Harambee Stars to camp in France if they qualify for AFCON 2019 - Echesa

Harambee Stars' Francis Kahata, Johana Omondi, Aboud Aboud and Dennis Odhiambo celebrate at Kasarani after after beating Ethiopia 3-0 in their Africa Cup of Nations Cup Group F qualifier on Sunday to move closer to a place in next year’s finals in Cameroon. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

National men’s football team, Harambee Stars will camp in France for at least three weeks if they qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa has said.

This comes barely five days after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) cancelled Sunday’s decisive Group F qualifier between Kenya and Sierra Leone in Nairobi.

As such, the CS has reassured the players that the government will fulfill its Sh50 million promise once they officially secure their berth to next year’s continental finals.

The West Africans, who were scheduled to clash with Sebastian Migne’s men at Kasarani Stadium, are still serving an indefinite suspension imposed on their Football Association by world governing body Fifa due to government interference.

With seven sevens points at the top of the group ahead of this weekend’s tie between second placed Ethiopia and Ghana, Kenya can start booking their flight to Cameroon pending Fifa’s verdict on Leone’s Stars’ indefinite ban.

Sierra Leone did not play last month’s two-legged tie against the Black Stars.

But whatever the decision from the Zurich-based body, Afcon qualification is Kenya’s to loss. Based on the permutation, Harambee Stars have a realistic chance of ending the 14-year absence in the Afcon finals, either by finishing as group leaders or first runners up.

“I understand Fifa is yet to make a decision on Sierra Leone’s case, but I think this group of players are ready for any outcome. As the government, we have plans to take the team to camp in Europe (France) for at least three weeks,” Echesa told the Standard Sports.

“We want them to go to Cameroon to compete and not to participate, that is why we are doing everything possible to ensure they do well. With the quality of players, we have, it will be very unfortunate if we are eliminated in the first round.

“Once they qualify, I will personally take the Sh50 million government promise to the team for the players to equally share it among themselves.”

Asked about the status of the Sports Fund which will be shared among three ministries, the CS said: “We will be fully in control of our 35 per cent allocation in the Sports Fund. The fund has not been moved to the treasury as perceived by many.”

“This fund will be a big relief to the entire sporting fraternity. It is through this fund that we will upgrade our facilities and start academies in all the counties .”

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