Strict Covid-19 measures in Harambee Stars camp ahead of Zambia friendly
Journalists have been barred from interacting with Harambee Stars players and officials before, during and after Friday’s international friendly match against Zambia in Nairobi.
In a raft of measures agreed upon by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the government aimed at minimizing the possible spread of Covid-19 in the team, journalists will only be allowed to interview players and the technical bench either via networking app Zoom, or the federation’s official channel.
Besides, the team’s camp at Safari Park hotel, in Nairobi, is strictly out of bounds for all visitors. The players have also been forbidden from leaving the camp.
All the 12 local-based players and technical bench members, including coach Francis Kimanzil, plus the federation’s media team were subjected to a mandatory Covid-19 tests before the squad reported to camp on Monday. All of them returned negative results.
All foreign-based players who were called up to the team will also be required to produce valid Covid-19 certificates from the place of departure before being allowed into camp.
FKF has hired a 56-seater bus to ferry the 28-man squad to and from training and to Friday’s game. The spacious bus will enable to the team adhere to the social distancing measures are directed by the government.
At the same time, the bus, nets, balls and entire pitch are being fumigated at least twice a day.
The federation required clearance from the government to organize this international friendly.
FKF boss Nick Mwendwa has explained that he hopes the match will clear the way for the resumption of football activities, including the Kenyan Premier League and National Super League matches.
Football matches and training have been banned in the country since the first case of the coronavirus pandemic was reported in the country last March. Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has since maintained a ban on all contact sports.
Meanwhile, Zambian attacker Clatous ‘Triple C’ Chama is the latest high profile player to pull out of the friendly match.
Serbian coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević has omitted the Simba SC midfielder from his 29-man team to face Malawi, Kenya and South Africa in build-up matches over the next week, after the player reportedly missed his flight to Lusaka from Dar es Salaam.
But the 29-year-old has since defended himself against claims of indiscipline, saying he missed his flight because he was time-barred while travelling from a league match in Dodoma.
“I didn’t miss two flights to Lusaka (as claimed by the coach). I have talked to the team manager to explain my side of the story and wish the team the best in Nairobi,” explained Chama.
Chama’s absence rules out a match-up against his club teammates Francis Kahata and Joash Onyango who are likely to start the game for the hosts.
Besides Chama, Austrian duo Patson Daka and Eric Mwepu are not available as the duo was denied clearance by their club Red Bull Salzburg to travel for this game.
Mamelodi Sundowns keeper Kennedy Mweene is also unavailable.
The Zambian contingent is expected in Nairobi on Thursday evening and will be gunning to at least replicate the 2-1 victory registered against Kenya when the two teams met at Nyayo National Stadium in a Africa Nations Cup qualification match five years ago.
Stars coach Francis Kimanzi will also be missing captain Victor Wanyama, star forward Michael Olunga, midfielders Eric Johanna and Johanna Omollo as he fine tunes the team for the 2021 Africa Nations Cup qualification matches against Comoros in Nairobi and Moroni on between November 8-13.