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Coronavirus: How Kenyan football is coping with Covid-19

1:40 PM SGT 29/3/20
Gor Mahia fans at Machakos.
The pandemic is severely affecting the sports schedule around the world, but how is Kenya responding since the first case?

An outbreak of a deadly coronavirus in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 placed large parts of China on lockdown and the rest of the world on high alert.

Despite taking measures in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, it has spread throughout China and across the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Europe.

In Africa, Kenya have not been spared either, as the Covid-19’s first case was confirmed last Friday with the government moving quickly to issue tough directives among them banning public gatherings, international travel for Kenyan teams as well as any meeting that involves 15 or more people of foreign nationality.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) followed the directive by the government to also suspend all football activities from Monday, March 16, to the first week of April in a move aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus.

Two days later, Kenyan Premier League Limited also issued a statement confirming they had postponed three rounds of matches in the top-flight after consulting with the Ministry of Health and setting April 4 as the tentative date for the same to resume.

At the same time, Kenya withdrew from sending its junior team to the Mediterranean International Cup tournament in Spain after the organisers cancelled the event over the growing Covid-19 which has already been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

But how Is Kenya coping with this global pandemic?

KPL postpones league matches

The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) moved to suspend the top-flight league owing to the effect of the coronavirus on Friday.

In a statement from KPL signed by CEO Jack Oguda and obtained by Goal, the league body has postponed the next three rounds of matches and set April 4 as a tentative date to resume after consulting with the Ministry of Health.

The decision by the KPL comes just a day after Kenya confirmed the first case of the Covid-19 virus which also forced the government to ban among other things, a meeting of more than 15 people, crusades and sports activities.

Sharks suspend club activities

Kariobangi Sharks have taken drastic measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

The KPL outfit's move is in line with the directive from the Ministry of Health and comes just a day after the third case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the country.

The Nairobi-based club has suspended their regular training sessions among other activities as they try to move with speed in complying with the government order on how to curb the spread of the disease. 

Leopards share safety tips with fans

AFC Leopards have urged their fans to stay safe as fears of the spread of the coronavirus continue to cause alarm.

AFC Leopards played their FKF Shield Cup match against Ushuru FC at Afraha Stadium on Sunday behind closed doors and in a message directed to their fans on Monday , they have given them tips on how to stay safe.

“We urge our fans, sports family and the entire humanity to follow guidelines as provided by WHO (World Health Organisation), including frequent hand washing,” AFC Leopards said in a short statement on their Facebook page.

With the KPL suspended for the next three rounds, AFC Leopards will be out of action until the situation normalises and will face KCB and Nzoia Sugar as their next two opponents.

KPL suspension will affect calendar - Oguda

Kenyan Premier League (KPL) has confirmed the decision to postpone three rounds of matches in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) will affect the calendar of events.

According to KPL CEO Jack Oguda, Caf had set May 24 as the date to finish the Kenyan league but with the latest decision to shelve matches owing to the deadly coronavirus, it will affect the calendar.

“There is a huge possibility it will change the calendar because we had intended to finish the league on May 24 and with two rounds, in fact, three rounds of matches now affected then we will not meet the date Caf had already set to finish the league,” Oguda told Goal on Monday .

With the KPL suspended for the next three rounds, AFC Leopards will be out of action until the situation normalises and will face KCB and Nzoia Sugar as their next two opponents.

Mathare Utd unveil 'home-based training'

Mathare United became the second club to suspend their training following the government's directive on measures to curb coronavirus.

The Slum Boys will limit the training of their players in order to adhere to the government's order to avoid crowded places after the third case of Covid-19 was reported on Sunday.

Kariobangi Sharks was the first KPL club to suspend training sessions and team activities involving the senior and junior sides.

Kasarani & Nyayo stadia closed down

The Kenyan government has banned the use of the country’s main stadia – Kasarani and Nyayo – for the next 30 days amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Kasarani is the biggest stadium in Kenya with a capacity of 65, 000 while Nyayo has a 45,000-seating capacity.

However, the Kenyan government has confirmed the two facilities will not be available for use for the next 30 days after the country registered a seventh coronavirus case.

Wazito FC celebrate coach Hall

Wazito FC have kept aside the current situation in the country owing to the coronavirus to celebrate the birthday of head coach Stewart Hall.

The British coach joined Wazito at the start of the second leg of the KPL and has helped the club to rise from the bottom of the table to 13th with 20 points.

On Tuesday, the promoted side treated the coach to a sumptuous birthday witnessed by almost the entire playing unit.

However, the Kenyan government has confirmed the two facilities will not be available for use for the next 30 days after the country registered a seventh coronavirus case.

Akida and Baraza share safety tips

Harambee Starlets forward Esse Akida and Sofapaka FC head coach John Baraza have shared with fans measures to help them avoid contracting the coronavirus.

The two sportspeople relaid their messages as the country fights the virus which has already affected seven Kenyans as of Wednesday.

Gor Mahia training through WhatsApp

Gor Mahia coach Steven Polack has revealed his training programme with the playing unit despite breaking camp owing to the coronavirus effect in the country.

The Kenyan champions were forced to break camp last Friday, just a day after Kenya confirmed their first Covid-19 case which prompted the KPL to be postponed for the next three rounds of matches.

The British coach has now told  Goal they have formed a WhatsApp group to help the players train and keep fit while isolating at home as per the orders from the Kenyan government.

Gor Mahia are perched at the summit on 54 points, while Kakamega Homeboyz are second on 47 and Tusker third on 46 points.

AFC Leopards warned to keep fit

AFC Leopards coach Anthony Kimani hopes his charges will continue grinding positive results upon the resumption of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).

The top-tier is currently suspended owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and it is not clear when it will resume, though April 4 remains the tentative date. The 38-year-old has had a good season with the 13-time champions helping them hit a 40-point mark and are currently sixth on the table.

"It is unfortunate, all the teams are affected and I do not think there is a team training at this moment," Kimani told Goal on Saturday.

Leopards insist they still have an outside chance of winning the league but their top priority is the FKF Shield Cup.

Gor Mahia are perched at the summit on 54 points, while Kakamega Homeboyz are second on 47 and Tusker third on 46 points.

Kerr warns FKF on KPL title

Former Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr believes the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) will be legally challenged if they crown K'Ogalo as the KPL champions this season.

The Kenyan top-flight football is suspended owing to the coronavirus pandemic and although April 4 was set as the tentative date for a return, nothing is guaranteed.

Should the league come to a premature end, the FKF had suggested the current leaders - who in this case are Gor Mahia, could be handed the trophy.

The 53-year-old is not of the idea and has shared his opinion on what should be done suppose the season is brought to an abrupt end.

Wazito FC skipper turns focus to teaching

Wazito FC captain Bernard Ochieng has stated he will trade the ball for chalk before normalcy returns in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) owing to the coronavirus effect.

The Kenyan top-flight is among the leagues affected across the world owing to the Covid-19 virus, and Ochieng, who is set to graduate with a Bachelor's in Education at the Kenyatta University in December, is keen to introduce virtual learning as a way of keeping himself occupied during this period. 

Players have proved to be the most hit by the government's directive to suspend all the sporting activities for a month and closure of stadia and training camps has apparently confined them to their houses.

Omollo donates foodstuff to residents

Harambee Stars midfielder Johanna Omollo is the latest high-ranking footballer to offer foodstuff to Kenyans during the coronavirus-induced curfew.

Omollo, through his Johanna Omollo Foundation, donated cooking oil, rice, ugali flour, sugar, hand wash, soaps , and many more basic necessities to the residents of Dandora.

“[Johanna] Omolo grew up from Dandora and he saw it fit to give back to the community especially during this coronavirus pandemic which has greatly affected the lives of Kenyans,” said foundation's chairman Godfrey Okoti.

Wanyama & Red Cross donate sanitizers

The Victor Wanyama foundation has teamed up with Kenya Red Cross to distribute hand sanitizers to the residents of Mathare in a bid to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Harambee Stars captain Wanyama, who is the patron of the foundation, said they were joining hands with the non-government organisation in the fight against the infection.

Kenya has already registered 31 cases of Covid-19.

Wanga & Muchiri add voices to campaign

Allan Wanga and former Tusker midfielder Boniface Muchiri have urged Kenyans to stay safe in order to help in de-escalating the spread of the coronavirus.

The Kakamega Homeboyz striker and Muchiri, as well as Kariobangi Sharks defender Samuel Olwande, are the latest KPL stars to come out and share their messages.

On his part, Muchiri, who had left the country for trials in the USA in September 2019, promised to come back stronger as he pleads for Kenyans to observe safety standards to keep Covid-19 away.