The return of Francis Kimanzi

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News that former National team Coach Francis Kimanzi has been hired back to lead the National team will augur well with many – those who will recall his record of 2008.

On Tuesday 1 November 2011, Kimanzi was handed back his old job, a call that relegates the current Coach Zedekiah Zico Otieno who has been in charge from January 2011.

In his debut stint back in 2008, Kimanzi endeared himself with fans as extremely tactical, good at reading the game and engaging his squad as per the game at hand – more offensive at home and more defensive away.

Hired while at Mathare United in May 2008, Kimanzi will particularly be remembered for lifting Kenya up the FIFA ranking from 120 in the month he took over the team to 68 – Kenya’s best ever placing since the ranking system was introduced back in 1993.

his first match on 31 May 2008

Kimanzi led the National team through 13 international games in a seven month stint. Of the 13, Kimanzi registered six wins (46.2%), four draws (30.8%) and three losses (23 %)

Beyond improving Kenya’s ranking, Kimanzi had one of the best defensive records for Kenya- having gone five straight games in 2008 without Kenya conceding a goal. Of the 13 games, Harambee Stars went a total of eight games without letting in a goal. From the only three loses, the team went down by a margin of one goal. Throughout his games, the National team scored 21 times and conceded only eight goals.

Within a week of being hired, soon after the Kenyan Premier League stepped in to back the National team during the second phase of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations/World Cup qualifiers, Kimanzi got down to his first match on 31 May 2008 in Windhoek.

With the game at 1-1, Kenyan conceded a late goal to go down 2-1, a result that led to immediate changes in Kenya’s back line.

A week later – on 7 June 2008, Kenya hosted mighty Guinea – and won 2-0 thanks to a brace from Dennis Oliech. The very next weekend – 14 June, It was Zimbabwe’s turn to go down by the same score line.

last game in charge of the National team.

On 21 June, Kimanzi led Kenya to a barren draw away to Zimbabwe which was then followed by a barren draw away to Malawi on 6 July during an international friendly game. Kenya then beat Namibia 1-0 on 6 September before conceding the most goals in a game in going down 3-2 to Guinea in the last phase qualifier on 12 October 2008.

After the qualifiers, Kimanzi then took the National team for the annual CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Uganda.

The team posted two straight barren draws – against Sudan on 31 December 2008 and Zambia on 2 January 2009 before posting the first group win, a 1-5 rout of Djibouti on 6 January 2009.

A 1-0 win over Burundi on 8 January sent the team to the semis, and a 2-1 win over Tanzania three days later booked the team a final date with hosts Uganda on 13 January. The team fell 1-0 to end up as runner up. The final also marked Kimanzi’s last game in charge of the National team.

sent him packing

On 23 January, the National team had an invite to play Egypt in a friendly but Kimanzi never made that trip – he had been shown the door.

Kimanzi allegedly did not approve of the ‘meaningless’ friendly and four days before – on 19 January 2009 he was fired at a press conference held at the Nairobi Safari club.

The words that sent him packing came from the then Secretary General of Football Kenya Ltd (FKL), Sammy Joel Obingo.

The man who had taken over from Jacob Ghost Mulee was then replaced by John Bobby Ogola – who only managed the Egypt friendly before being replaced by German Antoine Hey.

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