Kimanzi believes Kenya would easily qualify for AFCON, asks CS Amina to adhere Fifa rules for ban to be lifted
Former national football team Harambee Stars head coach Francis Kimanzi believes that Kenya has a realistic chance to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) after landing a fairly competitive qualifying group during the draw that was conducted on Tuesday night in South Africa.
In the 12 qualifying groups, Kenya has been drawn against former continental champions Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi in Group C. The top two teams in each group automatically qualifiers for the 2023 action set for Cote d’Ivoire.
After Stars missed the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon in January, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga promised Kenyans that he would ensure Kenya features at the 2023 event.
However, for Stars to take part in the qualifiers that are kicking off on May 30, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed must reinstate the suspended Football Kenya Federation (FKF) for world governing body Fifa to lift the ban which was effected in February due to what the global body referred to as government interference.
Kenya and Zimbabwe have been given two weeks to lift the suspension of the respective federations to be eligible to participate in the qualifiers. Zimbabwe are in Group K together with South Africa, Morocco and Liberia.
“I can describe this campaign as a possible mission, but it can’t be possible if the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed does not meet Fifa conditions in the next 14 days. She knows what she needs to do to enable the ban on Kenya lifted and without that, then this chance is not there,” Kimanzi who was part of the team when Kenya last took part in the continental showpiece in 2019, told People Sport.
He added: “The government must take the issue seriously and act urgently because we need to put our house in order quickly and prepare well for the qualifiers. We won’t get special treatment in the qualifiers just because we have been out of international competitions for a while, we need to have very good preparations especially given the fact that we missed action in the last five or more Fifa international windows.”
In case the government meets Fifa conditions and reinstates FKF, the federation would have limited time to identify a coach, write letters to foreign clubs inviting players, identify a venue for the qualifies, especially given the fact that Kasarani Stadium and Nyayo are banned by Fifa and CAF from hosting international matches, this would mean that the continental chiefs would have to be invited to inspect the newly unveiled Ulinzi Stadium at Langata Barracks and decided if it could be used as an option.
Reigning Cup champions Senegal are in group L with Benin, Rwanda and Mozambique, while the hosts Ivory Coast were placed in group H together with Comoros, Zambia and Lesotho.
Nigeria and Ghana fall into groups largely within their reach, unlike South Africa which, in addition to their Zimbabwean neighbors, will have to face Morocco. The last AFCON finalists Egypt will face Guinea.
Algeria who won the title in 2019, will face Tanzania and Uganda.