2018 Africa Nations championship (CHAN) hosts Kenya are keenly awaiting decisions from the CAF Executive Committee meeting in Accra, Ghana on Saturday (23rd September).
The Ex-Co will review a report from CAF’s inspection team on Kenya’s preparedness to host next year’s competition before making a final decision. The inspection team visited four venues – two in Nairobi, one in Meru (Eastern Kenya) and another in Eldoret (Western Kenya).
The Nairobi stadia require some work but it is Meru and Eldoret that will have CAF worried. New facilities are being built in the two towns with work having begun in August.
Beyond the stadia Kenya has no issues when it comes to transport logistics and accommodation but there can be no football without playing surfaces.
A Kenyan delegation led by the local organizing committee chairman Nick Mwendwa who is also the country’s football federation boss is in Accra. Their task is to try convincing CAF’s ExCo why Kenya should not be stripped of the hosting rights.
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It is a mission made difficult by Kenya’s history with commitments to honouring CAF competitions. In 1996 the then government pulled out of hosting the Africa cup of nations and CAF turned to South Africa. The difference this time around, according the Football Kenya Federation, is that 21 years ago the government did not put in any effort to try and host the cup of nations.
For CHAN the late flurry of activity in the stadia and the release of a 4.2 billion shillings (42 million dollars) budget is evidence of government’s willingness to deliver CHAN.
But from CAF’s perspective could this be too late? Kenya was awarded CHAN hosting rights in 2013. The government’s non-committal attitude towards the tournament reserved for players, who turn-out in their national leagues, is the cause of the delays.
For a country to host a competition of this magnitude the government is the main player. Funding for major infrastructural projects such as stadia, tax exemption on equipment brought in and security assurances are some of the areas where governments take charge.
A politically charged environment compounded the LOC’s woes with leadership focused on regaining political seats as CHAN took a back seat. The electioneering period continues after the Supreme Court annulled the presidential results and Kenyans will go to the polls on October 26th to elect their president. CAF has already expressed concern about security due to the prolonged political campaigns.
In July, Kenya hosted the final edition of the IAAF World Youth Championships. The success of the competition, lauded globally, gave CHAN’s LOC faith that government would then swiftly shift attention to next year’s tournament.
That attention has finally come albeit late and should Kenya lose the hosting rights then they will have no one to blame. Kenya’s fate in hosting CHAN 2018 isn’t all doom and gloom.
CAF’s ExCo might be convinced by Kenya’s pitch in Accra and allow the East Africans meet the promised deadlines. Also, FKF did support President Ahmad’s bid to oust long standing Issa Hayatou but making decisions based on election favours isn’t the kind of leadership Africa expects of the new CAF.