21 May 2018

Kenya: Kasarani Stadium Closed Again

The Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani has once again been closed for renovations despite earlier reports that the venue is completed and ready to host both local and international matches.

Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa Monday indicated that the stadium, which has so far hosted two matches last week, will be shut down immediately, and that next month's SportPesa Super Cup will not be played there as earlier communicated.

Harambee Stars' friendly matches involving Swaziland and Equatorial Guinea have also been moved to Machakos, and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Equatorial Guinea scheduled for June 4 could also be shifted to the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos County.

It is unclear how long the Kasarani stadium will remain closed, although contractors Gregory International say that the drainage system at the pitch is the only main issue that needs to be worked on.

The French contractors have also denied having officially handed over the facility to Sports Kenya two weeks ago, saying that the venue was only open after a gentleman agreement between themselves and the organisers of the Hull City friendly.

"We never did the handing over. We had an agreement with SportPesa and the ministry to have the pitch available for that game.

"The stadium is not 100 percent complete. We still need to work on drainage inside the pitch as well as some maintenance because some things were destroyed during the game and need to be replaced. We shall have a meeting with the ministry and the give an official statement regarding how long the place will be closed but once the work is complete we shall have a perfect field," said Caroline Panissaud of Gregory International on Monday.

The Kasarani stadium was open to the public after months of renovation on May 6 during the highly billed friendly math between Hull City and K'Ogalo.

The joy and relief was however short-lived as it emerged three days later during the rain lashed Caf Confederation Cup match between Algeria's USM Alger and Gor Mahia that the drainage was poorly done, resulting in a cut-up and water-logged surface that was a big challenge to camera operators.

The facility has been under renovation since last year, but rwork has been going at a snail's pace which prompted Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa to visit the venue and state that it would be open by May 9.

"I have seen there is progress, although it is a bit slow. We have agreed with the contractors that they should hand over the facility after two months. We expect by then the facilities will be ready for use by everyone," said Echesa on March 9.

With this new development, football is likely to suffer the most, with the Kenyan Premier League matches being played on the few remaining pitches.


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