Montreal midfielder Victor Wanyama’s recent decision to decline a request to join the Kenyan national team for a friendly match against Iran has sparked discussions about the state of African football and the need for greater professionalism in the management of national teams.
Wanyama cited a lack of professionalism within the team’s management as the reason for his decision, criticizing the high turnover of coaches and constant changes of players within the team, which he believes have made it difficult for the Harambee Stars to perform well on the international stage.
“It’s a bit difficult because we have a lot of good players but the problem has been they didn’t settle for one coach. Having different coaches changing players all the time is tough. But now hopefully they have settled for one coach.” Wanyama said.
In an interview with BBC Sport Africa, Wanyama stated that he has spoken to the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sports and the new coach about a possible return, but he needs more time to consider it.
“I spoke to the minister and I spoke to the (new) coach. They’re all asking me to go back but I said ‘I need a bit of time to think about this. Maybe I can come back and help the team, help the young players coming through to understand what it means to represent their country. I think the players deserve better treatment and more professionalism.”
He emphasized that the players deserve better treatment and more professionalism, and that the constant upheaval in Kenyan football has hindered the country’s development in the sport.
“I speak to some of the players a lot, trying to advise them on what they should do and I believe it is just a matter of time before they will be in the world’s top leagues,” he said, adding on that;
“But one of the biggest platforms for them to be seen is playing for your national team, representing your country. When they take it away from young players then it is difficult for them. Hopefully Kenya can get back to where they belong because we lost a lot when the country was not playing competitive games,” he added.
Kenyan football has been in disarray in recent years, with seven coaches appointed in just six years and allegations of misappropriation of funds leading to the Harambee Stars being expelled from qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Wanyama’s comments have highlighted the need for change and greater investment in African football.
With talented players like Wanyama in their ranks, African national teams have the potential to compete on the international stage, but only if they are given the support and resources they need to succeed.
As the conversation around African football continues, it remains to be seen whether Wanyama will return to the Harambee Stars.
However, his comments have already had an impact, drawing attention to the challenges facing African football and the need for greater professionalism and investment in the sport.