Kenya : Under 17 national football team to boycott match

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The Kenyan national Under-17 soccer team Friday threatened to boycott Saturday’s Africa Youth Championships first round return match against Rwanda unless outstanding allowances are paid.

Coach Gabriel Njoroge, said they were “fed up” with the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and wondered why it was holding on to the US$32,786 which a local firm donated to the team. Brookside Dairies donated the money through Sports Minister Hellen Sambiri.

“You can quote me on that, I don’t care,” Njorege told a section of the media here late Friday. Stressing his point, the coach refused to unveil to the press his line-up for Saturday’s match, quipping “why should I give you the line up yet ? we will not play. The team even lacks playing boots.” He also claimed the federation, owes him US$2,950 in unpaid allowances.

Rwanda, who are putting their final touches ahead of the match, arrived on Thursday.

Njorege’s sentiments were echoed by a player who requested anonymity, saying “If this is what it means to play for the country, I feel its better to forget it and stick with our grassroot teams. “When we went to Rwanda, we felt like we didn’t have single cent,” said the player.

Kenya drew 2-2 with Rwanda in the first leg match in Kigali, Rwanda, two weeks ago and enjoyed the home and away goal advantages. The winner of the clash, now hanging in the balance, plays Sudan in the second round.

Speaking at the Moi International Sports Centre, in the presence of the KFF National Technical Director, Patrick Naggi, the players and coach made it absolutely clear they will boycott the match unless the cash-strapped federation addressed the issue.

But Naggi, a former national coach, who handled the senior national team, Harambee Stars, down-played the threat, saying the situation was under control.

It appeared the team was not worried by the consequence of the boycott – a stiff penalty imposed by African soccer governing body, CAF to KFF.

The best teams in the on-going qualifying rounds will book tickets to the 2009 African Youth Championships in Algeria.

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