By Swalley Kenyi
Uganda Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic has accused the organising committee of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup of trying to sabotage his team's title defence.
The Serbian's concerns follow the team's delayed travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, where they are due to confront Tanzania in an explosive quarterfinal fixture tomorrow.
The Cranes were only allowed to check out of their Melele Hotel late this Friday evening after their outstanding bill of Ksh7.4m (sh214m) had been settled.
“This is sabotage to our quest to win the (CECAFA) title. Other teams have already arrived in Mombasa,” Micho stated.
It took the intervention of CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye to free the Cranes, who still missed their flight. The Uganda Cranes will now be booked on the 8pm flight.
CECAFA has explained that the mix up was not exclusive to Uganda as some teams had also been denied exit from their hotels unless FKF paid their outstanding bills.
The organisers blamed the non-payment of bills at the hotels on disagreements between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Liberty Group that the federation had contracted to facilitate the logistical needs at the tournament.
“The relationship between Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Liberty Group had gone sour over none payment. Some teams had already fallen victims of the circumstances of payment of the outstanding bills,” CECAFA media manager Rogers Mulindwa said.
The Kenyan government has however stepped in to settle a total of Ksh41.4m for accommodation and air ticket bills related to the tournament.
“It’s a big achievement and I commend the government for its kind hand,” a visibly excited FKF President Sam Nyamweya of the support.
Kenya’s Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts Principal Secretary Patrick Omutia said that: “We undertake to settle the bills as soon as we identify funds.”