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Qualify for the World Cup, President Uhuru challenges Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta holds the FIFA World Cup trophy during a luncheon hosted at State House on February 26, 2018. PHOTO/Moses Muoki

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26- President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged national football team Harambee Stars to give a stab at qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, saying with the vast talent the country has, qualification is an achievable target.

The Head of State was speaking on Monday evening as he hosted the FIFA World Cup trophy at State House Nairobi ahead of its two-day tour of the country.

“Today is a day for us to be proud; today is a day for us to remember that we still have the chance to one day enter that great field and participate in a World Cup tournament,” the President said in the full presence of Football Kenya Federation officials and players led by president Nick Mwendwa.

Mwendwa whose rise to the top of the federation seat was anchored on a promise to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar also added his voice to the ambition of making it into the prestigious tournament especially with FIFA increasing the number of participating nations to 48 from 2022.

“As a federation that is our ambition and that is the target we set for ourselves. 2022, 2026 is possible and that is why we have started investing in the younger generation and training of trainers,” Mwendwa said in a separate interview with Capital Sport.

In the earnest ambition of achieving the target, President Kenyatta has also promised to work with county governments to ensure that football talent is developed from a tender age.

President Uhuru Kenyatta poses for a photo with the FIFA World Cup trophy alongside Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa during a luncheon hosted at State House on February 26, 2018. PHOTO/Moses Muoki

“Sports is a devolved function and I am glad to see governors here to celebrate the arrival of this trophy. It is also a sign of partnership between county and national governments in developing sports across the country,” Kenyatta said.

He added; “I want to commit to them that as national government, we will look to work together to develop talent of our young people.”

The FIFA World Cup trophy touched down in Kenya from Ethiopia at exactly 11:02am and was received with the ceremonial water canon celebration.

The plane carrying the FIFA World Cup trophy taxis at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as it arrived from Ethiopia on February 26, 2018. PHOTO/Moses Muoki

At hand to welcome the trophy into the country from Ethiopia was new Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, his Tourism counterpart Najib Balala, Youth and Gender’s Margaret Kobia, Nairobi women representative Esther Passaris and other high ranking government and Cocacola officials.

From the airport, the trophy headed to the House on the Hill where it was received by the head of state, the only Kenyan allowed to lay his hands on the coveted piece of silverware.

“It’s a great pleasure that for the third time our country has been honoured by the arrival of this magnificent trophy in its world tour. On behalf of all Kenyans we are grateful both to Coca-cola and FIFA for once again picking Kenya as one of the countries during this cup’s tour across the world,”

“It shows considerable partnership, friendship and the growing contribution of our partners in terms of helping us develop our sports in this country,” Kenyatta said as he appreciated the trophy’s stop in the country.

The trophy which is scheduled to tour over 51 countries will be at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Tuesday for public viewing beginning 11am.