Kenya’s Harambee Stars have advanced to the next stage of the African Nations Championship without kicking the ball following the withdrawal of their first round opponents Ethiopia.
Speaking on phone from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Football Federation general secretary Abebe Kelkay confirmed his country’s withdrawal citing lack of funds.
“We have written to Caf informing them of our withdrawal. It is because of economics. We do not have enough money and want to concentrate on the African Cup of Nations,” Kelkay said.
Football Kenya Limited secretary general Mohammed Thabit on Thursday said he had not received any official communication from the Ethiopian football administration or Caf about the withdrawal. “As far as we are concerned the fixture is on and we are preparing accordingly,” he said.
According to the 2011 qualifier programme, Kenya were scheduled to play Ethiopia on the weekend of March 13-14 in Addis Ababa in a preliminary round first leg tie with the return fixture in Nairobi two weeks later.
Harambee Stars coach Twahir Muhiddin said they would continue with their preparation until they got official communication from Caf on Ethiopia’s status.
A provisional Harambee Stars squad has already gone through their first week of residential training at Moi International Sports Centre. The team broke camp on Thursday for players to attend to club duties and will resume residential training next week at the same venue.
Winners of the tie progress to the second round where they will meet the winners between Burundi and Uganda in May. The top team from the match up will gain passage to the second edition of the tournament that will be held in Sudan next year.
The African Nations Championship is a biennial tournament introduced by Caf in 2008 exclusively for local based players.
In another development, three Kenyan women referees have been appointed by Caf to officiate in Saturday’s African Women’s Championship preliminary round match between Ethiopia and Tanzania in Addis Ababa.
The referees are Damaris Kimani, Mary Njoroge and Dorcas Manuguti. Kenya are missing in action from the same tournament. The country was scheduled to host Eritrea this weekend but FKL withdrew the team without citing any reason.
Elsewhere, Cote d’Ivoire are hopeful that Guus Hiddink will take charge of the Elephants at the World Cup this summer. Dutchman Hiddink is contracted with Russia until June 30 and has signed a two-year contract to coach Turkey that starts in August.
But Ivory Coach Football association (FIF) president Jacques Anouma said: “Guus is one of the people we have contacted about becoming coach. “Probably in the middle of next week something will be concluded.”
The Ivorians are looking for a coach after dismissing Vahid Halilhodzic, whose future had been in question after his team were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.