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Plans to bring EPL giants to Kenya unveiled

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NAIROBI, Kenya, December 6- Fancy watching the Manchester duo of United and City as well as London giants Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham line-up against Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards or Sofapaka here in Kenya?

How about witnessing Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, Spurs Gareth Bale or Chelsea’s Juan Mata tearing up and down the wing at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani or United’s Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney bursting the net at Nyayo National Stadium?

Or better still, Dan Sserunkuma beating Peter Cech in the Chelsea goal after Rama Salim nutmegs John Terry for a 2-1 K’Ogalo victory over Chelsea at City Stadium or Mike Baraza heading in the winner as Leopards beat Everton 1-0?

If the answer is yes, then the dream for many English Premier League (EPL) supporters is being worked on to being reality with a planned post-season tournament featuring the stalwarts of the game in the country in the cards.

Not only that, if all goes according to plan, Kenya could be hosting the 2019 Africa Nations Cup with the 2015 Africa Under-17 Championships being set aside as a dry run for the senior event the country failed to host in 1996 despite being given the hosting rights.

The football treats were unveiled on Thursday during Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba’s first round-table breakfast that featured various stakeholders including the CEO of UK based Openside Sports Limited, Archie Paton, who is organising the proposed EPL tournament in the country.

“Tottenham and Manchester United have visited African countries in the past and we want to invite them here so that we can promote sports tourism as well as inspire our players to raise the standards of our game,” Namwamba underscored.

“I met CAF President, Issa Hayatou in Uganda and we expressed our interest to host the 2019 edition since Morocco and Libya have already secured the 2015 and 2017 Nations Cup.

“The 2015 Africa under 17 championships will be used as a pilot of what is expected during the staging of the senior event,” the minister continued.

To realise the objectives set, Namwamba said the ministry was finalising plans to ensure proper infrastructure was in place while inviting the corporate sector to invest in making the ambitious plans possible.

Paton announced that discussions with European governing body UEFA were ongoing to give the plan the path it needs to achieve standards required to host such glamorous sides.

“Our idea is to have a tournament here where EPL teams can play Kenyan teams and to make this happen, we have a proposal that can work if given the necessary support.

“The Government has embraced the idea and now, we shall be approaching a number of companies operating here, some who support EPL teams to come on board,” the CEO expressed.

The minister challenged Football Kenya Federation (FKF) whose president Sam Nyamweya was present to ensure that Kenya qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to act as a marketing tool for the country’s game.

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