New Kenya football coach Kimanzi pledges to repair stained relations

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-15 04:19:39|Editor: yan
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NAIROBI, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya coach Francis Kimanzi on Wednesday promised to build a team that will make local fans proud after he succeeds Frenchman Sebastien Migne at the helm of the national football team.

Speaking to Xinhua ahead of his scheduled unveiling on Friday, Kimanzi who will serve a third stint with the side, disclosed he agreed to take charge after being convinced by plans laid out for the team by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

"They have decided to give me this role and I have accepted to help out our national team. I have more experience now and I will use it to improve this team and we might pull out something," said Kimanzi who was previously in charge during May 2008-January 2009 and November 2011-June 2012.

FKF turned to Kimanzi after sacking Migne on Monday, 15 months into his three-year contract after a turbulent period that saw Kenya crash out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in the group stages in July before their exit from the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers a fortnight ago.

The 43-year-old who won the 2008 domestic league title with Mathare United was the favorite to land the role after resigning from the team earlier this month having served as an assistant to Migne during the Egypt 2019 AFCON finals.

Kimanzi, who holds a UEFA 'A' license making him the most qualified Kenyan coach on paper and an outspoken critic of foreign coaches taking over African teams, underlined his mission is to complete the job that was taken out of his hands in 2008.

Having led the national team Harambee Stars to the third and final round of the joint qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup and 2010 AFCON, he was replaced by German Antoine Hey.

The team went on to miss out of both tournaments after finishing bottom of a group that had Nigeria, Tunisia and Mozambique.

"I have been so unlucky. In 2008, we had good organization with the Kenyan Premier League running the national team and we were able to build a side that could compete well. During Sam (Nyamweya)'s time, it was difficult because the then football president was not serious and had no program to succeed. This time, I'm convinced we have a federation that has plan that I can work with," Kimanzi narrated on his two previous spells.

His immediate task will be to repair a fractious side that was deeply divided under the Frenchman who was accused of high-handedness and "difficult" to work besides alienating fans from the team.

"What we need now is a team that has the support of the players, federation and fans. We can only get to where we want to be by taking a single step at a time," the new coach said.

Kimanzi will begin preparing for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers with a tough opener against Egypt in November, marking his first competitive game in charge.

"Across the world, we are seeing English and Spanish teams going back to their local coaches with good results. The two AFCON finalists, Algeria and Senegal were led by coaches from those countries," Kimanzi said.

"Local coaches are closer to their people and can get the best from them since they understand them better," he noted.