NAIROBI, Kenya, March 1- The decision of AC Parma midfielder MacDonald Mariga to quit the national team in a huff before their Wednesday Africa Nations qualifier against Togo cast a cloud over Stars slim 2-1 victory over the visitors.
In the stands some fans vocally demanded for Football Kenya Federation (FKF) boss, Sam Nyamweya, to pay Mariga his dues with head coach Francis Kimanzi and players interviewed after the match calling for the matter to be resolved amicably.
The impact of the fall out between the federation and Mariga manifested itself most on his younger brother, Victor Mugubi, who was torn by family royalty over patriotic duty as he put a decent shift at the heart of Stars midfield.
“We missed his experience, if he was in the game, the result would have been different and I hope he will be back.
“It was difficult for me, but I had to be a professional, I can’t mourn about that and I tried to adjust and play the game and I’m happy the way I played,” the Glasgow Celtic player said.
Kimanzi, who had avoided commenting on the saga that led Mariga to walk out of the team on the eve of the game after he failed to come to agreement with FKF over refund of air tickets worth Sh1.5m ($17,647), made his thoughts known post match.
“You can’t replace the individual. He is a player when you have, you can ease the tactics when you have the quality of Mac on the ground and I was forced to adjust the tactics.
“I hope everything is cleared between him and the federation and we will give him a big welcome in June,” the head coach stated.
Nyamweya, who was mobbed by a group of his supporters after the match, declined to comment on the subject when confronted by the press.
During the game where James Situma and Allan Wanga scored for Stars sandwiched by Razak Boukari equaliser for Togo, a section of the support displayed placards written, “Nyamweya, pay Mariga” while shouting the same in spells throughout the game.
His decision has polarised fans with another set admonishing the player who was until January, on loan at Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad from Inter Milan where he won the treble in 2010 for his apparent lack of patriotism.
“The players today played without their allowances and they still took to the field. Others are owed money by the federation and they did not boycott the game,” a FKF official who declined to be named since he is not authorised to comment in public disclosed.
“His own brother did a good job in midfield and he should learn from that. This is an issue we were willing to discuss with him but he refused to give us a chance,” he added.
At the centre of the controversy are Mariga’s claims for reimbursements for ticket costs incurred in honouring four call ups that stretch to the former administration, the Football Kenya Limited that was disbanded after the October 2011 elections.
FKF claim the midfielder inflated the costs and he should pursue former officials in games related to them. The federation also differed with his preference for first class travel as opposed to economy seating.
But, the midfielder who is one of the most popular players in his country has received backing from his team mates including the captain Denis Oliech who said, “I would do the same if it happened to me, the federation should pay Mariga.”