NAIROBI, Kenya, March 6 – Harambee Stars captain and EPL side Southampton FC midfielder, Victor Wanyama, led the his teammates in condemning ill preparations for their botched FIFA Day international friendly against Sudan upon touchdown Thursday morning from Khartoum.
Wanyama, who left thereafter for England, tore into both Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Sudan Football Association for compelling overseas players to clock many miles and their local counterparts involved in continental action this weekend to skip training for an exercise in futility.
The planned match aborted when Stars declined to travel to the northern city of Darfur to honour the fixture upon arrival in Khartoum on Wednesday morning where they were informed of the venue switch.
The bitter skipper was speaking to Capital Sport at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where the team landed to a non-existent reception as the squad of 20 dispersed to join their respective clubs among them, seven overseas based players.
AJ Ajaccio forward Dennis Oliech, Inter Milan midfielder Macdonald Mariga, Belgian based Johanna Omolo, KF Tirana’s midfielder Francis Kahata, MC Algier forward Edwin Lavatsa and Al taawuon Fc Defender David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng completed the foreign contingent called up to the squad.
“We refused to play the friendly since they shifted the match to war tone area Darfur, where we were scheduled to travel by road for a long distance.
“This has tainted the image of the country and also in our clubs. I feel wasted since I was released by Southampton to come and play so if they realize I did not, it will not go well with them,” Wanyama rued.
The Saints midfielder said he had recovered from injury and hopes manager Mauricio Pochettino, will start him at Saturday’s EPL clash against Crystal Palace.
“I’m doing well at Southampton. We have been doing badly of late but hopefully we will win over the weekend. It will take time to recover fully but I’m good to go since last weekend I played 15 minutes against Liverpool and I can say I’m doing great.”
His elder brother Mariga, who was making a comeback to the national team for the first time in two years, expressed his disappointment terming organisers of the match amateurs.
“I was not happy with how things happened in Sudan because I was eager to play for Harambee Stars especially after being out for a long period.
“For now I’m happy to make a come back to the national team so when I’m called once again I will come but I hope next time it will not be like this since its very sad for a player to travel all the way and not play,” the 2010 UEFA champions league winner with Nerazzuri stated.
Stars assistant coach and AFC Leopards tactician James Nandwa, who accompanied the team cut a forlorn figure lamenting the trip disrupted his CAF Confederations Cup first round return leg preparations against South Africa’s SuperSport United.
“I went to Sudan because I knew we were to come back today (Thursday) and as per the information given to us the match was to be staged in Khartoum and when they changed the venue we decided that we are not playing.
“I did not want to travel it’s just the pressure from FKF and it was a FIFA calendar otherwise I could have not gone since we have a difficult continental match that we must qualify.”
Nandwa who traveled along with five of his key charges; custodian Wycliffe Kasaya, defender James Situma, midfielder Peter Opiyo, forwards Paul Were and Jacob Keli, urged FKF to be specific on terms next time.
FKF technical Committee chairman Elly Mukholwe, who was the leader of delegation told Capital Sport they were forced to call off the match after SFA pushed the tie to Thursday which was impossible to them since it was inconveniencing with Gor Mahia and Leopards who have continental assignments this weekend.
“Despite the problem that occurred, SFA did not want to tell us the truth because we had agreed on playing in Khartoum but when we reached there they said the match will be played in AL Fashar Stadium which is in the northern city of Darfur.
“We would have not mind going in Darfur but the problem occurred when they said we play today (Thursday) and that could have affected the two clubs that are participating in the continental competition this weekend since most of their players were in the squad.
“It could have been very unfortunate as a federation to inconvenience the two clubs and that’s why we said we can rather do without it since it’s a friendly match which we can organise other day.”
Asking Mukholwe on the whereabouts of head coach, Adel Amrouche, who was not in the trip, he disclosed, “The coach missed the flight from Belgium but he is already in the country.”
K’Ogalo dependable players defenders David ‘Calabar’ Owino and Musa Mohamed, holding midfielder Anthony Akumu and forward Timona Wanyonyi will depart tonight for their CAF Champions League first round return leg in Tunis Friday morning to join the first batch that left the country Thursday morning.
The fixture was to have an impact on FIFA rankings with Kenya currently placed at 108, 25 places above Sudan.