In 2005, then KFF secretary general Dan Omino officially protested to CAF over its draws of continental matches. While attending a CAF congress, he presented a strong protest to CAF over its penchant for always pitting Kenyan teams against Egypt teams in the opening rounds of the continental tournaments.
According to Omino the practise of always pairing Kenyan teams with Egyptian sides was killing football in the country.
“We cannot accept this anymore. It is too much as our teams are almost always locked out,” he said.
Omino indicated that this practise started after the new millenium: “During the 80s our clubs could play, sides from the region and even West Africa. By the time they meet Egyptian clubs it was in later stages of the competitions,” he said.
Omino was panned and dismissed by many football pundits. CECAFA secretary general Nicholas Musonye dismissed the argument and said Kenyan clubs do not take such competitions seriously.
“The draws are done in an open manner. The difference is that Kenyan clubs do not take the tournaments seriously,” he said.
A closer look however reveals that there may be a conspiracy. There are 53 countries in Africa yet for some reason, Kenyan teams are pitted against Egyptians teams usually in the preliminary round or in round one.
Some may dismiss this as an unfounded conspiracy but we all know that CAF is not exactly a paragon of fair play. It is a corrupt organization where everything is done in a secretive manner.
Years after Dan Omino filed his complaint, the penchant for CAF to pit Kenyan teams against Egyptians teams in the opening rounds of continental tournaments continues unabated.
In recent years Kenyan teams have been eliminated by Egyptian teams no less than 10 times. Only one team (Sofapaka in 2011) have succeed in eliminating an Egyptian side. On three other occasions, a Kenyan team was eliminated in the preliminary round which had they won, they would have faced an Egyptian side in round 1.
2013 is another egregious case because yet again Kenyan teams were pitted against Egyptian teams. Not just one Kenyan team but both the Kenyan teams in continental tournaments (Tusker and Gor Mahia) had to contend with Egyptian teams in round 1. From the looks of things, The Egyptians are set to come away victors yet again.
Ulinzi played Zamalek in the preliminary round of the Champions league and lost 0-5 aggregate.
Sofapaka played Ismaily in the 1st round of the Confederations cup and beat them 4-2. The only Kenyan team to eliminate an Egyptian team.
Sofapaka played Ismaily in the preliminary round and lost 0-2 aggregate
AFC Leopards lost to Banks of Ethiopia in the preliminary round of the Confederations cup. Had they won , they were due to play Haras El Hodood of Egypt in round 1
Gor Mahia lost to APR in the preliminary round. Had they won, they were due to play Haras El Hodood in round one.
Tusker were disqualified because immigration officials refused to allow the match referee entry into the country. They were due to play Al Tahrir of Eritrea. Had they won, they would have played Al Ahly in the 1st round.
In 2008 and 2007, Kenya did not field teams in the Confederations cup
Tusker lost 0-5 aggregate to Al Ahly in the 1st round of the Champions cup
Tusker lost 2-3 aggregate to Zamalek in the 1st round of the champions cup
Chemelil Sugar failed to participate in the preliminary round of the Confederations cup against Banks of Ethiopia. Had they won they were due to face Mokawloon Al Arab, also of Egypt
Nzoia Sugar lost 7-1 aggregate to Al Ahly in the 1st round of the Champions league
Mumias Sugar failed to participate in the CAF confederations cup
Oserian lost 1-2 to Al Ahly in the 1st round of the champions league
Mathare United lost 4-0 Al Masry of Egypt in the first round of the CAF confederations cup
Tusker lost 1-2 aggregate to Al Ahly in the 1st round of the Champions league
Shabana lost to Hay Al Arab of Sudan in the CAF confederations cup, had they won, they were due to play Ismaily of Egypt in the next round
AFC Leopards lost to Rayon Sport of Rwanda in the champions league. Had they won, they were due to play Al Ahly in the next round
Gor Mahia lost 4-1 aggergate to Zamalek in the 1st round of the CAF cup
Egyptians teams are by far the strongest, best organized and best financed teams in Africa. For the people at CAF to make a point of always pitting Kenyan teams against Egyptian teams could mean one of three things
1. They do not want Kenyan teams to progress.
2. They want to give Egyptian teams an easy pass through the opening rounds knowing that Kenyan teams do not typically offer strong opposition.
3. This is all just a coincidence and there is no conspiracy
Judge for yourself. But before you judge, consider the fact that in the last 15 years or so, Kenyan clubs have not played against teams from countries like Morocco, South Africa , Nigeria, CIV, Algeria, Congo, Ghana, Libya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroun and a host of other countries. Yet they have been slated to play Egyptian teams at least a dozen times.
What can Kenyan teams do ?
Egyptian sides are clearly doing something right perhaps we can use these opportunities to learn about what structures they have in place and hopefully apply some of those lessons at home. Even then, Kenyan sides face a tall order if they continue to be slated against Egyptian sides which typically have budgets that can compare with teams in western Europe.