The Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K), Francis Mutuku has revealed that being named co-hosts for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) could greatly benefit Kenya’s chances of qualifying for the Olympic men’s football tournament in Los Angeles 2028.
Kenya, along with Tanzania and Uganda, was awarded the hosting rights for the 2027 AFCON, which will take place in June and July, just over a year before the Olympics.
Kenya has not qualified for the AFCON since 2019, but Mutuku believes that staging the tournament could lead to improvements in Kenyan football and enhance the prospects of their men’s under-23 team qualifying for Los Angeles 2028.
“One critical aspect that seldom spoken about is the sport development aspect involving players,” he wrote for Kenya’s Daily Nation.
“Philosophies on the subject place the potential of stimulating sport development as one of the main objectives of hosting major sports events.
“Sport development is about enabling structures and opportunities for involvement and excelling in sport.
“From the NOC-K standpoint, the best outcome we can get as a country is the national team qualifying for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.”
He suggested Kenya could implement “a strategy to develop an Olympic team alongside preparing the AFCON team”.
Kenya are 109th in the men’s FIFA world rankings, placing them 25th among the African nations.
The AFCON is a biennial competition serving as the main continental tournament for men’s national teams.
Morocco was also awarded hosting rights for 2025 on Wednesday (September 27) by the Confederation of African Football, after Guinea was stripped of the event due to concerns over preparations.
Men’s football at the Olympics pre-dates the FIFA World Cup which started in Uruguay in 1930, but has faced an increasing battle for relevance.
Since Barcelona 1992, only under-23 players have been permitted to compete, with three older exceptions allowed from Atlanta 1996.
Three African teams can qualify for the Olympics under the current qualifying system used for Paris 2024 through the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations, with the potential of a fourth in a playoff against an Asian side.