Embu Stadium crosses fingers to get KPL hosting nod
The delayed Embu Municipal Stadium that has remain shut for two years will undergo inspection in a fortnight to see whether it is suitable to host Kenyan Premier League (KPL) games this season.
Should it pass the required standards set by the league management company, Embu will be a unique beneficiary of the KPL/Football Kenya Federation standoff that has delayed the start of the 2017 top flight season- probably long enough for the inspection to take place.
Had the KPL kicked-off as scheduled, Embu would have been locked out of hosting the games unless there is a crisis in facilities cleared since it is sought before the beginning of the season.
Recently, domestic giants AFC Leopards fielded against an Embu All Star team in a friendly tie as County officials attempted to woo the multiple league winners to consider the facility as an alternative home ground.
Their chosen Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi is also closed for renovation with the Mumias Sports Complex remaining an alternative venue for Leopards.
“After talks with AFC, it was agreed that the stadium was yet to reach the international status to hold such matches until few issues were addressed,” County Director of Sports, Patrick Njagi, conceded.
Njagi added that the County Government of Embu will request the Sports Kenya Inspectorate Committee to pay a visit to the stadium for inspection and give guidance of what needs to be in place to make the facility a sporting hub in the region.
“Renovation has been done in the changing rooms, toilets for the spectators and the security perimeter fence. These were the main concerns of Leopards Head Coach Stewart Hall,” Njagi explained.
However, the 12-time KPL winners will only be allowed to host low risk matches in Embu as home ground as the facility in inadequate to handle games of volatile nature such as the Mashemeji Derby against arch-rivals Gor Mahia.
Having taken in Ingwe’s recommendations, Njagi assured the County administration had expedited the process of concluding the renovation works.
“With Nyayo Stadium already closed for renovations and the impending shut down of the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani for preparations towards the IAAF World U18 Championships in July, most Nairobi teams who have been using the two facilities as their home grounds will be greatly affected,” Njagi underscored.
He believes the situation will position Embu as an optional venue in a bid to bring top flight games to people of the Upper Eastern region who travel to Nairobi to watch their favourite teams play.
Leopards’ interest in the region has transcended beyond the facility with three players from Embu given trials by Hall with the hope they will make his squad.
-Anthony Ndwiga and Kenerickson Njeru
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