Will Kenya have two host cities or one for 2027 Africa Cup of Nations?

Kip Keino Stadium

An artistic impression of the proposed refurbished Kip Keino Stadium.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 By my count, when Fifa announced on June 14 the venues and hotels for the 2026 World Cup, it was precisely 24 months left until the start of the global football extravaganza.

By my count, it is now approximately 36 months to the start of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations that will be co-hosted by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

So where are we in our preparations?

First, back to the Fifa announcement. The world football governing body released what they are calling the “Team Base Camp” brochure for the 2026 World Cup, comprising a list of locations where the 48 participating teams may opt to establish their “homes away from home”. In other words, a central location from where they will travel to their first three matches and where players, staff and officials will spend the majority of their time during the group phase of the tournament.

The brochure names the city, training venue and hotel paired for all the potential bases in the three host nations Canada, Mexico and USA.

They include the 16 home cities Toronto, Vancouver, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle. There are also nine other cities, namely Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Westfield, Irvine, Louisville, St. Louis, Salt Lake City and San Antonio.

“Even if a city is not staging matches, a participating team coming to stay creates a strong personal bond with the competition for people locally. It will see them adopt their guests as a second team during the tournament, thereby connecting even more people to the Fifa World Cup,” said Fifa Chief Operating Officer World Cup, Heimo Schirgi.

Fifa is meanwhile accepting expressions of interest from other cities and towns to propose potential Team Base Camps for the tournament.

Now back to the 2027 Afcon that will be jointly hosted by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nairobi and Eldoret are the designated host cities for the 24-nation tournament.

Presumably, Kenya will host eight teams in two groups in the preliminary stages.

The upcoming Talanta Sports City, under renovation Moi International Sports Centre and Nyayo Stadium, in Nairobi and Kip Keino Stadium in Eldoret were the designated venues according to the bid document.

The 159-page East Africa Pamoja Bid Afcon 2027 bid document mentions 21 potential accommodations and training facilities.

All the 12 magnificent hotels listed are in Nairobi except for two – Boma Inn and Eka Hotel that are located in Eldoret.

The bid document listed nine proposed training facilities -- Police Sacco Stadium, Utalii Grounds, Ulinzi Sports Complex, MISC Annex ground, Absa Sports Club in Nairobi, and University of Eldoret, 64 Stadium, Eldoret Showground, Eldoret Polytechnic in Eldoret.

The Sports Ministry has been keen to show the progress in the construction of the Talanta Hela Sports City and renovation of MISC. This is commendable and reassuring.

However, Kip Keino Stadium remains the decrepit facility it has been for years, and there has been no word from the sports ministry about its proposed renovation.

I am not too worried about that though. Kenya has potentially three stadiums that will be ready to host Afcon. With two venues, albeit all in Nairobi, we are good to go in 2027.

But is this training facilities list exhaustive or is the ministry looking out for more?

Is there a provision for individual hotels and training venues to submit proposals to be considered as one of the base camps?

I am sure there are facilities in Naivasha, Thika and Machakos for example that would want to be part of the 2027 Afcon jamboree.

It would be nice to get regular updates from the Ministry on the progress of our preparations for 2027 beyond pictures of stadium construction.

An official website giving details of the organization team, the bid document, the vision and legacy of Afcon 2027, business opportunities, and news on all that is happening around Kenya and beyond, concerning the tournament would be apt.

Meanwhile, watch out for any change in dates, a distinct possibility.

The 2023 Afcon, originally scheduled for June-July of that year, was postponed to January 13 to February 11, 2024 at the request of hosts Cote d’Ivoire to avoid the rainy season.

Just five days ago the African football body announced that the 2025 Afcon will start six months later than originally planned. The tournament will now be played from December 21, 2025 to January 18, 2026.

Why? The newly expanded Fifa Club World Cup with 32 teams will be held next June-July in the United States.

The African finals that follow are scheduled for June 19 to July 18, 2027. For now.