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Ababu asks CAF to return Kenya to 2024 Afcon qualifiers

By Maximilla Wafula

Ababu on Monday urged the CAF to return Kenya to 2024 Afcon qualifiers.

Namwamba said the circumstances under which the team was locked out of the competition is a thing of the past, but said since the ban has since been lifted, it would be prudent if Kenya is given a second chance.

Kenya’s suspension which had been enforced in February 2022 was lifted on November 29 the same year. The country had been included in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers draw but later removed due to the ban.

“Now that Fifa and Caf are here we request that we be given a second chance so that our national team can compete in the 2023 qualifiers. Even our women’s football team could have qualified for the World Cup if we were not locked out because of the suspension,” said the CS.

“I do believe Fifa and Caf will consider peculiar circumstances under which the team missed the qualifiers and I request they be considerate and don’t punish our national team. This is one of the request I think FKF should present to Fifa and Caf,” added Namwamba.

He was speaking at his Maktaba Kuu offices in Upper Hill after meeting a contingent of officials from Fifa and Caf who are on a two-day fact finding mission on the state of football and the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).

The entourage was led by Fifa Director Member Association Africa and former footballer Gelson Fernandes.

Others who attended the meeting included Noda Nodar Akhalkatsi, Director Strategic Projects and MA Governance, Solomon Mudege, Head of Development Programs, Alessandro Gramalgia Strategic Development Manager and Sarah Solemale, Senior MA Governance Manager.

In the draw, Harambee Stars had been placed in Group C alongside Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi and were scheduled to play Burundi on May 21 last year, before facing Cameroon and Namibia on June 4 and 8.

Match Day Three of the qualifiers are scheduled to be played between March 20 and 28.

The finals were moved from June 2023 to January 2024 due to weather concerns during summer in Ivory Coast.

CAF legal counsel Nadim Magdy, who was part of the delegation, said the continent’s football governing body would meet “soon” to discuss Kenya’s request.
On his part, Fernandes said they will meet with all stakeholders and give conclusions on the way forward over the fate of the federation.

“We are meeting stakeholders and all the issues you have raised on the fate of the federation and what happened before the suspension was lifted. We shall have a conclusion and a way forward on these issues,” said Fernandes.

Ababu assured Fifa that the government will not interfere in the affairs of the federation, but create an enabling environment for the growth of football.

The former Budalang’i legislature also called on Fifa and CAF’S technical support to improve football infrastructure as Kenya plans to bid to host 2027 Afcon and also achieve its dream of playing in the 2030 Fifa World Cup.

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