Kenya: Resumption of Top-Flight League Remains Unclear

Kariobangi Sharks striker Julius Masaba (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring their first goal against Nairobi City Stars during their BetKing Premier League match at Kasarani Annex on January 30, 2021.

Uncertainty clouds the resumption of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League that was set to begin on Wednesday.

The government is yet to announce fresh Covid-19 protocols, while FKF has tentatively postponed the restart of the league to Friday.

Players from all the 17 clubs in the league took Covid-19 tests on Tuesday and the exercise will continue Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Bidco United, Mathare United, Gor Mahia, KCB FC, Kariobangi Sharks, Posta Rangers, and Kakamega Homeboyz players got tested for the coronavirus weeks after receiving the AstraZeneca jab in anticipation of sports resumption.

Western Stima, Nairobi City Stars, AFC Leopards, Bandari FC, Tusker FC, Nzoia Sugar players will be tested on Wednesday while Ulinzi Stars, Sofapaka, Wazito, and Vihiga United will undergo tests on Thursday.

The Ministry of Sports is yet to issue the resumption protocols as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 1 when he instructed both the Health and Sports ministries to work hand in hand and develop protocols for sports to return.

Efforts by Nation Sport to get a comment from the Sports ministry on the way forward proved futile.

Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo had in one of the press conferences with journalists declined to comment on the issue.

FKF Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno Tuesday told Nation Sport they had written to the two relevant ministries concerning the resumption of football but have not received any communication.

"We did a letter but we are yet to get a response. But of course as part of the preparation we have started testing players, an exercise which will end on Thursday. We expect the league to resume on Friday. We are only waiting for the government's nod to confirm this," said Otieno.

The youthful administrator was, however, optimistic that by virtue of the federation testing players for the virus, that shows their readiness to resume league matches which were suspended on March 26 due to the rise in Covid-19 infections in the country.

However, he said that the matches would not go ahead without the greenlight from the Health and Sports ministries as instructed by the President.

But with the two ministries yet to roll-out the guidelines, it remains unclear whether the competition will resume on Friday or not.

In the tentative Friday fixtures, high-flying Kariobangi Sharks are expected to host Kakamega Homeboyz from 3pm at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

FKF had on Monday evening rescheduled two matches which were to be played today, according to an earlier directive by FKF President Nick Mwendwa just after President Uhuru allowed the resumption of sports.

In the postponed fixtures, 13-time champions AFC Leopards were to host Mathare United at Kasarani, while Wazito and record champions Gor Mahia were to face off later at the same venue.

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