Decision time as CAF mull Chan in Kenya verdict
The intense speculation as to whether Kenya gets to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) comes to an end on Saturday as Confederation of African Football Executive Committee meet to deliver the verdict in Accra.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Sports Amb. Peter Kaberia and Local Organising Committee (LOC) CEO Herbert Mwachiro left for the Ghanaian capital on Friday ahead of the decision.
The exco meeting comes a week after CAF delegation wrapped up their third and final inspection tour of the four stadiums earmarked to host the second most prestigious football showpiece on the continent.
Following the assessment, only Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani is near ready although it still requires a few amends including seat numbering. Meru’s Kinoru Stadium, Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium and the Nyayo National Stadium are miles away from completion.
A growing public feeling has been Kenya will be stripped off the hosting rights for the biennial competition but Mwachiro clung onto faint hopes that the progress made plus commitment shown thus far would be sufficient to convince CAF.
“We are going to Ghana to hear CAF’s word as required so that we come back and concentrate on our preparations without that psychological disturbance that South Africa is on standby to host this competition.
“Some pessimists have already written Kenya off but we remain focused in our work. We are monitoring how contractors in our venues are doing, and so far so good. Thus we go to the exco full of confidence,” Mwachiro charged.
The CAF inspectors’ decision to leave the country without issuing a statement as per their itinerary has been generally interpreted as an indication that doom awaits the Kenyan contigent in Accra.
“That one has been blown out of proportion. If the Vice President (Constant Selemani Omari) was here until the last day then he would have addressed the media.
“He left early and the technical team that was left cannot speak for CAF. Their work is to assess and report to CAF,” Mwachiro added.
Omari, who led the inspection team, left the country earlier than anticipated to attend his kin’s burial in Congo.
While football enthusiasts have pointed fingers at FKF for its unpreparedness, Mwendwa has insisted he has done his level best.
He had vowed to resign if Kenya failed to host CHAN, but lately said he can only be blamed for what falls squarely within his mandate.
“Naysayers would like me to leave whether we hold CHAN or not. What I meant was that this is so important to us that it could warrant my resignation. I was very sure that with my management and the Government’s support, we would do this.
“This is the thing, is it worth resigning considering that if it doesn’t happen, there are repercussions? Yes! But, as a federation, will it be our responsibility? The answer is no, so should we stop the good work we are doing? It shouldn’t be that drastic,” defended Mwendwa underscoring it should be a wake-up call to reinforce government and the federation’s working relationship.
That notwithstanding, his predecessor Sam Nyamweya maintains ugly history will be on Mwendwa’s face if the worst happens.
“He is the president of football in Kenya, it is not Uhuru or Ruto. He is entrusted with all matters football and that’s why he should be directly asnserable.
“The government cannot know how CAF and FIFA operate. If there is no one to push for football agenda from the federation don’t expect anything to move,” averred Nyamweya.
Government’s commitment has thus been questioned, with Sports CS Dr. Hassan Wario missing in action on any CHAN related event lately. PS Kaberia has been the main man, and, notably, will attend the EXCO meeting.
Should Caf pronounce Kenya unprepared, it would be a repeat of the 1996 slap when the bigger version of CHAN (African Cup of Nations – AFCON) was taken to South Africa.
Early this year during the CAF Ordinary General Assembly in Ethiopia, Citizen Digital exclusively established hat former President Daniel Arap Moi personally called Issa Hayatou (former CAF President) to cancel the plan for ‘political and economic reasons’.
South Africa Football Association Communications Director Dominic Chimavi says Kenya should avoid embarrassment over a decade after failing to stage the biggest football fiesta.
“I will feel sorry for Kenya if it happens again. Kenya is ahead of other East African countries in almost all dimensions, and should take lead in the football front too,” Chimavi opined.
The weight of the burden that comes with CAF stripping of a country tournament hosting rights is as intense as the light of joy that comes with the success of hosting one.
Suspension, financial penalty are involved. Nevertheless, Mwendwa thinks otherwise.
“If CAF pronounces that we are not ready, they have are at liberty to choose other hosts. So nobody will punish us for this; the only repercussions will be losing our CHAN slot,” he concluded.