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Stars players in Darfur ‘boycott’

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WANYAMA-NIGERIANAIROBI, Kenya, March 5- National football team, Harambee Stars, players have reportedly revolted in Khartoum by declining to travel to the northern city of Darfur after their FIFA Day international friendly with hosts Sudan that was to be played Wednesday was pushed to the next day.

Unconfirmed reports say the match has been rescheduled to Thursday which falls outside the world governing body window with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) having used the FIFA Day to compel clubs to release their players with majority of the squad led by captain and Southampton FC midfielder, Victor Wanyama, seeking q quick exit from Khartoum.

Sources in the Sudanese capital say the squad of 20 plays and seven officials was holed up at Khartoum Airport for hours before they were transported to their hotel and informed the game would be played on Thursday at 3pm local time as opposed to Wednesday 6pm.

This sparked a protest with the foreign based contingent who risk heavy fines by failing to return on time as well as Gor Mahia and AFC players who are involved in weekend CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup action who could either miss their flight their flight to Tunis (K’Ogalo) or lack enough time to train (Ingwe) ahead of their second leg ties against Esperance and SuperSport United.

The squad departed Nairobi on Tuesday night with the understanding they would be playing on Wednesday only to get information the game had been rescheduled without their knowledge.

“This only makes a bad situation worse. We have no information whether our players with the squad will make it back in time to travel to Tunisia with the second batch on Friday,” Gor Mahia head coach, Bobby Williamson, said when contacted.

His players, David Owino and Musa Mohammed who form his preferred centre-back pairing and midfielder Anthony Akumu, also a regular, are in Sudan with the national team.

Gor are scheduled to travel for the second leg of their CAF Champions League first round clash against Tunisian giants and two-time winners, Esperance de Tunis, trailing 3-2 from the first leg in Nairobi last weekend.

Their counterparts Leopards who host South Africa’s SuperSport United with a 2-0 deficit from the opening leg of their Confederations Cup first round to make up for in Nairobi on Sunday have five players and their head coach, James Nandwa, with the squad.

Forwards Jacob Keli and Paul Were, midfielder Peter Opiyo, utility player James Situma and keeper Wycliffe Kasaya are in the Stars squad where Nandwa is the assistant to Belgian head coach, Adel Amrouche.

Capital FM attempted to contact FKF president, Sam Nyamweya and Media Officer, John Kariuki but their phones rang unanswered.

Failure to abide to the FIFA Day could open an avenue for the affected clubs to seek reproach with the federation.

Besides Wanyama who plays for Southampton FC, his elder brother, MacDonald Mariga of Serie A giants, Inter Milan, Dennis Oliech of French Ligue 1 side Ajjacio and Francis Kahata of Albanian titans FC Tirana, could face possible fines for returning late.

It cannot be established whether Gor players who were scheduled to travel to Tunisia in the second batch on Friday will make it in time to connect to Tunis for the Champions League tie.

“The clubs have no option; they have to honour call-ups for FIFA matches. We are not worried the players have not trained since they are professionals and have been training with their clubs,” Kariuki said Tuesday while explaining why Gor and AFC had to release their players for the Sudan friendly.

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