The federation boss reveals to Goal what they went through in Lome before their final group match against the Sparrowhawks
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa has sensationally claimed the Togo federation was incorrect that four Harambee Stars players had tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match on Monday.
The Harambee Stars were forced to play their last group fixture in Lome minus four key players – striker Michael Olunga, defender Joash Onyango, midfielder Lawrence Juma, and goalkeeper Ian Otieno – after the Togo federation claimed they had tested positive for Covid-19 a few hours to kick-off.
Mwendwa, who accompanied Harambee Stars to Togo for the dead-rubber, has told Goal all the players claimed to have tested positive are all fine and they did not test positive as claimed.
“It is a tricky issue, and I will handle it in the best way possible, we tested players in camp before we left for Togo, it is a requirement, and they were all negative but when we landed in Togo and we already had the Comoros issues fresh in our hands, remember in Comoros we had same problems [six players testing positive before the game],” Mwendwa told Goal on Tuesday.
“When we reached Togo, and on matchday, they came to us saying we are not okay, but it was shocking, to say the least because if you take for example Olunga, he had been tested severally from Qatar before coming to Kenya and we had also tested him twice and he turned negative.
“So we are wondering how did Olunga turn positive after arriving in Togo? Remember the team used a private jet and the players were very well, isolated and to add to that we were booked in a very isolated hotel. It is unfortunate Togo insisted our four players had tested positive which was a lie.”
Mwendwa continued: “In my view, they [Togo] picked the core of the team, we don’t have Joash [Onyango], we don’t have Olunga, we don’t have Juma, in Comoros we really caused problems, but this time in Togo, we did not want to cause problems, we picked a team from the remaining squad and they players played, I can tell you all the four players are negative.
“I don’t want to blame Togo for the decision they took [to lie our players are positive], maybe it was also a blessing in disguise for us as FKF because it gave us the chance to use new players in the squad and they proved them wrong.”
Mwendwa has further called on the Confederation of African Football to consider having neutral doctors travel to handle the issues of Covid-19 tests saying it will be the only way to end the suffering the away teams are going through.
“In Africa, we have to reconsider this because for the Uganda versus Malawi game they also said one of their players [Taddeo Lwanga] was positive but later turned out to be negative, how do players get positive in hours? it is a question Caf must answer, I suggest we get neutral doctors, to do the tests,” Mwendwa continued.
“Caf should get neutral doctors every time a team is playing an away game to do the tests for players and the officials, it is a proposal I want to take to Caf, it will be easier to get the player, if indeed we have positive cases.”
Despite missing out on the four players, Kenya went on to beat Togo 2-1 and end their campaign on a high with Egypt and Comoros qualifying from the group for the Afcon finals to be held in Cameroon next year.