SAFA deny poaching Kenya
Kirsten Nematandani (Gallo)
Johannesburg - The South African Football Association has denied claims they had a hand in Kenya's decision to ditch Zambia.
The Harambee Stars had been penciled for a clash against Chipolopolo on Wednesday, February 9, the same day they will face Bafana Bafana.
The Kenyans are scheduled to arrive in South Africa on Sunday according to Bafana's acting team manager Barney Kujane, the day Zambia were to fly to Nairobi to prepare for the friendly against the same Kenyans.
According to reports in Zambia the confirmation of Bafana's clash against Kenya has come as a shock and when quizzed over whether this could strain relations between South Africa and Zambia, SAFA's president Kirsten Nematandani says there is nothing that could cause bad blood between the two COSAFA football powerhouses.
"Surely relationships are very important but at the same time we needed a game.
"Of course we didn't approach Kenya knowing they have a game against Zambia. It was an issue of looking at whatever was available,"Nematandani argued.
"We tried Kenya and they wrote to us stating their willingness to play the game, but surely relationships remain critical and we wouldn't deliberately go out and snatch Kenya away from Zambia, who are our neighbours. No, we wouldn't do that," he said.
According to Kujane the Kenyan federation informed SAFA they had no game scheduled for next week, hence the agreement now in place between SAFA and Kenya.
"We approached Kenya on Wednesday and we made it clear as an association that we were looking for a game.
"We found out from them if they are not playing and they said to us they are not playing.
"As a result of that we exchanged correspondences, which were signed by them and our president, Kirsten Nematandani. That is where we are now," Kujane said.
Kenya was approached by SAFA after Burkina Faso turned down the invitation to come South for the friendly. Libya and Burundi were both also not available.