Kenyans express fear of losing rights to host continental football event

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-22 22:18:26|Editor: Song Lifang
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NAIRBI, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- A cross section of Kenyans on Friday expressed fears over the East African country losing the rights to host the African National Championship (CHAN) scheduled for next year in January.

Kenya's fate of staging the continental showpiece hangs precariously as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee meets on Saturday in Accra to deliberate on the nation's preparedness to host the event.

"Did we have to wait this long to embark on this last minute rush yet we had three years to organize the event? I won't be surprised if the event is taken away from us," former national team coach Bob Oyugi remarked.

"Kenya's destiny depends on the reports from members of the inspection teams whose body language signified they were far from impressed with the pace of construction work at the facilities set aside to host the event," the former tactician added.

Sixteen teams are lined up for the event, which features national sides composed of players who play in their respective domestic leagues.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) spent over 500,000 U.S. dollars in 2013 to put together a bid document and to facilitate frequent to and from CAF headquarters in Cairo to negotiate with African football mandarins.

An official of the Kenya National Sports Council (KNSC), the organization that advises the government on matters pertaining to sports, wondered why CAF ever entrusted Kenya with the hosting rights yet the country has never been successful in hosting major football tournaments.

"Judging from history, CHAN was going to be a bad experience because Kenya has never successfully hosted events as mundane as regional competitions devoid of chaos," the representative, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Xinhua.

He gave as an example the 2013 Council of East and Central Africa Football Federations (CECAFA) Senior Challenge Cup where teams were locked up in hotels because FKF failed to pay hotel bills, which led to chaotic scenes.

"Considering the disorder that ensued, there was inherent danger that Kenya would once again embarrass, but this time on a continental scale," he remarked.

The official said Kenya should borrow a leaf from Ethiopia that will host the tournament in 2020 yet they have already completed preparations to stage the event.

"By the time Ethiopia gets to host CHAN, the country will have nine new stadia to add to existing ones, with the smallest having a capacity of 30,000," he noted.

Most people interviewed said they were unaware of the event because of lack of publicity towards it coupled with the fact that there is no tangible work on the ground to warrant attention.

Kenya's prospects of hosting the event have been slowly slipping away and serious sanctions, including hefty fines and lengthy bans from competitions, await the country should hosting rights be withdrawn for any reasons.