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Why Harambee Stars trip to Mauritius aborted

Kenya’s national football team Harambee Stars on Saturday failed to travel to Mauritius for the Four Nation Tournament set to start on Sunday due to lack of flights.

Kenya, Mauritius, Djibouti and Pakistan are the nations taking part in the tournament which runs from June 11-June 18. Football Kenya Federation Secretary Barry Otieno, in a statement, said the team will now travel on Monday.

“The national team Harambee Stars will travel to Mauritius on Monday June 12, 2023 due to unavailability of flights to Mauritius. The change of itinerary also means that Kenya will now play two matches instead of the planned three due to FIFA regulations on player rest days between matches,” Otieno said.

However, Otieno did not state whether there are other logistical challenges the team is facing ahead of the trip.

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In the initial travelling itinerary, Stars were to leave at 4am on Saturday to Johannesburg South Africa via a Kenya Airways flight and then connect to Mauritius.

Kenya was to play its first match on Sunday against Djibouti but the game has now been cancelled. Kenya will face Pakistan on June 14 before taking on Mauritius on June 18.

On Thursday, the team received Sh10 million from Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba when he attended the team’s training session at the Nyayo National Stadium. He was accompanied by FKF President boss Nick Mwendwa and Mr Otieno.

Harambee Stars midfilder Victor Omune (left) tackles Richard Odada (right) during a training session at Safaricom Foundation in Thika on June 9, 2023 ahead of their upcoming four-nation tournament in Mauritius. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI

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Nairobi News couldn’t verify if the ministry handed FKF the money in time for proper planning. Our calls and text messages to Mr Namwamba over the matter went unanswered.

Former Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee in a separate event claimed that the government funding had been delayed and that is why the trip had aborted, claims which Otieno dismissed.

At the camp the players continued with their training sessions in the morning and in the evening under the tutelage of Turkish coach Engin Firat and his technical bench. The sessions will continue ahead of the Monday trip.

“We are training and have been told we are travelling on Monday. Other finer details we still don’t have,” a source at the team’s training camp said.

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