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Africa Cup of Nations

EXCLUSIVE: Harambee Stars' striker Michael Olunga's Afcon appearance thrown into doubt

1:47 PM WAT 04/06/2019
Michael Olunga of Kenya.
FKF is trying to solve the problem with the Japanese club, which is causing Kenya much frustration

Harambee Stars may have to do without the services of Michael Olunga at the team’s pre-Afcon camp in France.

The problem is also placing doubt over his appearance at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.

This is after his parent club, Kashiwa Reysol of Japan, failed to release the influential forward in time for the national team’s assignments, in spite of Fifa's directives.

Earlier in March, the towering striker failed to make it to his camp for Kenya’s final qualifying Group F match against Ghana’s Black Stars with Kashiwa Reysol citing injury concerns.

Football Kenya Federation, in the meantime, is consulting with world governing body Fifa with regards to the players’ situation. This comes as the Federation also engages his parent club, Kashiwa Reysol, to find an amicable solution over the matter.

"The rules are very clear on the expectations and roles of each party, we continue to engage Kashiwa Reysol on the player's release, this even as we remain optimistic that a decision on this sensitive issue will be arrived at within the shortest time possible," Barry Otieno FKF Head of Communications exclusively told Goal on Tuesday.

“The continued delay in releasing the player by the club is not only greatly jeopardising our preparations for the Afcon tournament but is also not good for international football in general.”

The former Gor Mahia striker is among the foreign-based players named in the provisional squad of 27 by coach Sebastien Migne.

The others include Victor Wanyama, defender Abud Omar, Ismael Gonzalez, Christopher Mbamba, Anthony Akumu, Joseph Okumu, and David Owino, Brian Mandela, Patrick Matasi, Johanna Omollo, Eric Johanna and Ayub Timbe.

The FKF has lined up two friendly matches, one against Madagascar on June 7 in Paris and the other against DR Congo on June 15 in Madrid.

The team will then jet out to Cairo, Egypt on June 19 in time for the continental showpiece. Kenya will play their Group C matches at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo.

The first match will see Harambee Stars face Algeria on June 23. Tanzania will be up next on June 27, before Stars play their last group stage match against Senegal on July 1.