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Kenya behind in strategy for 2010 World Cup

SoccerNews in World Cup 25 Aug 2009

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Kenya should gain financially from teams planning to come to the country to acclimatise before proceeding to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup finals.

The country is strategically placed to attract teams who want to take advantage of the high altitude and visit world-famous tourist sites ahead of the tournament.

However, due to a lack of adequate international stadiums and never-ending political wrangles, there could be problems.

Football Kenya (FKL) technical director Patrick Naggi said Kenya, being a tourist hub in Africa had shot itself in the foot through its approach at marketing itself and the failure to upgrade its sports facilities to attract teams.

“We have not done enough as a nation. There is too much bickering among the politicians over petty issues,” said Naggi.

“Instead of working together to compliment their efforts, they are busy fighting each other. Our football has also taken the same route. We are all to blame.”

The Kenya government has pumped 30 million shillings (225,000 dollars) towards the maintenance of the national stadiums, of which there are two – both in Nairobi – which can be classed to international standards.

The Sports Minister Helen Sambili is due to name a high-level committee, composed of officials from her office and the ministry of tourism to look into exploring ways to exploit the World Cup to the country’s advantage.

But one top official in her ministry conceded that time was running out.

“The concerns are well-founded and understandable since the World Cup is just less than ten months away. We have to move very fast,” Benjamin Sogomo, the new chief executive of the Sports Stadia Management Board (SSMB) told AFP.

One of the main objectives the committee will be tasked is to convince some of the top teams to base themselves in Kenya prior to the tournament.

But although Nairobi is only four hours away from South Africa, the inadequate training facilities may put the whole process into jeopardy.

Due to the favourable climatic conditions, the national teams of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, have in the past opted to hold their training preparations in Kenya before travelling to play their away qualification matches.

But this appears highly unlikely before the 2010 World Cup as competition from the neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Angola and Botswana, which have already embarked on massive construction in readiness for the big event, may sway their national federations to move away.

But Naggi believes Kenya could still have attracted national sides from South America and even Europe, especially the Italian and German teams because of the huge business investments in the Kenyan coastal region, owned and managed by nationals from the two countries.

“I am sure a team like Brazil would be very keen to come here. They show a lot about Kenya in Brazil,” said Naggi, who spent three months in the South American nation training as a football coach in 1999.

“Coming from sea level, they would have taken advantage of our high-altitude and by the time they move to South Africa, they will have gained in their performances over the other teams.

“The two countries also share the same multi-ethnic backgrounds and the diversity of the natural resources and heritage. But unlike them, we don’t have the numerous training grounds and stadiums they would require to set up their training camp here,” he added.

With the exception of the Nyayo National stadium, which is currently under suspension from FIFA for failing to meet its safety standards, the only other world class facility is the Moi International sports centre, on the northern outskirts of the Kenyan capital.

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