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Exclusive: FKF’s Nick Mwendwa Assures Kenya Will Play AFCON Qualifiers in Nairobi

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa has allayed fears that Kenya’s Harambee Stars will play their 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying home matches away from home.

Dennis Onsare
Dennis Onsare

Last Updated: 2024-07-11

Louis Hobbs

5 minutes read

Image for Nick Mwendwa

Harambee Stars will return to the qualifiers for the 35th edition after being pooled in Group J alongside Africa powerhouse, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. According to the fixtures released by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Kenya under head coach Engin Firat will begin their matchday one with a home fixture against the Warriors of Zimbabwe on September 3 before they travel to take on Namibia’s Brave Warriors in matchday two in Windhoek on September 10.

Kenya’s matchday three will see them travel to face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Yaounde on October 7 before returning home to host the same nation in their matchday four fixture on October 15. After Cameroon, Kenya will travel to face Zimbabwe’s Warriors away on November 11 before they wind up their preliminary matches with a home match against the Brave Warriors of Namibia on November 19.
 

Kenya will Play Home Matches at Nyayo Stadium

With uncertainty surrounding where Kenya will host their home matches, Mwendwa has confirmed the federation’s effort to have all matches played in Nairobi and at Nyayo Stadium.

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I know fans are worried (about where we will play AFCON home matches), but it will not happen again, playing away from home, it is something I have to apologise to the fans, it was beyond our reach but now we have to make sure all matches are played on home soil

Mwendwa

“It has been difficult for us, even the federation to get logistics of the team playing home matches away, it takes much of our time because you have to plan travel logistics and many other things, but we don’t want to see that happening again, we are working on having Nyayo cleared by CAF to host our matches. Mwendwa told SportsBoom.com.

Mwendwa continued: “We have written to CAF to come and inspect Nyayo, we know the venue is in a good condition to host matches, I am hoping fans will have the opportunity to watch their team play, it is something I have wanted to see after a very long time because this team belongs to them.”

With the main stadiums – Moi Kasarani and Nyayo closed by the government for renovation - Kenya’s last home game was on September 12, 2023, when they suffered a 1-0 friendly defeat against South Sudan courtesy of a Tito Okello goal. The friendly came after their historic 2-1 victory against World Cup hosts Qatar in another build-up.

Since the South Sudan game, Kenya have played 10 matches in all competitions away from home. The two stadia are being prepared to co-host the African Nations Championships (CHAN) and the 2027 AFCON.

Their 2026 World Cup campaign saw Kenya move their Group F home matches to Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi. Harambee Stars drew 1-1 against Burundi before securing a 0-0 draw against African champions Ivory Coast.

“We don’t have to worry about it now, I am sure it will be sorted out, everything will be done to ensure we play at home, from the beginning as FKF, we always want to play our home matches at home, so it is something we will make sure it happens in the AFCON campaign,” assured Mwendwa.

Asked about Kenya’s chances to qualify for AFCON, Mwendwa said: “It is not a tall order, we are in a good group, and we need to keep the focus and support the team, I know with support from every quarter, Kenya will go to Morocco.”

Cameroon Obvious Challenge but Kenya will Qualify

 

Former Kenyan defender Taiwo Atieno is confident Harambee Stars will qualify for the AFCON in Morocco despite being pooled alongside the Indomitable Lions.

Atieno, who had to renounce his British citizenship to be granted a Kenyan passport, before debuting for Kenya as a late substitute in the June 2009 qualifier against Mozambique, believes with proper preparations a qualification slot will be achieved.

“I believe the Group is one Kenya can qualify from, but we need an attacking strategy and a solid defence,” Atieno, who played for a host of clubs in England, including Luton Town, Stevenage, Torquay United, and Barnet, told SportsBoom. “Kenya must play attacking football; create more goal-scoring opportunities with crosses and set pieces.”

He added: “Cameroon is the most obvious challenge for Kenya, but Zimbabwe and Namibia should not be underestimated.”

Despite a section of football stakeholders calling for the sacking of coach Firat in recent weeks, Atieno praised the 54-year-old Turkish tactician for the job he had done with the team and encouraged the players to continue believing in themselves.

“I think the coach has done well to bring this team this far. I would encourage all the players and the coach to continue believing in themselves and working together, no matter what anyone says,” added Atieno, the Commercial Director of the Kenyan Premier League.

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Representing your country is a very special duty, and even if people don’t acknowledge or applaud it, it’s still a position reserved for less than 1% of the world’s population. So, my advice would be to enjoy the experience and create your legacies and successes.

Atieno

On his message to the government to have Nyayo and Kasarani ready to host Kenya matches, Atieno said: “I would encourage the government to give football the priority it deserves and collaborate with the private sector to create the best football environment possible.

“We are all Kenyans, and we all want Kenya to succeed on the world stage. This is important not just for football but for national pride and identity.”

Dennis Onsare
Dennis Onsare Sports Writer

Dennis is a seasoned journalist in Kenya with over 18 years of experience. Having started his career at Kenya Times Newspaper, Dennis worked for Standard Newspaper for nearly six years as a Sports Writer. At Standard, he was privileged to cover Kenya's national team Harambee Stars outside the country, the biggest of all being the Four Nations tournament in Cairo, Egypt. He also covered the U17 team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.