NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- A club versus country row is brewing between AFC Leopards and Football Kenya Federation after AFC reiterated on Monday afternoon that the Mashemeji Derby pitting arch rivals Gor Mahia will go on as planned on Saturday in Kakamega.
FKF boss Nick Mwendwa had just a few hours earlier said that the derby will be postponed to allow Gor and AFC players to turn up for the national team which takes on Swaziland in a friendly match on Friday in Machakos.
But in a strong worded statement released by AFC who are the home team for the tie, they have insisted that the game will go on and furthermore will not release their three players for national duty.
“The Executive Committee would like to state that preparations for the derby match slated for May 26 are in top gear and the match is on. We have already paid for the stadium and tickets are being printed,” the statement signed by Secretary General Oscar Igaida said.
The angered statement further added; “We shall not release our players for the Harambee Stars friendlies due to the match and Super Cup set to start on 3rd June. We condemn in the strongest terms possible statements attributed to FKF president Nick Mwendwa that the derby will not be played in a ‘funny stadium’. Didn’t he know Bukhungu was a ‘funny stadium’ when CECAFA was hosted there?”
Mwendwa had earlier insinuated that only Kasarani would host the tie and not Bukhungu over what he termed as security risks. The stadium has been closed for the next month to allow the grass on the pitch to be firmed up.
The latest stance, with the Kenyan Premier League management earlier in the day insisting that no fixtures will be postponed now throws the tie in limbo.
“There will be no derby. Why? If we don’t give the coach the players now, the next window is Ghana. So we bring in a new coach and we take him to play Ghana without seeing or preparing a team. I am not cancelling the friendlies. We are moving to postpone any matches involving AFC and Gor, The rest of the teams have two players, one player so they will continue to play,” Mwendwa said earlier in the day.
The recent row now brings into play what seemed like a forgotten battle between the two entities; KPL and FKF.