Why is ‘Ghost’ not utilising Nyakeya?
Charles Thuku and Edwin Otieno
When former Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi summoned Cliff Nyakeya to the national team, he must have noticed the qualities of the player.
After all, Kimanzi was doubling up as the Head Coach of Mathare United and by selecting him for national team duties, it was apparent that he had acknowledged the Al Masry (Egypt) player as a national team material.
Fast forward to 2020 after Kimanzi relinquished the coaching job ahead of back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Comoros in Nairobi and Moroni, he was replaced by Jacob ’Ghost’’ Mulee.
Nyakeya was the man of the match when Harambee Stars beat Zambia’s ‘Chipolopolo’ 2-1 in a friendly build-up match on October 9, he was the man of the match, scoring the first goal and contributing to the second goal which was awarded to him despite appearing to be an own goal.
In the next international match, against Comoros on November 11 in Nairobi, he created the assist for Masoud Juma as the sides shared spoils 1-1 and during the return leg in Moroni he was on target, scoring the consolation goal as Stars lost 2-1.
Coming into the last two Group G matches against Egypt and Togo, most fans and football pundits expected him to play a key role, especially given the fact that coach Mulee had opted not to call most foreign based players like Ayub Timbe, Victor Wanyama, Eric Johana, Brian Mandela and Johanna Omollo, but voila, he did not make it in the starting line-up in both matches.
In the first fixture, Stars’ 1-1 draw against Egypt, despite the fact that he is a regular and first team player for his club in the Egyptian league, he started on the bench with coach Mulee opting to use Abdallah Hassan and Lawrence Juma instead of him.
He was introduced to the match later in the second half and his first touch almost turned into an assist, but he just lasted for five minutes before he was sacrificed for Nahashon Alembi after Jonstone Omurua was sent off.
Against Togo he also started on the bench, just to be given a chance later on when the visitors were already leading 2-0.
“It is shocking to see a player of Nyakeya’s quality to be sitting on the bench in matches where we really need to win.
This is a player who plays in a very competitive league and starts in almost all Al Masry matches.
He is very disciplined and versatile, in fact he is one of the few foreign based players who normally travel straight to the team’s camp upon arrival from his base in Egypt,” said a Harambee Stars team official who sought anonymity.
He added: “I’m sure Nyakeya himself could be wondering what is going on.”
But Mulee during the team’s luncheon upon their return from Lome, Togo, said that all players had an equal chance to represent the national team and urged those who did not get a chance for specific matches, should respect the technical bench’s decision and support the players doing the job at the specific moment.