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Kenya out of Afcon 2023 qualifiers, even before kick off

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Kenya will not take part in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, whose qualifying campaign starts in early June, BBC Sport Africa understands.

Kenya is unable to take part because of its ongoing ban from football by world governing body Fifa because of governmental interference in the running of the game.

The East African nation had needed their ban to have been lifted two weeks before their first Nations Cup qualifier if they were to take part in the 2023 campaign.

However, this deadline – which came on Saturday 21 May – passed without Kenya being readmitted to the international fold.

The Harambee Stars had been due to play in Cameroon on 4 June before then hosting Namibia four days later.

It means that Group C will now composed of Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi – with the top two qualifying for next year’s tournament in Ivory Coast.

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The ban imposed by Fifa in February came after Kenya’s sports ministry disbanded the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) over alleged misappropriation of funds and appointed a caretaker committee in November 2021.

Despite the sanction, Kenya were included in the draw for the 2023 Nations Cup, with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) giving them a deadline for the ban to be lifted to participate.

“In case the suspension is not lifted two weeks before their first matchday of the qualifiers; both associations [along with Zimbabwe] will be considered as losers and eliminated from the competition,” a Caf statement read.

“Consequently, their groups will be composed of three teams. The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament.”

Zimbabwe look set to suffer the same fate as Kenya unless they can overturn their own ban by 26 May, with the Warriors scheduled their first game in Group K, which features Morocco, South Africa and Liberia, on 9 June.

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-BBC

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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