NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Despite seeing four of its stadia fail to meet the required standards of staging matches in a continental tournament, CAF first Vice-President Suketu Patel has given assurance that Kenya will still host the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).
Patel who led a delegation from CAF said they will prepare a report on what they have seen and release it in 10 days which will assist Kenya to speed up preparations to host the biennial showpiece that is open to only home based players.
“We have seen extreme goodwill of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to host best CHAN ever. I want to state that the only country in CAF mind to host CHAN next year is Kenya so it is up to Kenya to deliver. I would like to end that speculation that Kenya will not host,” Patel said.
There has been growing fear that the country will not be ready to host the tournament next January especially after the damning verdicts given on the stadia.
Morocco had been touted as a potential replacement with the uncertainty that Kenya would not be ready.
While affirming confidence that Kenya will be ready to host, Patel however said CAF would be forced to make ‘difficult decisions’ in the event the facilities are not ready.
“Everything has to be ready at least three months to the tournament and from the assurances we have, I am confident CHAN is going nowhere else. But we don’t want a situation like we had with Morocco in 2014 for AFCON. If it gets to that point, then we will make difficult decisions,” Patel added.
The CAF inspection team that concluded inspecting the stadia on Thursday only gave the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani green light while finding Nyayo, Kenyatta in Machakos, Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino and Meru’s Kinoru Stadium below the threshold.
The CAF contingent met with the Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hassan Wario who has given the assurances the government remains committed to ensuring the tournament takes place.
Wario revealed that the government has committed Sh 2.7 billion for the tournament with Sh200mn from the budget dedicated to the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
“It is encouraging to hear that in the next 10 days CAF will give us report of the stadia they inspected. That report will be important to plan out work so that we know the specs needed to complete the work. It can be done and it will be done if we work together. We will be able to beat the deadline in June,” Wario affirmed.
FKF president Nick Mwendwa has admitted that the country faces a challenge in terms of stadia, but remains optimistic by June when the CAF team returns, progress will have been made.
“We are not too late we just need to work harder. I am confident that in the remaining time we will finish the work. We went to parliament on Tuesday and we were assured that the budget was there. The other important thing is that work has already began, contracts are out there and things are moving,” Mwendwa noted.
Speaking separately to Capital Sports, LOC deputy Chief Executive Officer Herbart Mwachiro is confident they will deliver all work by June when the team returns for a second technical inspection tour.
“We are on course and there is absolutely nothing that can waiver our belief that we will host a successful tournament. We are waiting for the report from CAF which will be very important for us to know what exactly we need to do. It is a short time but we will deliver,” Mwachiro, a seasoned football commentator noted.
The CAF team has insisted that Rwanda who hosted the last tournament in 2016 set the bar so high and Kenya must strive to emulate.
“There are standards we have set and we have made it clear that we want them met,” Patel added.