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Kenyavs Zambia friendly to be played behind closed doors, says Mwendwa

Last updated 5 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi

Harambee Stars to miss services of Wanyama and Olunga as well as Arnold Origi (HIFK, Finland), Ayub Timbe (China) and Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge K.S.V, Belgium) due to travel restrictions [photo courtesy]

The international friendly match between Harambee Stars and Zambia's Chipolopolo on Friday at Nyayo National Stadium will be played behind closed doors, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has confirmed.

And having vowed to fully adhere to coronavirus protocols, the federation has put plans in place for the 4pm match to be beamed live on Star Times TV, their new broadcasting partners.

While Francis Kimanzi's men-who hit to residential camp on Sunday-will be using the build-up to prepare for next month's two-legged 2021 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers tie against Comoros, the federation will be testing their readiness for FKF Premier League kick-off.

Football activities have been shut for over six months since the first case of Covid-19 infection was reported in Kenya in March.

"We are back for the first time in many months. This is a big job because we need to get the players fit and ready. But generally, I'm happy football is back and Nyayo is also back after three years," said Mwendwa after gracing Harambee Stars training session at Kasarani Stadium on Monday.

"For taking extra precautions, we decided not to have fans for this game. We know that athletics had 2,000 fans, but you know with football when a goal goes in, the celebration is mad and we don't know how we will behave with that.

"But we want to start slowly and then raise it because we have Comoros game in November. So, let's have this game under tight control; let's test how ready are we for the protocols and improve on it.

Harambee stars' Arnold Origi during their Africa Cup of Nation Qualifier match against Zambia at Nyayo stadium on Sep.6 2015.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

He added: "Even our recommendations on the FKF Premier League is that we will be starting without fans and maybe after a couple of months we will bring them back.

"We don't want to be the sport that has brought Covid-19 numbers up in Kenya. I'm hoping that now the ministry of sports and health have allowed us to play this game, once we show that we can implement the protocol this Friday we can have authorization for the league to return."

Though Kenya will miss the services of captain Victor Wanyama (Montreal Impact, Canada),

Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan), Arnold Origi (HIFK, Finland), Ayub Timbe (Beijing Renhe, China) and Johanna Omolo (Cercle Brugge K.S.V, Belgium) due to travel restrictions, Kimanzi is so far pleased with the players he has in training.

“Most of the players have reported to camp and we are trying to capitalize on the players’ competitive side to yield a positive result in the friendly match,” said Kimanzi.

Experienced defender Brian Mandela added: “The morale around the camp is great, and the players are looking forward to playing against Zambia and achieving a good result."

Zambia, who face Botswana in their next Afcon qualifiers encounter, are expected to jet into the country on Friday morning.

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