November 30, 2021

‘His tongue could have slipped’ – Wazito FC’s Kimanzi defends Mwendwa over lack of talent utterances

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The tactician feels the top football administrator could have not meant what he said because Kenya does not lack talent at all

Wazito FC head coach Francis Kimanzi has defended Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa after he came under fire following his comments that the country lacks talent.

Kimanzi said the FKF chief could have had his tongue slip when he made the comments during a TV interview. Mwendwa – after the Harambee Stars’ dream of clinching a World Cup ticket came to an end – said the country needs quality players in order to compete at the top level.

Slip of the tongue

“I tend to believe Mwendwa said so, for lack of a better word to express himself. His tongue could have slipped. You know, when one is in front of the camera, words tend to come out of the mouth unguarded, but all in all, I was surprised,” Kimanzi told NTV.

“Despite the challenges that we have had, we have nurtured talents to the point they are going to Egypt, Tanzania and many countries and football scouts will always focus on Kenya after venturing into West Africa. Agents from Europe and especially from Scandinavia have always come to scout our talents.

“You know, if you say we do not have talent, that takes us backwards and destroys everything, because, in the first place, it means you do not have coaches and trainers, and if you do not have trainers, it means you do not have instructors.

“Those utterances look simple, but if you analyze them, they are deep because of what one could mean. It reached a point where I felt it was a disrespectful comment because it hurt, especially taking into account the kind of talents that we have nurtured. 

“For our players, it is not about a lack of talent but an opportunity to develop into a better star.”

The coach, who handled the national side before he left in 2020, defended Engin Firat after the team lost 5-0 and 1-0 to Mali in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers under his leadership.

“It all depends on whether one has got a plan. Playing against Mali and losing at home and away is not a big issue as long as one has got his short-term and long-term plans intact,” Kimanzi added.

“You can always take things in order of priority and you could see the coach came late and had little time to interact with the players. The water had already been spilt, especially when [Jacob ‘Ghost’] Mulee left, and that means a new coach must have been in charge of those two games.

“When a new coach comes, he will come and observe what kind of plans the federation has, and they must have told him they have a long-term plan but the short-term target was to oversee the games that were just ahead.

“As a new coach, one will always strive to get the best and maybe the focus was to have the short-term plan of playing the qualifiers completed, then shift focus to the process of building the team.

“It is now clear the short-term plan of successful qualifiers will not be achieved and we must now focus on how we forge forward from there.”