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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 14:43 GMT
Kenya's football crisis deepens
Kenya's Harambee Stars
The Harambee Stars could be out of the Nations Cup
The rift between the Kenyan government and the Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) has grown.

The KFF have vehimently denied that age cheats played for the national under 17 team, after the Sport's Minister disbanded the side claiming some of the players were over-age.

KFF chairman Maina Kariuki says he is convinced the Sports Minister is wrong.

"We have proof that the two players said to be overage by the minister are actually within the eligible age bracket," Kariuki said.

"Because the minister unilaterally disbanded the team and the commissioner for sports sent us a letter ordering us to ask CAF to withdraw all our teams from all continental tournaments, we need further guidance from CAF.

"We can't withdraw the teams because there is no justification.

"If the minister insists and Kenyan national and club teams are withdrawn from the continental tournaments, we shall quit because there will be no need to be in office."

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

If the minister insists and Kenyan national and club teams are withdrawn from the continental tournaments, we shall quit because there will be no need of being in office

Kenya Football Federation President Maina Kariuki

Balala said he believed 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 pre-empt 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.

Kenya eliminated Ghana in the last round of Under 17 qualifying, with the Ghanaians bitterly complaining about the age of some of the Kenyan players.

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

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 extremely unlikely to go ahead.

See also:

16 Feb 03 | Africa
27 Dec 02 | Africa
14 Dec 02 | Africa
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