Some mzungu coaches are ‘mafisi’

Eric Ouma and Ze Maria Photo:Courtesy

Brazilian coach Ze Maria (Jose Marcelo Ferreira) happened in Kenya at a time when we had never witnessed a tactician leave a club and lure leading players to follow him to his new outfit.

When Ze Maria joined Gor Mahia he introduced a new concept which although has been popular in Europe had never been experienced in Kenya. He brought his own backroom staff.

Previously Kenyans had seen many foreign coaches like Reinhard Fabisch, Jack Johnson, Len Julians, Jeff Butler, Gerry Saurer, Adel Amrouche, Henri Michel, Bernard Lama, Antoine Hey, Bob Williams, Zdravko Logarusic, Frank Nuttal, Stewart Hall, Luc Eymel all came dangling their bunch of keys and that was it.

They neither signed an agreement that includes a team of assistants nor came with them as a package.

Ze Maria came with his team of physio, goalkeeper trainer and physical trainer. The only guy missing was maybe a nutritionist.

The latest tactician Gor Mahia’s Dylan Kerr also kept the tradition after arriving in Kenya alone although he adopted local backroom staff.

What Ze Maria had started was just a tip of the iceberg. After changing the game by arriving with his team Ze Maria did something unfamiliar to Kenyans.

He quit Gor in a huff to coach KF Tirana in Albania where several players shortly followed him: Overlapping winger Eric Ouma signed for KS Kastrioti while defender Musa Mohamed and midfielder Kenneth Muguna chose  KF Tirana in what seemed like lucrative deals.

Musa signed for four and a half years while Muguna’ was two and a half. The monetary deal was kept under wraps. But barely six months inside their contracts rumours filtered home that they were unhappy and wanted out.

Before fans could say ‘kwanini?’ Musa went to Zambia, Ouma to Sweden and Muguna back to Gor Mahia.

Ze Maria was succeeded by Dylan Kerr who copied the same script from his predecessor. When he jumped ship to Black Leopards of South Africa the K’Ogalo grapevine went on overdrive how Kerr was planning a poaching spree.

So strong were the rumours Francis Kahata, Harun Shakava, Ernest Wendo, Jacques Tuyisenge and Karim Nizigiyimana were thought to follow Kerr. Some had running contracts about to expire so let’s wait and see.

The big question is, why would a coach leave a team amicably only to start ‘cannibalising’ it?

Several reasons explains this ‘fisi’ mentality. The coach maybe interested in quick fixes in his new job so he wants players he has tried and tested.

Gor Mahia's Kenneth Muguna with coach Marcelo Ze Maria Photo:Boniface Okendo

Then there is adage better the devil you know! Or maybe having nurtured them he feels guilty leaving them in the hands of a stranger.

Alternatively it could punishing his old club by weakening it, basically a malicious bloody goodbye or plain selfishness and jealousy.

Then there are business savvy coaches using new recruits to cut deals with the new employer- who has given the coach a blank check to overhaul the team to his heart’s desire.

Being in their formative ages, some players may have developed a father-son relationship so they may feel orphaned when the tactician leaves.

Other players opt to move when they are in doubt of their position in the new team considering that a new coach may introduce a different team philosophy and game formation.

Take the case of Man-United’s Paul Pogba currently having run ins with coach Jose Mourinho due to his positioning.

The Pogba who did duty for France at the 2018 FIFA world Cup in Russia is not the one we see regularly at Manchester United. Maybe if Mourinho leaves before Pogba does things might be different and the Frenchman may just re-pick his form.

Unless checked, coaches poaching players can ruin a club’s future. How can they be stopped in Kenya? I think the best way to check on the excesses of coaches like Dylan Kerr or Ze Maria is to insert a clause in their contract that says when they leave they should not tap any player from their old club for a period of say two seasons.

Although it is easier said than done some coaches like Adel Amrouche not being club coaches were alleged to lure players like David Cheche Ochieng to clubs in the Middle East and Edwin Lavatsa to Algeria respectively.

Strange enough all the players mentioned to have been lured out of Kenya by their former coaches have never reported good tidings in their new outfits.

The KF Tirana duo did not last more than six months in Albania. They were socked to realize they had jumped from the fire to the frying pan.

Their mentor, Ze Maria was shortly relieved of his duties, they found a club struggling to pay salaries and allowances. They had no option but to come back home as prodigal sons. Eric Ouma was lucky to find a new base in Sweden’s Vasalunds IF football club.

One thing that stands out is that other clubs have had foreign coaches, but whenever they leave they do not bother sneaking out players from their old club. Could it be a case of not seing any worth poaching?

Why should Gor Mahia be the one targeted by former coaches luring players. Is there a loophole in their contracts or do they just have good players worth poaching by any coach worth his salt?

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