Coach Hey goes on strike

Published on 05/06/2009

By James Waindi

Harambee Stars’ campaign for the 2010 World Cup/Africa Nations Cup suffered a major setback when head coach Antoine Hey boycotted the team’s trip to Abuja, Nigeria, due to lack of payment.

Stars are expected to face the hosts on Sunday in a match they must win or draw to remain in contention for the World Cup ticket.

There was drama at the airport before the team departed for Abuja when star striker Dennis Oliech who plays for French side AJ Auxerre had to be begged to take the flight after learning the tactician was not in the party.

Dennis Oliech being restrained by a friend after he threatened not to travel in solidarity with head coach Hey. He changed his mind and travelled [PHOTO: STAFFORD ONDEGO/STANDARD]

“I am going no where if the coach is not travelling with the team. What is the need, in fact the entire team should boycott the trip until we see the coach,” said a seemingly shocked Oliech who had to come back to the pavilion after checking in, to confirm what was going on.

“This is just a big joke, I really don’t understand what is going on because Minister of Sports Hellen Sambili yesterday (Wednesday) said they had sorted out the coach’s wages. We have a big match ahead against Nigeria and we really don’t need drama in the team at this crucial moment,” he said.

His two friends and team manager Edward Oduor convinced the striker to board the plane.

“The coach is on his way from Safari Park Hotel and is stuck in a traffic jam. He will find us after we’ve checked in,” said the team manager.

Efforts to reach the tactician were futile as he disconnected his hotel room telephone extension and did not pick his mobile calls.

However, officials at the Safari Park hotel confirmed he was in his room.

No Football Kenya Limited official was also available for comment, as they are attending Fifa Congress meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, while second vice chairman Erastus Okul accompanied the team to Abuja as the head of delegation.

“I can confirm that he is in his room, but it is against the hotel’s ethics to knock a client’s door when he has engaged his room line,” said an official who sought anonymity.

Oliech, who had recovered from a fever that threw the technical bench in panic on Wednesday, said he was fully fit for the Sunday match but urged local football chiefs to ensure Hey travelled to Abuja for the fixture.

“I’m feeling ok now and I am as fit as a fiddle. I am very much prepared for Nigeria’s match and I would like to promise local football fans a goal or two.

But let it be clear that the national coach has to take the next flight to Abuja or the trip will be null and void,” said the 25-year old striker.

Meanwhile, Stars captain Musa Otieno called for prayers and moral support for the team ahead of the crucial match.

“It is going to be tough, but I believe we are well prepared for the challenge. We just have to stick to our plans and objectives and we are capable of stopping Nigeria at their own tuff.

“We only respect them but we don’t fear them,” said Otieno.

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