Ababu Namwamba, the Sports Cabinet Secretary, has weighed in on the topic of national team selection, following protests from a segment of Kenyans about the removal of Gor Mahia striker Benson Omala from the Harambee Stars lineup.
Omala, the FKF Premier League’s leading scorer with six goals, was left out of Kenya’s squad to face Russia in a friendly match in Turkey on Monday. Some fans have complained about ‘favoritism,’ but Namwamba believes the coach has every right to select whoever he believes would deliver the best results.
“The view of the ministry and government is that the coach must be given the chance to build a team that he believes can compete because if we start taking the responsibilities of selecting a team for the coach, then all of us will come up with our teams,” Namwamba said during an interview on West TV.
“Recently when Gareth Southgate selected his England team, I heard complaints why Harry Maguire continues to be selected, why Kalvin Philips who plays few games for Man City has been selected. Many fans in England do not understand but it is up to Southgate. If the team does not play well, then he will be responsible,” he added.
The CS believes that constraining the coach to select certain players will make it easier for him to shift blame when he fails to perform.
“If you force the coach to select a certain player, if he loses, he will say it is you who forced him to select certain players. We have given the coach the free hand to select players. What we help the coach with is to identify the players who he might not know of and where they are,” he added.
Regarding Omala’s omission, the CS stated that the door was not closed for the striker because Firat had already given him opportunities.
Omala was left out of Kenya’s friendly match against Iran in March before being called up for the Four Nations tournament in June, but he was left out of the squad for September friendly matches against Qatar and South Sudan.
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