Harambee Stars Line-Up Jamaica Reggae Boyz Pre-AFCON Friendly

Dec 06 - by Erick Ochieng for sportpesa news

FKF president, Nick Mwendwa, says the team has been set a target of making the second round of the expanded 24-nation continental showpiece

FKF President, Nick Mwendwa, makes an address on Harambee Stars preparations for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Nairobi on Thursday, December 5, 2018. PHOTO/SPN

  • Three of the build up games will be played in Europe with local fans getting a chance to bid Stars farewell at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi on March 26 against a yet to be identified opponent
  • Already there is a plan B by the federation that could see Stars pitch camp in France for three weeks ahead of AFCON if Cameroon is reinstated as hosts or should the showpiece go to a North African country
  • Jamaica played in their first and only World Cup final in 1998 when a merry-band of dancing players such as Ricardo Gardener, Robbie Earl and Theodore Whitmore illuminated France 98 as they brought the reggae flavour to the tournament

NAIROBI, Kenya- National team Harambee Stars has lined up 1998 World Cup finalists- the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica- in one of the four friendly matches planned ahead of their 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign next year.

Making the announcement on Thursday at a press conference, Football Kenya Federation president, Nick Mwendwa, also set the team headed by Frenchman Sebastien Migne a target of reaching the second round when the competition kicks off at a venue that is yet to be decided by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Three of the build up games will be played in Europe with local fans getting a chance to bid Stars farewell at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi on March 26 against a yet to be identified opponent.

Stars qualification for a first AFCON final since Tunisia 2004 was confirmed by CAF on Monday following the expulsion of Sierra Leone from the tournament, meaning Kenya has secured one of the two slots available in Group F.

CAF is searching for a host after the governing body stripped Cameroon the rights to host the June 15 to July 13 competition that will feature 24 teams for the first time in its history with South Africa, Morocco and Egypt among the favourites to slot in.

“One of the games will be a thanksgiving match against a side we will name later. This is the best way we can appreciate our dedicated fans,” the FKF boss stated.

Full house

“We have chosen that date because the team will be full house after our last AFCON qualifying assignment in Accra, Ghana on March 22.We are targeting at least a point against the Black Stars to stay on top of Group F standings,” he added.

According to Mwendwa, the encounter against Jamaica, to be played in London, has taken nine months to plan following a meeting between representatives from both sides in February.

“But the game will be subject to the venue that will be chosen by CAF to host the AFCON. If the tournament heads to South Africa, then match will be of no use to us as it will be summer in London while South Africa will be battling winter.

“We are advocating for these friendlies because our qualification for AFCON was as a result of the numerous international matches and tournaments we engaged in during the qualifiers,” Mwendwa stressed.

Already there is a plan B by the federation that could see Stars pitch camp in France for three weeks ahead of AFCON if Cameroon is reinstated as hosts or should the showpiece go to a North African country.

“This is because most West African countries prefer France as their training destination before any continental challenge in their region. So we would want Stars to acclimatize with them,” Mwendwa declared.

At the same time, FKF have asked CAF to write them a formal letter to confirm Kenya’s qualification to the Africa premier football event.

Mwendwa said the request is based on the recent unfortunate experience that saw sister national side Harambee Starlets denied a slot at the just concluded 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana.

Previously expelled

This is after CAF made a U-turn and reinstated previously expelled Equatorial Guinea to the competition, consequently throwing Kenya out of the bi-annual tournament that acted as a qualifier for the 2019 FIFA Women World Cup.

“What happened with Starlets was painful, we can not take chances with Stars. We want to be sure of our qualification.

“We are also working day and night to ensure Starlets gets justice from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS),” he stressed.

He assured all allowances owed to Stars during their AFCON 2019 qualification run had been settled after FKF received financial support from the government.

Mwendwa stated the KSh50 million which was pledged by the State if Kenya qualifies for AFCON will be shared to the ratio of 70 to 30 per cent by players and the federation in that order.

FKF needs USD2 million (KSh205 million) to cater for AFCON preparations that involves costs to honour the last qualifier against Ghana where Kenya leads the group with seven points, one ahead of the three-time African champions.

The federation has also come up with a bonus plan to motivate and reward the players and the technical bench during AFCON the federation chief underscored.

Jamaica played in their first and only World Cup final in 1998 when a merry-band of dancing players such as Ricardo Gardener, Robbie Earl and Theodore Whitmore illuminated France 98 as they brought the reggae flavour to the tournament.

They lost their first game 3-1 to semi finalists Croatia before Argentina whipped them 5-0 to knock them out of the running for the next round. However, a 2-1 win over Japan lingered long in the memory of the finals won by home side and reigning world champions France.