Timau: A bird’s eye view at Malawi, Kenya battle for 2014 Brazil World Cup

In the build up of the crucial world cup qualifier between Malawi and Kenya on 2 June, 2012,  the Timau Crew takes a birds eye view at Kinnah Phiri, Malawi National football team coach, Francis Kimanzi, Harambe Stars mentor and both the Malawi and Kenya national football teams. 

 The debate about who are better-local or foreign coaches has for long been a hot topic on the African continent. Who is good remains an individual’s choice.

However, Malawi and Kenya have local coaches. Both coaches have put a strong impact in their country’s football history. Who are these men?

Kinnah Phiri, the Malawi coach was born on 20 October, 1954 while his Kenyan counterpart was born on 29th May, 1976. You can calculate the age gap yourself. Mind you, in football experience counts.

Kinnah as a coach and player has the god given ability to surprise the spectators and leave them speechless. (Kinnah left fans speechless when he took Malawi to 2010 Afcon in Angola) Kimanzi is regarded as José Mourinho of Kenya.

Kinnah Phiri was the inspirational behind the Malawi national football team’s finest hours of 1978 and 1979 when Malawi twice won the East and Central African challenge Cup.   In 1978 and 1979 Francis Kimanzi was only 2 and 3 years old respectively   when Kinnah was receiving his medals.

Kimanzi has never played for the national team but only played professional football for a local club called Mathare United when he was 18 until 2002 when he decided to hang up his boots in exchange for management.

Kimanzi helped Kenya move from position 120-68 on Fifa rankings but Kinnah says that Fifa rankings depend on how active your team is.

This is all about the coaches; now let us look at the teams.

Flames: Ready to burn Harambe Stars

Malawi vs. Kenya

If you considered Malawi to be the only team stitching their scoring boots- you got it all wrong, Kenya is non- the better.  Kenya don’t even have scoring boots, they forgot them at Nyao stadium.

And this is how their own Nation online asks about their team.

“Who will be counted on to score for Kenya in their June 2 world cup qualifier against Malawi?” queries Kenyan Nation online.

Kenyan coach Francis Kimanzi must be pondering over this question at the Kenya School of monetary studies where the team is camping as he grapples with a striking crises exacerbated by the absence of the lead forwards, bemoans the Nation.

This is good news for Malawi because the more Kenya gets subverted the better for the Flames.

Here is what is exactly happening to the Kenyan national football team nicknamed Harambe stars as they prepare for Malawi who qualified for the 2010 Angola Africa cup of nations.

-Allan Waga is out with an Achilles tendon injury.

-Sofapaka’s Bob Mugali a consistent for stars over the last two years is just coming back from injury and his match fitness is questionable.

-Auxerrer’s Denis Oliech withdrew from international duty over an image row with team sponsors, Tuskers but latest development indicates that

Oliech has agreed to play against Malawi.  A statement from FKF read: “Football Kenya Federation hereby wishes to inform all football fans that arising from a meeting held today, May 28 between National Chairman Sam Nyamweya, NEC member Tom Onyango Alila and the family of Denis Oliech, I am happy to announce that Denis Oliech will report to the MISC Kasarani training camp to join his team mates.”

Currently, strikers in the team’s camp available to Kimanzi are Mgaila; Thika United hit man, Kepha Aswani and Tuskers Paul Were.

Take it or leave it, it’s not only Malawi lamenting over lack of scoring boots.

This is how the only Kenya strikers in camp have faired in the Kenya Premier league.

-Kepha has notched up 10 goals this season, Paul Were has scored one goal all season while Mugaila is yet to open his account maybe he is waiting for Malawi.

Malawi failed to qualify for the 2012 AFCON not because they performed badly but they always left their scoring boots at FAM offices at Chiwembe each time they played.

This is indeed a common problem in both camps. And Patrick Ngagi, Kenyan Football Federation, technical director says that the problem in Kenya is because the country does have proper football academies to nature young talent-Ngagi should have gone to Malawi-the situation is even worse and nothing seems to be done.

As Kenya is crying over its striking force Malawi is licking its wounds too. Five notable faces are not on the flight to Kenya and these are, Peter Mponda and Tawonga Chimodzi who have club duty, Esau kanyenda who has yet to establish himself fully in Denmark where he is trying to convince his new club, Robert Bagio Ng’ambi, Harry Nyirenda and Elvis Kafoteka, all nursing injuries.

Yes, Malawi have got there own problems but the worse they can do is to lose to Kenya. A country that has got a disorganised football federation that has been twice barred by Fifa because of government interference in running the game.

A team coached by a 35 year old who has not even played for his national team. And this is what Carol Radull a Kenyan football writer says about Kimanzi; “I heavily respect what Francis Kamanzi has managed to achieve, but I do worry that while he did improve the country’s status from 120-68 within one year, the Harambe stars didn’t really show impressive results amongst the big boys of African football. Yes we beat Guinea, Zimbabwe and Namibia at home but we also got goalless draws with the likes of Malawi ………”

Carol thanks for the comments on your coach but why say, “we also got goalless draws with the likes of Malawi. Thank God the first leg will be played in Kenya, you should go and watch how the Flames will scotch your boys and we hope you will rewrite your column and include Malawi as the big boys of African football.

Much as we have confidence in our team, it will be foolhardy to write off Kenya completely, the Harambe stars beat Togo 2-1 in an Africa cup of nations game at home in Febuary as Malawi was losing to Chad away.

As the debate remains hot as who will emerge triumph on June 2 when Malawi plays Kenya in the world cup qualifier, we the Timau crew have our last words.

On behalf of Her Excellency President Joyce Banda and the first Gentleman Rtd Chief Justice Richard Banda, the Malawi nation, Sembe Gondwe and the Timau Crew(Helena, Tina, Samantha and Wati) and the entire Nyasa Times team, wish Kinnah Phiri, the technical panel and all national team players a glorious game. May the almighty God grant you your wish and make our country happy. What a great gift it will be to the newly appointed President. (If you win, you are assured of lunch “ndi babie”)

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