Mozambique match gives Hey chance to register first victory

Published on 20/06/2009

By Gilbert Wandera

Coach Antoine Hey will be under intense pressure to redeem himself as Harambee Stars take on Mozambique this afternoon.

The German has been under criticism since taking over this year. Much of the criticism has been over his suitability to handle the national team especially in light of his poor record with other African teams.

It has not helped matters for Hey that he has taken over from a successful local coach who took Harambee Stars to the last round of the qualifiers following impressive wins over Guinea, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Every time Hey’s name has been mentioned, his poor record with African teams has always reared its head to silence any positive talk he may have.

Before taking over as manager in Kenya, Hey was in charge of Lesotho where he never won any competitive match. His next stop was Gambia where he handled the national team for one year and failed again to win a competitive tie. From Gambia, Hey moved to Liberia where once again he did not win a single match during the first round of the World Cup/ Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

To be fair to Hey, Liberia were in a tough group that included Senegal and Algeria but still there is no explanation why he couldn’t even win against lowly Gambia the fourth team in the group.

Hey managed three draws and three losses as Liberia bowed out of the qualifiers at the bottom of the group.

With this poor record, Hey took over Harambee Stars who in contrast had managed second position in their group during the first round of the qualifiers.

Hey began his career with Kenya on the wrong footing. Losses against Tunisia and Nigeria only added credence to the criticism over his poor performance.

Worse for the German, his tenure at the Kenyan technical bench has been full of controversy. First was his decision to drop four Mathare United players after they walked out of camp without permission.

They were not just any players as all of them were an integral part of the previous team, which reached the last round of these qualifiers.

Despite pressure to reinstate the players, Hey stood his ground and went on to lose 2-1 against Tunisia at home. The German also drew sharp criticism from certain quarters by his decision to recall former captain Musa Otieno.

Some felt Otieno had reached his sell by date and needed to give room for younger boys.

Prior to the match against Tunisia, the German drew the ire of the local media when he issued a media blackout during training session— something unheard of from those before him.

Then came the controversial commitment letters that the coach introduced prior to the June 7 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria.

This rule immediately put him at loggerheads with the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) whose member clubs give the highest number of players to the national team.

Three clubs flatly refused to sign the letters and their players were excluded from the team again to a lot of hue and cry from the affected clubs.

Hey’s decision to stay behind when the team traveled to Nigeria protesting non-payment of his dues was the culmination of his controversial tenure at Harambee Stars.

The German declined to travel until his three months due of Sh5.2million was paid. Sports Minister Hellen Sambili was forced to comply as she issued the cheque a few hours after Hey had declined to board the plane to Abuja.

The German’s salary has been another bone of contention considering his contribution to the team so far.

At an average of Sh1.7million per month paid in advance, Hey earns more than ten times the salary of his predecessor Francis Kimanzi but has so far had nothing to show for it.

Meanwhile, Mozambique national team jetted into the country yesterday afternoon with coach Mart Nooij promising an entertaining game.

The Dutchman said he expects a difficult match against Harambee Stars.

“Kenya has a strong team and so it is not going to be easy for us,” he said.

He, however, said his team has prepared well for the match and they have a good chance of collecting all three points today.

Nooij said he watched Kenya play against Nigeria.

“I watched their match on June 7 and we have prepared adequately for them,” he added.

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