Antoine Hey: A troubled man

Published on 09/06/2009

By Mutwiri Mutuota

Since his appointment as national team coach on February 19, retired German football player, Antoine Hey has been a darling of headline writers in the country’s newsrooms, but a divisive figure elsewhere.

His second name has been an endless source of headline puns, with gems such as ‘Hey! What’s going on?’ ‘Hey-wire’, ‘Make Hey while the sun shines’ and ‘Hey-fever’ finding their way to Kenya’s print and online media outlets.

Suffice to say, these banners have often introduced stories detailing controversies surrounding his tenure as the 27th Harambee Stars head coach.

From his infamous commitment letters that sparked a furious club versus country row to his relentless refusal to field players from his perceived nemesis, Mathare United, Hey has enjoyed considerable limelight in local media.

Prime Minister, Raila Odinga played an eminent role in the appointment of the former German top-flight football league (Bundesliga) player to replace Mathare coach, Francis Kimanzi at Harambee Stars helm.

Good coaching credentials

“We have full confidence in Hey. He has very good coaching credentials which have been recommended to us by some of the top football coaches in Africa,” Football Kenya Limited (FKL) Secretary-General, Sammy Obingo, said during Hey’s selection.

Harambee Stars coach Antoine Hey reacts to a missed opportunity.

He made his debut with a 2-1 home reverse to Tunisia on March 28 before leading his team to the 3-0 surrender to a limp Nigeria on Sunday to leave Kenya out of World Cup reckoning.

In the process, Hey has become a rich man, pocketing Sh10.9m for three months of service. He received the cash after refusing to travel with the team.

So, is Kenya the first African country where he has courted debate while failing in his principal duty of winning matches? Sadly, no.

On March 15, 2007, Hey was replaced as the Gambia coach after he abandoned his post over payment after only six months at the helm. The Gambia had beaten Cape Verde Islands 2-0 in their opening 2008 Nations Cup qualifier but then lost to Algeria in their second game, which Hey took charge of.

On February 27 last year, the German was appointed Liberia coach where he drew three and lost three second round 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers as the Lone Stars crashed out of the competition. Hey was sacked on February 2 but was not out of the cold for long as Kenya came calling.

In Lesotho, Hey did not win a competitive match in his 2004 to 2006 spell.

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