Mwendwa reveals how Harambee Stars will be competitive in time for home AFCON 2027 tourney

Photo credit: FKF

FOOTBALL Mwendwa reveals how Harambee Stars will be competitive in time for home AFCON 2027 tourney

Mark Kinyanjui 06:32 - 29.09.2023

Mwendwa opened up on plans to make Harambee Stars competitive in time for the 2027 AFCON.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa has revealed how Harambee Stars will be competitive in time for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which will be held in East Africa for the first time in its history.

Kenya, alongside her neighbours Tanzania and Uganda, joined together and won the bid to co-host the tournament slated for 2027.

On Wednesday, September 27, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) approved the bid, and in so doing, the region fended off competition from Algeria, Egypt, and Namibia to win it.

With the plans now underway to ensure the region will be ready by 2027, Mwendwa has revealed how Harambee Stars will become competitive in an earlier interview with K24.

“The coach wants to build his team (to be competitive enough) before the 2027 AFCON. If a player is 24 today, he will play in that tournament at 27 if he maintains his level,” Mwendwa said.

Mwendwa says Harambee Stars are stepping up preparations as the side aims to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2019.

After a year-long ban imposed by FIFA in 2021 prevented the side from taking part in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, the side have not taken part in any competitive fixtures. 

Once the ban was lifted, Harambee Stars played Iran in an international friendly in March, before facing Pakistan and Mauritius in June.

In September, they faced former FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar, as well as South Sudan, stepping up preparations as they prepare to take part in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers which will kick off in November.

According to reports, Harambee Stars could face Russia in an international friendly in October in Engin Firat’s home nation Turkey, which could prove Mwendwa’s sentiments right on the side playing in Europe.

“He (Engin Firat) wants (to conduct) intense training sessions and preparations as we prepare for that tournament. You will also see us playing in Europe as we prepare for the 2025 AFCON.”

Mwendwa believes that the backing received by the current government is fully in support of developing football in the country, with the scenario of the game set to change by 2026.

“By 2026, the scenario around Kenyan football will be different. The government has given us an enabling environment. Once we are done supporting everyone and everything involved around the game in order to become more professional.

“I believe we will then cross the heights that will grow our players by 2027. After 2027, we will think about the 2030 World Cup. The 2026 World Cup might come too close because we were disrupted, but the one we are really thinking about is the 2030 edition.”