KENYANS’ CHAN PLEA TO CAF

African Independent - - SPORT - THOMAS KWENAITE

KENYA has in des­per­a­tion ap­plied to the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (Caf ) to at least in­clude them in the 2018 African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship (Chan) should the tour­na­ment be handed to a coun­try that has qual­i­fied.

In the aftermath of the widely ex­pected de­ci­sion that saw the con­ti­nen­tal body strip­ping the east Africans of the right to host the Chan, Foot­ball Kenya Fed­er­a­tion (FKF) pres­i­dent Nick Mwendwa tabled a pro­posal to Caf.

The FKF boss tabled a mo­tion that Kenya should be al­lowed ei­ther to en­ter as a sub­sti­tute for the coun­try that wins the host­ing rights if that par­tic­u­lar na­tion has al­ready qual­i­fied, or be al­lowed to en­gage in a play-off.

“If the coun­try that wins the bid has qual­i­fied, then one of the things we want to do is to ask Caf whether we can have a play-off match with the num­ber two team from that group and the win­ner qual­i­fies,” Mwendwa pro­posed.

The east Africans were last week stripped of the right to host the bi­en­nial tour­na­ment re­served for play­ers based in Africa due to their fail­ure to of­fer guar­an­tees that the venues would be ready to host the event.

Ghana has emerged as the fron­trun­ner to host the tour­na­ment after throw­ing their name into the hat when Caf opened up new bids for the host­ing rights, with Egypt, Morocco and South Africa also men­tioned among pos­si­ble can­di­dates.

Kenyan Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Peter Kaberia con­ceded after Caf had taken the de­ci­sion that he did not think the Min­istry of Sport had failed the peo­ple of Kenya after the gov­ern­ment had re­leased funds to re­fur­bish in­fra­struc­ture only a week ago.

“I don’t think the min­istry has failed Kenyans,” said Kaberia.

“The peo­ple in the min­istry worked hard and I would be un­fair to wa­ter down the ef­forts to blame game, and I can’t sit here and blame my boss be­cause of what he did or did not do,” Kaberia said.

Kenya was awarded the right to host the tour­na­ment in Rwanda al­most two years ago.

How­ever, it was not un­til Septem­ber 21, 2017 that the Cabi­net fi­nally ap­proved a Sh4.2 bil­lion (US$4.1m) bud­get for the tour­na­ment.

“We could have done it ear­lier,” said Kabeira.

“I am not run­ning away from any­thing. I am tak­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity. I will com­mit to fol­low it up (ren­o­va­tions) and make sure we fin­ish it be­cause I am sure we have a good chance of putting up good fa­cil­i­ties for the fu­ture.”

Caf listed among its rea­sons for tak­ing away the tour­na­ment from Kenya the slow progress of ren­o­va­tions as they felt most of the work would not be com­pleted by De­cem­ber, a month be­fore the cham­pi­onship.

“I know many peo­ple want me out, but I will not re­sign,” said FKF pres­i­dent Mwendwa.

“There is an elec­tion in 2020 and those wish­ing me to re­sign should wait till then to have their names on the bal­lot. I made it clear that if we missed Chan be­cause of a mis­take by FKF then I would re­sign. But it was not through the FKF.”

This is the sec­ond time Kenya has been stripped of host­ing rights of a ma­jor con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion. In 1996, Kenya won the bid to host the Africa Cup of Na­tions, but like in 2017 they were also stripped of the rights over the same rea­sons.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

Sala­hed­dine Saidi of Wy­dad AC cel­e­brates scor­ing with team­mates dur­ing their Caf Cham­pi­ons League sec­ond leg quar­ter-fi­nal en­counter against South Africa’s Mamelodi Sun­downs in Ra­bat, Morocco, last week­end

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