CHAN stays in Kenya but CAF puts Govt on notice
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has put the Government on notice to fulfil its obligations if the country is to hold the 2018 Africa Home Nations Championships.
Visiting CAF First Vice-president, Suketu Patel also assured Kenya that is racing against time to host the biennial continental tournament open to domestic based player they would not be stripped of CHAN rights as feared.
Patel affirmed CAF will offer all the necessary technical support to see Kenya succeed and the continental body is ‘comfortable with the planning and commitment shown so far.’
“We have seen extreme goodwill of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to host best CHAN ever. I want to state that the only country in CAF’s mind to host CHAN next year is Kenya, so it is up to Kenya to deliver. I would like to end speculation that Kenya will not host.
“Hotels are okay for hosting the tournament, the only issue is stadiums which can be ready if all the plans on paper are well implemented,” Patel emphasised.
He was speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi on Friday attended by among others, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and the Arts, Dr. Hassan Wario and Football Kenya Federation boss, Nick Mwendwa at the ministry headquarters.
CAF inspectors gave Nyayo (Nairobi), Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret), Kenyatta (Machakos) and Kinoru (Meru) stadiums low scores during the assessment tour although they were impressed with other facilities in place including hotels, hospitals and roads.
According to them, only Safaricom Stadium Kasarani has met the standards for hosting the second highest football tournament in Africa.
Patel, who is also the Confederation of South Africa Football Association (COSAFA) boss however, warned everything must be in place three months prior to the start of the January championship.
“From the assurances we have, I’m confident CHAN is going nowhere else. But we don’t want a situation like we had with Morocco in 2014 for AFCON. If it gets to that point, then we will be forced to make difficult decisions,” Patel underscored.
CAF’s declaration diffused fears that had rocked the Kenyan football fraternity that the tournament would be stripped from the country with Morocco and Ethiopia reportedly waiting in the wings.
CAF will table a full report within 10 days which will help Kenya speed up her preparations.
Wario reiterated the Government will provide the Ksh2.7b needed for the 2018 CHAN adding the venues can be ready by June 2017.
“From the Gabon experience, we still have enough time for preparation. Some stadia renovation started late, as late as six months to the event.
“It is encouraging to hear that in the next 10 days CAF will give us report. The report will be important so that we know the specs needed to complete the work. It can be done and it will be done if we work together. We will be able to beat the deadline in June,” Wario Stressed.
Ksh200m will be allocated to the Local Organising Committee.
CAF will conduct another inspection in June and FKF president Nick Mwendwa believes much of the remaining works will be complete.
“We are not too late. We went to Parliament on Tuesday where we were assured the budget is there. The work has already begun, contracts are out there and things are moving,” Mwendwa declared.
He insisted the federation is keen to deliver the tournament noting its success will go beyond 2018.
“We will be many steps ahead in football development. We are talking about Nyayo Stadium having four changing rooms, which will sort out the problems we always face when we have double headers.
“For Kinoru, Kipchoge Keino and Machakos to reach those standards, it will be a major boost for our local clubs. We won’t have problems hosting countries that want to train here too,” Mwendwa emphasised.
Former CECAFA chairman and CAF Executive Committee Member Leondegar Tenga has backed Kenya to host the event saying it would be a strong statement in the country’s football development agenda.
“I’m happy to see the enthusiasm in all the stakeholders. Everyone appeared to be worried about Morocco but you can see CAF’s commitment is to have the championship here.
“It will be a big mark in Kenyan football history. Rwanda did it in 2016 and it is a challenge for Kenya to host a better tournament,” Tenga told Citizen Digital separately.
The CAF inspection team has been in Kenya for a week, touring venues set to host matches during the competition and other related social amenities needed for the biennial event.