By GILBERT WANDERA
Former Kenyan football officials have hinted at the possibility that a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria may have been fixed.
This emerged even as a notorious match fixer claimed to have helped Nigeria and Honduras qualify for the tournament held in South Africa.
World body Fifa has already asked Nigeria to submit a tape of the match as they begin investigations into the serious allegations.
Former Football Kenya Limited (FKL) vice-chairman Titus Kasuve said they were suspicious of some of the decisions made by the referees who handled the match.
“The referees who were from Seychelles had earlier been at the under-17 World Cup held in Nigeria and there were rumours they had been seen exchanging money at the airport after our match against the Super Eagles.
“Clearly, some of the decisions they made were questionable,” said Kasuve. An article appearing on Kenyanpage.net quoted a book written by the Singaporean match fixture claimed he helped Nigeria win the match 3-2 and qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Wilson Raj Perumal had already admitted to being part of a syndicate that fixed a string of international friendlies by bribing corrupt officials and compromised players, but this is the first time that he has claimed to have influenced World Cup qualifiers.
In the book, according to the article, Perumal details a meeting with a football official in which he promises to help Nigeria qualify for the World Cup in return for free rein in organising three warm-up matches and a cut of the money Fifa provides for hosting a training camp during the tournament.
First, he claims to have influence three players on his payroll to help Nigeria to victory in one of their qualifiers.
Then he claims to have promised the Mozambique association a Sh8 million bonus if they were able to hold Tunisia to a draw and so stop Tunisia leapfrogging Nigeria and seizing automatic qualification. Mozambique secured an unlikely 1-0 victory.
“My plan had worked and I was the unsung hero of Nigeria’s qualification to the final rounds of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa,” writes Perumal. “Ferrying Nigeria and Honduras to the World Cup was a personal achievement,”
During the encounter between Kenya and Nigeria, local fans became increasingly impatient with the referee who seemed to be doing everything he could to help Nigeria win the match.
At one point, Kenyan fans became so livid that they started to throw water bottles into the field.
Elsewhere, Kenyan officials have expressed concern over the whereabouts of international striker Dennis Oliech who has not been seen in camp since the first leg Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros last Sunday.
Harambee Stars will play the return match this Friday in Moroni. —[email protected]