For the first time in 15-years, national football team Harambee Stars, managed by Sebastien Migne, has qualified for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a game to spare.
At the same time, Kenya’s youth teams also impressed at international assignments this year, giving fans every reason to believe there is plenty of talent for the future.
And with Stars captain Victor Wanyama enjoying limited time on the pitch owing to niggling injuries, striker Michael Olunga who plies his trade for Kashiwa Reysol, Zambia-based defender Musa Mohammed, Sweden-based winger Ovella Ochieng’, Sofapaka midfielder Dennis Odhiambo and Gor Mahia right back Philemon Otieno are some of the national team players who impressed.
The biannual Africa Cup of Nations football tournament is the continent’s premier national football team competition and Kenya’s qualification to the event, which will be staged either in Egypt or South Africa, hands Kenyan footballers a unique opportunity to showcase their talent to scouts from all over the world as they come face to face with established teams in African football, namely Cameroon, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.
Kenya’s qualification for the tournament was mainly aided by the team’s unbeaten run in Group ‘F’ qualifying matches in September and October.
Kenya’s good run stretched across three matches played at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi and Bahir Dar in Ethiopia against fancied Black Stars of Ghana, and Ethiopia.
Along the way, Kenya somehow benefited from the suspension of Sierra Leone by world football governing body Fifa, guaranteeing Harambee Stars players an early qualification for the tournament.
Kenya’s qualification for the tournament had seemed impossible to many fans on March 24 when the team fell 3-2 to lowly Central Africa Republic in an international friendly match at the Stade de Marrakech in Morocco.
This result, coming three days after the full-strength Kenyan team had settled for a disappointing 2-2 draw with Comoros in another friendly match at the same venue, elicited angry reaction on social media from frustrated football fans.
This was on the back of another humiliating 2-1 loss the team had suffered at the hands of Sierra Leone in Free Town in September 2017 on the opening day of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier matches, an outcome that put Stars on the back-foot from the word go.
Faced by growing public criticism, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa had to make a move. He announced in Morocco that Stanley Okumbi who was the team’s stand-in coach at the time, his assistant Frank Ouna and goalkeeper trainer Haggai Azande had been sacked with immediate effect.
And exactly 42 days later, coach Migne was unveiled in Nairobi. The 45-year-old Frenchman came in as the replacement for Belgian Paul Put who had quit in a huff in February after only three months in charge in view of a better offer from Guinea.
Migne was unveiled alongside Nicolas Bourriquet as assistant coach, Guillaune Coffy as goalkeeper trainer and Ludovic Breul who heads the team’s medical department.
Without a doubt, Migne, whose coaching record at the time was sketchy, had big shoes to fill, considering that Put had quickly emerged a favourite of the fans after leading Kenya to victory in the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup hosted in Kenya.
“If we qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations tournament, that’s fine, but to play in this competition in 2021 is a must for me and Kenya,” a beaming Migne said at his unveiling.
“We wanted someone (a coach) who can appreciate when the lights suddenly go off, when the car doesn’t arrive on time, or when we suddenly have to train on a water-logged pitch,” added Mwendwa.
Fast forward to December and Migne remains unbeaten in competitive assignments since taking charge of the team.
Without doubt, that 1-0 win over a star-studded Ghana at Kasarani Stadium in Group F matches of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers was the team’s highlight performance of the year.
Also worth noting is the fact that the Frenchman achieved this result with 10-men following the sending off of Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango just after the restart.
What’s more, captain Victor Wanyama – who has worryingly been on the treatment table for long spells this year – alongside attacker Ayub Timbe missed the match owing to injury and suspension.
“When we beat Ghana, I knew we would qualify. We worked so hard to prepare for that match and we had to endure a lot during the 90 minutes. I believe it is the start of something good for this team. I hope we can retain the coach, and also have good preparations ahead of the continental championship,” said Mohammed who is Kenya’s deputy captain.
A month later, Migne took his charges to Bahir Dar in Ethiopia and managed to pick a precious point to add to their tally in the qualifiers.
The former coach of the Democratic Republic of Congo then sealed the deal with a convincing victory over Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes in Nairobi.
Sadly, this inspirational tale has taken a negative turn as Migne and his colleagues have had to work in a far from an ideal environment, occasioned by consistent salary delays. On two separate occasions since his appointment, Migne has threatened to quit the job owing to unpaid salary stretching three months. Meanwhile, FKF has consistently directed the blame to the government.
“I have just checked my account and there is no money,” Migne said this month.
“It is not a good thing at all and it means I will not be able to continue in this role (as Harambee Stars coach). It is very unfortunate after what we have achieved as a team for this great country.”
At the same time, Kenya’s steady rise this year also highlighted the emergence of fringe players such as Musa Mohammed, Philemon Otieno, Joash Onyango and Ovella Ochieng’ who made a name for themselves as dependable players.
The success by Harambee Stars seemed to have spilled over to the youth team as Kenya Under-23 team, nicknamed Emerging Stars, recorded convincing victories over Mauritius in the opening round of the 2020 Olympics qualifiers.
The team, coached by Francis Kimanzi, defeated the Indian Ocean islanders 8-1 on aggregate, which included a 5-0 thrashing at home, to reach the second round of the competition where they face Sudan in March next year.
Kenya Under-23 team is seeking to qualify for the Olympics for the first team. Meanwhile, Kenya Under-17 team finished fourth at the regional Cecafa youth tournament.
The team also made it to the semi-finals of the Fifa-sponsored youth tournament in Tanzania but this performance was enough to guarantee qualification to the continental championship. The Under-16 team won the Copa-Coca Cola African championship in Nakuru.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.