Dennis Oliech explains how costly it will be for Harambee Stars to play home matches in Malawi

Harambee Stars legend Dennis Oliech.

Dennis Oliech explains how costly it will be for Harambee Stars to play home matches in Malawi

Joel Omotto 16:13 - 16.05.2024

Kenyan football legend Dennis Oliech has given his opinion on the move to have Harambee Stars host Burundi and Ivory Coast in Malawi due to lack of a stadium in the country.

Former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech has expressed his disappointment at reports that Harambee Stars will play their home matches in Malawi next month due to lack of a FIFA-approved stadium in Kenya.

Harambee Stars are due to host Burundi and Ivory Coast in their 2026 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on June 8 and 11 but they will have to do it away from home as Kenya do not have a venue due to the closure of Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums, which are currently undergoing upgrades for the CHAN 2024 and 2027 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

Oliech, who managed 76 appearances for Harambee Stars between 2002 and 2016, says it is not only embarrassing to play home matches in another country but also denies the players the impact of the 12th man which could have a bearing on the results.

“It is embarrassing and painful, I played in Harambee Stars for nearly 20 years and we played here at Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums. How comes now we do not have a stadium?” posed a disappointed Oliech, in an interview with Pulse Sports.

“You cannot even now compare Kenya with Uganda and Tanzania. It is shameful because it denies the team home support which might see them draw or even lose. Having fans in the stadium gives you morale as a player.

“This [playing home matches away] only happens when you have war or a disease outbreak in your country but we have neither of those in Kenya.”

Oliech, who is Kenya’s second all-time top scorer with 34 goals, feels Harambee Stars players will have to look for another source of motivation to record positive performances in both matches as it would have been much different at home when even their family members would attend.

“How do we even explain to people out there that Kenya does not have a stadium, it is something I cannot even believe. As a player, I wouldn’t sleep thinking about this,” added Oliech.

“Home is the best, fans would push the players and it gets even better when your family is there. You will work extra hard because you do not want to disappoint them.

“That was what was pushing me when I played. Having my mother up there and the rest of the family in the stands would make me run more and want to score more goals but when you are playing in another country, you don’t know what you will get unless they ferry 40,000 fans to Malawi.”

Harambee Stars coach Engin Firat was counting on home support to push his team given how tricky Burundi are, added to the might of African champions Ivory Coast.

Winning home matches is always the trick for most countries in the qualifiers but Kenya will have to employ a different strategy now that they will not be backed by a partisan crowd.

Harambee Stars are third in Group F with three points from two matches, same as Burundi, with the Ivorians top on six points, a similar tally with Gabon, while the Gambia, who will soon be handled by Gor Mahia coach Johnathan McKinstry, and Seychelles are yet to record a point.

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