All set for historic Everton in Kenya tour

Final rehearsals for the Kariobangi Sharks FC versus Everton FC international friendly that will crown the occasion christened ‘Everton In Kenya’ unfolded on Friday few hours to the arrival of the English Premier League side for their first visit to the country.

The 22-strong star-studded Everton squad and technical team are scheduled to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi on Saturday morning 8am local time (+3GMT) aboard a chartered flight from Liverpool and then head straight to their hotel.

Sharks, the 2019 Super Cup champions who earned the right to play Marco Silva’s charges by winning the regional invitational tournament in Tanzania on January 27, will get a feel of the, Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani Stadium pitch at 10am.

Head coach William Muluya and his team will then check in to their official hotel in Nairobi at 1pm before the pre-match press conference is held at Kasarani at 4pm where the Sharks boss and his opposite number, Marco Silva will address local and international media.

Silva will then lead his Blues in a training session starting at 5pm where only the first 15 minutes will be open to the media.

At the same time, visiting Everton heroes, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman were up and about in Nairobi, visiting Kariobangi estate, the spiritual home of the Sharks where they got to tour the low income residential settlement their former side will take on trace their humble roots.

Later, they conducted a visit to Nairobi’s Central Business District in the company of local dancehall sensation, Wyre the Love Child (born Kevin Wyre) where they experienced the hustle and bustle of the ‘Green City in the Sun’.

Pienaar and Osman who have been a hit among local football fans since they arrived on Wednesday, got the rare chance of viewing the cosmopolitan capital from atop the iconic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) besides visiting market stalls within the throbbing CBD.

On Friday, Kasarani that also hosted the flag-off of the 2019 World Rally Championships Candidate Event Safari Rally was a beehive of activity as final touches to the international friendly dubbed Super Cup went to full gear.

Official mascots who will lead the Sharks and Everton players, ball boys from the Ligi Ndogo football academy in Nairobi, National Youth Service personnel and the combined security forces team that will shore up security went through their drills.

“We are pleased with how everything has progressed and we are ready to show Kenya can host football matches of international standards.

Lucky mascots

“Last year, we learned a lot when Gor Mahia FC played Hull City FC at Kasarani and we are now set to host Everton,” the chairman of the International Match Organising Committee, Michael Ouma, said on Friday.

For the lucky mascots and ball boys, the chance to be part of such a historic occasion promises to be an everlasting experience.

“When I started training at Ligi Ndogo, my dream is to finally show my talent in the EPL and I cannot believe I will be close to players who play in such a big league. I cannot wait to see the Everton players,” Ian Mungai oozed.

His wish is to see famous Everton players such as goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, winger Theo Walcott, midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and Andre Gomes who recently completed his move to Goodison Park from FC Barcelona.

“Watching such players here at home will inspire us to train harder to be like them one day. I hope Sharks show them what Kenya can offer because they have good players such as (Sven) Yida and (Eric) Kapaito,” the youngster cheered.

Tireless grounds men were mowing the Kasarani pitch into pristine condition with the playing surface looking in immaculate condition as it prepares to take its place in the spotlight as the ground where Everton will officially launch their 2019/20 pre-season.

Remembered Long

“This occasion has been more than six months in planning since Sharks brought the Super Cup trophy home and we are committed to organising a game that will be remembered long in Kenya’s football history.

“At FKF, we encourage hosting such games to give our local players the belief they can play against the best.

“We saw it with Gor last year when they matched Hull and of course, our national team Harambee Stars have just returned from playing at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 15 years,” Ouma, who serves as the head of international matches at the federation underscored.

With a huge number of supporters from all over Kenya and travelling Everton supporters set to turn Kasarani into a celebration of football on Sunday, the organising team that partnered FKF and the organisers have left nothing to chance.

Organisers further warned elements keen on sparking trouble they will only have themselves to blame, with elaborate security measures of a scale never witnessed before locally in place.

Sailorz who are riding on the crest of fame with their Wamlambez banger, the talent trio of the Kansoul- Meja, Madtraxx and Kid Kora- who blazed the dance floors with hits like Bablas as well as dancehall heartthrob, Wyre are among the local music giants who will be part of the occasion.

Social media pages of Sharks and Everton have also rich content of the landmark match that could chance the face of local football.

Saturday Everton in Kenya itinerary

8.00 a.m – Everton Team Arrival

10.00 a.m – Feeling of training and feeling of the pitch by Ksharks

1.00 p.m – Kariobangi Sharks check-in at official hotel

4.00 p.m – Media set up at Kasarani stadium for the pre-match press conference

4.30 p.m – Prematch press conference: Everton and K.Sharks managers and team their team captains

5.00 p.m – Everton training starts (media coverage only allowed for the first 15 minutes)

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