By GILBERT WANDERA
Parma midfielder McDonald Mariga has pulled out of Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo.
The Parma midfielder who had threatened not to play unless he was refunded money owed to him for air-tickets failed to turn up for training Tuesday.
This prompted Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to issue a statement confirming the unavailability of the player and said they will issue a comprehensive response after the game.
Mariga, who arrived in the country on Monday, is believed to have told FKF bosses on Monday that he will not play unless he is refunded Sh1.5 million, but was told that the federation would not accept black mail.
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The amount accrued over a six-month period when Mariga honoured call-ups to the national team.
Sources in the federation have disputed the figure insisting that he is owed a fraction of the amount he is claiming.
"He always flies business class to come to Nairobi, but our policy is to pay economy and anyone who wants to upgrade must top up. This therefore means that we owe him just a fraction of what he is claiming,
"We will not give in to blackmail from any player and we are consulting on appropriate action to take after the match. For now we want to concentrate on the game at hand," our source said.
But team captain Dennis Oliech came to the defence of the player yesterday urging the federation to refund him and allow him to train with the team.
"He is a very important player and the issues he has raised are valid.
The federation should pay him and ensure that he is available for this match because we need him," he said.
Oliech pointed out that now that the team has a sponsor it is important that Mariga be paid promptly.
Oliech also revealed that he himself together with Mariga are preparing to sue the team sponsors for not consulting them while using their images for promoting the team.
"Our lawyers have taken up the matter because we are not happy with how the whole thing was handled. We were not consulted at all and this is an issue that the federation must seek to resolve before it is too late in the day, he said.
Coach Francis Kimanzi declined to comment on the matter insisting that it is an administrative issue, which the federation is handling.
"It is beyond me to comment on the issue, but we are focusing on using the players we have in camp to try and get a positive result today," said the coach.