NAIROBI (AFP) – Kenya on Wednesday appointed former Algerian international Adel Amrouche as their national football coach to take over from Frenchman Henri Michel whose contract was terminated in December.
The appointment was announced as the Kenya government backed a bid for the east African state to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 44-year-old naturalised Belgian, who quit his five-year stint as manager of Burundi after the team lost 2-1 to Zimbabwe in qualifying for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations a year ago, beat out 20 other applicants for the vacant job.
“Maybe the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) did not pick a big name, but I can assure you they have picked a hard worker – someone who can change the face of Kenyan football and is ready to open doors of opportunity for Kenyan footballers everywhere in the world,” said Amrouche at a news conference.
“I have followed Kenyan football for quite sometime now and I believe it is time for a new approach for the future so that we can make Kenya one of the big names in the continent and in the world,” he added.
Amrouche said his immediate task was to prepare the Harambee Stars for the 2014 World Cup qualifyier against newly-crowned African champions, Nigeria in Calabar on March 23.
“My mission with Kenya is to win the qualifiers for both the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. It is a big challenge but I want to write my name in African football,” said Amrouche, who has also coached Equatorial Guinea and managed a number of Algerian clubs.
The Kenya government meanwhile is supporting a bid to stage the 2018 Africa U-17 championships and the 2019 Nations Cup, sports minister Ababu Namwamba said.
“The government has given full support for the two events. We met the CAF President Issa Hayatou in Kampala last December and inform him on our serious intention to bring the championships to Kenya,” Namwamba said.
“We were told that before you host the senior competition, you first have to stage a junior tournament. That is why we want to hold the competitions here. It is a simple, strong committment on our part,” added the sports minister..
Kenya, which lost out on hosting the 1996 finals to South Africa, has two big national stadiums in Nairobi, but Namwamba has pledged that the government would seek for foreign funding to construct other stadias in other major Kenyan towns to host the championships.
The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Morocco, with the 2017 edition destined for Libya.
Apart from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also put forward its candidacy for the 2019 continental showcase.