December 7, 2021

Sports Ministry clears Harambee Stars to play Zambia in friendly

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The build-up, which was in limbo, will now be played as long as the federation adheres to all Covid-19 safety measures

The Ministry of Sports has officially cleared Football Kenya Federation to stage a friendly between Harambee Stars and Zambia on October 9, provided they adhere to Covid-19 regulations.

The friendly was hanging in the balance since the government had not yet given clearance for Kenya to host the Chipolopolo since contact sports, including football, are still suspended in the country owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a battle involving FKF and government officials, the federation’s President Nick Mwendwa has now confirmed to Goal they have been given the all-clear to stage the friendly as long as they follow the guidelines set up by the Ministry of Health in regards to Covid-19.

The standoff between the government and FKF saw the team, which moved to camp on Sunday, turned away from using Kasarani Stadium on Monday morning.

“Finally we can now breath and prepare for the friendly,” Mwendwa told Goal on Monday. “The government have allowed us to play the friendly and they have also allowed us to use Kasarani Stadium for training and also we will use the venue for the match, but we must adhere to the safety regulations set up by the Ministry of Health in regards to Covid-19.

“We have held our first training and we hope they will aging train tomorrow [Tuesday] and subsequent days before the friendly, we really wanted the boys to play football after a long time and I am happy our request has been granted.”

Mwendwa further confirmed that Zambia will arrive on Thursday ahead of the friendly.

“Zambia have confirmed they will arrive in the country on Thursday in readiness for the match, they have been waiting for our confirmation and we have already done the same,” Mwendwa continued.

Earlier on Monday, Mwendwa confirmed to Goal they had been forced to postpone training owing to the standoff with the Ministry of Sports.

“We had planned to start training on Monday morning and my players were also ready to go to training but the Ministry of Sports has requested us to wait before we start training,” Mwendwa told Goal.

“The Sports Permanent Secretary has told us that they are trying to work out a few things with the Ministry of Health before they can allow us to use Kasarani Stadium for training and probably for the match.

“We have now postponed the morning training session and we will start training in the evening at 4 pm, we hope they will have sorted their issues by then and they can give us the green light to go ahead with training.”

Kenya started their campaign for the 2021 Afcon, to be held in Cameroon, with an impressive 1-1 draw away to Egypt. They followed it up with another draw, by the same margin, in Nairobi against Togo.

In Group G, Comoros, who started their campaign with a 1-0 win against Togo before settling for a goalless draw against the Pharaohs, lead with four points.

Final Squad; Goalkeepers; Ian Otieno (Zesco United, Zambia), and Timothy Odhiambo (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya).

Defenders: Brian Mandela (Unattached), Johnstone Omurwa (Wazito, Kenya), Joash Onyango (Simba, Tanzania), Joseph Okumu (Elfsborg, Sweden), Clarke Oduor (Barnsley, England), David Owino (Mathare United, Kenya), Philemon Otieno (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Badi Baraka (KCB, Kenya).

Midfielders: Kenneth Muguna (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Francis Kahata (Simba, Tanzania), Eric Johanna (Jonkoping’s Sodra IF, Sweden), Cliff Nyakeya (Masr FC, Egypt), Antony Akumu (Kaiser Chief, South Africa), Hassan Abdallah (Bandari FC, Kenya), Lawrence Juma (Gor Mahia, Kenya), Katana Mohamed (Isloch, Belarus), Austin Otieno (AFC Leopards, Kenya).

Forwards: Elvis Rupia (AFC Leopards, Kenya), Masud Juma (JS Kabylie, Algeria), Timothy Otieno (NAPSA Stars, Zambia), Oscar Wamalwa (Ulinzi Stars, Kenya).