Nairobi — Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba says he wishes the national football team, Harambee Stars, were playing at the 2022 World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on Sunday.
Namwamba said a first appearance for Kenya at the biggest football event on earth would have been a memorable experience for him as well as other football fans in the country.
“It is a very special World Cup in that it is being held for the very first time in a region that have never hosted it before. It is also the first winter World Cup. I am excited as a football fan and I am looking forward to the tournament. I would have loved for Harambee Stars to be there because we would have all been cheering them on,” Namwamba said.
Whereas Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Ghana and Morocco will be flying the continent’s flag in Qatar, Kenyans will once again be mere spectators as the country’s football status hangs in limbo.
Kenya’s chances of booking their place in Qatar were quashed after they finished third in Group E, behind winners Mali and Uganda and ahead of East African neighbours, Rwanda.
In the absence of the home boys, Namwamba says he will be rooting for the five African representatives in Qatar.
“All African teams are my team. I will be cheering Sadio Mane of Senegal, Thomas Partey of Ghana. I am also a fan of Brazil… they are usually everyone’s first or second team. I love samba football. I also enjoy French and English football. As a fan of English Premier League, I will also be looking out for the Three Lions like Bukayo Saka and will also follow closely our Arsenal boy in France… William Saliba,” he said.
Namwamba was speaking on the sidelines of a day-long meeting with sports federations at Moi Stadium to evaluate the state of affairs in the industry as well as to chart the way forward.
Training his sights on the muddied waters of local football, the CS promised that it is only a matter of time before Fifa rescues Kenya from the football wilderness by lifting the suspension.
“The last conversation I had with Fifa, they indicated that the suspension is pretty much lifted. It is only a matter of time before the same is made official,” Namwamba said.
The first match of the World Cup will pit the hosts against Ecuador with Senegal kickstarting Africa’s campaign a day later against the Netherlands.