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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Afcon 2023 Draw: Will Kenya’s Harambee Stars be taking part?

8:57 AM EDT 4/18/22
Kenya’s Joseph Okumu and Michael Olunga vs Uganda.
The East Africans are currently serving an indefinite suspension slapped on them by Fifa after what was described as government interference

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers draw will be conducted on Tuesday, April 19 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Among the countries that are in the draw are Kenya's Harambee Stars and the Warriors of Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the two countries are currently suspended by the world football organizing body Fifa.

The supporters of the East African nation are asking a lot of questions including whether the team will be considered in the pooling process.

Will Harambee Stars be included in the 2023 Afcon draw?

In a communique by Caf dated April 13th, the body confirmed Kenya are among the teams seeded.

They are in Pot Two alongside Benin, Cape Verde Islands, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.

However, whether Kenya will take part in the qualifiers or not is another issue that Caf clarified.

"Reference to the suspension of Zimbabwe and Kenya by Fifa from all football activities, in case the suspension is not lifted two weeks before their first matchday of their qualifiers; both associations will be considered as losers and eliminated from the competition," read a letter from the Africa football organizing body and obtained by GOAL.

What simply is meant is that the Harambee Stars must be cleared by Fifa two weeks before the qualifiers start in order to take part.

Why was Kenya suspended?

In December 2021, Kenya Sports Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed disbanded the Football Kenya Federation under then head Nick Mwendwa for alleged misappropriation of funds.

Fifa felt it was interference by the government since their procedures were not followed when dealing with the situation and went on to suspend the country from all football-related activities from February 24.

Fifa cited the appointment of the caretaker committee - chaired by Aaron Ringera - Mwendwa's arrest and the transfer of his functions as some of the reasons that informed their decision.

"The Fifa Council considered that the aforementioned circumstances were serious and constituted a clear case of undue interference by a third party," the letter read obtained by GOAL.

"Therefore, on the basis of Article 14 paragraphs 1 i) and 3 of the Fifa Statutes, - as well as Article 16 paragraph 1, under which the Fifa Council may, without a vote of the Congress, temporarily suspend with immediate effect a member association that seriously violates its obligations - the Fifa Council decided to suspend the FKF with immediate effect due to flagrant violations of the Fifa Statutes.

The decision was ratified during its 72nd congress held in Doha.

What are the rules set for the suspension to be lifted?

Mwendwa went on to resign from his post and left his role to embattled vice president Doris Petra and vocal Secretary-General Barry Otieno.

Fifa insists once the two have been allowed back into the office, then Kenya will be re-admitted to the global football calendar.

"The Fifa Council decided that the lifting of the suspension be subject to the following conditions: The Cabinet Secretary's decision of November 11, 2021, appointing the caretaker committee in lieu of the elected FKF Executive Committee," read the letter to Kenyans.

"Fifa's receipt of confirmation from the FKF and its management, led by Vice-President Doris Petra and General Secretary Barry Otieno, that the FKF and its premises are once more under their full and unconditional control Consequently, and in accordance with article 13 of the FIFA Statutes, FKF loses all its membership rights as of February 24, 2022, until further notice."

However, Amina insists the former office will not be allowed back and Fifa will be contacted once Football in Kenya is sanitised and the right people are in office.