Nick Mwendwa on why foreign-based players dominate Harambee Stars call ups

FKF media

FOOTBALL Nick Mwendwa on why foreign-based players dominate Harambee Stars call ups

Mark Kinyanjui 07:15 - 25.05.2023

In the last squad that faced Iran, a number of new debutants based abroad were called up.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa has revealed why Harambee Stars call-ups are mostly dominated by foreign-based players. 

Last week, Kenya, alongside Uganda and Tanzania revealed an East Africa Pamoja plan which enabled them to bid the hosting rights of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). 

Mwendwa further revealed plans to make Harambee Stars as competitive as possible in an interview with K24 TV.

However, questions were raised as to why the latest squad did not have a lot of local-based players called up but rather foreign-based ones. 

Mwendwa was quick to compare the situation to countries like Brazil and Morocco who take part in international competitions with most players who are based abroad.

“Look around the world and study,” he said. “Look at the Morocco national team, do the players play at home?” Mwendwa added.

“The Brazil national team usually has only one player playing in the local league. It is a norm in the world that players playing in the national team are players normally playing in the highest level of football which is in Europe, preferably the Champions League and such.

“The level of our league is not at that professional level. Look at the City-Madrid match- We are a long way from that. If one of our players plays there it automatically becomes a choice for us.”

Mwendwa revealed plans to increase revenue streams across all football leagues in the country, not just the top flight but said that the details would be revealed later.

“The plans laid will raise the standards of our players and coaching. That way now in the next decade, the players will be able to match those playing in the Middle East and Europe.”

It is now common knowledge that the standard of pitches in the country is not of the level required to enhance player development, and Mwendwa revealed the purpose of bidding for AFCON 2027 was to have that state in mind.

“The pitch in Nyayo, for example, is very bumpy. By bidding for AFCON, we are trying to ensure that when you play there, you can play faster with higher quality (Once the upgrading is done).

“A kid who will be 16,17, 18 will be able to be exposed to such surfaces. Infrastructure is important. A player who plays at a good surface everyday stands a better chance (of going to Europe) than the one who does not.

“The challenge is to ensure that this 16-year-old will be at a level where he can compete with a European player by the time he is 24. The first step is by bidding for AFCON 2027 so that we have the right quality of pitches.

“At the grassroots level, you are now going them recruiting young players because they will realise manufacturing players is more lucrative than winning the league.”