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Sofapaka to play hard ball on Avire transfer

Kariobangi Sharks defender Nixon Omondi makes a brilliant tackle to deny Sofapaka’s John Avire a chance to progress during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 18, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 – Kenyan Premier League side Sofapaka say they will not let striker John Avire leave for less than what they value him for after it emerged that newly promoted Egyptian side Tanta FC had officially signed him.

The forward, according to Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa has a running contract with the club having just joined last December from Mount Kenya United.

“We are just waiting for them to request for a release letter and an ITC (International Transfer Certificate). He is our player, under contract and there is no way he can leave for free, behind our backs. What he and the club have done is very wrong,” an infuriated Kalekwa said.

He added; “We had clubs which had asked for his services and valued him very high and now, for us to hand him a release, the club has to meet our valuation or else there is no deal.”

Capital Sports understands that a club in Egypt was ready to offer Sh15mn for his services while there was a second one which had tabled a Sh10mn bid.

A second tier club in France was also said to be interested in his services having watched him play for Harambee Stars in their friendly against Madagascar in Paris in June.

Umaru Kassumba wheels away in celebration joined by John Avire after scoring an injury time equalizer against Vihiga United. PHOTO/Sofapaka

Avire reportedly travelled to Egypt behind the club’s back and engineered a move to the side, one that was allegedly aided by immediate former Football Kenya Federation CEO Robert Muthomi, who had to step down in the middle of the storm.

With the new development, it will either force the club to bend to Sofapaka’s valuation or lose out on the player.

However, according to sources, Avire is banking on the fact that he went unpaid at Sofapaka for more than two months and according to FIFA rules, that alone gives him the right to agitate for a move out of the club.

With both sides sticking to their guns, the case looks likely to end up in FIFA ‘s player disputes tribunal if no consensus is reached before the transfer window closes in the next three weeks.

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Meanwhile, Sofapaka have confirmed the departure of several key players including the Burundian duo of Justin Ndikumana and Mousa Omar who were vital in their campaign last season. Also leaving is midfielder Dennis Odhiambo.

Sofapaka strker Umaru Kasumba celebrates one of his two goals against Mathare United with teammate Dennis Odhiambo during a Kenyan Premier League fixture at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

All are leaving on mutual agreement.

Stephgen Waruru already left to join KCB while Piston Mutamba and Mike Oduor joined Wazito with Cliff Kasuti heading down the Coast to Bandari.

Top scorer Umaru Kasumba left for Zesco United after his contract ended.

While the club has admitted the departure of the key players will affect the team, Kalekwa says plans are in place to ensure they bring equally quality signings with a Portuguese coach set to arrive later this week.

“We have already started engaging with some players and we have progress. We have to build a strong team for the new season because we want to compete for trophies. We will have a foreign coach jetting in this week,” Kalekwa told the club’s official website.

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