NAIROBI, Nov 12 – After months of anticipation, the Fifa World Cup Trophy arrived in the country to a colourful reception on Thursday morning.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was resplendent in red –colours of Coca Cola who have made the tour possible, as President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and a host of Permanent secretaries, football officials, airport staff all craned to for a glimpse of the trophy.
Kenya Premier League champions Sofapaka, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia were also at the airport as the trophy made its 35th stop of a 53 country journey across Africa.
Speaking after receiving the trophy, President Kibaki said the arrival of the trophy is a historic moment and heralds great things to come in the promotion and development of sports in the country.
“Winning the World Cup trophy is every footballer’s dream and its arrival in Kenya is an opportunity to reconnect with one’s soccer ambitions and to appreciate that dreams can come true, President Kibaki said.
The president also disclosed that the Government has formed a committee to work on the modalities of inviting teams which have qualified for the FIFA World Cup to train in Kenya, before going to South Africa.
“In particular, I note that the Trophy will spend three days in our beautiful country. This is a clear demonstration of the confidence that Coca-Cola and FIFA have in the Government and the people of Kenya, given the fact that the trophy has only spent one or two days in other countries,” the President said.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga thanked the Coca Cola Company for sponsoring the trophy tour to Kenya, a gesture which enabled the sports fraternity the rare opportunity to view and interact with the symbol of world football supremacy.
Mr Raila appealed to the soft drinks company to consider extending sponsorship to local soccer clubs to enable them improve the standards of football in the country.
The Prime Minister also expressed gratitude to FIFA and Coca Cola Company for making it possible for the coveted trophy to land into the country and give soccer fans the chance to enjoy a rare close-up view of the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy and a chance to take souvenir pictures with the trophy.
The trophy on a 70-day tour of 52 African nations will end in South Africa on December 3rd where 32 countries will compete for the FIFA World Cup next year.