CAF: Kenya and Zimbabwe booted out of the 2023 Afcon Qualifiers

Harambee Stars during the FIFA World Cup qualifiers second-round match against Rwanda at the Nyayo National Stadium on Monday, Nov 15, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations whose qualifying campaign starts in early June.

Kenya is unable to take part because Fifa’s ban on them has not been lifted due to Government interference in the running of the game.

Harambee Stars, who were drawn in Group C alongside Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi, had needed their ban to have been lifted two weeks before their first Nations Cup qualifier if they were to take part in the 2023 campaign.

However, the Saturday 21 May deadline passed without Kenya being readmitted to the international fold.

The Harambee Stars had been due to play in Cameroon on 4 June before then hosting Namibia four days later.

“As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by FIFA set aside, Caf has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers,” a statement on the Caf website read.

“The qualifiers will kick off on the first day of June 2022. 

“Caf had included them in the official draw earlier in April 2022 on the condition that the suspension must be lifted two weeks before their first matchday. 

“Kenya and Zimbabwe, suspended for political interference, have not yet met the criteria required by the Fifa congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension.”

Following the development, Kenya’s Group C will now compromise Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi - with the top two qualifying for next year's tournament in Ivory Coast.

The world football governing body earlier suspended Kenya after the sports ministry disbanded the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) over the alleged misappropriation of funds and appointed a caretaker committee in November 2021.

Despite the sanction, Harambee Stars were included in the draw for the 2023 Nations Cup, with the CAF giving them a deadline for the ban to be lifted to participate.

Zimbabwe look set to suffer the same fate as Kenya unless they can overturn their own ban by 26 May, with the Warriors scheduled their first game in Group K, which features Morocco, South Africa and Liberia, on 9 June.

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