Harambee Stars lead striker Michael Olunga is at the centre of push and pull battle between his Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol and Football Kenya Federation with the former yet to release him for national duties.
The failure by Reysol to release the forward has made Football Kenya Federation petition Fifa to intervene for fear of the talismanic striker missing the boot camp and the African Cup of Nations showpiece all together.
The Stars are currently in France for specialised training ahead of the African Cup of Nations finals set to run from June 21 to July 19 in Egypt, and FKF fears that Olunga’s continued absence in camp could hurt the team.
In a statement published on its website, FKF argued that the move by Olunga’s club goes against Article 3 of the Regulations on the release of players to Association teams, which obliges clubs to release their registered players to the representative teams of the country for which the players are eligible to play on the basis of their nationality if they are called up by the association concerned.
The federation said that it has sought ought FIFA’s intervention even as they engage Reysol on Olunga’s release.
“…any agreement between a player and a club to the contrary is prohibited.
The release of players is mandatory for all international windows listed in the international match calendar as well as for the final competitions of the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup and of the championships for “A” representative teams of the confederations, subject to the relevant association being a member of the organizing confederation,” reads part of the regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.
“The rules are clear on the expectations and roles of each party. We continue to engage Reysol on the player’s release, this even as we remain optimistic that a decision on this sensitive issue will be arrived at within the shortest time possible,” said Barry Otieno FKF Head of Communications.
“The continued delay in releasing the player by the club is not only greatly jeopardizing our preparations for the final AFCON tournament but is also not good for international football in general,” added Otieno.
Earlier in March this year, Olunga failed to make it to camp for Kenya’s final qualifying match against Ghana with Kashiwa Reysol citing injury concerns.
Kenya will also take on the Democratic Republic of Congo in Madrid, Spain before they jet into Egypt for the continental showpiece.
Meanwhile, the team’s camp in France is nearly full house. All of the players initially called up to the 27-man provisional squad have already checked in, save for Victor Wanyama, who is expected in France later on Tuesday evening.
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