NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has refuted claims that Kenya might lose out on hosting the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) due to the current political situation in the country.
Speaking a day after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) cancelled its inspection to Kenya, FKF vice president Doris Petra exuded confidence the tournament will be hosted in Kenya next year and called on football stake holders to avoid being negative.
“As FKF we are confident that the 2018 CHAN will be hosted in Kenya and we are requesting you (media) to talk positive on our CHAN preparation so as not to scare away people outside there and cause unnecessary alarm especially to CAF,’’ confident Petra told Capital Sport.
CAF called off its final inspection visit to Kenya to assess preparations for the second most prestigious tournament in Africa where a delegation was expected in Nairobi on September 7.
But, the current political situation in the country following the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the results of last month’s presidential poll has cast doubt over the country’s chances of hosting the 16-team tournament.
However, Petra is worried of Kenya’s participation in the tourney in the unlikely event the country fails to host the championship.
The Kenyan team did not go through to the CHAN qualifiers, having earned the automatic slot by virtue of being hosts.
“As a country we might not face sanctions from CAF in the unlikely event we fail in hosting this championship but our participation as a country will be into limbo, since our national team did not go to the CHAN qualifies. Our question would be what will happen to the team that has been preparing for the championship? For now there is no cause of alarm because we are confident of hosting the championship,’’ Petra explained.
Also throwing his support and confidence Kenya will host the event is former FKF President Sam Nyamweya who urged the government to do what it takes to convince CAF that there is no political instability in the country.
“I am greatly concerned by the news that CAF has indefinitely cancelled the travelling itinerary for the delegation that was due to conduct the final inspection of our preparedness that was scheduled for later this week. And this is further compounded when looked at against the fact that CAF will hold its Executive Committee meeting in Ghana in just under three weeks time,” Nyamweya said in a statement.
“It is obvious that the agenda of CHAN 2018 will top the agenda of that meeting, considering that we are yet to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that we have the most important infrastructure ready – stadiums. I want to call upon the government to move fast and reassure CAF that we would burn the midnight oil to ensure the completion of stadia happens in good time, Nyamweya added.
“I urge that even after the repeat elections ordered by the Supreme Court; the preparations should not be affected by whatever outcome the Kenyan people’s vote may bring. Be it President Kenyatta or Right Honourable Raila Odinga who earns the mandate of the Kenyan people as their president, I am sure the country will be steadfast in its preparations.”
The Confederation of Africa Football has sent its second vice chairman Constant Omari who is in the country to assess the political situation before setting a date for the third and final inspection.
Kenya is racing against time to see the four stadia as required by CAF are ready before the December deadline with the work at the Nyayo National Stadium, Moi International Sports Center Kasarani, Kipchoge Keino and Machakos Stadium in progress.