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Kariobangi Sharks’ Muluya, Bandari’s Mwalala and Odhiambo of Sony among youthful tacticians revolutionising Kenyan game

Germany is leading the way.

The ‘second wave’ of German football’s renowned restructuring is here and it is not happening on the pitch, but in the dugout as five of Germany’s 18 top flight teams have a coach in their thirties.

The likes of Augsburg’s Manuel Baum (38) or Werder Bremen’s Alexander Nouri (38) would hardly have rolled off the tongue of most German football fans even 12 months ago.

Joining them this season was Hannes Wolf (37) who guided Stuttgart to promotion in his first campaign in charge before he was sacked three weeks ago while Sandro Schwarz (39) earned himself an internal promotion at Mainz, having been the club’s reserve-team coach.

Even younger is Domenico Tedesco (33) who took charge of Schalke after keeping Aue afloat in the second tier and then there’s Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann (31) who took them to a Champions League qualification place in his first full season in charge.

Kenya seems to be borrowing from this template. Gone are the days when veterans would flood the touchline in both the top flight SportPesa Premier League (SPL) and second tier National Super League (NSL).

At the moment, over 10 coaches in both SPL and NSL are either in their thirties or early forties which points to a revolution of some sort in the local leagues.

Kariobangi Sharks tactician William Muluya is Kenya’s version of  Nagelsmann.

Confederation Cup bow

The 32-year-old took over three years ago, leading Sharks from NSL to SPL in 2017 where they recorded an impressive third-place finish. To top it up, Sharks reached the GOtv Shield Cup final, losing to AFC Leopards and also had top scorer Masoud Juma in their ranks. 

The 2018 campaign may have yielded a sixth-place finish but it ended with a maiden trophy and a chance to represent Kenya in continental football.

Sharks beat Sofapaka 3-2 to claim the SportPesa Shield (righting the wrongs of 2017 in this competition) at Kasarani Stadium two weeks ago and with it came the opportunity to represent the country in the CAF Confederations Cup.

Like 2017, Sharks yet again produced the league’s Golden Boot winner, Eric Kapaito grabbing the crown this time courtesy of his 16 goals. 

It was testament of Muluya’s credentials and the CAF Level B coach believes this would not have been possible if the club did not take a risk on him.

“I think we offer a new dimension to football. Most of us are experimental and try out new things which gives us an idea of what the modern game desires. The times have changed and that means we try new things,” said

Muluya who started coaching at the tender age of 25.

The man nicknamed KANU, was introduced to the game by Mathare United founder Bob Munro and inspired by veteran tactician Twahir Muhiddin. He believes personal rapport with the playing unit is key to succeeding as a young coach since such tacticians deal with players almost their age.

Mwalala’s magic

Another young coach making his mark in the Kenyan top flight is 34-year-old Bandari FC tactician Bernard Mwalala.

The former Kenyan international made his mark at Nzoia Sugar when like Muluya, took them to the top flight in 2017 where they finished an impressive ninth in their maiden campaign.

He ditched the sugar millers in July to replace Ken Odhiambo at Bandari where he has stumped his authority as the dockers finished second in the 2018 campaign against all odds, recording the best defence that conceded just 20 goals (11 less than champions Gor Mahia).

Without him, Nzoia struggled and managed a 13th place finish with 41 points, just four above the relegation zone.

In Awendo, Sony Sugar could have found themselves fighting for relegation at the back end of the 2018 SPL season had they not acted early by appointing Patrick Odhiambo. The 41-year-old took over in April with the club in 16th place and in danger of another relegation dog fight but his shrewd recruitment in the mid-season June transfer window (13 players were brought in) plus his brilliant man-management saw the sugar millers put together a good run that ended with a ninth-place finish which ooked impossible when he arrived.

“We had a torrid time at the start of my tenure here and I think this was brought about by the lack of leaders in the team. We sat down and each and every one gave their opinions on how they felt we could improve the team and since then, we all can see the change. There is a thin line between the players, technical bench and the management and this cohesion has been one reason why we have done well,” Odhiambo said.

NSL’s own

In the NSL, Elvis Ayany, 40, led KCB back to the top flight after a three-year absence. This was after the bankers had tried different personalties without success and he also believes the key to success is how you relate with the players.

“They are a different breed and so understanding their attitude, playing ability and organisation is critical. The younger coaches have a better bond with these players because they understand them better,” said the former Ulinzi Stars striker. Ayany, who ranks Henry Mbugua and Peter Ambetsa as his coaching idols, has since been replaced by former Wazito coach Fran Ouna (another young coach) whom he will now deputise.

Former Harambee Stars and Tusker FC coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, who also delved into coaching at a young age when there were few daring to do so, says the new wave of youthful tacticians is worth cherishing.

“These guys have hunger to show their skill and have definitely revolutionised the game. What Mwalala and Muluya have done proves that local coaches can do it at the top level and need encouragement. I am also impressed to see former internationals like Danstun Nyaudo (Ulinzi Stars) and John Baraza (Sofapaka) give back their understanding of the game to their clubs,” said Mulee, now a football commentator.

QUOTE

“Most of us are experimental and try out new things which gives us an idea of what the modern game desires. The times have changed and that means we try new things,” -Kariobangi Sharks coach William Muluya

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