NAIROBI, Kenya, December 9 – Zanzibar Heroes national team players are planning to storm the semifinals of the GOtv Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup match between Harambee Stars and Tanzania on Tuesday at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County in protest at being detained at their hotel in Nairobi over unpaid bills.
Similar fate has befallen the Southern Sudan squad that are sharing the same facility who are also yet to leave the country after being eliminated in the group stages of the competition following three successive loses to Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.
According to Zanzibar head coach Salum Nassor, they have been denied food for the past four days by the hotel management, forcing them to contribute and buy food from their own pockets.
“We are very disappointed with Cecafa because this time round their organization is very poor. We are stranded in a foreign country since we cannot access our hotel and we are being treated as prisoners.
“We are pleading to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Cecafa to let us go back to our county because we were eliminated in the competition,” the bitter tactician lamented.
Nassor added he would petition his country’s football authorities to boycott future Cecafa events staged in Kenya stating, “When the tournament is hosted in other countries, it’s always successful.
“My players want to leave and join their clubs in Tanzania and my family needs me,” the enraged coach told Capital Sport on Monday.
The two teams are yet to receive air tickets, even after the Government pledged to support the tournament with Sh41.4m (USD 477,346.42), to cater for the bills (accommodation and air tickets).
On his part, Southern Sudan coach Balanga Bandua, urged Cecafa to honour their promise and facilitate their departure.
“We have participated in the tournament many times, and what we understand is that if a team is eliminated from the competition, they are allowed to leave.
“The country that is hosting this event is supposed to cater for every thing and that did not happen. This will lead to countries thinking twice before participating in Cecafa if it’s held in Kenya,” Balanga echoed his Zanzibari counterpart.
The hotel manager who declined to be identified, confirmed the Local Organising Committee owes them Sh3.5m (USD 40,369).
“We have been forced to deny them access to the hotel since they have not paid any single cent and yet they want to eat and be taken care of.
“We have been promised by the organisers that they will settle the bill, but up to date there is no communication,” the administrator declared.
FKF President Sam Nyamweya promised to solve the matter as soon as possible when contacted.
The Burundi national team were the first side in this year’s competition to be locked out of their hotel during the preliminaries but the matter was remedied in what is becoming an embarrassing trend for the cash strapped organisers.
“The two teams could not leave today since there was no flight that was leaving to their destinations, but they will be sorted tomorrow (Tuesday),” the FKF boss confirmed to Capital Sport.
Secretary General Nicholas Musonye confirmed Defending champions Uganda Cranes, Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda and Ethiopia have already left the country.