Everton Football Club will travel to Nairobi, Kenya to take on Kariobangi Sharks FC in the first 2019 pre-season friendly announced by the Club.
The game will take place on Sunday 7 July (kick off TBC) at the Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.
Kariobangi Sharks FC are winners of the 2019 edition of the SportPesa Cup, east Africa’s biggest football tournament, which took place in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in January. Their 1-0 win over Bandari FC gave them regional supremacy and the opportunity to play the Blues.
The game against the Kariobangi Sharks FC marks Everton’s second visit to east Africa.
The team travelled to Tanzania in July 2017 to face inaugural SportPesa Super Cup winners Gor Mahia FC in a game the Toffees won 2-1, the first time a Premier League club had visited east Africa. In November 2018, Kenya’s Gor Mahia FC travelled to Goodison Park, the first occasion an east African club side has played a Premier League club in the UK.
While in Tanzania, the Blues, alongside SportPesa, won hearts and minds in the region when they took part in a range of cultural and charitable activities across Dar-es-Salaam.
Players met members of Albino United Football Club, locals in the Maasai village Ngorongoro Maasai Boma, and visited the Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School to learn about how UK aid is helping deaf and blind students receive the same level of education as their classmates.
Alan McTavish, Commercial Director at Everton Football Club, said: “We are extremely excited to be heading back to Africa to play against the Kariobangi Sharks FC. We were given an exceptionally warm welcome when we played in Tanzania in 2017 and are looking forward to visiting Kenya and what we know will be a fantastic experience in the Kasarani Stadium.
“Just like the last time we took the team to east Africa, we will be delivering extensive community and fan engagement activities with our friends from SportPesa and we will be learning more about the rich culture of the country and the opportunities that are available to us in this region.”
Captain Ronald Karauri, Chief Executive Officer of SportPesa, said: "Kariobangi Sharks FC is a team that has defied many odds to first make it to Kenya's top league, the SportPesa Premier League, earning their stripes by winning the Shield Cup in Kenya, and to our delight, the SportPesa Cup tournament in Tanzania which was held in January. These boys have all it takes to host Everton for this historic match. It will be a record making match as well as a much-needed catalyst to boost careers in local football as well as sports development in the country.”
Everton jetted off to Kenya on Friday night and will kick off their first preseason friendly on Sunday in Nairobi against the Kariobangi Sharks.
The Blues have traveled with 22 players to Kenya, with ten senior team members along with another dozen Under-23 players. A number of stars are not back for training yet and did not join the group that made the flight to the equator.
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg, Jonas Lossl
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Mason Holgate, Lewis Gibson, Morgan Feeney, Antonee Robinson, Nathangelo Markelo
Midfielders: Morgan Schneiderlin, Andre Gomes, Tom Davies, Dennis Adeniran, Ryan Astley, Callum Connolly, Beni Baningime, Joe Williams
Richarlison and Idrissa Gueye are still away on national team duty, while Yerry Mina is on vacation after Colombia were dumped out of Copa America. Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Seamus Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lucas Digne all return on Monday. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Kieran Dowell will also join preseason training at a later date.
Among some prominent names not on the trip are Bernard (who has been spotted in training at Finch Farm however), James McCarthy (expected to leave the club), Joao Virginia (who is likely to go out on loan), and Kevin Mirallas (no clue where he’s at).
Sensational Under-18 striker Ellis Simms was rumoured to be a part of the group to Kenya, but turns out he did not make the final cut.
In addition, the Blues have invited Ladies manager Willie Kirk and three players - captain Danielle Turner, Gabby George and Simone McGill - to join them on this trip.