Nzoia FC coach Benard Mwalala. PHOTO / COURTESY, Ministry of Sports Kenya.
BY SIMIYU SIMIYU | Wakajuaness.Com
The Football Kenya Federation is considering Benard Mwalala for the Harambee Stars top job ahead of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
According to reports leaked to Wakajuaness.Com by an FKF insider, the federation is under pressure to fire the under-performing Stanley Okumbi who is yet to win the heart of Kenyan fans.
Okumbi, a former Kariobangi Sharks and Mathare United coach, took over Harambee Stars from Scottish Bobby Williamson in February last year but has failed to convince fans at international assignments.
Stars have played 16 matches under Okumbi but a 2-1 win over the Republic of Congo in African Cup of Nationals Qualifiers could be the only paragraph to script home with a smile.
Okumbi, 36, recently irritated fans on his team selection that led to a 2-1 loss to Sierra Leone in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers in June.
Another source within FKF who spoke on condition of anonymity told this writer that the upcoming CECAFA Senior Challenge which Kenya is hosting during this December could be Mwalala’s first assignment.
“With Kenya so thirsty to win a consolation trophy after an awful year, the football management is keen to make changes in the technical team but with Mwalala severally mentioned by concerned members in the federation as a perfect replacement,” said the source privy to the proceedings.
This comes barely a day after FKF president Nick Mwendwa told a press conference that the football body still has faith in Okumbi.
“We are not thinking about changing the coach for now. We have a lot of faith in coach Stanley Okumbi and we shall continue giving him support.” Said Mwendwa in Nairobi yesterday.
Benard Mwalala, 33, was in charge of Nzoia FC when it was promoted to the top flight last year and has led the Bungoma-based sugar millers to eighth position on the Sportpesa Premier League table with 43 points from 32 matches.
Besides Mwalala’s squad believed to have players earning as low as Ksh 25,000 per month due to financial strains facing the club, the team has pulled surprising wins including the 5-1 humiliation to dethroned champions Tusker FC and a 2-0 win over heavyweights AFC Leopards a week ago in Mumias.
But when asked by this writer if he can be willing to take up the Harambee Stars job as claimed, the former Nzoia FC, SCV and Yanga Stars player dismissed the idea.
“I don’t want to comment on that. Right now, my team – Nzoia FC – is only focusing on the Sharks (read Kariobangi) game during the weekend and that is the only thing running in my mind,” said Mwalala via phone.