Lifting the lid: Why Kenya, Zambia friendly aborted
The demands put forth by the Football Association of Zambia(FAZ) ahead of a planned friendly match with Kenya’s Harambee Stars made the highly anticipated clash botch, Citizen Digital can authoritatively report.
The two sides were primed to lock horns on November 14 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos with the Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi naming a squad to report to camp for training ahead of the assignment.
However, shockingly, two days later, after the naming of the Kenya squad, Football Kenya Federation made a U-turn saying that the match would not be played owing to“logistical issues on part of Zambia.”
“It’s unfortunate that Zambia will not be able to honour the friendly due to what we have understood to be logistical issues around the team’s travel.
“As such we have been forced to cancel the friendly and are already looking elsewhere for an alternative,” FKF CEO Robert Muthomi said in a statement that was widely circulated to newsrooms.
However, Citizen Digital has learnt that FKF declined to meet the demands of their- would- be- guests.
Zambians had demanded that FKF foot all the bills; including the return air-ticket for their over 20-man delegation.
In an online interview with Citizen, Desmond Katongo, the head of communications at Zambian federation said:“We were shocked to see a statement from Football Kenya Federation on Kenyan media explaining that Zambia failed to travel to Nairobi for the friendly match.
“Here is the truth of the matter; Kenya wanted us to play in the friendly match. Initially, we were to play in Zambia but they insisted that we make it there (Kenya). We had no problem with that but asked them to cater for our logistics, with an inclusion of return air ticket. This demand sounded difficult to them and that’s when the whole issue died,”Katongo claimed, adding that, “so, it’s very unfortunate to give out false information regarding matters of such magnitude because it also affects us. Our fans now think that we deliberately refused to play against Kenya,” Katongo said.
Contacted, FKF president Nick Mwendwa scoffed at the claims, but was quick to add that they could not meet the air-ticket demands by the Zambians.
” We didn’t go mute. I find it petty. We find it difficult to go out to give information to the public on issues that made a friendly not to happen. That is not how we want to operate. I find that petty, and if that is what they are looking for then it’s unfortunate.
“Normally we take care of accommodation and local costs for any team. That is the arrangement. They (Zambia) wanted us to pay for their flight to and fro, no one does that! Again, they didn’t state this in the beginning. They waited till when we were going to confirm the friendly date with Fifa then came up with such demands.
“From where I sit, I don’t think it would make logic to pay let’s say Sh 6 million for air tickets.There is a way how these things are done and it all demands on how top a team is ranked,”Mwendwa said.
The revelations come in the wake on increased spotlight on the beleaguered federation boss after Kenya lost out on the Chan 2018 hosting rights as well as the federation’s unrelenting push to amend its constitution by extending the presidency’s term limit from two to three .
This proposal has ignited a hot debate among football stakeholders. The federation however maintains that doing so is simply aligning FKF’s statues to those of Caf and Fifa, its umbrella bodies.
The proposals will be subjected to an AGM set for November 18 in Mombasa.
Report By Chrisphine Magak
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