Kenya's opening game of the 2021 Africa Nations Cup qualification campaign against Egypt on Thursday is among dozens of matches affected by pay television channel SuperSport's decision to suspend broadcasting of all Confederation of African Football (Caf) matches until further notice.
A bulk of Harambee Stars players, including captain Victor Wanyama, are already in Egypt ahead of Thursday's contest against the “Pharaohs” in Alexandria.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) media officer Ken Okaka told Nation Sport the missing duo - in the frame of forwards Michael Olunga and Boniface Muchiri - were expected to link up with their teammates Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, SuperSport acquired the broadcast rights to televise these continental matches across the continent and have been running promotions in the past week inviting its audience to watch how Wanyama and Olunga fare against Liverpool's Mo Salah and Aston Villa's Mahmoud Trezeguet.
But the channel on Tuesday sent text messages to its customers confirming otherwise.
"Please note that SuperSport will not broadcast Caf content, commencing with Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations and qualifiers until further notice," read the message.
The South African company attributes this move to a decision by Caf to terminate an agreement with French broadcast company Lagardere which in turn supplies the content to SuperSport.
Other affected matches include South Africa's games against Ghana and Sudan at the Cape Coast stadium and Orlando stadium respectively.
Multichoice Group executive for corporate affairs, Joe Heshu, added that SuperSport is in a “difficult” position following this decision.
"We are in a difficult position where we cannot broadcast the Caf games when we don't have a firm contractual arrangement in place. SuperSport previously acquired these broadcast rights from Lagardere," said Heshu.
Caf maintains the agency agreement signed with Lagardere breached Egyptian competition rules because Lagardere was appointed as Caf's exclusive agent for marketing and media rights for a 20-year period without open tender. This development denies football fans across the continent a platform to watch their national games in action.
Meanwhile, English Premier League sharpshooters Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah flew to Africa this week, seeking goals as the Cup of Nations qualifying kicks off.
New Arsenal captain Aubameyang has claimed eight league goals this season and Liverpool duo Mane and Salah seven and six respectively, putting the trio among the top 10 scorers.
The form of Gabonese Aubameyang, Senegalese Mane and Egyptian Salah will encourage their nations as they face two matches each between today and next Tuesday.
Mane, who is looking good to succeed two-time winner Salah as African Footballer of the Year, will be first into action with Senegal hosting Congo Brazzaville in Thies on Wednesday.
Any outcome other than a comfortable win for Senegal would be surprising as the nation currently ranked first in Africa launch another attempt to win a maiden Cup of Nations title.
Aubameyang and Salah play Thursday with Gabon away to central African neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo in Group D and Egypt at home to Kenya in Group G.
Salah will work with recently appointed Egypt coach Hossam el Badry for the first time, having missed a warm-up win over Botswana last month because of an injury.
El Badry succeeded Mexican Javier Aguirre, who was sacked after the Pharaohs flopped as 2019 Cup of Nations hosts, losing to South Africa at the last-16 stage.
Another Premier League star available to the new coach is Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, who scored for Aston Villa in a weekend defeat at Wolves.
Kenya appeared at a Cup of Nations this year for the first time since 2004 and edged Tanzania between group losses to eventual champions Algeria and runners-up Senegal.