WATCH: Ruto rallies Nairobians to cheer Harambee Stars against Sudan
President William Ruto called on all Kenyan football fans to throng the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani, on September 12, 2023, in support of Harambee Stars as they face off with South Sudan in an international friendly.
“Congratulations, Harambee Stars, for winning last week against the Qatar national team. I am happy very many Kenyans showed up in Qatar to cheer our team.
As you are all aware, at 4pm, Harambee Stars will be playing against South Sudan. I want to ask all Kenyans to show up at 4 p.m. to cheer our champions, the Harambee Stars,” said President Ruto on September 12, 2023.
President Ruto has shown keen interest in football and sports since taking over. He was at the forefront of East Africa’s bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations and has also featured in rewarding Kenyan athletes who impress on the international stage.
Separately, the Football Kenya Federation has invited all its affiliate clubs playing in the sub-county, county, regional, Division II, Division I, and FKF PL Leagues to the international friendly match at the stadium.
All players and officials are required to be fully kitted and arrive at the stadium by 2pm ahead of the match.
In a prior statement from Harambee Stars Coach Engin Firat, one of his players, Hassan Abdallah, lost his passport, and it was still unknown whether he will play against South Sudan.
A passport is the only form of identification during an international match.
Firat also confirmed that winger Ayub Timbe got injured in Qatar and returned to China where he is based and will, not feature against Kenya’s neighbours to the north.
Another player, defender Johnstone Omurwa, who is based in Portugal, will also not play in the clash as Coach Firat said he was excused so as to head back to his base to prepare for a tough league clash against FC Porto.
On September 7, 2023, Harambee Starsput up perhaps the most impressive performance of Firat’s tenure in their 2-1 win away to Qatar in Doha.
Joseph Okumu scored Kenya’s opening goal in the 20th minute, before Amos Nondi netted the winner on the stroke of full time. Hassan Al-Hayados replied for the host in the match that attracted a strong 11,000 Kenyan contingent, a majority of whom live and work in Doha.
The victory was marred by a scuffle when a Qatari player, Akram Afif, faced off with Joseph Okumu at the end of the match.
The late drama unfolded after Kenya grabbed the lead yet again in stoppage time, with Qatar making a loud shout for a penalty as forward Pedro went down inside the box from a challenge by Eric Ouma. But the referee waved play on, and Kenya survived.
Shortly, the referee blew the final and tempers flared up. Qatar’s Hassan Akram Afif and Okumu were right in the middle of it as they squared up to each other.
In the heat of the moment, Okumu shoved off Afif, but the latter charged right back at the Kenyan defender. It took players from both teams to calm down the situation, with an agitated Harambee Stars coach, Engin Firat, also getting involved.
Kenya has been forced to compete in international friendlies in readiness for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and 2027 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. This is after Harambee Stars missed out on competing in the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers owing to an international ban slapped on the country due to government interference. The ban has since been lifted.