and that is one of the techniques we learnt. We played with much more freedom in our second match and you can see from the result,” Okumbi said.
Okumbi, who was appointed coach of the national team last year in February, led the All Stars early this year to losing 2-1 to Hull City Select XI in their first tour to Europe where they made history as the first Kenyan squad to play in an English Premier League venue.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa made near-similar observations as Okumbi and made an impassioned appeal to local football enthusiasts not to expect overnight success.
“These guys (All Stars) have been playing their football on second-rate facilities such as the Thika Sub-County Stadium and yet we have huge expectations from them. There is no such magic in football,” Mwendwa who recently attended the Confederation of African Football (CAF) symposium in Morocco said.
-‘Plan for the future’-
Mwendwa lauded Morocco’s investment in sport and noted it has spent around KSh150 billion on infrastructure and boast the record of hosting the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Club World Cups.
“This generation was not given the best at the right age so the trick is to plan for the future. The results of what we’re doing today will be not be felt today but will be seen eight or ten years from now.
“We’re sending an Under 13 squad to Southampton and that’s something. There will be a national team across all age groups and we’re partnering with school heads for this,” the FKF boss stated.
The Under 13 team will represent the country during the 2017 edition of the Southampton Cup slated for August 5-13.
Meanwhile, organisers reaffirmed the return leg of the Hull and All Stars clash will still take place in Nairobi in spite of the Tigers relegation from the EPL.
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