Kenya/Egypt: Harambee Stars Striker Free to Play for Egyptian Club

Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa has said the Kenyan Premier League club will allow its former striker John Avire to play for Egyptian side Tanta Sports Club.

Kalekwa on Wednesday said Sofapaka will abide by Fifa's decision to issue Avire a provisional International Transfer Certificate to enable the player to start playing for Tanta Sports Club as the two clubs continue negotiating the player's transfer fee.

At the same time, Kalekwa has said Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has enough time on its hands to complete the remaining matches in FKF Betway Cup which was stopped at the Round of 16 stage.

He however remains categorical that the club will not honour its match against Bandari Football Club should it be rescheduled in Mombasa unless either Bandari or FKF meets the cost of travelling to Mombasa.

Speaking in Mombasa, Kalekwa said Sofapaka has very little to do after Fifa intervened and issued Avire with a temporary international transfer certificate.

He has said the club will pursue the matter until Sofapaka gets money from the sale of the youthful striker.

He rubbished the Sh1 million transfer fee offer from Tanta, saying Sofapaka spent so much on developing Avire to the player he is today.

"We spent a lot of money to groom Avire to the player he is today and we must just get value for money for his release otherwise we are prepared to pursue the case to the highest court. Avire is a gifted striker. With proper guidance, he has the chance to grow into a world-class striker," Kalekwa said.

He said Sh4 million is the minimum the club is willing to accept from Tanta, warning that it could rise to Sh10 million value on the striker should the case drag in the courts.

"We are being soft on them (Tanta Sports Club) because we are on the negotiating table and we have also considered the player's plight because he needs to continue playing at a higher level to grow. However, that will change should they decided to play hard ball. Should we win the case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport Tribunal, we will dictate to them what they should pay," he said.

Avire controversially signed for the Egyptian club in August last year just after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, prompting Sofapaka, through FKF, to report FC Tanta to Fifa for player tapping.

FKF declined to issue Avire with International Transfer Certificate, invalidating his move. Fifa however authorised Egyptian FA to register the player, albeit provisionally as the two clubs continue to negotiate. A letter from Fifa Player Status Committee confirming that indeed Tanta Sports Club had been handed a provisional International Transfer Certificate.

"The Egyptian Federation is authorised to provisionally register the player John Avire who is affiliated to Club Tanta with immediate effect", read part of the letter from Zurich.

Meanwhile, Kalekwa wants the FKF to ensure the remaining matches of the Betway FKF Cup are completed should time allow but say they want to be awarded their round of 16 match against Bandari which the home team failed to honour in Mombasa.

According to Kalekwa, Sofapaka travelled to Mombasa, and had a pre-match meeting which was attended by Bandari only for the Coast-based team to fail to show up for the match.

"We spent a lot of money to prepare and travel to Mombasa for that match and there is no way we can accept for a replay in Mombasa. Maybe if all our expenses are catered for, or if Bandari travels for that fixture at our home ground," Kalekwa said.

He has however advised FKF to consult with the KPL and consider bringing the season to an end should time not permit and allow Gor Mahia and Bandari to represent the country in international competition's by virtue of being last year's champions.

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