Disquiet in Harambee Stars camp ahead of crucial Zanzibar tie

By: ISAAC SWILA

Members of Kenya’s national football team Harambee Stars, have threatened to skip Friday’s Group ‘B’ match of the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup against Zanzibar over unpaid allowances and winning bonuses.

Just 10 days ago, the team was in a crisis, having to endure a 22-hour flight to honour their 2018 World Cup qualifier match against Cape Verde.

And now, there is disquiet in the team’s camp in Hawassa, Ethiopia, over unpaid bonuses and allowances ahead of the crucial Group ‘B ‘match against Zanzibar. The Stars tackle bottom-placed Zanzibar Heroes from 3.30pm at the Hawassa International Stadium, needing a win or a draw to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.

The build-up to the match has been overshadowed by unrest following failure by the government to pay players bonuses.

Players are demanding unpaid allowances stretching seven days back and winning bonuses after beating Uganda Cranes 2-0 on Sunday. Daily Nation Sport has also established that the players have also not been paid some money owed to them from their 2018 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifier matches.

Each player is entitled to Sh5,000 a day while in camp but this amount was reduced to Sh3,000 without any explanation while the team was away in Cape Verde for the return leg match of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

After seven days in camp here, each player is owed at least Sh50,000 inclusive of winning bonuses. In comparison, each member of Somalia’s national team is paid $200 (Sh20,000) in allowances.

“What pains us is the fact that we are away from our families for two weeks fighting for the country yet we’ve left our families with nothing,” a player who sought anonymity said on Thursday after the team’s training session in Hawassa.

“When you get a call up to play for the national team, it should show not just in your life but to the family too. It’s only through such a way that other young players can be inspired to work hard to don the national colours.”

NO REPRESENTATION

The team is without representation from the federation as FKF vice-president Robert Asembo returned to Nairobi on Tuesday.

Stars head coach Bobby Williamson would not be drawn into the matter. “No! Ask me something else. I don’t talk about allowances.”

The team is currently without any representation from the federation after FKF vice-president returned to Nairobi on Tuesday.

Skipper David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng has however maintained that the boys are fired up for the match.

NOTEBOOK

While in Addis, take time, sample enjera

I decided to sample Ethiopia’s staple food enjera, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

The food is made of sour dough and looks like a flat bread with spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Another variety of enjera is eaten in Somalia and Djibouti. Locals here are however proud of it so much so that every menu must include enjera. It’s also regarded a special dish given to visitors.

LIMITED OPTIONS

No ugali please, we are Ethiopians!

Still staying with matters, food, I found out yesterday that despite the proximity of Ethiopia to Kenya, ugali does not feature in the menu of all the food joints that I have visited so far in Addis Ababa.

Locals here do not know about ugali either.

But nyama choma and mbuzi choma is served in most hotels, mostly with french fries or bread. A team of five Kenyan journalists covering this year’s tournament in Ethiopia have had very limited options as far as food is concerned.

FOOTBALL CRAZE

That Ethiopians love the beautiful game of football is not in doubt. On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s national football team beat Somalia’s Ocean Stars 2-0 in a Group A match that saw local fans turn out in record numbers. The 40,000-seater Hawassa International Stadium was full to the rafters.

They created a carnival on the streets of Hawassa before the match and sung the entire duration of the match. Did I hear a Kenyan football official recently complain that Kenyan football fans only gossip about the game in bars?

TRANSPORT

Motorbikes are a popular means of transport in Nairobi and other places in Kenya. But in Addis Ababa, there is not a sight of any.

In Ethiopia’s southern city of Hawassa, motorbikes are the preferred means of transport over short distances. A ride in ‘Bajaj’, as they’re known here, from my hotel to Hawassa International Stadium cost me 30 birr (approximately Sh150). Unlike in Nairobi, motorbikes in Hawassa are orderly. I’m yet to see three adults carried on one motorbike as happens in most parts of Kenya.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION