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World Cup qualifiers: Kenyans shred unapologetic KBC’s failure in airing Harambee Stars match

By Winnie Mabel November 17th, 2023 2 min read

State Broadcaster KBC had irate viewers in their hands after it failed to air the much anticipated Kenya vs Gabon 2026 World Cup qualifier match.

This was after the station spent time advertising that they would air the match and even rearranged their programming for the same.

“All set! Your Thursday night just got better with some football action ⚽
Watch Gabon 🇬🇦 vs Harambee Stars 🇰🇪 clash at 7PM on your #YourTrueSportsPartner #KBCniYetu,” advertised KBC in one post.

In another communique, the media house confirmed it would be airing the match on their channel and radio stations, and called on Kenyans to tune in and not miss out on watching the fame. They also announced that one of their most watched programs, a Mexican telenovela, would not air so that the match could air uninterrupted.

Happy Kenyans expressed joy that they would get to watch Harambee Stars finally participate in their first international competitive match after FIFA lifted its ban on Kenya’s competitive football activities outside the country.

However, by the time the match was being expected to air, KBC changed programming and announced the Mexican telenovela would show instead. This irked Kenyans and some made calls for boycotting the station.

“But you failed us on showing Harambee Stars Vs Gabon,” said John Wekesa.

“How?” asked popular blogger Cosmas Choi.

“You guys should exit the scene. No wonder you do not have viewers. Very useless,” added SJ Skid.

“Stop airing things belonging to Caucasians and bring us the Harambee Stars (match),” added Noah Towet.

“What happened to the live football match?” asked David Ogara.

In the ensuing hours, KBC issued no statement or apology to Kenyans on why they failed to air the match unlike Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba who ended up issuing one on behalf of his Ministry and the media house.

“Last night KBC Channel 1 TV let down Kenyan fans with satellite difficulties that occasioned failure to screen the Harambee Stars game vs Gabon in Franceville. We owe Kenyans a sincere, unequivocal and unambiguous apology for this disappointment. You sure deserve better. Poleni sana! (We are very sorry),” said CS Namwamba in the morning of November 17, 2023.

He too had irate sentiments aimed at him after he rallied Kenyans to first watch KBC then redirected them to the media house’s YouTube channel to watch the match. This is a costly experience for many Kenyans and some of them would not stand for it. Others were forced to try and find the match being pirated on unreliable streaming sites as another option.

At the end of the day, Harambee Stars lost to Gabon 2-1.

Earlier, with much pomp and circumstance, they were flown out of Kenya on a chartered private plane as CS Namwamba waved them off. They were also promised Sh 2.5 million for each match they won as a means of motivating them to beat their group opponents in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

Kenya’s qualification group comprises Ivory Coast who are considered favorites to qualify, alongside Gabon, Seychelles, Burundi and Gambia.

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Ababu apologises for KBC’s disappointment as Kenya lose to Gabon