Each season, the names start circulating. As coaches already in the hot seats begin to lose games, the media and fans start thinking of the next crop of candidates to fill their spots.
Often, they emerge based on teams having good runs. For others, it's a product of reputations they have been building for several years. And then there are the names that seemingly get thrown out for every job but never materialize into much more than innuendo.
This list, however, focuses solely on the names that are most likely move up the ladder next year based on attractiveness, timing and potential willingness to leave their current jobs. You'll hear a lot about these guys in the next few months.
Ken Ochieng (Zoo Kericho)
There aren't many coaches who look better in a sports short or can pull a ‘young Mourinhoescue' style of dressing. The lawyer has outdone himself, steering the club to a third place (as I write) despite having added responsibilities of being the club owner. His coaching badges apart, we hope he has the required accolades that will enable him be at the touchline should his team make it to the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). Who would not want those epic pictures of the fashionista?
Bernard Mwalala (Nzoia United FC)
There could only be one, couldn't there? Bernard Mwalala has done pretty well with Nzoia United at the helm and has been billed as one of the best if not the best we have in the 254 borders. He has lost only one match in the entire 2016 National Super League (NSL) season, and eliminated the best of the teams in country in the GOtv Shield and it won’t be a miracle if he continues with the same vein in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) come 2017. Perhaps the only thing challenging him now is his own ambition and where the next test lies. Like Mike Mururi before him, the KPL awaits.
John Baraza (Sofapaka FC)
If there is one reason why Sofapaka stayed afloat in the KPL for another season, then it should be on John Baraza. When head coach David Ouma was busy with the national football ladies team, the Harambee Starlets, Baraza took it upon himself to ensure the club got the required results.
It is believed the players played for him and his rapport with everyone at the club was on top. The club is said to be going for Sam Ssimbwa as the head coach next season but with Baraza currently taking his coaching badges, it won’t be long until we see one of the most decorated players in this country lead his own team.
William Muluya (Kariobangi Sharks)
Plucked from the Mathare United periphery when just a few had noticed his abilities, Kariobangi Sharks traded a path that least had tried and it worked. He arrived at Sharks when coach Michael Amenga wasn’t having the best of seasons and straight away changed the club fortunes.
Since his arrival, the club is yet to lose a match in the NSL which has pushed the side to second on the log with a KPL spot almost confirmed. The soft spoken tactician is a man many would like to admire, from his demeanor to his post-match comments. The KPL comes with its challenges but his exploits will ensure he won’t be short of suitors if he was to call it a day at Kariobangi Sharks.
Paul Ogai (Palos FC)
You can’t mention the 2016 NSL season without touching on Palos FC. In their first season in the league, the Kisumu based side has sent shock waves around the football divide and boasts one of the best assembled management in the country. Palos' performance this season can be ranked as above average and this all should be attributed to coach Ogai exploits.
When the team gave him a role to oversee the youth programme when his position was taken by James Odijo Omondi, they struggled-a period that forced the management to bring him back to the team to get them back on track and he didn’t disappoint. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea but one that shows what young Kenyan tacticians can do when given a chance.
Mike Mururi (Kakamega Homeboyz)
Rumors have it that Mike Mururi is the man lined up to deputize for Stewart Hall under the new AFC Leopards management but why would a coach, who has exceeded expectations be someone’s understudy?
Mururi needs no introduction for those who have been following the country’s soccer. He was in charge of Chemelil Sugar in the 2014 season when the team kept 19 clean sheets in the process, a feat that handed him the Coach of the Year accolade. Defensive discipline was one of his attributes that earned Kakamega Homeboyz an eighth place finish on their return to the top flight but his experience in working with the youth has been lauded across the board.