Why Mwendwa wants CAF to handle COVID-19 tests

Having twice witnessed Harambee Stars fall victim to the alleged Covid-19 failed tests, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa now wants the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to have a neutral testing body.

The national team, who beat Togo 2-1 in Lome on Monday to finish third in Group G of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with seven points, were first hit by claims of players testing positive for the virus when they lost 2-1 to Comoros in Moroni last year.

What followed was a six-month suspension of FKF Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno and Harambee Stars team manager Ronny Oyando for breaching Covid-19 regulations after they they allegedly tore Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test copies of the Kenyan team in protest of the results.

As per the PCR tests, four Harambee Stars players were said to have tested positive before the match but went on to play thus risked spreading the virus to others.

And it was the same case in Lome on Monday night when the quartet of captain Michael Olunga, goalkeeper Ian Otieno, defender Joash Onyango and midfielder Lawrence Juma missed the fixture after the host federation claimed they had tested positive for the virus.

But while questioning the motive behind Togo’s FA, Mwendwa urged the continental body to quickly address the players’ testing issue that is now becoming a concern in African football.

“Covid-19 is bringing some challenges that we have to deal with in Africa. We have to think about this because Uganda were complaining and eventually Miya (Farouk) played even though he was being told he was positive. We (Kenya) were faced with the same scenario in Comoros,” said Mwendwa during the team’s luncheon at Safari Park on Tuesday.

Why Mwendwa wants CAF to handle COVID-19 tests
FKF president Nick Mwendwa. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“Our government cannot allow us to leave here when we have positive cases. It is a question that Caf has to handle. I’m proposing to have neutral doctors and testing centres when we are going to an away match. I feel federations should not test their opponents.  Comoros were here and we never had problems with them. My proposal is that Caf needs to have a neutral testing function body to test the players.”

“For instance, a player like Olunga had tested in Qatar. You cannot leave Qatar if you are positive. He has tested here in Nairobi twice and both were negative. We went to Togo with a private jet and our hotel was isolated, but I think those results were an afterthought because they picked the core of the team.”

Just like his president, Olunga who features for Qatar giants Al-Duhail, was disheartened to miss the match.

“Of course I’m gutted. I wasn’t able to represent my country but the most important thing is that the team won away after a long time. It shows that we have a great team mostly composed of local-based players. I believe everybody gave a good account of themselves and it is a good way to finish our group. I hope most of them will be considered for future assignments,” said Olunga.

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