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Wanyama: Fifa ban no laughing matter

By Lynette Matheka
Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama challenges for the ball with Sofiane Feghuli of Algeria during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA
In summary

Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama has expressed his fears over a potential Fifa ban on Kenya if the issue of non-payment of dues owed to former coach Adel Amrocuhe is not resolved.

Kenya risks Fifa’s wrath after the timelines given to pay Amrouche Sh109 million elapsed on Monday without any payment made after which the world soccer governing body was to pronounce itself on the matter.

Part of the punishment for non-payment could be expulsion from Fifa competitions which means Harambee Stars will be locked out of the 2022 World Cup, whose qualifiers begin on October 5. 

Kenya received a bye into the second round of the qualifies where they are in Group E alongside neighbours Uganda, Rwanda and Mali and Wanyama feels such a move could spell doom for the country’s football.

“The best thing to do is settle these issues and secure the future of our football.

I understand that the current office inherited some debts but since there is no way out, it is better not to destroy someone’s future over this.

A ban would mean our younger generation would miss out on opportunities in the game,” said Wanyama during an interview with Madgoat TV on Monday.

Wanyama, who has been the national team captain since 2013, also weighed in on the issue of delayed payment of winning allowances for the Kenya against Tanzania match at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

“The federation’s position is that the money was to be paid by the government.

However, since I cannot follow it up with the government, I put pressure on the federation to do so and have the players paid their dues.

We had several promises for settlement which were not met and I had given an ultimatum for payment before this pandemic hit,” said Wanyama.

The Montreal Impact midfielder, however denied claims made by team-mate Abud Omar last week that he made decisions for the squad without consulting the other members of the team.

Abud Omar claims

“That is not true. We had a discussion over the issue during our away qualifier match to Ghana and the said player was not in that squad as he was serving a suspension.

I sat all the players down and we negotiated for the squad that would make it to Egypt  to be allowed to share Sh38 million from the Sh50 million that had been promised if we qualified.

The rest of the money would go to those who participated in the qualifiers but did not make the final squad. I took it upon myself to explain that to Omar over the phone,” said Wanyama.

The former Celtic and Southampton player also talked about life at Tottenham Hotspur, whom he left to join MLS side Montreal in February, expressing his regrets for not winning the English Premier League (EPL) title with the north London club in the 2016/17 season when they finished second behind winners Chelsea.

“When I joined Spurs we had every player one could imagine having in their squad. 

We had a good side that was able to win the league.  However,  we picked four draws towards the end of the year (2016) and that cost us the title. 

I regret not winning the title that year and everyone who was part of that squad had a similar feeling. 

We all knew that was our golden chance to get the title and it was unfortunate that we bottled it,” he said. 

In what was their final season at White Hart Lane,  Spurs went the season unbeaten at home in all competitions, the first time since the 1964/65 campaign. 

They,  however, had a slump between October and November where they picked four draws and a 2-1 loss against Chelsea.

They played for a 1-1 draw against Arsenal,  a similar stalemate against Leicester City, a goalless one against Bournemouth and another 1-1 draw withWest Brom. 

The final nail on the coffin was Spurs’ unexpected 1-0 defeat to West Ham in May that gave Chelsea an easy run to their fifth title. 

“Those draws were against lower ranked teams and we felt they were avoidable,” added Wanyama.  

The club finished with 86 points which was their highest ever points total in the Premier League era and their second place finish was also a new high.  

Goal of the Month

They also led the league in both goals scored and fewest conceded then with Wanyama’s team-mate Harry Kane winning the golden boot after scoring 29 goals despite missing three months due to injury. 

Wanyama, however, spend the next two seasons at the club nursing injuries. In February 2018, his equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool was voted the Premier League Goal of the Month.  

“I had just been substituted and an effort at Liverpool’s goal was punched out by the keeper. 

When I saw the ball on my pathway I made up my mind to make an attempt at goal instead of trying to control it. 

It was just one of those lucky moments where your technique works. With the atmosphere at Anfield,  it was amazing to see the Liverpool fanbase silenced by my goal,” Wanyama reminisced. 

Wanyama left the club in February after finding it hard to get playing time under former coach Mauricio Pochettino and his successor Jose Mourinho.

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