Navigating uncertainty: Will Gabon host Harambee Stars with current unpredictable political climate?


FOOTBALL Navigating uncertainty: Will Gabon host Harambee Stars with current unpredictable political climate?

Festus Chuma 08:06 - 06.09.2023

Political instability in Gabon raises uncertainty for the Kenya-Gabon World Cup qualifier set for November.

The upcoming clash between Harambee Stars and Gabon in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers "hangs in the balance" due to the tumultuous political situation gripping the Central African nation.

The eagerly anticipated match, scheduled for Saturday 11 November in Libreville, might see a change in venue if the prevailing political instability persists, leaving football fans and officials on edge.

Gabon, an oil-producing nation with a rich footballing history, has recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons. On August 30, a military coup orchestrated by officers within the country's armed forces sent shockwaves across the region.

As the dust settles, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) finds itself in a dilemma, closely monitoring the political landscape to determine whether it would be safe for Harambee Stars and other nations to travel to Gabon's capital.

The potential change in venue has left both Kenyan and Gabonese football authorities on tenterhooks. 

CAF's decision, to be communicated to the Football Kenya Federation, will undoubtedly hinge on the situation's stability as the match date draws near.

Should the uncertainties persist, Gabon is reportedly exploring alternative host countries, including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo.

The African Union's response to the turmoil in Gabon has been swift and uncompromising, with the suspension of the nation's participation in all of its activities. 

The diplomatic fallout further underscores the gravity of the situation, placing international pressure on Gabonese authorities to restore stability and normalcy.

Placed in Group F alongside Cote D'Ivoire, Gambia, Gabon, Burundi, and Seychelles, Kenya is vying for a coveted spot in the world's premier sporting event for the first time in history. 

Each group winner secures automatic qualification, while the top four runners-up advance to play-offs, culminating in a ticket to the inter-confederation play-offs. 

This high-stakes journey includes representatives from various continents, turning the spotlight on Africa's finest talents.

As the 2026 World Cup qualifiers unfold, the eyes of football enthusiasts worldwide will be fixated on the African continent. 

Matchdays one and two are slated for this November, followed by two additional rounds in the coming year and a decisive six rounds in 2025.