A World Cup place is my pledge – Mwendwa
Published on: October 19, 2020 05:24 (EAT)
Jacob Icia Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa wants Kenya to qualify for the World Cup within the second term of his presidency. On Saturday, October 17, Mwendwa and his deputy Doris Petra were elected overwhelmingly in the FKF national elections, garnering 77 votes out of the total 85 possible. He was quick to reveal that his number one dream to fulfill in his second term in office is the qualification of Kenya’s team to the World Cup. No Kenyan football team has ever qualified for the global showpiece – whether men, women or age-group teams – a jinx he is keen to break. Having succeeded in sending both Harambee Stars and Harambee Starlets to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in his first term, Mwendwa believes it’s time to make a leap into football’s grandest stage. “I feel there is a World Cup calling, I don’t know which it is. We want to think which one it is because Kenya needs to rise to the next level – go back to AFCON, go to the World Cup, women’s World Cup, men’s World Cup – whichever it is, Kenya needs to be there and I’m strongly convinced we will do this,” a hopeful Mwendwa said after the Saturday election. On her part, Petra feels it could be the Starlets who will fly Kenya’s flag in the World Cup soonest, citing tremendous growth the women’s team is posting in the recent days. “We are open minded and we know nothing is impossible. We have Harambee Stars, Harambee Starlets and various youth teams we hope to take to that stage. I however feel our women’s team is closer there,” she averred. For the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Kenya is pooled against West African giants Mali, neighbours Uganda and Rwanda in Group E of the second phase of the qualifiers. The winner of the group will face another group winner in home and away ties for one of the five tickets available for Africa. Clear debts Another area of concern for Mwendwa’s administration is the debts FKF owes several entities, after battling the financial situation at Kandanda House for four years. “In 2016 we took over a federation full of debts. Some we have paid, others we have not been able to clear. We will work to offload the burden progressively; my joy will be to see a debt-free FA. We want to get to the apex of football management in Africa, in terms of how we do things,” Mwendwa promised, noting the gains made in stabilizing the federation financially in his first term are massive. With the federation’s structure now in line with the 2010 constitution, the FKF boss also wants to leverage on it to improve leagues across the country. His immediate drive, however, is seeing football resumption in Kenya, following a seven-month hiatus forced by COVID-19 pandemic. “I call upon all elected and every football stakeholder to help us resume football, observing the protocols laid out by the Government. This is our immediate agenda. Our boys and girls are suffering, they need to resume and make living out their talents. “We have sponsors who are waiting for the resumption, so that they release funds. Let’s all rally towards this,” he pleaded. The FKF Premier League is tentatively primed for November 20 kickoff, but the Government will have to give final clearance before the ball can roll.