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Stadium woe, injury concerns increase burden on troubled Kenya

It's been a tough 24 hours in Kenyan football, with the East African nation's troubled 2018 looking set to get trickier before it gets better.

The Football Kenya Federation have already had to deal with the departure of head coach Paul Put less than three months into his tenure, and now have to return to the drawing board and recommence the search for a new manager.

Put had represented something of a coup for the Harambee Stars, and his exit once again placed the spotlight on the troubled state of Kenyan football.

The government's decision to increase tax on gaming revenues prompted bookmakers SportPesa to end their sponsorship of the FKF in January, leaving the federation too stretched to meet Put's salary.

On Wednesday, reports emerged that the FKF are facing a new headache, with concerns raised that neither of the two CAF-approved stadiums in the country will be ready for the visit of Ghana in September in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Both the Nyayo Stadium and the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani have been the subject of renovation works in recent months, but work has stalled on both venues.

Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia earlier - and optimistically - backed the facelift to be completed by March, but short rains, extended politicking and payment delays have regularly stalled works, according to the Nation.

Should neither venue be ready in time for the September 7 fixture, Kenya may have to seek an alternative overseas stadium, and the FKF may be forced to consider options in Tanzania or Uganda.

Federation president Nick Mwendwa remains optimistic that the stadiums will be ready in time for the fixture, but this is yet another unwanted distraction for an organisation that are desperately trying to present a more professional, progressive face to the world.

"There has been no change in venue of the Kenya-Ghana match," he told Nation Sport on Wednesday. "We are waiting for the stadiums to be ready and we are pushing everyday for it to be done on time."

In the meantime, the Harambee Stars' interim coach Stanley Okumbi is overseeing a pair of friendlies in Marrakech, Morocco, with Kenya set to face the Comoros on March 24 and the Central African Republic three days later.

The returning Okumbi boosted morale by naming both Victor Wanyama and his elder brother McDonald Mariga in the squad, raising the prospect of the siblings finally playing together again for the national side after the latter's injury misfortune in recent seasons.

However, on Tuesday, the Daily Nation confirmed that wideman Ayub Timbe is set to miss the international window after failing to arrive in Marrakech from his base in China.

Similarly, Brian Mandela of Marizburg united is also a doubt after picking up an injury while in PSL action against Polokwane City on Friday.

Positive results in next week's fixtures may well boost morale ahead of the Stars' upcoming World Cup qualifiers, but the latest reported stadium delays are yet further evidence that things are set to stickier before they ease for this troubled federation.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.


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