The expulsion of the national Under-20 football team from the 2017 CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament over age-cheating allegations has sparked heated debate.
And while the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) spent the better part of yesterday fending off jibes from football stakeholders saying it was only a mere “disqualification” from the current qualifiers, it has emerged that the CAF Disciplinary Committee will sit next month where further sanctions could be meted out against Kenya.
CAF’s Organising Committee for the continental youth tournament made the decision on Tuesday after Sudan had lodged a complaint that Kenya fielded five ineligible players during their first-leg of the preliminary round in Khartoum which ended 1-1.
Kenya fielded the quintet of Erick Otieno, Nicholas Kipkirui, Boniface Muchiri, Eugene Mukangula and Theodore Kibet who were all born in 1996 contrary to a circular sent to all national associations that only players born on or after 1 January 1997 are eligible to participate.
Kenya were to host Sudan this Saturday in a return leg clash.
A source at CAF Media office told FeverPitch: “The communication that came out on Tuesday was because of the return leg that was supposed to be played this weekend. The Disciplinary Committee will sit in May to deliberate on the Kenyan issue.”
He added: “It is in Disciplinary Committee that all facts will be presented as to whether fielding the overage players was deliberate or an administrative lapse,” the source who could not quoted for lack of auhtorisation said.
In disqualifying Kenya, CAF ruled: “This (fielding over-aged players) is contrary to a circular sent to all national associations that only players born on 1 January 1997 or after are eligible to participate in the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, Zambia 2017.”
It added: “The Organising Committee after its findings concluded that the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) clearly violated article 40.11 of the competition regulations which states: ‘A team which allows a non-qualified or a suspended player to take part in a direct knock-out match shall lose the match and shall be eliminated from the competition, even in the absence of protests’.”
The scandal has rocked Kenyan football with FKF insisting that the said players were cleared by the match commissioner.
FKF CEO Robert Muthomi posted on his Facebook page, saying, “We did not have the regulations even after requesting them from CAF more than five times.... In their letter they admit that we did not receive support but the onus was on us to comply. If it was age-cheating it would have been a ban. Not disqualification.”
However, FKF may yet have to await with bated breath the findings of the CAF Disciplinary Committee sitting in May.
In their communication on Tuesday, FKF insisted: “In its defence, Kenya’s football governing body – FKF – had demonstrated its proactive efforts requesting for the updated information from several officials at the governing body. In addition to the endeavour to seek updated regulations, the head of the Kenya delegation during the away match, sought the match commissioner’s guidance on the same. The match commissioner ruled that players born in 1996 were eligible to play hence the continuation of the match,” read a statement from the federation.
Although Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye who is also CAF’s general co-ordinator, is sorry for Kenya’s situation he challenged FKF to take lessons from the punishment.
“It’s unfortunate that this has happened to my country and a zone member. But I suspect the regulations must have been sent earlier before the new FKF office came into power,” Musonye said.