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Raila slams football hooligans

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NAIROBI, Kenya, March 30- Prime Minister Raila Odinga waded in on the raging problem of football hooliganism in the country by cautioning supporters against acts of violence.

The Premier stressed sustained acts of chaos at local stadia particularly in match-ups involving archrivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards could discourage corporate organisations from promoting the game.

“We do not want hooliganism to ruin this game just when it is beginning to pick up. We do not want fans to scare corporations from participate in the promotion of the game” the premier warned.

He however challenged managers of the game to entrust the matches with referees and linesmen whose professional commitment and integrity were above reproach to avert disputes on the pitch.

The Premier was reacting to the recent incidents of hooliganism that marred the Kenya Derby between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards a fortnight ago at Nyayo National Stadium which led to property being destroyed in the melee that held up the match for over 26 minutes.

Last weekend, reports vehemently denied by Gor stated their travelling support forced their way to Afraha Stadium in Nakuru for their Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match against Sony Sugar.

Gor have since been banned from using Sports Stadia Management Board facilities in Nairobi for a season with KPL set to announce further disciplinary measures after a meeting on Friday.

Odinga raised the concerns at a Thursday night cocktail launch of a book by Leopards striker Allan Wanga titled Striking It High.

He challenged the local football fraternity that it was long overdue for the national team to make an appearance in the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup championships respectively.

“It is a challenge I have posed time and again to my friend Sam Nyamweya and leaders of all other teams. We have waited for too long,” the premier added.

He said although the players were more than often faced with numerous challenges ranging from multiple coaching changes and delayed allowances; the team must stay focused to post results.

Odinga also appealed to football officials to nurture talents of upcoming players and ensure that they accessed the best possible training to realize their full potentials.

Wanga who is currently on loan with Leopards was previously signed by Petro Atletico of Angola, FC Baku of Armenia before enlisting with Hang Ghal FC of Vietnam.

His book ghost written by The Standard football correspondent Gilbert Wandera is expected to inspire young players that it was possible to realize their dreams as it gives a chronology of his struggles to stardom after his father retired to their rural home.

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