Our day of shame - Harambee Stars stranded for eight hours at Wilson Airport

By alex wafula
Nov 16, 2021
  • Harambee Stars players and coach Bobby Williamson after a past training session at the Nyayo National Stadium.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

It was a new low for national soccer team, Harambee Stars as they prepared to depart for Praia, Cape Verde where they are set to face the hosts in a return leg world cup qualifier on Tuesday evening.

The team was stranded at the Wilson Airport for at least eight hours on Monday, travel plans unclear, after the weekend announcement that they would be travelling on a chartered flight.

While other Nations hire jets for their teams Harambee stars finally took off on a propeller plane that could take up to 10 hours to the Atlantic Island nation of Cape Verde with a stop in Nigeria.

The drama started early morning when the players staged a sit in at their Kasarani hostels demanding to be paid their allowances in full before setting off for the airport.

FKF had to send its Secretary General Michael Esakwa to Kasarani to sort out the allowances but still the drama was far from over.

FKF delay paying allowances 

Initially, the players had agreed that each would be paid Ksh. 5,000 per day for the 13 days they were in camp but the same was reduced to Ksh.3,000 further complicating the situation.

The push and pull resulted in the team missing their scheduled 10am departure and they left Kasarani close to midday. At the airport, further drama was to ensue with the players failing to board their plane until late, at 8 p.m.

It was not immediately clear why the players did not board then but sources say a standoff in payment between Sam Nyamweya led FKF and the owner of the chartered plane caused the delay.

The owner, according to sources, said he could not release the aircraft until the full amount was paid.

According to FKF however, the delay was due to ‘routing problems’ as the place had to seek consent before flying out as they had changed the initial travel timings.

Wario's late rescue

Even when Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario stepped in towards the close of business hours at the city’s second airport, the drama was far from over.

Some senior players led by captain Victor Wanyama declined to board the plane fearing for its safety but hard convincing from the Cabinet Secretary, they finally departed.

The team is set to fly to Kano, Nigeria where they will stop over for an hour before proceeding to Praia, both legs of the trip lasting four hours.

Stars are set to arrive in Praia 6 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Cape Verde Time) with the match set for 10 p.m. local time (6 p.m. Cape Verde time).

Kenyans took to social media all afternoon to express their dissatisfaction with how the national team was handled. This coincidentally happened on the same day the Rugby Sevens side arrived to a back home to a heroic welcome after their Olympic qualification in from South Africa.

Wanyama speaking to Sportsnewsarena.com earlier was optimistic that the team will do well.

“It is a shame that we have gone through all this but we will go there, play for the nation and hope for a good result.We will put all this behind our backs and play to win. We want to be in the group stages,” Wanyama said.

Harambee stars beat Cape Verde 1-0 on Friday in the first leg at the Nyayo National stadium. Striker Michael Olunga, the in-form goal hero, hopes he can score again on Tuesday.

“It is a tough assignment bearing in mind everything that we have gone through but I trust we have a good team and we will give our all for the nation. We want to get to the group stages and in the second leg we will try and get a positive result,” Olunga noted.