Nairobi News


Japanese footballer Yuto Kusaba’s move to Nairobi City Stars falls through

Japanese footballer Yuto Kusaba has issued a statement decrying the obstacles that have blocked his much-hyped move to Nairobi City Stars football club.

The turn of event follows the Kenyan Premier League club’s announcement last week that they had signed the Japanese player from FC Zenshin. The club even circulated photos of Mr Kusaba training with his new team mates.

But on Tuesday Kusaba went public with claims that his move has been frustrated by a myriad of issues.

“I joined a professional team in Kenya but problems keep coming up – contracts, visas, registration, funds etcetera. It is very difficult for foreigners to play football in Kenya but if you have the spirit of ‘Hakuna Matata’, you can definitely overcome it,” Kusaba said.

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For foreigners to work in Kenya, they need to obtain work permits from the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Services Department. These permits include Class C for Prescribed profession, Class D for Employment and Class G for Specific trade, business or consultancy among others.

Among the documents an applicant is expected to provide before starting work include letters from employers/self/organization addressed to the Director General of Immigration Services, valid tax compliance certificates, certified academic or professional certificates, clearance letters from relevant institutions, current immigration status if in the country, a non refundable processing fee among requirements.

Had the move sailed through, Kusaba, who was reported to have signed his contract with the club on August 23, 2023, would have been the first Asian player to compete in the Kenyan top flight league.

Before being linked to City Stars, Kusaba had previously expressed hope of one day signing for a professional side in Kenya.

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“Am aiming to sign a league pro contract in Kenya, Africa, from April this year. Here is the aim and objectives of this Kenya challenge. Purpose: What lies ahead of the challenge, living better is something to discover, embody and share with everyone. Goals: Japanese sign first professional signing in Kenya minor league,” Kusaba said on social media in March 2023.

He was expected to debut for City Stars on August 27, 2023 in a league match against Muhoroni Youth FC at Kasarani Annex Stadium but he was a no show.

Kusaba, who was born in 2001 in Osaka, plays as a forward. He started playing football at the tender age of 4 when he chose to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. He played through out his schooling years but endured hardships in the sport, forcing him to go on hiatus. He rejoined the sport while in university and had to quit several club activities so he could focus on becoming a professional.

Kusaba played for FC Eazy Akashi and FC Zenshin, a Division 2 Northern Zone club based in Kenya before joining Nairobi City Stars. Last season, FC Zenshin finished 12th with 33 points in the FKF National Division 2 Northern Zone – Pool B.

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