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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 13:40 GMT
Kenyan football in crisis
Kenya's Harambee Stars
The Harambee Stars could be out of the Nations Cup
The Kenyan government and the Kenyan FA are on a collision course following the decision of the Sport's Minister to disband the national U17 team after discovering some of the players were over-age.

Najib Balala said two players, Alfred Ongoli and Francis Ochieng confessed to him that they were over 20 years old.

The government cannot interfer in our activities according to FIFA rules

Kenyan FA's Hussein Swaleh
Balala said he beleived others were also too old, and ordered the team to withdraw from qualifying for the African Championship.

Kenya's U17 team should have been hosting Ethiopia next weekend.

He also ordered that Kenya withdraw from all Caf and Fifa competitions to preempt any action from the two football bodies.

The decision could have an impact on the Harambee Stars Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

The minister said the government would apologise to Caf and Fifa through the Kenyan FA.

The FA secretary-general Hussein Swaleh said they would not be apologising because they had done nothing wrong.

"As far as we're concerned we're innocent," he said. "We'll go ahead with our match against Ethiopia.

"The government cannot interfere in our activities according to Fifa rules,'' said a defiant Swaleh who accused the minister of witch-hunting.

He asked why the minister disbanded the U17 team without consulting them.

Kenya eliminated Ghana in the last round of qualifying, with the Ghanaians bitterly complaining about the age of some of the Kenyan players.

Officials with Kenya's team denied any wrong-doing.

Bob Munro, the chairman of Premier League side, Mathare United, brought the scandal to light by issuing press statements accusing the Kenyan FA of disregarding the face that players were over age.

Munro warned that there could be reprisals that affected all Kenyans teams if nothing was done.

The Kenyan U17 team are in Nairobi training for next weekend's match, but morale is at rock-bottom with the knowledge that it is extemely unlikely to go ahead.

See also:

27 Dec 02 | Africa
14 Dec 02 | Africa
23 Dec 02 | Africa
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