Kenya says preparations to host Africa football championship on course

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Nairobi, Sep 7 (IANS) A Kenyan official on Thursday reiterated that the country is on course to host the African Nations Championships (CHAN) scheduled for early 2018.

Principal Secretary for Sports, Peter Kaberia, said preparations to host the continental football event are in top gear and dispelled talk that the hosting rights for the competition could be snatched away from the East African nation, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Initially there was delay but we have addressed the grey areas and work is in progress to comply with the requirements stipulated by the Confederation of African Football (CAF),” Kaberia said in Nairobi.

He was speaking during the signing of an agreement with Kenya Airways as the national carrier for all Kenyan sports teams flying out of the country for competitions abroad.

There have been fears that Kenya’s hosting rights for the event are slipping away owing to the country’s slow pace of putting in place the requisite infrastructure for hosting the tournament.

“We are still the hosts up to now because CAF has not designated the hosting rights to any other country. In fact the continental association is impressed with the efforts we are putting in towards the event,” Kaberia said.

The East Africa nation won the bid in 2015 to host the tournament that features national teams whose players play exclusively in their respective domestic teams.

Kaberia said that the one year contract between the Kenyan government and the national carrier will increase efficiency, save money and do away with unpredictable flight schedules.

“Teams will not arrive at competition venues in a huff because of delays caused by delayed or cancelled bookings because the airline will receive schedules for all international events well in advance,” he explained.

The Regional General Manager of Kenya Airways, Grant Onyango, said teams flying on the airline will receive special recognition during flights in addition to maintaining 24-hour contact with players.

“We will fly teams across the globe, including where we don’t operate scheduled flights, because Kenya Airways being a member of Sky Team has partners who fly to all corners of the world,” Onyango said.

The Under 20 football team will be the first beneficiaries of the deal when they fly to Ethiopia later this month for the World Cup qualifier, followed by the national hockey team that will take part in the Africa Qualifiers in Cairo, Egypt next month.

–IANS

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