Are Covid-19 tests turning into some monkey business?
The national team Harambee Stars arrive at JKIA after beating Togo 2-1 in their final group match of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Lome on Monday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Four of Harambee Stars players are said to have tested positive ahead of their Afcon tie against Togo.

It was never meant to end this way. But it surely did.

As Harambee Stars lined up to take on Togo in the final African Cup of Nations qualifier at the Stade de Kégué Lomé on Monday evening, four players were missing in action.

The quartet thus joined the growing number of teams around the world dealing with a potential outbreak of Covid-19 cases among their squad.

Stars captain Michael Olunga, Joash Onyango, Lawrence Juma and Ian Otieno are reported to have tested positive for Covid-19. Kenya won the match 2-1.

The Stars, who jetted back yesterday morning, finished third in Group G with seven points.

A day after the incident, Standard Sports sought comments from Harambee Stars officials on the four players.

The officials and players denied the reports, saying none of the quartet had tested positive for the virus.

This is the second time that Harambee Stars has been hit by claims of players testing positive for the virus. The first was in their Afcon Group G trip to Comoros last year.

Are Covid-19 tests turning into some monkey business?
Harambee Stars’ Danson Chetambe and Faridi Mussa (left) of Taifa Stars during a friendly match at Nyayo National stadium on Monday, March 15, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The confusion in Harambee Stars camp casts doubt on the reliance on Covid-19 testing before matches.

Several studies have indicated that some Covid-19 tests often miss cases of the virus, while at the same time, mistakenly labelling healthy people as infected.

Cases of false positive results have made headlines in recent months.

Due to these inaccuracies, some matches have ended up being postponed or rescheduled, causing a cascading series of changes and challenges to schedules.

In October last year, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) banned Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barry Otieno and Harambee Stars Team Manager Ronny Onyando for breaching Covid-19 regulations put in place during their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away in Comoros.

The two were handed a six-month ban from Caf related football activities after they allegedly tore Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests copies of the Kenyan team.

According to the PCR tests that were acquired after the match, four players were reported to have all tested positive before the match, but took part in the game thus risked spreading the virus to others.

On February 16, South African football club Kaizer Chiefs objected to the date of their rescheduled Caf Champions League match away to Moroccan side Wydad Athletic Club.

Chiefs were unable to honour the fixture initially set for February 13 after they failed to secure visas to enter Morocco due to Covid-19 related issues.

On February 23, Tanzanian domestic Cup winners Namungo FC had travelled to Angola to play their first leg of the Caf Confederation Cup against Primeiro de Agosto but the game was cancelled after the Angolan authorities ordered all Namungo players to self-quarantine owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Harambee Stars coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee praised his troupes saying they’ve done the country proud and that they have laid a solid foundation going forward.

“I’m proud of the boys especially after stepping up and playing like they did against Egypt and Togo. It gives us a lot of hope that all is not lost despire us not qualifying for the Afcon,” said Mulee.

 

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