NAIROBI, January 19 – Premier League champions Mathare United will not release its national team players for Friday’s friendly match against Egypt.
In the latest twist over the contentious friendly, Mathare United Coach Francis Kimanzi told Capital Sport on Monday that the club would not release the players because it’s preparing for an African Champions league match against Zambia’s Zesco United.
Five players including skipper Edgar Ochieng, Austin Makacha, Duncan Ochieng, Anthony Kimani and Kevin Ochieng were named in a provisional squad on Sunday.
“What is important to Mathare United now is their champions’ league match in Zambia. If Mathare was just preparing for the league it would have been possible but I have got 12 days before playing the first leg of the knock out match and that is the main priority now so releasing them will not be possible,” said Kimanzi.
Football Kenya Limited CEO Sammy Obingo had warned Sunday that clubs which fail to release players will be punished but Kimanzi said that the club was within its rights as the date of the friendly does not fall on a Fifa date for internationals.
“The Fifa rule is very clear on this, you can punish a club and players as well if they are called up and do not honour it. But it has to be within the Fifa calendar. This particular friendly is not on a Fifa date and as such there is no action that can be taken against the club or players,” he observed.
Kimanzi added that he harboured no ill feelings despite being sacked by Football Kenya Limited on Sunday.
“I am not sad at all because when I took over Stars, they were so low but I made them competitive again and that is why everyone is fighting to play them in friendlies,” he opined.
“There is unfinished business because we are through to the final World Cup qualifiers and I am wising my successor all the best and that he can hopefully complete the job I started,” Kimanzi added.
Kimanzi reiterated his position that he had been sacked because of sticking to his principles.
“I have my principles and I am not afraid of asking questions. In Kenya, if you question something, then you are called insubordinate but I would rather stand for what I believe in.”
The 32 year old tactician said that he will now concentrate all his energies on improving Mathare United, “We have a young team but I believe we can improve on last year and get even better. There is continental battle this year and hopefully we can make an impact because a good showing will reflect the quality of Kenya Premier League.