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Champions League

Kalekwa: FKF deadline for Caf Champions League slot is within the law

The Batoto ba Mungu boss defends the federation on the decision to have top the team by June 30 represent country in the continental competition

Sofapaka president Elly Kalekwa has defended the Football Kenya Federation’s decision to award the Caf Champions League ticket to the team on top of the FKF Premier League table on June 30.

On Monday, in a statement obtained by Goal, the FKF confirmed the team leading the table on June 30, the deadline provided by Caf for submission for representative clubs, will be given the slot to represent Kenya in the 2021/22 Champions League.

The statement left football stakeholders in shock, others wondering what will happen to the remaining matches after June 30, and if the league will not be played to a conclusion.

However, the Batoto ba Mungu boss Kalekwa has now told Goal the federation acted within the laws governing football in the country and that clubs must now work hard to make sure they reach the target if they want to represent the country.

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“I don’t want to fault FKF because they worked as per the laws of the game in the country,” Kalekwa told Goal on Wednesday. “The laws are very clear, if teams have played second-round matches and anything happens to the league, then the team at the top will be declared champions.

“That is what FKF have done, they have said if you are on top of the table by June 30, then you get the slot for Champions League, and that is very okay because by June 30 we will have played second-round matches as per the law, so they [FKF] have not breached the rules at all.”

Asked if the effect of the FKF statement on the league, Kalekwa said: “It is very clear now teams will up their game, and also fight to finish at the top by the stipulated date so I foresee a very competitive league starting with the upcoming matches.”

On his part, Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula said the decision will lead to a congested fixture list because the FKF will strive to beat the deadline.

“We will face a marathon league and all teams must now get ready to use all their players in the squad,” Shimanyula told Goal. “It will be a battle as both teams will fight for the top spot, it will not be easy, and players on reserve bench must also be ready to help the others.”

On Tuesday, FKF president Nick Mwendwa clarified the team that will be on top of the table by the end of June 30 will only represent the country in the Caf Champions League, but will not automatically be the champions for the 2020-21 season.

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“The team that will be at the top of the table by June 30 will only get a ticket to represent the country in the Champions League but the overall winner for the 2020-21 season will be decided at the end of the season, and they are the ones who will receive the golden trophy and prize money,” Mwendwa told Goal.

“It doesn’t mean whoever is at the top by June 30 will be the outright champions for the season, that will not be the case, after June 30 the league will continue and teams will have to fight to win the golden trophy and also the prize money, maybe the team at the top [by June 30], will be crowned if they keep the spot to the end of the season.

Tusker have been at the top for most of the season and stand a good chance to grab the slot while among the top five teams, only KCB have not participated in the continental competition.

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