Spitting, shadowy roles and bans: The scandalous tale of former Harambee Stars coach


FOOTBALL Spitting, shadowy roles and bans: The scandalous tale of former Harambee Stars coach

Festus Chuma 10:00 - 22.01.2024

Former Harambee Stars head coach's controversial career spans spitting at referees, an eight-match ban, and allegations of being a player agent, leaving African football divided and intrigued.

Africa, the continent known for its passionate love affair with football, has witnessed its fair share of controversies and eccentricities on the pitch.

Among the many enigmatic personalities that have graced the African football scene, few have ignited as much debate and intrigue as Adel Amrouche.

With a history marred by bans, allegations, and provocative statements, Amrouche remains a figure that both fascinates and bewilders fans, players, and pundits alike.

Amrouche's tumultuous journey through African football is riddled with controversies that range from spitting at referees to accusations of being a player agent.

Despite these dark clouds hanging over his career, he continues to find himself in prestigious coaching positions across the continent.

The question that lingers is whether he is one of the world's most controversial coaches or simply a misunderstood figure navigating the complex world of African football.

Amrouche's coaching career has been nothing short of nomadic, with stints in charge of Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Kenya, Libya, Botswana and Tanzania. Each stop along the way seems to have been accompanied by its own set of tumultuous events and allegations.

One particularly dramatic episode occurred during his tenure as Burundi's national team coach. After guiding the Swallows to a 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe in a 2013 AFCON qualifier, he shockingly announced his resignation. His reasons were revealing of the challenges he faced in managing a national team.

“I’m afraid I have to resign, I can’t continue to train a team which can’t prepare for games properly," he lamented. "I think I have achieved my objective but I can’t go any further, we don’t get to play friendlies, we don’t have enough equipment, and I can only get access to some players on match days."

Amrouche's abrupt departure from Burundi raised eyebrows and fueled suspicions about his true intentions. Allegations began to surface that he was using the national team to further his own interests as a player agent.

The cloud of controversy that hovered over Amrouche was further darkened by accusations of being a player agent. Questions emerged about his involvement in helping players secure moves to foreign clubs, often using his position as a national team coach as leverage.

In Kenya, where he signed a contract to coach the Harambee Stars, Amrouche was implicated in the transfer of Kenyan forward Raphael Mungai Kiongera to German club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Similar allegations arose when he was linked to defender David ‘“Cheche’’ Ochieng's move to a Saudi Arabian top-flight side, Al Taawoun.

These accusations gained traction when both Kiongera and Ochieng were named in his provisional squad to face Namibia in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Amrouche vehemently denied the allegations, stating, “I work here for Kenya. If the national team is good, it’s good for everybody. If we go to the Africa Nations Cup, Kenya goes to the African Cup."

The gaffer portrayed himself as a coach motivated by good intentions, claiming that he was helping players secure better futures for themselves and their families.

One of the most notorious incidents in Amrouche's career involved an act of utter disrespect towards a match official.

In July 2014, during a 2015 AFCON qualifier against the Comoros, he was caught spitting at the referee. Such behavior was in direct violation of CAF rules and regulations, which stipulated that spitting at a match official should be punished by a 12-match ban.

Amrouche's employers at the Football Kenya Federation appealed against the one-year suspension, and after a review, his ban was reduced to six matches. However, before this review could be completed, the Kenyan authorities terminated his contract and appointed Bobby Williamson as his replacement.

Amrouche fought back, and FIFA ruled in his favor. The matter escalated to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ordered the FKF to pay him approximately US$1 million as compensation.

FIFA also issued a stern warning to Kenya, threatening severe sanctions, including suspension from international competitions, if they failed to honor the compensation.

Perhaps one of the most incendiary controversies that Amrouche ignited involved Nigeria's national team, the Super Eagles.

While coaching the Libyan national team, he found himself at the center of a storm after suggesting that Nigeria used juju (witchcraft) in their matches.

“Believe me, I would rather play Nigeria than Bafana, because I have experience playing against Nigeria and, for me, Bafana have fantastic players and it’s not easy playing South Africa,’’ he boldly stated in a post-match media conference.

The comments sparked outrage in Nigeria, and just days before the Super Eagles were set to face Libya, Amrouche abruptly quit his job.

Sources indicated that his departure was partly due to unpaid wages and a rift that had developed between him and some of his players who were dissatisfied with his coaching methods.

Four years ago, Amrouche arrived in Botswana to take charge of the national team, known as the Zebras. Yet, even in this new chapter of his coaching career, the shadow of accusations about his role as a player agent followed him.

When questioned about these allegations, Amrouche remained steadfast in his denial: “Those are baseless accusations and I am not an agent. I use my connections from the people I know to assist my players, so that they can play in top leagues internationally."

He urged his players to aim high and aspire to play in Europe, where professional leagues and better financial opportunities awaited.

Whether these allegations are the result of a misunderstood coaching approach or a genuine concern about his intentions, they continue to cast a shadow over his career. 

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