Harambee Stars’ Victor Wanyama (left) tussles for the ball with Manuel Kambala of Mozambique during Sunday's International friendly. Harambee Stars lost the match 1-0. www.businesstoday.co.ke
Harambee Stars’ Victor Wanyama (left) tussles for the ball with Manuel Kambala of Mozambique during Sunday's International friendly. Harambee Stars lost the match 1-0. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya’s national football team, Harambee Stars, is set to begin its road to qualifying for the 2021 African Cup of Nations with a match against Egypt on November 14.

However, logistical challenges faced by the federation are likely to give the Pharaohs an advantage over Harambee Stars. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has been finding it difficult to sponsor its activities. Recently, Harambee Starlets training camp had to be closed because of the same issue.

On Tuesday evening, FKF President Nick Mwendwa announced that the government is yet to fund air tickets for the foreign-based players including captain Victor Wanyama and Michael Olunga to fly directly to Cairo. These players will not have enough time to train with the team as they will meet up with the team in Cairo ahead of the fixture.

In the recent past, the Kenyan Sports scene has been characterized by cries from organisers about little or no funding to facilitate activities. Mwendwa has been the centre of this as he has continuously pleaded with the government for funds.

Recently Harambee Starlets, the women team, had to cut short their training camp because of lack of funds. Starlets, who were training for their last fixture in the Olympics qualifiers, were later ordered to return to training after Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed assured FKF that the team’s budgetary requests will be met.

Even with Harambee Stars likely to have troubles preparing for the match against the Pharaohs, there doesn’t seem to be a permanent solution to the lack of funds issue. Sports Federations heads are blaming the Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia for what they (the federations) are facing.

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Four sports federations Tuesday trained their guns at Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, accusing him of failing to release funds required by national teams and athletes to compete in international assignments.

While presenting their case at the Committee on Sports of the National Assembly, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa explained that the men’s and women’s national football teams are unable to honour international engagements in the coming week owing to a lack of funds.

The International break is set to begin after this coming weekend but Harambee Stars are not ready to begin their preparations for their match against Egypt. Mwendwa has insisted that failure to honour the fixtures risks Kenya receiving bans from the global football governing body, FIFA.

Harambee Stars are set to face Egypt in Cairo in the opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on November 14 while Starlets have to negotiate through two 2020 Olympics qualification games versus Zambia.

If we don’t participate in the two matches, there is the real risk for Kenya being sanctioned by Fifa and prevented from participating in the 2024 Olympics and the even the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations,” Mwendwa told the committee, chaired by Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka.

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Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected]

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