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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Kimanzi fumes as Harambee Stars players threaten to boycott Egypt trip

16:07 GMT+4 09/11/2019
The national team have complained bitterly at the travel plans put in place by the government and have vowed to boycott the trip

The Harambee Stars players have threatened to skip their trip to Egypt to play in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on November 14.

The Kenyan national team received air tickets for the trip to Cairo on Friday from the government but Goal now understands they will be forced to travel for 16 hours instead, of five, ahead of the opening group match against the Pharaohs.

This is because the Ministry of Sports, which has taken charge of the team travel, has opted for a longer route which takes the team through Dubai before they land in Cairo.

The Stars are scheduled to depart on Saturday (today) for Cairo through Dubai taking four hours and fifty-four minutes before having an eight-hour lay-over and then take another four-hour flight to the Egyptian capital.

Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi has complained about the travel plans, saying they will be forced to boycott the trip unless the government moves to change the same.

“We received our tickets on Friday evening but the players have complained bitterly considering they will be required to travel for 16 hours and if anything goes wrong, it could go to 20 hours,” Kimanzi told Goal on Saturday.

“To make it worse, we are required to leave Cairo immediately after the Thursday fixture and arrive in Nairobi on Saturday giving us no time to train for the second match against Togo.

“This is a punishment to the team. We are going to waste time, accumulate fatigue and we will still be expected to be explosive during the match. The sad thing is that the route we are using is the most expensive and yet longest instead of being convenient.”

Kimanzi said they had communicated their preferred travelling option to the government but this was ignored. Worse, his key players Michael Olunga and team captain Victor Wanyama have been asked to fly economy class when they are used to travelling business class, considering the distance they are coming from.

Olunga is based in Japan and will fly for more than 15 hours to the Egyptian capital.

“This is another punishment to our top players and if they refuse to travel, there is very little I can do about it,” Kimanzi continued.

Goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, who turns out for St. George in Ethiopia, also asked the Ministry of Sports to do something about the long trip, pointing out that it will affect their performance.

“As a top player, you want to arrive fresh and ready to move," Matasi told Goal.

 "The route does not make it possible for us to do that. There is still plenty of time to change that and we request the government to heed our plea.”