‘Kempes’ rallies stakeholders ahead of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations
Ex-Kenya international Sammy ‘Kempes’ Otieno has challenged football stakeholders to ensure the country pulls all stop towards hosting a successful Africa Cup of Nations in 2027.
The USA based ex-footballer, who also featured for top Kenyan Premier League side Gor Mahia in his prime, spoke to Nairobi News on September 28, 2023, a day after Kenya and two other East African countries were awarded the hosting rights for the biannual extravaganza.
The other hosting countries cleared to host the bid, as announced by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Patrice Mostepe, are Uganda and Tanzania.
Owino, who has been involved in grassroots football for the past two decades, further challenged the Kenyan government to work closely with football stakeholders to ensure the country successfully hosts the competition.
“It will be a major boost to our football if we can be able to put the right infrastructure in place to host the competition,” he explained.
“Kenya has in the past won the rights to host continental tournaments but we failed to stage the tournaments due to alack of infrustracture and prepardness, this time we need to get it right,” Owino said.
On the flipside, the country has also been able to successfully stage international tournaments including the U18 World Championship, World Safari Rally and Kip Keino Classic Athletics meet.
But the story has not been all rosy.
Kenya was handed the hosting rights for both the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and 2018 Africa Nations Championship but the country failed to stage the event after the Caf, who are the tournament organisers, ruled at the time that the country did not make an effort to put in place the requisite infrastructure, in this case state of the art stadiums.
At the same time, Owino who is gunning for the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) presidency in the 2024 elections said the government should ensure only the right people are placed in the competition’s Local Organising Committee (LOC).
“Everyone accorded a chance in the LOC must have a specific job description and be able to accomplish it within the required timelines. This is a project that will place Kenya on the world football map and we cannot handle it casually,’ he stressed.
Owino also thanked the respective governments in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for supporting the bid, which was championed by Presidents William Ruto, Yoweri Museveni and Samia Suluhu respectively.
“This is victory for the entire region’s football,” he said.
Owino further challenged FKF to commence the process of building a formidable team that will represent the country in the competition against some of the most seasoned teams in Africa.
“As hosts, we will automatically qualify, but we should not be mere participants on home soil. We must build a strong team that will go all the way beyond the group stages,” said Owino.