NAIROBI, October 27 – SportPesa Premier League champions, Gor Mahia have moved swiftly to defend Innocent Wafula after the winger was dropped from Harambee Stars preliminary squad for 2018 World Cup pre-qualifier and Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup due to nationality doubts.
Wafula, born to one Ugandan parent, was among 31 players named by head coach, Bobby Williamson, only to be axed on Tuesday pending verification of his nationality after claims that he is not a Kenyan.
“We are waiting for Wafula to verify his documents when he returns from Kisumu. He told us he doesn’t have a passport but he is a Kenyan so unless we confirm, we cannot risk calling him in the team,” Stars Team Manager, Willis Waliaula revealed.
However, Capital Sport has established the midfielder, who joined K’Ogalo at the beginning of the season, has a valid Kenyan identity card and birth certificate but is yet to apply for a passport.
According to Gor assistant Secretary General, Ronald Ngala, Wafula is registered as a Kenyan citizen in the SportPesa Premier League and they are in the process of acquiring a passport for him since they intend to register him for next season’s CAF Champions League.
The winger used temporarily Kenyan travel documents when featuring for Gor in the Cecafa Kagame Cup where they finished runners-up after losing 2-0 to Azam.
“We signed him using the documents he used when playing for Chemelil Sugar which indicated his nationality as Kenyan. He was nobody when playing for Chemelil, why is it now that he has shone at Gor that people are complaining?
“He needs to get a passport to prove critics wrong which we are in the process of doing that alongside that of Ernest Wendo. Some KPL club officials were also complaining that he is a Ugandan and were are asking them why now?” Ngala, who read mischief into the whole saga, posed.
Wafula joined the top flight league in 2014 from Busia Combined to Chemelil where he played for one season before joining Gor where he has been instrumental to the back to back champions.
He will be remembered for scoring the winner in their 1-0 win over Sony Sugar that confirmed them 15-time domestic top flight champions as they retained the crown for a third season in a row.
“We registered him (Wafula) using waiting card which was original. For one to be registered, he needs to produce an identification card, birth certificate or passport. When Gor signed him, they did not need to submit new documents but instead they used the ones from Chemelil,” a KPL official told Capital Sport on Tuesday evening.
To add to the confusion, Football Kenya Federation Medial liaison, John Kariuki claimed they did not include Wafula in the initial provisional squad.
-Okoth, Mieno recall-
In the latest list, Williamson recalled Gor midfielder, Collins Okoth and his Tusker FC counterpart Humphrey Mieno.
Also included are Finland based winger, Clifton Miheso, Thika United defender, Dennis Odhiambo, Zoo Kericho winger, Nicholas Kipkirui and Ligi Ndogo forward Ken Maritim from the second tier.
Okoth and Mieno who were instrumental in Stars’ 2-1 loss to Zambia in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, were dropped for the World Cup preliminary round opener against minnows Mauritius.
Goalkeepers: Boniface Oluoch (Gor Mahia), Arnold Origi (Lillestroem SK) Ian Otieno (Posta Rangers) and David Okello (Sofapaka)
Defenders: Harun Shakava and Musa Mohamed (Gor Mahia), Edwin Wafula (AFC Leopards) Brian Birgen (Ulinzi Stars) Abdultiff Omar (Bandari FC), Omar Mbongi (Ulinzi Stars), David Ochieng’ (Unattached), Brian Mandela (Maritzburg United, South Africa), Dennis Odhiambo (Thika United).
Midfielders: Kevin Kimani, Humphrey Mieno (Tusker FC) John Ndirangu (Nakuru AllStars) John Nairuka and Kevin Amwayi (Ulinzi Stars), Ayub Timbe (Lierse SK, Belgium) Bernard Mang’oli (AFC Leopards) Victor Wanyama (Southampton, England) Anthony Akumu (Al Khartoum, Sudan) Johanna Omollo (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), Eric Johanna (Mathare United) Ali Abondo (Gor Mahia), Christian Bwamy (Follo FK, Norway), Clifton Miheso (Finland), Stephen Wakhanya, Meshack Karani (Chemelil Sugar).
Strikers: Calvince Omanga (Palos FC), Peter Nzuki (Nakumatt FC), Mark Bikokwa Baraza (Nzoia United), Chrispinus Onyango (KCB), Meshack Karani (Chemelil Sugar), Michael Olunga (Gor Mahia) and Allan Wanga (Azam FC, Tanzania).